NEW YORK, Dec 14 - Over 10 papers related to aspects of the human genome project have been submitted to journals for simultaneous publication early next year, said John McPherson, co-director of the Genome Sequencing Center at Washington University in St. Louis.
Among these is the genome mapping paper, for which McPherson serves as lead author. While McPherson declined to say where he submitted this paper, he confirmed that it had not been submitted to Science .
“I think in general people disagree with the publishing deal with Celera and Science ,” McPherson said. “I don’t like double standards. I never have.”
But he added that the paper’s authors had originally planned to submit their paper to another journal anyway. GenomeWeb previously reported that the mapping paper would go in Nature.
As far as the Human Genome Project’s last minute decision to send its sequence paper to Nature , McPherson stressed that it was hardly a setback for the organization or a compromise in terms of going to a less prestigious journal.
“The decision on which [journal] to go to is not based on which one is more prestigious. Nature has been around longer, and they are the one that published the structure of human DNA in 1953," he said. " It’s a disagreement with what seems to be a change in [ Science’s ] policy.”
Many scientists have said they feared that this compromise with Celera, in which Celera will publish the genome data on its website but will require researchers wishing to download more than one megabase of data to sign a special material transfer agreement, sets a precedent that could compromise the public availability of future scientific research results.
“Why would someone else not come to [ Science ] and say they have the same deal?” McPherson asked.
But George Whitesides, a Harvard chemist who participated in Science’s discussions about how to handle this deal, said he thought the agreement could simply be a one-time exception.
“The human genome is a big deal,” said Whitesides. “This is such an unusual event that this is the time when you break your own rules.”