The EteRNA team has a new paper out in Journal of Molecular Biology that ScienceInsider reports was delayed because of concerns over the authors' names.
EteRNA is an online community game developed by researchers at Carnegie Mellon and Stanford Universities that tasks gamers with designing RNA molecules that fold into particular shapes. A previous paper found that such an approach was more accurate than in silico methods.
Based on data generated by the players, the new paper reports on a set of benchmarks that assess the design difficulty of RNA structures.
As the players generate the data, they are the lead authors, ScienceInsider says. And that's where the concerns cropped up: many of the players were only known by their gaming handles. But the journal's editor wasn't comfortable with using them.
"A generally accepted criterion for authorship is that authors must take responsibility for the integrity of the paper," the journal's editor, Peter Wright, from the Scripps Research Institute tells ScienceInsider. "In my view, identification of an author only by a screen name, which can be changed at an instant, is inappropriate, since that person could not be contacted if issues of accountability arose."
Eventually, ScienceInsider reports, the gamer-authors agreed that their real names could be used. "It's really a bit amusing," lead author Jeffrey Anderson-Lee adds. "I guess it's stretching [the journal's] boundaries a bit."