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A Second Chance?

Retraction Watch recently sat down with Chris Surridge, an editor for Nature Plants, to ask him a very specific question: As a journal editor, what do you do if a researcher who has previously committed misconduct submits a new paper for publication in your journal? Surridge recently ran across this problem, Retraction Watch says, when he was asked to review a paper by Patrice Dunoyer, a researcher who recently had to have five papers retracted and five other corrected. 

Surridge told Retraction Watch that while there's always a healthy debate among journal editor about whether or not to publish a study, the "broader context of the work" is always considered. "Studies are not considered because a 'big name' is on the author list, and neither should they be rejected for similar reasons," he said. 

He also told Retraction Watch that Dunoyer's name didn't specifically trigger a higher level of scrutiny on the scientific accuracy of the paper because all papers that are considered for publication in the journal pass through a high level of scrutiny anyway. "It is a journal's duty to safeguard the scientific accuracy of the published record and ensure that an author's work commands the highest possible level of trust," he said. "We owe it to our authors, whoever they are, to rigorously assess the work they submit to us so that when it is published readers can trust in its accuracy, transparency and reproducibility."

However, Surridge also noted in his interview with Retraction Watch that it's not the role of a journal editor to investigate misconduct or determine appropriate sanctions for past misdeeds. "We must be alert to the possibilities of inappropriate data manipulation, plagiarism and other forms of scientific misconduct; question possible occurrences; correct them if we can and where appropriate report them to the proper authorities, usually the authors' institutions," he said.

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