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Statute of Limitations

The journal Molecular and Cellular Biology has announced that it won't consider misconduct allegations for papers that are more than six years old, Retraction Watch reports.

In an editorial, the publishing ethics manager of the American Society for Microbiology and the editor-in-chief of the journal write that ASM takes misconduct claims seriously and investigates them thoroughly.

Amy Kullas and Roger Davis add that ASM journals, including Molecular and Cellular Biology, will pursue allegations made within six years of publication, but generally not after that time has elapsed. Retraction Watch notes that this is in line with US federal regulations that govern the Office of Research Integrity. An ASM spokesperson tells Retraction Watch that it would consider allegations concerning older papers if they "provide evidence of an extensive pattern of misconduct."

Kullas and Davis also write that they would not "comment on allegations made on public websites or through social media." The spokesperson adds at Retraction Watch that ASM prefers "to have a permanent, formal record of the allegation and how it was handled. Social media and public websites may not be the best forum for that."

Retraction Watch notes that the journal issue with the editorial also includes a retraction for a seven-year-old paper, though the spokesperson says the problem with that paper — image manipulation — was brought to their attention before their statute of limitations was up.

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