Hwang and the May 2005 Nature Editorial

In May 2005, I mentioned Hwang et al. [Science 2005], now at the center of a firestorm. This reference was entirely by chance, since my concern was the precipitous UCAR press release of the Ammann and Wahl paper and their failure to report its subsequent rejection. (Of course, they later got the editor changed and got the rejected paper out of the garbage can, but that’s a different story.) In the process, I noted up a Nature editorial in which they criticized the issuance of a press release merely upon the submission of an article without waiting for the imprimatur of peer review. It’s amusing to re-read in the light of the Hwang firestorm.

The Nature editorial is cached here entitled Too Much Too Soon. The Nature editorial was occasioned by what they regarded as a premature announcement of still un-peer-reviewed stem cell research by British workers, which, in their mind, unjustly attempted to steal the thunder from the peer-reviewed South Korean work then being published by Science. Nature:

When South Korean researchers declared last month that they had created stem-cell lines genetically matched to individual patients, commentators were ready with superlatives, and rightly so. The paper (W. S. Hwang et al. Science doi:10.1126/science.1112286; 2005) is a major step towards the use of stem cells in the study and treatment of disease.

It can’t yet be determined for certain if the Newcastle team was intending to ride the wave of publicity for the South Korean paper, or if it simply submitted its paper to the journal at a fortuitous moment. And in an ideal world, science reporters would know the difference between a significant breakthrough and a local, incremental result.

I’m not sure what moral one can draw from the earlier editorial, but there’s some irony somewhere.

As a curiosity, if you google “nature reproductive biomedicine online” as I did trying to re-locate the Nature editorial, climateaudit turns up in the #13 ranking.

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