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Good practices

Unqualified reviewer

An article in the journal Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy, published by the American Society for Microbiology in August 2015, was retracted in November 2015 on the grounds that the periodical had been unable to verify the identity of a reviewer who recommended that the manuscript be published.  Suspension of publication of this paper, however, was not related to the recent scandals involving manipulation of reviewer databases by fraudulent insertion of fictitious profiles.  In addressing the website Retraction Watch, journal editor Louis Rice, a professor at Brown University, explained that the reviewer was a real person but was not properly qualified to evaluate the article.  According to Rice, biologist Abdul Mannan Baig, from Aga Kahn University in Pakistan, had suggested names of researchers who could review his work on the functioning of a pathogen.  One of the people mentioned was accepted, but the journal did not check his references.  The problem was not detected until the article had already been published online.  A new review process was undertaken, and that reviewer advised against publishing the paper.  In acknowledging the mistake, Rice emphasized that the Pakistani biologist was not responsible for the situation.  “The author did nothing wrong, and was encouraged to submit his papers in the future,” he said.