Frontiers now retracts the paper by the retired surgeon Ivo P. Janecka “Sensing risk, fearing uncertainty: systems science approach to change“, following complaints by Klaas van Dijk and Guillaume Rousselet.
“Frontiers retracts the paper: “Sensing risk, fearing uncertainty: systems science approach to change” (doi: 10.3389/fncom.2014.00030). Following a formal complaint concerning the publication cited above, the Specialty Chief Editors of Frontiers in Computational Neuroscience conducted an assessment of the article, according to the Frontiers complaints protocol. The Specialty Chief Editors concluded that the publication should not have been accepted in its published form, as it does not meet the standards of editorial and scientific soundness for Frontiers in Computational Neuroscience. This assessment was conducted in consultation with the Handling Editor, Dr Tobias A Mattei, who agreed to this conclusion. The author agrees to the retraction, commenting that the article was inappropriate for the Journal and its audience”.
Below excerpts from my earlier posts where this article has been discussed.
Chief editor Misha Tsodyks further tested the Frontiers quality control system by allowing in his Frontiers in Computational Neuroscience a publication of a very peculiar “Original Research Article”. It was named “Sensing risk, fearing uncertainty: systems science approach to change” and authored by a respectable oncology surgeon from Harvard University, Ivo P Janecka. This apparently retired academic now claims to head an obscure “Foundation for Systems Research and Education” in New York. The main problem with his paper: many readers, including myself, could not understand what it was supposed to be about or actually make any sense of its content or even words. Also the figures, though colourful, made little sense, which made it rather difficult to comprehend what “original research” was supposed to be hidden in the Janecka original research study. One commenter suggested a computer algorithm was used to generate a randomly worded text, which was then passed off as serious research manuscript. Another suggested a prank on Frontiers, by someone hacking their website.
The author himself was not really helpful. In his reply Janecka described his critics as driven by “Self’s Ego”, which “invokes the toxic power of emotions eliminating any rationality and simultaneously leaving basic courtesy in any dialog behind”.
Whatever this work of original research was supposed to be about, no connection could be made to the journal’s original scope, namely computational neurosciences. It was invited as part of the research topic “Application of Nonlinear Analysis to the Study of Complex Systems in Neuroscience and Behavioral Research”, edited by Janecka’s surgeon colleague, Tobias Alecio Mattei. The latter had enjoyed only apparently a very cursory research training during his studies of medicine at the University of São Paulo. He worked since as neurosurgeon, currently at the Kenmore Mercy Hospital in Buffalo, NY, which in turn is operated by the Catholic Church and according to its website does not seem to be running any research programs. Mattei’s academic activities show no evidence of any association with basic research, computational neuroscience-related or otherwise. He is also editorial board member with the notorious predatory publisher OMICS. Why he became associate editor at Frontiers in Computational Neuroscience in the first place and why he was invited to handle and peer review publications in this journal, is anyone’s guess. Only the chief editor Tsodyks could offer any explanation here, but he did not reply to my email.
Other reviewers of the Janecka paper were Damian Kelty-Stephen, assistant professor in psychology at Grinnel College, US, and David Kronemyer, formerly film producer in Hollywood, now postdoctoral researcher of behavioral disorders at UCLA. One would love to read their peer review reports of that mystery paper, but unfortunately, the Frontiers editorial transparency ends there. This and a number of other Frontiers publications serve as solid arguments for openness of the peer review.
Rousselet and other researchers have been demanding from Frontiers a retraction of a certain article by a retired neuro-oncologist, Ivo P Janecka, titled Sensing risk, fearing uncertainty: systems science approach to change and described by many scientists as utterly nonsensical. As I reported, it was edited (and reviewed!) by a totally field-unrelated medical surgeon Tobias Alecio Mattei, who according to his own employment record, is not and never has been an active researcher, in any field. How he came to be associate editor at Frontiers in Computational Neuroscience, is anyone’s guess. Yet also here, the journal’s EiC Tsodyks apparently chose not to interfere or even participate in the discussion. Instead, Rousselet was told by the Journal Operations Specialist, Martina Haller, that:
“The manuscript has undergone peer review as part of the Research Topic “Application of Nonlinear Analysis to the Study of Complex Systems in Neuroscience and Behavioral Research” and was approved by the Topic Editor, Dr Mattei. Our investigation did not identify plagiarism, reporting of unethical research, established misconduct, data manipulation, data fabrication or breach of third-party legal rights which would substantiate the need for retraction of this publication”.
January 24th 2016 comment:
The data integrity sleuth Jaime A. Teixeira da Silva informed me about following developments regarding the Ivo P. Janecka paper in Front. Comput. Neurosci.: a figure has been apparently re-used for a later publication in American Journal of Psychology and Cognitive Science, Vol. 1, No. 5, Pub. Date: Dec. 6, 2015
The publisher Public Science Framework was flagged by Jeffrey Beall:https://scholarlyoa.com/2015/01/15/strange-new-oa-publisher-launches-with-42-journals/
The following might indicate self-plagiarism by the sole author Janecka:
Figures 2a, 2b, 2d, 2e, 2f, 3 from this newer paper are very similar to Fig 1 in Frontiers:http://www.frontiersin.org/files/Articles/83551/fncom-08-00030-HTML/image_m/fncom-08-00030-g001.jpg
Teixeira da Silva has also informed the EiC of Frontiers Comput. Neurosci., Misha Tsodyks, at his institutional email address