January 22, 2021

The Niche

Trusted stem cell blog & resources

Nature Rejects Paper Reporting that STAP Does Not Work

STAP stem cells from RIKEN, Harvard
STAP spheres nice and green? Purported STAP stem cells.

Dr. Ken Lee’s lab has done some very important validation attempts on STAP cells and has posted them on ResearchGate. To my knowledge, his lab’s STAP experiments are the ones in the public domain that most closely matched the methods of the Nature STAP papers.

Dr. Lee submitted the work to Nature Brief Communications Arising on STAP cells, but sadly the manuscript was rejected by Nature.

Dr. Lee sent me a copy of the rejection letter from Nature and gave me permission to post it here (see below).

You can read it and decide for yourself, but my impression is that Nature did not give a logical, clear explanation for the rejection.

Dr. Lee’s work appears like exactly what Nature should be publishing in its Brief Communications Arising and contrary to the editor’s comment, Dr. Lee’s work does seem to directly challenge key data and conclusions of Obokata, et al.

So what’s the deal with Nature? 

Are you penalizing Dr. Lee for posting the results first to ResearchGate? Are you trying to avoid publishing something that contradicts work already published in Nature? Are the results too preliminary? If the last one, shouldn’t Nature Brief Communications Arising be an ideal place for preliminary data?

Dear Professor Lee

Thank you for submitting your comment on one of our published papers to the Brief Communications Arising section. Regretfully, we cannot offer to publish it.

This section of Nature is extremely oversubscribed, so we can consider only a very few of the critical comments we receive. Our main criterion for consideration is the degree to which the comment challenges the main conclusions of the published paper in question.

In the present case, while we appreciate the interest of your comments to the community, we do not feel that at this stage they challenge key data or conclusions of the paper by Obokata et al., and therefore we cannot offer to consider your paper for publication in our Brief Communications Arising section.

Although we cannot offer to publish the submission as a Brief Communication Arising, you may wish to use our online commenting facility (seehttp://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v464/n7288/full/464466a.html).
To post a comment, scroll to the bottom of the online html version of the article you want to comment on. When using the online commenting facility for the first time, you will need to agree to the terms and conditions before a comment can be posted. Using this option would retain the linkage of your comment to the original paper, and would allow for further discussion by the community on the points you have raised.

I am sorry we cannot be more positive on this occasion.

Yours sincerely

(name removed)

Senior Editor

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