In light of recent discussions on Twitter and elsewhere about how journals, and individual scientists, should or shouldn’t respond to PubPeer comments (particularly those alleging data anomalies), it seems timely to re-up this old post. It’s from 2014, but I think it holds up pretty well. Verging on prescient, actually!
That old post is also a useful reminder that post-publication reviewers who allege or hint at misconduct sometimes are wrong (and sometimes, aren’t clearly right or clearly wrong). Wrong and debatable allegations can do real damage, especially when there’s no agreed formal procedure for handling them. Anecdotally, it seems to me that a lot of public discussion about how to discover and address cases of potential scientific misconduct is motivated by cases in which misconduct was eventually shown beyond any reasonable doubt. I think it’s worth also keeping other sorts of cases in mind. As discussed in the linked post, I don’t think there are any easy answers here.