July 17, 2014


Dear Editor-in-Chief of Nature,


I sent you an email recently complaining the intentional and repeated removals of my submissions, without (sending me) any decision on the submissions, from Nature’s manuscript tracking system. I have not received your response, as usually the case for my prior communications to you.


Now I just read a Retraction published in Nature (http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v511/n7509/full/nature13549.html) which prompts me to write you this demand for retracting another Nature publication.


A recent research article in Nature [T. M. Norman, N. D. Lord, J. Paulsson, R. Losick, Nature 503, 481 (2013).] made a claim for bacterial differentiation by presenting a so-called “cell fate switching” between a motile unicellular state and a chained multicellular state in bacterium Bacillus subtilis.  This study was highlighted as “systems biology: how bacteria choose a lifestyle” [J. W. Locke, Nature 503, 476 (2013)].

最近《自然》发表的一篇研究长文[T. M. Norman, N. D. Lord, J. Paulsson, R. Losick, Nature 503, 481 (2013).]通过表现所谓的在枯草杆菌的游动单细胞状态和成链多细胞状态存在“细胞命运转变”而声称细菌分化。该文被高调誉为:“系统生物学:细菌如何选择生活方式” [J. W. Locke, Nature 503, 476 (2013)]。

However, after carefully reading this new research paper, I realized that the claim of “cell fate switching” is most likely an illusion derived from using incorrect study approach and making erroneous data manipulation based on some invalid assumptions.  Thus, I wrote my first letter to all authors including two corresponding authors, asking 10 initial questions.  I told them that their quick response would be very helpful for my further analysis on their paper.  Unfortunately, I did not receive any response, even after I sent more letters urging them living up to the corresponding authors’ responsibility.


Thus, I made my analysis on their claims using information presented in their publication without access to the underlying data.  Even so I still could make some solid criticisms on their main conclusion: discovery of an autonomous “cell-fate” switching between a motile unicellular state and a chained multicellular state for bacterium Bacillus subtilis.

因此,我只能在无法接触他们所发论文的底层数据的情况下利用公开的信息对他们的声称进行分析。即便如此,我仍然能够对他们的主要结论— 枯草杆菌存在游动单细胞状态和成链多细胞状态之间的自发性“细胞命运”转变—做出一些扎实的批评。

I submitted my analysis as a Communications Arising to Nature.  Nature rejected it without requesting a peer review on it.  Nature also ignored my plea to it for asking the authors of their publication to give a response.


The Nature-rejected Communications Arising was published in Logical Biology [13(1): 3-7, 2014] (see attached PDF)  and, as part of the evidence for identifying some potential misconduct, was sent to Harvard University’s Research Integrity Officer for Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Dr. Gearoid P. Griffin.  My complaint was received by on Feb. 5th, 2014 and also received by the Office of Research Integrity (ORI) on the same time.  You and Nature should also received copies of these communications as I usually put you on the CC list.

被《自然》拒绝的辩论争鸣文章后来在《逻辑生物学》发表 [13(1): 3-7, 2014] (见所附PDF文件),此文已作为识别一些可能的不端行为的证据的一部分提交给哈佛大学艺术与科学学院的研究伦理官Gearoid P. Griffin博士。我的抱怨是在2014年2月5日被他收到,同时也被研究诚信办公室(ORI)收到。而您和《自然》也应当收到,因为我通常也把您放在抄送名单里。

Now more than 5 months have passed.  I haven’t  received any decision from Harvard University with regarding my complaint.  But the incorrect interpretation and wrong conclusion made in the Nature publication should not be remained in scientific literature when the so-called “corresponding authors” even do not live up to an intrinsic responsibility of responding to scientific criticism.


Thus, just as a wrongly interpreted publication not replicated by the authors needs to be retracted as shown in the recent retraction mentioned in the  beginning of this email, a mis-interpreted and erroneously concluded publication already solidly challenged by other scientist also needs to be retracted, unless the authors can offer convincing counter-arguments and invalidate the criticisms.


Nature should learn a real lesson  from its heavy spin on the STAP cells.  One way to learn a real lesson is to open its door to solid scientific criticisms.  This should include stopping unjustified rejection of my submissions criticizing Nature’s flawed and even fraud publications and allowing me to log on to Nature’s website to make timely comment on Nature’s publication.


If Nature wishes to reduce its chance of publishing too amazing and thus really unbelievable “discovery” /deception in biological field it may be even worthy of sending some “breakthrough” studies to me for a critical review before they break the trust of public to “science”.  My service to Nature in this respect will be totally free.  But I wish to be identified in real name and thus be held responsible for any of my reviews.




Shi V. Liu MD PhD



One thought on “刘实致信《自然》要求撤销美国哈佛大学一篇论文

  1. Harvard University and Nature are not obligated to answer your questions to them. It is possible that they reviewed your concerns and do not agree with your conclusions.

    Additionally, it is very hard for anyone to consider your claims seriously when:
    1. You do not have a good scientific track record
    2. Your open letter sounds more like a non-organized rant.
    3. Logical Biology does not seem to be a peer-reviewed journal.

    Just because Nature/Harvard University did not answer you, it does not mean they are trying to hide something. Perhaps your concerns are unfounded? Did you ever consider that possibility? It does not seem so to me.


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