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Fight over author pseudonyms could flare again

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Science  26 Feb 2016:
Vol. 351, Issue 6276, pp. 902
DOI: 10.1126/science.351.6276.902

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Last week, an editor at the Journal of Molecular Biology at the last minute held up publication of a paper because of "ethical" concerns." The problem: Rather than using their real-world identities, several co-authors had given only the screen handles under which they had done the research within Eterna, a massive online game that crowdsources RNA folding problems. The other authors on the paper say they were willing to try another journal, but the three pseudonymous players relented, agreeing to give their full names, and the paper was posted online just hours later than planned. But the episode has raised questions about the nature of authorship. And given the growth in citizen science efforts, some predict more such standoffs before long—with no guarantee that pseudonymous authors will back down the next time.