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article imageJournal pulls paper in science and immigration row

By Tim Sandle     Nov 18, 2015 in Science
Berlin - A scientist who refused to let a software package he devised be used in European countries that are ‘soft’ on immigration has seen a research paper describing his software retracted by the publishing journal.
In September 2015, Digital Journal reported about a German scientist called Gangolf Jobb. Jobb withdrew the rights to eight European countries for use of some specialist software he developed because the countries were, in his opinion, letting too many immigrants in.
The software in question, called Treefinder, was for bioinformatics and is used to interpret vast quantities of biological data. The software helps to draw out phylogenetic trees. Such software shows the relationship, at the genetic level, between different creatures or entities.
In justifying the restrictions on the use of his software, Jobb said on his personal website: “I am no longer willing to support with my work the political system in Europe and Germany, of which the science system is part. There is no genuine democracy, and I disagree with almost all of the policies. In particular, I disagree with immigration policy. Immigration to my country harms me, it harms my family, it harms my people. Whoever invites or welcomes immigrants to Europe and Germany is my enemy.”
The restrictions met with criticisms from the scientific community. Some were in disagreement with Jobb’s politics; others felt that science should not be dragged into these types of issues.
Now the journal that originally published the article where Jobb explained the software, back in 2004, has pulled it. The reason given is: “The editors of BMC Evolutionary Biology retract this article due to the decision by the corresponding author, Gangolf Jobb, to change the license to the software described in the article. The software is no longer available to all scientists wishing to use it in certain territories. This breaches the journal’s editorial policy on software availability which has been in effect since the time of publication.”
As an open access journal, BMC Evolutionary Biology felt that the restrictions placed on access to the software, across national borders, were contrary to the aims and values of ‘open access.’
The journal’s editorial policy relating to software is, according to the monitoring site Retraction Watch: “If published, software applications/tools must be freely available to any researcher wishing to use them for non-commercial purposes, without restrictions such as the need for a material transfer agreement.”
It would seem that this type of politics and science don’t mix well.
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