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Response about the decision by PLoS ONE

Posted by Mingjin on 29 Mar 2016 at 08:35 GMT

We apologize for using some inappropriate words in our paper. English is not our native language, and our understanding of the word "Creator" was not as that of a native English speaker expected. Actually, we would like to refer the word to another meaning like Nature (造化 in Chinese). We are not creationists and our paper does not relate to the creationism as well. On the contrary, if you read our paper completely, you would find that we had referred to the knowledge of evolution in the Discussion of our paper, such as "this unique ability can apparently facilitate the capacity for more effective tool making and tool use during the evolutionary process" and "dexterous performance of numerous functions following the evolutionary remodeling of the ancestral hand for millions of years". We apologize for any troubles may have caused by this misunderstanding.

We think our paper can be corrected by removing the inappropriate words. It is not our intention to mention the creationism. We feel regret about the decision by the journal. The language of our paper did have some errors and we apologize for the language errors. However, we disagree with the concerns about the scientific rationale given by the journal. David Knutson, Public Relations Manager of PLoS, explained to Chronicle of Higher Education ( about the concerns on the scientific rationale in March 7, 2016. He said PLoS referred to a comment ( and considered that "the authors did not explain how their work contributed to the base of scientific knowledge about the structure of the hand". In view of that question, we think our work does not aim to further explore the anatomic structure of human hand, but would like to explore the link between function and structure. In this paper, we hope to inspire other people in the design of robotic hands.

We emailed our response about the question to the editors of PLoS ONE on March 9, 2016. Then the journal replied us after several days with more questions raised by the two members of PLoS ONE editorial board on March 14, 2016. After read these questions carefully, we think all the questions are either irrelevant or groundless. For instance, the experts considered that our paper lacked a thorough discussion about the works of evolution. But our work does not relate to hand evolution. The questions raised by the experts may be outside of their expertise because the editors told us the two experts were skilled in human biomechanics. We responded all the questions to the editors on March 18, 2016. The detailed responses would be posted if permitted by the editors of PLoS ONE. The editors replied us on March 26, 2016. They did not respond to our arguments about the questions on scientific rationale. They only said their decision stood in light of the substantial concerns. However, we still do not know what clear concerns they may have, except for the language problem.

We apologize for our inappropriate words and any hurt caused by our misunderstanding again. We hope our paper can have an opportunity to be corrected and republished based on scientific merit. The retraction cannot completely solve the problem because the inappropriate words remain intact in the original publication and may mislead more scientists. If our paper can be corrected and republished, our scientific work can also help and inspire many people in the future research, which is the dream as scientists.

Competing interests declared: We are the authors of the paper.

RE: Response about the decision by PLoS ONE

NiyazAhmed replied to Mingjin on 10 Jul 2017 at 14:31 GMT

It is unfortunate that PLOSONE retracted such a nice article without allowing opportunity for the authors to represent their position properly. The article could have been corrected if the word 'Creator' was so irritating to some lots.

No competing interests declared.