Friday, December 30, 2011

Retraction Watch

Insert a mind-numbingly and excuse-laden list of reasons why I haven't posted.  There are many reasons.  Let's just chalk it up to a) being busy, and b) mental stress.

However, I have something fantastic that is above and beyond worth its own post.  In fact, it's worth its own blog.  And that's where there is a blog dedicated to it.

Retraction Watch is a wonderful blog run by science writers Ivan Oransky and Adam Marcus and chronicles various and sundry recent retractions from scientific journals.  I find this blog and its content so important that it gets a special place in my RSS feed right alongside the journals I follow.  And believe me.... follow it, I do.  Some retractions are relatively harmless, and while not completely excusable, they are forgiveable.  Then, however, there are the retractions that involve doctoring of images, cutting/pasting of photos or text, and downright irreproducibility of data.  These lead to, likely, more retractions, and then firings (Zhiguo Wang), and then possible stripping (Bengu Sezen) of Ph.D.s (Diederik Stapel).

Friends, I'm scared of getting scooped just as much as the next guy.  However, I'm even more scared of scientific fraud.  This makes me want to do things right in order to avoid having my name associated with retracted work.  I imagine that after you retract (or your work is retracted FOR you), you feel much like this:

Found guilty of scientific misconduct?  This will be a statue-y, nude version of you afterwards.
Career over, job prospects ruined, scientific cross to bear?  It sounds awfully threatening and also awfully scary.  I really don't fancy that being me.  I think I and many other budding scientists can greatly learn from the stories of the falls from grace that other researchers have taken.

Really.  Go check out Retraction Watch if you haven't yet.