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.


  1. It is a most excellent blog, and I love that they follow-up on a lot of the stories (like any good researcher, I always like to see how things have progressed). Excellent suggestion.

  2. It's a good blog. But science journalists trying to write beyond bs reporting to the masses can be dangerous.

  3. Anon, the Retraction Watch folks are not rookies at science journalism. The downside to PhDs trying to be journalists is that they can be too cautious. The more PhDs learn, the more humble they become about what they don't know - and it's difficult to find context for studies that way.

    Doing what Retraction Watch does would be even harder for researchers - they have to understand context and not be afraid to make people mad, which is very diffcult for someone in science.

  4. I invite anyone involved in retraction watch to consider taking a good look at the dna industry. here are a few things to consider. they are completely unregulated., there is no standardization of testing. they have NO clinical trials to support their claims to accuracy. it is based on supposition. their math calculations to support their claims, have already been de bunked by mathmatici
    ans. there is no reporting of error, investigation of error or any organization to even provide this information to the public should it ever exist. they buy their "accreditation". they pay a fee to this organization. and they get a stamp; they are not monitored, tested, investigated and if you request this information from this accrediting company, no information is ever available. they don't have it. false claims and no reliable scientific testing or studies to prove any claims of accuracy exist. and this is unquestioned evidence in courts everywhere. I suggest this as an industry to examine.