One of the themes we’ve hit hard here at Retraction Watch is that there is tremendous variation in how journals deal with retractions. Some make notices crystal clear, while others seem to want to make them as opaque as possible. Some editors go out of their way to publicize withdrawals, while others bury them and won’t talk about them when they appear.
In a Nature feature out today on retractions, Richard van Noorden highlights those disparities. He also highlights the fact that there are more retractions to talk about: As a graphic accompanying the piece makes clear, retractions have risen 10-fold in the last decade, even as the number of papers published has grown by less than fifty percent.
But even with that growth, the number of retractions — we’re on track for 400 this year, according to Thomson Reuters — is a vanishingly small percentage of the 700,000 papers published annually. Still, science prides itself on transparency — or should, anyway. van Noorden gives Ivan the chance to offer some advice to those scientists and editors who are reluctant to acknowledge there’s ever any dirty laundry in science:
“I think that what we’re advocating is part of a much larger phenomenon in public life and on the Web right now,” he says. “What scientists should be doing is saying, ‘In the course of what we do are errors, and among us are also people that commit misconduct or fraud. Look how small that number is! And here’s what we’re doing to root that out.'”
You can read the whole piece here. We’ll also be doing a live chat with Nature on retractions on Tuesday.