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Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Weekend reads: How much can one scientist publish? And more stem cell misconduct

with 7 comments

booksAnother busy week at Retraction Watch, including a ScienceOnline 2014 session Ivan facilitated on post-publication peer review. Here’s a selection of what was happening elsewhere on the web:

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Written by Ivan Oransky

March 1, 2014 at 9:30 am

7 Responses

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  1. Genetics of Eye Diseases is a most prolific field now a days Check this out: Wong Tien Yin has published almost 1000 papers in the last 15 to 17 years. Do the math, I guess this is going to be the record…


    March 1, 2014 at 11:07 am

  2. Walter Willett at Harvard seems to have published a paper every 9 days over the last 38 years. He has 21 published papers in 2014 already which is about 1 paper every 3 days.


    March 1, 2014 at 11:49 am

    • People, especially scientists, are too focused on the numbers. It’s the quality and content that count, I guess. For example, I would imagine that fields of study involved with theoretical biology, modelling, microorganisms that have short growth cycles, organic chemistry and possibly other fields where the life cycle of one experiment or the experimental subject is short, relative to a study that involves multiple techniques, or organisms that have long life cycles like woody plants, would generate dozens of papers a year. So what? Perhaps 50 two-page papers in an organic chemistry journal is useful, novel and informative, for organic chemists, as equally as one 50-page paper on a near-extinct conifer would be to conservation biologists. This excessively competitive world where numbers seem to be a priority are fueling a drive by scientists to be recognized, at any cost, possibly exceeding the justifiable amount as suggested by Lenz. But when machines, as indicated by Murray-Rust, already are doing a much better job at identifying errors than human counterparts, it is more than obvious that it is the numbers that exist on the green, blue and yellow bills in your wallet that are driving the system. Ever since the impact factor corrupted the field of science publishing by implementing a system that allowed scientists to keep entering papers into the system like a slot machine to see what the final economic outcome could be (at least in most developing countries), a simple enough system that even simpleton politicians can understand, and thus agree with, there has been this blind drive to pump out as much as one can, in any format. The OA journals are in on the game, and the masses of scientists are without a doubt, brain-washed. In that sense, yes, science publishing is killing science because the drive is identical, even though the OA movement was supposed to be some sort of a liberating factor.

      Think about it. If we kill the impact factor, we remove (I hypothesize) at least 80% of the motivation driving scientists because the system would simply collapse. Now wouldn’t that be a really liberating feeling?


      March 1, 2014 at 1:24 pm

  3. Re: “What does take to get an author accidentally left off a paper put back on?”, surely this is one of those cases where the legal situation is clear. As described, the corresponding author, in signing the original copyright agreement, was assigning a right over which he had no legal control, since he didn’t have the consent of all the authors of the paper. It doesn’t matter that this was inadvertent – Elsevier could not acquire copyright through an agreement if the assignor did not act for all the copyright holders. Thus Elsevier’s publication of the article breached the copyright of the omitted authors. Before they were aware of the problem, Elsevier would perhaps not have had any liability. But once their attention was drawn to it, their liability for not acting to mitigate the damage would start. Their lawyers would surely have urged the editor to immediately print the correction if they had been aware of the situation.

    Bob McKay

    March 1, 2014 at 12:12 pm

  4. Didn’t anyone read the article in Science about the some of the shadier publishing practices in China, whereby among other things an author can even pay to have his name put on an already accepted article? Allowing people to add authors to published papers a year after the fact is going to immediately raise the issue of whether this is really an accident or whether some kind of fraud is going on.

    Also I question whether if the ‘left off’ authors didn’t know about the paper and didn’t even see it before it was accepted, do they actually qualify as authors?


    March 2, 2014 at 9:00 am

  5. The link for the scientific ethics paper is broken. This one should work:


    Or, in case there is some weird cookie-foo going on, the link to the DOI is:



    March 3, 2014 at 4:38 am

    • Updated, thanks.


      March 3, 2014 at 7:28 am

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