One journal broke a retractions record by pulling more than 100 papers in one day for faked reviews, a Harvard graduate student obtained a restraining order against his boss after being forced to undergo a psychiatric exam, and a well-known food scientist at Cornell faced heavy criticism about his research.
And that’s just some of what we reported in the first few months of 2017.
This year, our team worked hard this year to dig deeper into retractions and hold publishers and institutions accountable, while filing more public records requests (including investigation reports, which journals have noticed), and exploring larger stories affecting academic publishing.
But our biggest accomplishment this year was working on our database — now close to complete (thanks to the hard work of more than a dozen graduate students, librarians, and others), it includes just shy of 16,000 retractions.
Here’s a sampling of what else we worked on this year:
- We told the extraordinary story of how lab disputes can go horribly wrong: After being forced to undergo a psychiatric evaluation (including being hauled away by police officers in the middle of the night), a PhD student at Harvard obtained a restraining order — against his boss. We reported the piece in Science (along with an update that appeared in July).
- Why scientists shouldn’t be afraid to engage in activism — because they already are. Co-founders Ivan Oransky and Adam Marcus discuss in The Conversation.
- Victoria Stern joins the team as a staff writer, thanks primarily to the generosity of the Laura and John Arnold Foundation.
- Why do universities protect scientists who’ve obviously done wrong? Oransky and Marcus give their thoughts in Slate.
- Thank you: We are the proud recipients of an 18-month grant renewal for $325,000 from The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust to The Center For Scientific Integrity, our parent non-profit organization.
- A record was set: Tumor Biology retracted more than 100 papers for fake reviews. Hundreds of researchers were later found guilty of misconduct by the Chinese government, and the journal was delisted from Clarivate Analytics.
- Andrew Han joins our team as a staff writer, thanks to a generous grant from The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust. He focuses on the intersection between scientific misconduct at the law.
- The the American Diabetes Association becomes the first recipient of our Doing the Right Thing (DiRT) Award, for not letting legal challenges deter it from cleaning up the scientific literature.
- Who gets criminal sanctions for misconduct? Oransky presents an abstract that he and researcher Alison Abritis submitted to the World Conference on Research Integrity.
- What happens after a paper receives an Editorial Expression of Concern? Oransky, Abritis, editor Alison McCook, and Miguel Roig (member of the board of our parent non-profit organization) have an analysis accepted to the same conference.
- Is there a retraction problem? Marcus and Oransky explore the question in a chapter of The Oxford Handbook of the Science of Science Communication.
- We’re filing more public records requests — including one that produced an investigation report from the University of Colorado Denver that showed a former professor had altered dozens of images.
- Why would a university pay a scientist $100,000 to leave after she’s been found guilty of misconduct? We explore the question in an article for Science.
- Did you know some researchers can receive more than $100,000 to publish papers in a top journal? And not just in China. We explore these “pay to publish” schemes in Science.
- We turned seven — a milestone discussed by Oransky in his podcast interview with Cara Santa Maria, host of “Talk Nerdy.”
- We publish our 4000th post — about, not surprisingly, more retractions for faked reviews.
- Want to employ a commonly used research tool to measure medication adherence? Great, just pay up (or you may have to retract).
- Our breakdown of which countries are home to the most fake peer reviews (No #1: China) gets a nod on the front page of the New York Times.
- Yes, you are seeing more lawyers involved in academic disputes. Marcus and Oransky discuss the trend in The Verge.
- Oransky testifies about research integrity before the UK’s House of Commons Science and Technology Committee.
- Oransky and Abritis co-author an analysis of retracted papers in surgery journals in the American Journal of Surgery.
- Want to win a Nobel? Just retract a paper. (Just kidding — sort of.)
- Curious about the top 10 retractions of the year? We always are too. Check them out at The Scientist.
Today, we sent out our 500th edition of the Retraction Watch Daily email. Haven’t signed up yet? You can here.
Here’s a list of the most-viewed posts for the year:
- Why did Beall’s List of potential predatory publishers go dark?
- “I placed too much faith in underpowered studies:” Nobel Prize winner admits mistakes
- A new record: Major publisher retracting more than 100 studies from cancer journal over fake peer reviews
- Updated: Vaccine-autism study retracted — again
- Updated: Ohio State revokes PhD of co-author of now-retracted paper on shooter video games
Now, some numbers:
- Cumulative page views since our launch in August 2010: 30 million
- Subscribers to our email alerts: More than 15,000
- Facebook likes: Nearly 29,000
- Twitter followers: More than 22,000
And the numbers we’re most grateful for: More than 75 individual donors made gifts to The Center For Scientific Integrity, totaling more than $14,000. That unrestricted funding will allow us to grow even more next year. It’s not too late to make an end-of-year tax-deductible donation, either. Here’s how.
As always, we owe much of our success to our readers — including our critics — and our fantastic, dedicated staff. Thank you, and all the best in 2018!
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