Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Archive for the ‘history’ Category

Article defending colonialism draws rebuke, journal defends choice to publish

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Facing a volley of criticism for publishing an essay that called for a return to colonialism, a journal editor has defended his decision to print the article.

The Case for Colonialism,” published Sept. 8 in Third World Quarterly (TWQ), was written by Bruce Gilley, a professor of political science at Portland State University. For an idea of what the piece was about, here’s the beginning of the abstract:

For the last 100 years, Western colonialism has had a bad name. It is high time to question this orthodoxy. Western colonialism was, as a general rule, both objectively beneficial and subjectively legitimate in most of the places where it was found, using realistic measures of those concepts.

Since the essay came out, scholars have criticized both the article itself and the journal’s decision to publish it. Several critics have called for retraction. [Update: 15 members of the editorial board have resigned in response.]

One group of critics wrote that they objected to the essay because:

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Written by Andrew P. Han

September 19th, 2017 at 8:00 am

Historian returns prize for high-profile book with 70+ corrections

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A historian based at Columbia University has returned a 2014 prize after criticisms prompted him to issue more than 70 corrections to his prominent book about North Korea.

Charles Armstrong told Retraction Watch he returned the 2014 John K. Fairbank Prize he received for “Tyranny of the Weak” due to “numerous citation errors.” The book has faced heavy criticism, including allegations of plagiarism and using invalid sources.

The American Historical Society, which issues the Fairbank Prize, released a statement last week:

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Written by Alison McCook

July 5th, 2017 at 10:55 am

High-profile book on North Korea earns 52 corrections

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The author of a high-profile book about the history of North Korea is issuing 52 corrections to the next edition, scheduled to appear this spring. The changes follow heavy criticism of the book, alleging it contained material not supported by the list of references.

Last month, author Charles Armstrong, a professor at Columbia University, announced on his website that he was issuing the changes after reviewing the book in detail, especially the footnotes. He writes:

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Written by Alison McCook

January 31st, 2017 at 9:30 am

Criticism swirls around high-profile history book about North Korea

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80140100484410mAn award-winning account of North Korea during the Cold War has fallen under criticism, claiming the author included material not supported by the list of references.

One historian has uploaded a series of what he calls “noteworthy problems” with Tyranny of the Weak, winner of the John K. Fairbank Prize in East Asian History in 2014. Balazs Szalontai of Korea University primarily accuses author Charles Armstrong of citing either irrelevant or non-existent sources to support his claims.

Armstrong, a professor at Columbia University, told us: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Alison McCook

October 13th, 2016 at 9:30 am

Coptic cop-out? Religion journal won’t pull paper based on bogus ‘gospel’

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HTR107_02What the Harvard Theological Review giveth, it evidently will not taketh away.

The venerable publication about religious matters is refusing to retract a 2014 article by a noted scholar of early Christianity despite evidence that the article — about Jesus’s wife — was based on a forgery.

The paper, by Harvard theologian Karen King, described a Coptic papyrus called “The Gospel of Jesus’s Wife,” which, among other things, includes language that suggests Christ was married: Read the rest of this entry »

What did retractions look like in the 17th century?

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Alex Csiszar

Alex Csiszar

We always like to get a historical perspective on how scientists have tried to correct the record, such as this attempt in 1756 to retract a published opinion about some of the work of Benjamin Franklin. Although that 18th century note used the word “retract,” it wasn’t a retraction like what we see today, in which an entire piece of writing is pulled from the record. These modern-day retractions are a relatively recent phenomenon, which only took off within the last few decades, according to science historian Alex Csiszar at Harvard University. He spoke to us about the history of retractions – and why an organization like Retraction Watch couldn’t have existed 100 years ago.

Retraction Watch: First of all, let’s start with something you found that appears to break our previous record for the earliest retraction – a “retractation” by William Molyneux of some assertions about the properties of a stone, published in 1684. Could this be the earliest English-language retraction? Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Alison McCook

March 14th, 2016 at 9:30 am

Death camp dog satire retracted when German journal wasn’t in on joke

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Screen Shot 2016-03-01 at 2.46.54 PMTotalitarianism and Democracy has removed a paper claiming that German Shepherds belonging to guards at the Berlin Wall descended from dogs used at concentration camps, after learning that the paper was a work of satire, The Guardian reports.

The paper, and its author, are the creation of the anonymous group “Christiane Schulte and friends.”

This isn’t the first hoax we’ve seen in publishing: Don’t forget journalist John Bohannon, who submitted hundreds of fake papers to open access journals, and more recently conjured up a study that showed chocolate helps you lose weight. (And, of course, a paper in a Romanian magazine that listed porn star Ron Jeremy and Michael Jackson among its references.) Like many other hoaxers, the group say in a statement their purpose was to shine light on problems in academic publishing.

The latest victim: a Dresden-based journal, The Guardian explains:

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