“Nobody believes that scientific progress is about finding absolute answers anymore. At best, every new experiment makes scientists just a little less wrong about how the universe works. But despite that healthy journey-over-destination mindset, scientists hate telling other scientists when they’ve made a mistake. And scientific journals really hate it. That’s why retractions—the pulling of results from the canon of scientific literature—used to happen quietly. Then came Adam Marcus and Ivan Oransky’s Retraction Watch, a bright light shining on the blunders of scientists everywhere. Think of it as a front-row seat for the messy business of sorting out the world, with a little walk-of-shame schadenfreude thrown in for laughs.” — WIRED‘s 101 Signals, Science: The best reporters, writers, and thinkers on the Internet–the people who understand what’s happening
Columbia Journalism Review Regret the Error columnist Craig Silverman calls Retraction Watch “a new blog that should be required reading for anyone interested in scientific journalism or the issue of accuracy.”
“Ivan Oransky and Adam Marcus are two geeks who set up a website called Retraction Watch because it was clear that retractions are often handled badly,” writes Ben Goldacre in his Bad Science column in the Guardian. He concludes: “Eyeballs are an excellent disinfectant: you should read Retraction Watch.”
Retraction Watch is a “somewhat addictive” blog, writes radiation oncology journal editor-in-chief Anthony Zeitman.
The Australian calls Retraction Watch “the Bible, errr blog, for all things scandalous in the world of academic publishing.”
One way to prevent unethical behavior? “inform Retraction Watch more frequently,” says one dean of research.
Biologist Jim Woodgett, writing in Nature:
The scientific community must be diligent in highlighting abuses, develop greater transparency and accessibility for its work, police research more effectively and exemplify laudable behaviour. This includes encouraging more open debate about misconduct and malpractice, exposing our dirty laundry and welcoming external examination. A good example of this, the website Retraction Watch (retractionwatch.wordpress.com), shines light on problems with papers and, by doing so, educates and celebrates research ethics and good practice. Peer pressure is a powerful tool — but only if peers are aware of infractions and bad practice.
…le blog Retraction Watch, tenu par les journalistes Adam Marcus et Ivan Oransky, qui est une référence en la matière et que je recommande à tous ceux qui s’intéressent à ces questions. (…the blog Retraction Watch, run by journalists Adam Marcus and Ivan Oransky, which is a reference in the field and I recommend it to anyone interested in these issues.)
In 2011, Retraction Watch co-founders Ivan Oransky and Adam Marcus were among Nature Medicine’s list of “key people who made headlines this year, either by standing up for what they saw as right or by stopping what they felt was wrong:”
Journalists Oransky and Marcus have made it their quest to document the litany of research papers withdrawn from scientific journals. Their bold blog Retraction Watch has analyzed more than 250 retractions in nearly 350 posts since its launch in August 2010. The writers’ meticulous coverage of high-profile retractions this year—such as those related to some of Marc Hauser’s primate research and Joachim Boldt’s work in anesthesiology—brought retractions and the scientific process to the fore.
Deborah Blum, writing in the Knight Science Journalism Tracker, calls Retraction Watch “outstandingly good” and “required reading.”
Sociologists David Pontille and Didier Torny, writing in Revue d’Epidémiologie et de Santé Publique:
Most of the recent affairs studied in this article stem directly or indirectly from their revelation in the blog Retraction Watch, maintained by Adam Marcus and Ivan Oransky. We thank them for their meticulous and nearly daily work assembling this information.
Scientist Anthony Segal in Times Higher Education, discussing the case of Jatinder Ahluwalia, whom we’ve covered closely:
Details of Ahluwalia’s misadventures in Cambridge only came to light because his supervisor there, Martin Brand, happened to learn about the UCL investigation and contacted Segal – who then passed on the information to Imperial, UEL and the widely read Retraction Watch website.
“Internet blogging sites [such as] Retraction Watch are playing an increasingly important role in policing science,” Segal says. “In addition to drawing attention to retractions and making them more public, they put pressure upon the institutions involved to behave properly.
“In this case, it is highly probable that they had a major influence on the actions of UEL and Imperial in finally addressing the problems presented by Ahluwalia.”
UEL announced last July that it had parted company with Ahluwalia following an internal investigation. His current professional whereabouts are unknown.
The Wall Street Journal, “Mistakes in Scientific Studies Surge:”
In a sign of the times, a blog called “Retraction Watch” has popped up to monitor the flow.
An editorial in the Ottawa Citizen:
Fortunately, there are some people in the world of science who think more attention should be paid to retractions. Two of them have started a popular blog, Retraction Watch, which has shed light on about 200 retractions since its inception a year ago. The authors, both medical journalists, hope to “open a window onto the world of scientific publishing, and, by implication, science itself.” If scientific publishers cared more about transparency than damage control, that window would be easier to pry open, and science would be better for it.
Try not to panic, but science can sometimes go wide of the target: in 2011, there were 38 retractions for every 100,000 papers published. Retraction Watch, a blog founded by Ivan Oransky, executive editor of Reuters Health, and Adam Marcus, managing editor of Anesthiology News, highlights such errors.
The Philadelphia Inquirer’s “The Public’s Health” blog, “Fraudulent studies disappear, but not without a sound (Thanks to “Retraction Watch”):”
While the results of many high-profile studies are often widely publicized, their retractions rarely are—until Retraction Watch was launched, that is.
Retraction Watch is a blog that tracks retracted papers—and, in my opinion, is pretty darn interesting and important.
“One of most important recent developments in science journalism,” says former Scientific American editor in chief John Rennie.
We are experiencing an epidemic of retractions in the last ten years, with fraud as opposed to error increasingly the cause, (9) and not surprisingly, repeat offenders are much more likely to commit fraud (10) (try our favorite blog on this topic, Retraction Watch at http://retractionwatch.wordpress.com/).
Brian Deer, writing in The Sunday Times (London):
AT THE sharp end of the change is a website called Retraction Watch, launched in 2010 by two senior American medical journalists. Nominally a blog logging formal withdrawals of scientific claims, it has evolved into a catalyst for an outpouring of concern, creating a feedback loop of disclosure with no national boundaries.
Jon Cohen, writing in Technology Review:
Oransky and Adam Marcus, who works with him to highlight errors in scientific publications, are leading a growing group of critics who say that acknowledging these types of mistakes and explaining them matters greatly, especially given the scientific tradition of building arguments by citing the work of others.
Retraction Watch is “another new niche blog that will be fun to follow,” says Gary Schwitzer at his HealthNewsReview Blog.
Forbes’ Matthew Herper:
Retraction Watch, a marvelous blog that watches these things…
“The ever-useful ‘Retraction Watch’ provides, I think, the most interesting and incisive updates on retractions worth noting,” says Kent Anderson of Scholarly Kitchen.
If you have ever had your results plagiarized, or spent months trying to reproduce someone else’s unsound work, then you will appreciate Retraction Watch‘s efforts at bringing sunshine into a murky area of research. If, in contrast, you were the one at the business end of a retraction, reading this blog will reassure you that you are almost certainly not the worst researcher ever. But even if you have never had any personal experience with retracting a paper, you should still read Retraction Watch for its fascinating insight into a world that no good scientist ever wants to enter.
“Retraction Watch is veritable goldmine for case studies of scientific ethics,” says NeuroDojo blogger Zen Faulkes. “Or a motherlode. I’m sure some sort of mining metaphor is appropriate.”
Paul Raeburn, writing on the Knight Science Journalism Tracker: “Add Retraction Watch to your feed. I’m guessing you will find plenty of ideas to steal. And your editors will marvel at how well connected you are.”
Udo Schuklenk, editor of Bioethics, writing in the journal:
These days, when you come across a news item flagging flagrant abuses of scientific misconduct such as data falsification, data fabrication, or plagiarism, you will come ever more frequently across a superbly run internet site called Retraction Watch.1 Its two main contributors, Adam Marcus, the Managing Editor of Anesthesiology News, and Ivan Oransky, the Executive Editor of Reuters Health, do a wonderful job informing their ever-growing number of readers of the latest academics caught out in unacceptable research shenanigans. I am using this Editorial mostly to alert you to this site and recommend you take a minute out of your hectic work schedule to check it out.
The New York Times’ Nicholas Wade, writing about the Amy Wagers-Shane Mayack retraction:
The two retracted papers follow the withdrawal of two other stem cell papers noted by the blog Retraction Watch, which began only in August.
The blog has recorded other high-profile retractions in its short lifetime. Linda Buck, a Nobel winner, retracted two papers, and Savio Wu, an expert in gene therapy, retracted four papers while firing two post-doctoral students from his laboratory.
Roger Collier, writing in the CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal):
The purpose of the blog, launched in August 2010, is to peek into the dark corners where journals stash their retractions and drag that information out into the light. The blog has been a hit, receiving praise from many in the scientific community…
Stephen Strauss, CBC, “Searching for truth in published research“:
The website Retraction Watch is run by Ivan Oransky, the executive editor of Reuters Health, and Adam Marcus, managing editor of Anesthesiology News. It not only finds retractions but goes to the people involved and gets them to explain what was so screwed up about the research that it had to be entirely recanted.
Jennifer Howard, “Hot Type: Despite Warnings, Biomedical Scholars Cite Hundreds of Retracted Papers,” The Chronicle of Higher Education:
“If you’re citing a paper, you should have read that paper. Evidently that’s a controversial point, but it shouldn’t be,” says Ivan Oransky, executive editor of Reuters Health, who is one of the two medical editor-bloggers who run the site. He and his co-blogger, Adam Marcus, founded Retraction Watch in August 2010. It gets about 100,000 page views a month, Mr. Oransky says—an indication of how hot a topic this is. “As we found out, there’s a tremendous amount to cover,” Mr. Marcus said when I talked with him.
“Das lecture highlights scientific fraud outcry,” The Australian:
In the area of research on resveratrol — the compound in red wine thought to have significant health benefits — Dr Das was a big fish. Such a big fish that the blog Retraction Watch outed Harvard scientist David Sinclair — who conducted the original findings into resveratrol — as having lied to The New York Times when he said he had never heard of Dr Das.
Quite the opposite, said Retraction Watch. They were not only acutely aware of each other’s research, they had served together at a conference in Denmark in 2010.
“Retractions and the risk of moral panic,” Kevin Smith writing in Scholarly Communications At Duke:
What I like about Retraction Watch is that it looks seriously at the different reasons for retractions and, when they are not clearly explained, as in this retraction from the journal Cell, tries to dig deeper to discover what the flaw actually was, or was perceived to be. This should be a model for our general reaction to retractions and the news that retracted articles continue to be cited.
Alexey Bersenev, of Stem Cell Assays: “All of last week I was exchanging messages with Ivan Oransky – the author of blog “Retraction Watch”. He is doing a great job by gathering such useful and important information. I’d recommend you follow his blog or updates on Twitter.”
Blogger @biochembelle: “One of my favorite new blogs this year is Retraction Watch, written by Adam Marcus and Ivan Oransky, both carrying substantial science editing and journalism credentials. If you’re a scientist and you’re not following it, you really should.”
William Heisel, author of The Antidote blog on Reporting On Health, calls Retraction Watch “witty and wise,” with a “strong ethic” and “humming energy.” He writes:
This is blogging at its best: fast but never sloppy, open to debate and intensely focused. Marcus and Oransky are tracking where science has gone wrong and educating readers in the sometimes messy world of scientific journals.
Retraction Watch – and its cousin Embargo Watch – are daily must-reads for health writers and anyone who cares about science.
Are you watching “Retraction Watch”…? The Rochester, Minnesota Post-Bulletin‘s Jeff Hansel writes:
I get mesmerized reading the online scientific journal watcher called “Retraction Watch.”
So many research articles get retracted that “Retraction Watch” has enough material to metaphorically fill cyberspace.
Retraction Watch is watching you, by Physics Today’s Charles Day:
So I was relieved to hear…about Retraction Watch. Founded by Adam Marcus and Ivan Oransky, the blog strives to publicize every fraud-prompted retraction that occurs in the scientific literature.
Derek Lowe, writing in Corante’s In The Pipeline, on our attempts to find out more about opaque retraction notices:
Thanks to the Retraction Watch people for taking the time and effort to do this sort of thing. I just wish that it weren’t necessary for anyone to do it at all.