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Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

What people are saying about Retraction Watch

with 36 comments

“The seamier side of academia, lying, cheating and occasionally stealing, this is the world revealed by a blog which, by all rights, should be dry and boring, like its name, “‘Retraction Watch.'” — Fred Barbash in the Washington Post.

“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

“Retraction Watch is one of the best innovations in science in recent years. The wit enhances the message. Tune in.” — former BMJ editor-in-chief Richard Smith

“And check out the invaluable Retraction Watch, where two independent scholars, Adam Marcus and Ivan Oransky, have done more to police scientific misconduct than have megabucks-funding institutions.” – ESPN’s Gregg Easterbrook

“Outside observers were, however, more thorough than the faculty in assessing the problems with Toth’s studies. ‘Subsequently, Retraction Watch identified other questionable data’ and a complaint triggered a university ‘Committee of Investigation’ process that began in May 2013, MacQueen said.” — from a story by Postmedia (Canada) reporter Margaret Munro on a case we had been covering for several months

“…Retraction Watch, which has become essential reading for scientists and science journalists, should find a way to continue and, if possible, expand,” writes Paul Raeburn at the Knight Science Journalism Tracker. “So if you like it, throw some money in the jar…”

“If you want to be entertained (not to say amazed or even disgusted) by the retraction epidemic, I suggest visiting the Retraction Watch Web site.” — Mauricio Castillo, editor in chief of the American Journal of Neuroradiology

“There are lots of good science blogs, but I wonder how many of them make a difference. One that unquestionably does is Retraction Watch, run by Adam Marcus and Ivan Oransky, which daily brings us astonishing (and depressing) news, to be found nowhere else, of malfeasance in science.” — Veteran science writer Tabitha Powledge, writing on PLOS Blogs.

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.

A “fascinating and worthwhile blog,” writes Andrew Revkin in Dot Earth, the New York Times’ environmental blog. Revkin has also called Retraction Watch “invaluable.”

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 Monde:

…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:”

Least withdrawn
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.

Wired UK, “[This article is retracted]: Top four retracted science articles:”

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’sThe 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.

The editors of Fertility & Sterility:

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.

Physics World says:

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.

[snip]

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.

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Written by Ivan Oransky

August 11, 2010 at 1:01 pm

36 Responses

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  1. Science and pseudoscience differs not in that one contains fraud and bad practices and the other does not, but in that in science there is at least a willingness to clear up the mess sometimes. Retraction Watch is a brilliant idea to present this effort for self correction and openness of science.

    Gabor Hrasko
    President – Hungarian Skeptic Society

    Gabor Hrasko

    October 17, 2010 at 4:22 am

  2. Heard you on Science Friday this afternoon — keep up the good work. I’ve also been tracking plagiarism in journalism for several years (a blog at http://www.oldwordwolf.blogspot.com), but that field doesn’t have nearly the potential for harm that exists in the sciences and medicine. The hubris, however, is the same. Just last month, a local reporter took the words of a book review in a professional journal and put them into the mouth of a psychology researcher whose book was being reviewed and presented the “quote” as if the reporter had conducted a local interview. No retraction, no apology .. the moral compass has lost its lodestone. Keep up the good work.

    c'est moi

    August 5, 2011 at 5:24 pm

  3. It would be lovely if there was an easily searchable database of retracted papers. That way, applications like Papers.app (http://www.mekentosj.com/papers/) could potentially check your pdf library against the database and alert the user of pdfs that had been retracted by the journal.

    Sean T. Hammond

    August 25, 2011 at 4:19 pm

    • Thanks, Sean. We’ve started an informal database; if you look at the right-hand column of of the blog, you can find posts categorized by author, journal, country, and subject.

      ivanoransky

      August 27, 2011 at 8:56 pm

      • Great to have met you yesterday, Ivan, at Science Online

        It could be very useful to tag each post with the (apparent) reasons for retraction (as in your “type”), perhaps with an icon.

        Also, we are developing an Open Bibliography in biomedical science and will certainly wish to link to retracted papers from it. Do you have a list of DOIs for retracted papers? Or other bibliographic metadata.

        This could be extended to citation graphs which we have started to create for Open access publications (we can’t extract citations automatically from closed-access publications). See the first figure in our Open Bibliography paper (soon to appear) which shows the citation graph for Wakefield’s MMR paper. It shows the way that retracted papers can contaminate the rest of the literature

        Peter Murray-Rust

        September 4, 2011 at 1:03 pm

  4. This blog will become a beacon to climate change denialists and other anti-science types. The cause of correcting science is a noble one, but unfortunately in the real world it gets misused by the worst people in our society. Please consider not including any climate change research in this blog as it will only impede progress.

    My inline spell checker even highlighted ‘denialist’ as a misspelled word. How hopeless.

    Harland

    September 21, 2011 at 12:23 am

  5. To Harland: Exempting climate science from public scrutiny would relegate it to the level of a pseudo-science, as Mr. Hrasko stated in the first of the above responses: “Science and pseudoscience differs not in that one contains fraud and bad practices and the other does not, but in that in science there is at least a willingness to clear up the mess sometimes.”

    Without open discussion of mistakes, errors, and frauds, any science loses its credibility, whether climate science or medicine, and Retraction Watch is essential for pointing out the cracks in the edifice of our knowledge. It is a sad reflection on the current state of medical “science” that this essential service has to be provided by private freelancers while the professional associations and academies prefer to stick their collective heads into the sand to better ignore the problem. They impede progress by knowingly dragging along bogus papers as part of the supposedly scientific doctrine, and also by not being aggressive enough in repudiating blatantly fraudulent studies before they even get published.

    For instance, the NeOProM suffocation experiment of premature babies states in its proposed protocol, posted at http://www.biomedcentral.com/content/pdf/1471-2431-11-6.pdf, openly and in clear defiance of all medical ethics declarations from the Nuremberg Code on about protecting vulnerable patients and avoiding any added risks of death or injury, that

    “… none [of these five trials] individually will be able to exclude the possibility that the expected valuable short term benefits associated with giving babies less oxygen are not associated with a small but significant 4 per cent increase in death or serious neurosensory disability in survivors.”[

    Any alert editor should have asked how these researchers can justify exposing these children to a significantly increased risk of death or brain damage, just to conduct their knowingly lethal and injurious experiment of maybe protecting their eyes. No parent can legally consent to volunteer their child for this cruel experiment which is not in that child’s interest.

    Yet, this proposed suffocation protocol, indistinguishable from the infamous hypothermia and hypobaric experiments of the Nazi doctors, was published in BMC Pediatrics and is being implemented with collaboration from the University of Pennsylvania.

    The President of that University is also the Chair of the current Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues, but that Commission ignores its own violations and is preparing to falsely assure President Obama that such abuses cannot occur under the present regulations. This refusal to face facts by the supposed top bioethics watchdogs will of course greatly damage the reputation of all medical researchers and all bioethicists for many years to come, much worse than what the email hacking scandal did to a few climate scientists who, after all, had not killed anyone. Moreover, the damage will be all the greater the longer the researchers and their enablers try to cover up this current baby suffocation experiment while publicly condemning such crimes only if they happened sixty years ago and far away in Guatemala.

    Please think again before you propose to exempt any science from the obligation to air its errors.

    Peter Aleff

    September 21, 2011 at 6:10 pm

  6. Retraction Watch gets a mention here:

    http://www.orthosupersite.com/view.aspx?rid=89368

    “Retraction Watch, a blog to track discredited articles, has evolved.”

    I wonder what paper Douglas W Jackson is referring to?

    “Here was a lead article in a major journal and the (knee reconstruction) procedure was obsolete in the hands of qualified surgeons less than 2 years after publication. The article was never retracted.”

    Bernard Soares

    November 9, 2011 at 8:09 pm

  7. http://www.technologyreview.com/biomedicine/38873/

    Nancy Geller, the president of the American Statistical Association, mentions Retraction Watch under the title:

    “Beware the Fabulous!”, which refers to ones own work (not to Retraction Watch).

    “One should beware of results that are fabulous, especially if they are one’s own.”

    David Hardman

    November 16, 2011 at 4:23 pm

  8. On the superficial face of it this blog seems a great idea. But it appears to me that it may be misfounded on some very serious fallacies, namely:
    — if a paper is retracted we can assume that therefore it was (seriously) wrong;
    and
    — if a paper isn’t retracted we can assume that therefore it is not fraudulent and not seriously unsound.

    I find these assumptions seriously hazardous. If a field of putatively genuine science is pervasively corrupted, then the process of retraction will be equally corrupted. Genuine papers (challenging the corruption) will be retracted, while actually fraudulent papers will be left unretracted.

    You may reckon that no field of science is subject to such pervasive corruption. But I would point to the case of the Lysenko regime under which for decades the universities and academies were occupied by pseudo-scientists while the genuine scientists were only to be found as slaves in Siberian mines. And there is good reason to suspect exactly the same of a lot of what is purporting to be science in the here and now, not least for reasons of corporate profiteering, institutional egoism, and careerist self-interests. And especially in medical fields.

    In this context, your blog is of questionable effectiveness for clearing up whether we are dealing with retractions that are justified or retractions that are just more corruption by way of cover-up. For instance you cite the Wakefield Lancet paper as one of your most notable cases, and yet it is the subject of ongoing major dispute as to whether there was anything fraudulent about it or whether its retraction is the real fraud. It may or may not be of significance that your blog started up at a time somewhat auspicious in relation to the Wakefield case.

    I apologise if there is any oversight on my part, but I don’t see here much or any discussion of the processes that lead to retraction, or of what validity they have. And equally importantly I don’t see any discussion of papers that **ought** to be retracted but have not (yet) been. I’d be grateful to hear your thoughts on such matters. Thanks.

    Samizdat

    November 22, 2011 at 5:48 pm

    • Thanks for the comment. We’re a bit puzzled by the assumptions you claim we’ve made; we certainly don’t make those assumptions, nor do we see evidence of them on the blog. Perhaps you can offer some examples?

      As far as a discussion of the processes that lead to retraction, we’d point you to pretty much every post on the site. And one of the reasons why we detest opaque notices — a frequent topic here — is that we have no editors have obscured the transparency of those processes. Just to cite a few examples:

      http://retractionwatch.wordpress.com/2011/10/26/retracted-retraction-leaves-genomics-paper-intact-but-authors-wonder-if-anyone-will-know/

      http://retractionwatch.wordpress.com/2011/06/10/update-on-journal-of-neuroscience-retractions-authors-being-investigated-plus-editor-explains-why-notices-say-nothing/

      It’s true that we have focused on reporting and writing about retracted papers, as opposed to papers that ought to be retracted. The exceptions are when we are in the middle of story that is likely to involve more retractions than have already been published. That’s a conscious choice, based on resources. We feel strongly that there are lots of stories behind retractions that should get out to scientists and the public. But we also agree that they are the tip of the iceberg. So if we are ever able to dramatically expand Retraction Watch, we’ll certainly get on more of those cases.

      ivanoransky

      November 22, 2011 at 6:05 pm

      • And thanks for your reply. On whether you (or your readers!) are making those assumptions I must admit I have only come to this blog less than an hour ago, and perhaps you indeed are not. In the above I was just raising my initial impression / speculative hypothesis. I hope to find the time to study your site more thoroughly and then hopefully join in again when/if I have anything further useful to say or ask. Cheers for now!

        Samizdat

        November 22, 2011 at 6:19 pm

  9. One missing from this list is Connie St Louis, director of the science journalism MA at City University in London. As a former student of hers I was browbeaten into reading this blog with her insistence that it is an excellent example of investigative science journalism rather than communication masquerading as journalism. She was right, as usual.

    nascenthack

    December 27, 2011 at 4:24 am

  10. There was a question whether big math results are ever politely withdrawn from alleged contention. News has it Riemann’s Hypothesis has turned up several case contradictions in new L-form computations applying vast systems solution of zeta as a complex valued function of complex variable (Clay Math news, last 6 months). Among the many departures from valid agumentative logic in Wiles-Ribet-Fry’s FLT c.a. 1994; was dependency on Artin’s form of The Riemann Hypothesis. But this would also negate Wile’s primary claim of having proven the Tanayama-Shimura Conjecture. Two birds with one stone.

    Piltdown Proof

    April 19, 2012 at 3:19 pm

  11. http://www.theaustralian.com.au/higher-education/das-lecture-highlights-scientific-fraud-outcry/story-e6frgcjx-1226252794623

    “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.”

    David Hardman

    May 9, 2012 at 6:16 am

  12. The increase in retractions of scientific papers is interesting, but I wonder what are the underlying cause(s)? In recent years there seems an increasing pressure on academics to publish. Principally this comes from their host institutions as a form of staff management: academics are increasingly made to feel watched by the administrative departments of their own institutions. Their performance is measured in terms of the publication output; consequently, much work is regurgitated. It is my contention that this ‘fear-culture’ causes people to take risks and cut corners, and this is in point of fact the cause of the increase in retracted articles. If then it is the desire of the host institution to exert ever more control over academic staff, that causes this problem, do we not make an error in watching the academics and not the administrative staff? Instead of a retraction watch website would not an admin watch website be better?

    Richard Haigh

    June 19, 2012 at 3:41 pm

    • In reply to Richard Haigh June 19, 2012 at 3:41 pm

      “Instead of a retraction watch website would not an admin watch website be better?”

      Instead of instead, in addition.

      How should one measure them? What index is there of admin output? Their incomes would count as negative.

      David Hardman

      August 22, 2012 at 1:26 pm

  13. There is a puzzling thing about retracted papers still being cited after their retraction. This of course is easily explained if authors are just not aware of the fact. On the other hand if you can still download retracted papers from the Journal, you might be easily fooled into believing they are OK. This happens all te time. A recent review on epilepsy for instance (Seizure Vol. 21: 3–11, 2012), cites and article retracted in 2009(!) from Nature Genetics involving chloride channel ClC-2 in epilepsy. This article, retracted because it contained fabricated data, can still be retrieved from the Nature Genetics website. If it is retracted it is retracted, and should be erased from the database….surely (?).

    Toby Esterhase

    August 22, 2012 at 12:44 pm

  14. fernando pessoa

    September 12, 2012 at 11:27 pm

  15. Criticism of scientific misconduct in the former SU

    Since 1998, we (in plural because other colleagues participated but have reasons not to disclose their names) have commented on scientific misconduct in Russia [1-20], including self-criticism [1,2]; the only appreciable result being personal trouble. We denounced plagiarism [3,4], misquoting [3,5,6], manipulations with statistics [3,7], inadequate planning of research [8-12], application of invasive procedures without sufficient indications [2,9,13] etc. The criticism has been either ignored [9,10,14] or replied formally, leaving some arguments uncommented [21-25]. A concluding point is that criticism of scientific misconduct is a thankless activity at least in today’s Russia, where, to the best of our knowledge, no articles have been retracted so far, while unreliable materials continue to be published and defended as dissertations.

    References
    1. Iargin SV. The message about unreliability of publications. Klin Khir. 2011;(6):69-70. (Russian)
    2. Jargin SV. Renal biopsy research in the former Soviet Union: prevention of a negligent custom. ISRN Nephrology 2013; Article 980859.
    3. Jargin SV. Scientific misconduct. Dermatopathol: Pract & Conc 2008 ; 14(2); continued in 2009 ; 15(1,2,4) and 2010; 16(1-4). Available at: https://derm101.com/indexDPC
    4. Jargin SV. Plagiarism in radiology: A substitute for importation of foreign handbooks. J Med Imaging Radiat Oncol. 2010;54(1):50-2.
    5. Jargin SV. Overestimation of Chernobyl consequences: poorly substantiated information published. Radiat Environ Biophys. 2010;49(4):743-5; author reply 747-8.
    6. Jargin SV. Overestimating Chernobyl’s consequences: motives and tools. Disaster Med Public Health Prep. 2011;5(3):175-6.
    7. Jargin SV. Use of mathematical statistics for detection of manipulations with numerical data and specimens. Molodoi Uchenyi (Young Scientist) 2012;(9):41-22. http://www.moluch.ru/archive/44/5326/ (Russian)
    8. Jargin SV. Some aspects of mutation research after a low-dose radiation exposure. Mutat Res. 2012; doi: 10.1016/j.mrgentox.2012.09.002
    9. Jargin SV. Surfactant preparations for tuberculosis and other diseases beyond infancy: a letter from Russia. Tuberculosis (Edinb). 2012;92(3):280-2.
    10. Jargin SV. Testing of serum atherogenicity in cell cultures: questionable data published. Ger Med Sci. 2012;10:Doc02.
    11. Jargin SV. Radioprotective properties of water with low content of stable isotopes: critical evaluation. Fiziologia-Physiology 2010;20.4(68):30-40.
    12. Jargin SV. Pathology in the former Soviet Union: scientific misconduct and related phenomena. Dermatol Pract Concept 2011;1(1):16. http://dx.doi.org/10.5826/dpc.0101a16
    13. Jargin SV. Unnecessary operations: a letter from Russian pathologist. Int J Surg. 2010;8(5):409-10.
    14. Jargin SV. Overestimation of Chernobyl consequences: biophysical aspects. Radiat Environ Biophys. 2009;48(3):341-4.
    15. Jargin SV. Thyroid cancer after chernobyl: obfuscated truth. Dose Response. 2011;9(4):471-6.
    16. Jargin SV. Russian pathology and scientific misconduct. Indian J Pathol Microbiol. 2009;52(3):443.
    17. Jargin SV. Discussion of Evaluation of cholesterol-lowering and antioxidant properties of sugar cane policosanols in hamsters and humans. Appl Physiol Nutr Metab. 2009;34(1):75; discussion 76-7.
    18. Jargin SV. Re: Involvement of ubiquitination and sumoylation in bladder lesions induced by persistent long-term low dose ionizing radiation in humans and Re: DNA damage repair in bladder urothelium after the Chernobyl accident in Ukraine. J Urol. 2007;177(2):794.
    19. Jargin SV. Over-estimation of radiation-induced malignancy after the Chernobyl accident. Virchows Arch. 2007;451(1):105-6.
    20. Jargin SV. Overestimation of Chernobyl consequences: calculation of a latent period for tumors with unproven radiation etiology. Radiat Environ Biophys. 2009;48(4):433-4.
    21. Romanenko AM et al. Reply by Authors. Re: Involvement of ubiquitination and sumoylation in bladder lesions induced by persistent long-term low dose ionizing radiation in humans and Re: DNA damage repair in bladder urothelium after the Chernobyl accident in Ukraine. J Urol. 2007;177(2): 794-5.
    22. Romanenko AM et al. Response from authors of ” Extracellular matrix alterations in conventional renal cell carcinomas by tissue microarray profiling influenced by the persistent, long-term, low-dose ionizing radiation exposure in humans”. Virchows Arch. 2007;451(1):107-8.
    23. Ivanov VK. Response to “Overestimation of Chernobyl consequences: calculation of a latent period for tumors with unproven radiation etiology” by S.V. Jargin. Radiat Environ Biophys. 2009;48(4):435.
    24. Yablokov A & Nesterenko A. Reply to letter by Jargin on “Overestimation of Chernobyl consequences: poorly substantiated information published”. Radiat Environ Biophys. 2010;49(4):747-8.
    25. Dubrova YE. Reply to the letter by SV Jargin. Mutat Res. 2012; doi: 10.1016/j.mrgentox.2012.09.003

    Sergei Jargin

    September 26, 2012 at 10:09 am

    • i totally missed this out. What were the irregularities in the above papers especially from Dubrova YE. I am interested in knowing this. Thanks.

      Ressci Integrity

      December 24, 2012 at 9:35 pm

      • Jargin SV. Some aspects of mutation research after a low-dose radiation exposure. Mutation Research 2012;749(1-2):101-2; author reply 103-4.

        Sergei Jargin

        January 28, 2013 at 1:56 am

        • Re: Jargin SV. Some aspects of mutation research after a low-dose radiation exposure. Mutation Research 2012;749(1-2):101-2.

          I am grateful to Dr. Yuri Dubrova for his response [1] to my letter [2] and agree to the following remark: “The Author also makes a very serious accusation stating that ‘statistics with unknown levels of significance’ was used in our publications [3,4]. I would like to stress that the main result of these two studies, showing significantly elevated mutation rate in the germline of irradiated parents, was verified by means of the most conservative statistical test – Fisher’s exact test.” [1] This comment could have been caused by an omission on my part: instead of the references [3,5] in the sentence “Moreover, statistics with unknown levels of significance are used in the argumentation in [3,5]” [2], the sources [4,5] should have been quoted. However, the following was written in my letter [2] after the sentence cited above: “a negative correlation between the mutation rate and a paternal year of birth among inhabitants of Semipalatinsk area is stated without giving the value of the correlation coefficient and its level of significance [4,5]. Considering the configuration of the diagram Fig. 2 in [5], this correlation may be insignificant. Nevertheless, a discussion is led on its basis, e.g.: ‘Most importantly, this correlation provides the first experimental evidence for change in human germline-mutation rate with declining exposure to ionizing radiation and therefore shows that the Moscow treaty banning nuclear weapon tests in the atmosphere (August, 1963) has been effective in reducing genetic risk to the affected population [5].’ ” [2] This passage was not commented by Dr. Dubrova. The Fisher’s exact test is not used for evaluation of the level of significance of a correlation coefficient. Moreover, the dose comparisons concerning Chernobyl accident presented in my letter [2] were not commented. In the author’s reply [1], an argument from the previous article [5] was repeated: “Existing estimates of doses for the residents of contaminated areas around the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant reflect external and internal exposure to caesium-137 and caesium-134 [6]. As discussed in [3,7], these estimates are often at odds with those obtained by retrospective biodosimetry, which may reflect the initial external and internal exposure to the short-lived radionuclides.” [1] It was however pointed out in my letter [2] that the share of the short-lived radionuclides in the population exposure after the Chernobyl accident must have been lower than that after the atomic explosions, where no increase in the minisatellite mutations has been found [8]. After a nuclear power plant accident, predominantly those radionuclides are released into the environment, that had been accumulated in the reactor core, i.e. relatively long-lived ones; whereas during an atomic explosion both short- and long-lived radionuclides are generated [2] and can exert their biological action. This argument was dismissed by the remark: “Author’s belief that the ‘share of short-lived isotopes in the population exposure must have been lower than that after the atomic explosions in Hiroshima and Nagasaki’ is totally groundless.” [1] Furthermore it is written in the author’s reply that “according to the results of numerous studies the doses for the families living in the Semipalatinsk District of Kazakhstan have been estimated as 0.5 Sv and higher” [1] with a reference to [9]. In the abstract of the article [9] it is however written: “The village of Dolon, in particular, has been identified for many years as the most highly exposed location in the vicinity of the test site. Previous publications cited external doses of more than 2 Gy to residents of Dolon while an expert group assembled by the WHO in 1997 estimated that external doses were likely to have been less than 0.5 Gy.” [9] The single historical measurement of exposure rate for Dolon was likely performed at the axis of the radioactive trace. So the dose estimates based on this measurement are considered as possible maximum external dose rather than average dose for the residents of this village [10], let alone other villages and towns. It is stated in [4] that Dr. Dubrova and his co-workers collected material in the rural areas of the Semipalatinsk district of Kazakhstan around the Semipalatinsk nuclear test site, where the average individual doses were presumably lower than “0.5 Sv and higher” as specified in the author’s reply [1]. In conclusion, the argumentation from [2] should be adequately responded.

          References
          1. Dubrova YE. Reply to the letter by S.V. Jargin, Mutat Res. 2012;749(1-2): 103-4.
          2. Jargin SV. Some aspects of mutation research after a low-dose radiation exposure. Mutat Res. 2012;749(1-2):101-2.
          3. Dubrova YE, Grant G, Chumak AA, Stezhka VA, Karakasian AN. Elevated minisatellite mutation rate in the post-chernobyl families from ukraine. Am J Hum Genet. 2002;71(4):801-9.
          4. Dubrova YE, Bersimbaev RI, Djansugurova LB, Tankimanova MK, Mamyrbaeva ZZh, Mustonen R, Lindholm C, Hultén M, Salomaa S. Nuclear weapons tests and human germline mutation rate. Science. 2002;295(5557):1037.
          5. Dubrova YE. Monitoring of radiation-induced germline mutation in humans. Swiss Med Wkly. 2003;133(35-36):474-8.
          6. Likhtarev IA, Kovgan LN, Vavilov SE, Perevoznikov ON, Litvinets LN, Anspaugh LR, Jacob P, Pröhl G. Internal exposure from the ingestion of foods contaminated by 137Cs after the Chernobyl accident–report 2. Ingestion doses of the rural population of Ukraine up to 12 y after the accident (1986-1997). Health Phys. 2000;79(4):341-57.
          7. Baverstock K, Williams D. Chernobyl: an overlooked aspect? Science. 2003;299(5603):44.
          8. Kodaira M, Izumi S, Takahashi N, Nakamura N. No evidence of radiation effect on mutation rates at hypervariable minisatellite loci in the germ cells of atomic bomb survivors. Radiat Res. 2004;162(4):350-6.
          9. Simon SL, Baverstock KF, Lindholm C; World Health Organization; Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority in Finland; National Cancer Institute. A summary of evidence on radiation exposures received near to the Semipalatinsk nuclear weapons test site in Kazakhstan. Health Phys. 2003;84(6):718-25.
          10. Gordeev K, Shinkarev S, Ilyin L, Bouville A, Hoshi M, Luckyanov N, Simon SL. Retrospective dose assessment for the population living in areas of local fallout from the Semipalatinsk nuclear test site Part I: External exposure. J Radiat Res. 2006;47 Suppl A:A129-36.

          Sergei Jargin

          February 4, 2014 at 1:51 am

    • Jargin SV. Scientific misconduct or how to make the elderly pay for placebos. LAP LAMBERT Academic Publishing, Saarbrücken, 2013 https://www.ljubljuknigi.ru/store/gb/book/scientific-misconduct-or-how-to-make-the-elderly-pay-for-placebos/isbn/978-3-659-45967-2

      Sergei Jargin

      November 6, 2013 at 3:21 am

      • Hypoplastic renal dysplasia vs. Alport syndrome

        A concept of hypoplastic renal dysplasia was developed by means of renal biopsy [1-3]. Histopathologically and ultrastructurally it was described as follows: “Racemosely arranged glomeruli with single capillary loops, abundant rounded cells freely lying in the cavity of a capsule; single mesangial cells; irregular enlargement, loosening, and thinning of the basement membrane”, narrow extracapillary space, glomeruli having irregular form and singular capillary loops [2] or total absence of capillaries, which has no analogues in the international literature. In my opinion, the descriptions as in [1,2] were based on tangential sections of glomeruli, which seems . I advised the authors of [1] at that time that the concept of hypoplastic dysplasia should be verified on nephrectomy or autopsy material counting percentages of glomeruli “with single capillary loops” [1]; but it has not been done, and the concept has been persisting. For example, hypoplastic dysplasia was diagnosed as a main renal condition e.g. in 8 from 34 patients aged 9-54 years with nephrotic syndrome and histologically minimal glomerular changes [3]. At the same time, there was no one case of Alport syndrome mentioned among 4440 cases, diagnosed by renal biopsy in the same institution, overviewed in [4]. The concept of hypoplastic dysplasia as a special form of nephropathy [1], discussed with clinicians performing biopsies, could have interfered with the diagnostics of Alport syndrome, having certain genetic implications. For comparison, the Alport syndrome and thin basement membrane nephropathy constituted more than 1 % of all renal conditions diagnosed by means of renal biopsy in Rostock [5]. Moreover, indications for renal and pancreatic biopsies used in research [6,7] should be questioned, considering partly unrealistic morphological descriptions by the same authors, partly cited above.

        In my opinion, at least [1] should be retracted. Analogous cases are discussed in [8,9]. The articles retracing my own publications [10,11].

        References
        1. Severgina ES, Paltsev MA. Hypoplastic dysplasia as one of the forms of nephropathy. Arkh Patol 1989; 51(10): 58-63.
        2. Varshavskii VA, Proskurneva EP, Gasanov AB, Severgina LO, Shestakova LA. Subdivision of certain morphological variants of chronic glomerulonephritis. Arkh Patol 1999; 61(5): 40-46.
        3. Severgina ES. Ultrastructural heterogeneity of “minimal changes” in the kidney glomeruli, detected by light optics. Arkh Patol 1991; 53(2): 53-58.
        4. Dzhanaliev BR, Varshavskii VA, Laurinavicius AA. Primary glomerulopathies: incidence, dynamics and clinical manifestations of morphological variants. Arkh Patol 2002; 64(2): 32-35.
        5. Nizze H, et al. Glomerular diseases in renal biopsy. Correlation of clinical syndromes with histological types. Pathologe 2003; 24(6): 421-432.
        6. Severgina ES, Diuzheva TG. Morphologic and functional changers in B-cells and vessels of the islands of Langerhans in patients with insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus. Arkh Patol. 1996;58(5):40-7.
        7. Severgina ES, Ponomarev AB, Diuzheva TG, Shestakova MV, Maiorova EM. Diabetic glomerulonephritis – the first stage of diabetic glomerulopathy. Arkh Patol. 1994;56(4):44-50.
        8. Jargin SV. Renal biopsy research with implications for therapy of glomerulonephritis. Current drug therapy. 2012;7(4):263-267.
        9. Jargin SV. Chernobyl-related Bladder Lesions: New Interpretation Required. J Interdiscipl Histopathol. Online First: 28 Jan, 2014.
        10. Jargin SV. Renal Biopsy Research in the Former Soviet Union: Prevention of a Negligent Custom. ISRN Nephrology 2013, Article ID 980859, doi:10.5402/2013/980859
        11. Iargin SV. The message about unreliability of publications. Klin Khir. 2011;(6):69-70.

        Sergei Jargin

        February 7, 2014 at 11:48 am

  16. http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2012/sep/13/scientific-research-fraud-bad-practice

    “Ivan Oransky, editor of the Retraction Watch blog that collects examples of retracted papers, argues: “The reason the public stops trusting institutions is when [its members] say things like, ‘There’s nothing to see here, let us handle it,’ and then they find out about something bad that happened that nobody handled. That’s when mistrust builds.”

    Fernando Pessoa

    September 29, 2012 at 5:13 am

  17. After a whole lifetime spent in science, I often wondered how newcomers would ever know that a paper they were reading and extracting information was false. Your Web site gives all scientists a way of checking against the literature so that none of us can be led down the garden path.
    It is true that papers can be removed from web sites or at least posted as being problematic, but because I have been in science since 1950 I am more used to looking at the printed material for which there can be no notification in the older literature.

    Ellis Glazier

    December 24, 2012 at 2:52 pm

  18. Retraction: INrf2 (Keap1) targets Bcl-2 degradation and controls cellular apoptosis.
    Niture SK, Jaiswal AK.

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24336049

    Dr.Anil kumar Jaisawal (university of Maryland) coauthored few paper with Dr. BB Aggarwal (Texas).

    ram

    January 3, 2014 at 4:29 pm

  19. other article withdrwan from same authors

    Hsp90 interaction with INrf2(Keap1) mediates stress-induced Nrf2 activation.
    Suryakant K. Niture and Anil K. Jaiswal
    VOLUME 285 (2010) PAGES 36865–36875

    This article has been withdrawn by the authors.

    ram

    April 26, 2014 at 3:34 pm

    • another third article withdrawn by same authors Niture SK, Jaiswal AK.
      Inhibitor of Nrf2 (INrf2 or Keap1) protein degrades Bcl-xL via phosphoglycerate mutase 5 and controls cellular apoptosis.
      Niture SK, Jaiswal AK.
      J Biol Chem. 2014 Aug 8;289(32):22019. doi: 10.1074/jbc.A111.275073. No abstract available.
      PMID: 25108015 [PubMed - in process]

      dilip

      August 13, 2014 at 10:39 am

  20. I guess that people will always try to pull one over on someone else. This is going to happen no matter how many retractions. The best way forward is to prevent the articles being published in the first place.

    Scientific publishing is big business, and the journals charge large sums of money to publish an article; its big business but the whole submission/review process is amateurish. Peer review often biased (for or against) and the editorial handling is usually non-existent (unless an author complains). Time to change the current mechanism of submission, peer review and editorial handling, the current mechanism can’t cope. The journals seems to be still living in the 1950s/60s.

    bill

    October 3, 2014 at 10:38 pm


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