Weekend reads: NFL, NIH butt heads on concussion research; should all papers be anonymous?

booksThe week at Retraction Watch featured our annual roundup of the year’s top retractions for The Scientist, a retraction from Science, and claims about a book Aristotle never wrote. Here’s what was happening elsewhere:

Retractions Outside of The Scientific Literature

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5 thoughts on “Weekend reads: NFL, NIH butt heads on concussion research; should all papers be anonymous?”

  1. A comment Re sharing of raw data: Of course RetractionWatch is right, but does the principle go as far as to making it acceptable to make a career of analyzing other researchers’ data? If I have fun inventing new methods of analyzing data underlying other people’s papers, how far can I go, and do I have to make the original authors my co-authors? Is there a moral or formal limit to this traffic?

    1. I suppose that would depend on whether the reanalysis is materially adding to the understanding of the issue at hand. I know of cases where the original authors didn’t want to deal with any criticism and the only recourse was to publish an alternative interpretation of the data. In such cases, there are often three desirable outcomes: 1) the reinterpretation is correct and the science advances; 2) the reinterpretation is not correct and the original work is confirmed and strengthened; 3) the nature of the problem is uncertain and a robust debate advances the science.

      Although every situation has its specific details, too often it seems, publication seems to be its own end, and “getting it right” just something “nit-pickers” worry about. If data collection is only a way to build careers and egos, it should not be publically funded.

  2. In the interests of being pernickety, the retraction letter in the “Journal of Practice and Trauma” is not about a retraction in this journal. There are two new journals (in English) which originate in Kerman and Sinjar Universities (or medical schools) in Iran. The first issue of “Report of Health Care” embarrassingly started with a paper which had already been published elsewhere – and which is now stamped “RETRACTED.” A letter was then published in the “Journal of Practice and Trauma” which castigates the authors of the retracted paper – without naming them – and seems to call for academic sanctions against these unfortunates. Sounds as if this is local medical politics exactly as practiced world wide.

  3. In the publishing anonymously paper, the author suggests that conferences could be anonymised by requiring presenters to choose a title very different from the relevant paper(s). I can see it now:

    “If you’re interest has been whetted, I’ve written two paper going into this in much more detail … but I’m not allowed to tell you what they are.”

    It also seems to totally miss that conferences are one of the main venues in which you give/receive informal feedback and suggestions, which’d become almost impossible. The amount of extra work the author is proposing in terms of dealing with the community/other scientists, it reads like chopping off your hand to fix your hangnail.

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