Happy birthday to Retraction Watch! (We’re 7.) And an update on our database.

August 3rd is a big day around here — it’s our birthday. Today, we celebrate seven years since two science journalists decided, not exactly on whim but close to it, to launch a blog about retractions. Little did they know. (To hear our co-founder Ivan Oransky talk more about this milestone, check out his podcast interview with Cara Santa Maria, host of “Talk Nerdy.”)

Once again, it’s been a big year. What we’re most excited about is having launched a still-in-progress retractions database. Speaking of still in progress, here’s where we are: The database contains just shy of 8,000 carefully curated and detailed entries, which, when we first started gathering material, seemed to be most of the retractions out there. We now think that there are closer to 9,000 retractions of papers so far, which would mean we’re about 90% of the way to being complete. (For comparison, as of today, PubMed — which is almost exclusively focused on the biomedical literature, rather than all subjects — lists 5,176 retracted papers, and 5,461 retractions of publications.) Along the way, however, we have become aware of large swaths of retracted conference abstracts, some of which we’ve reported on, but most of which we haven’t. Including those, we estimate there are about 15,000 retractions — so there’s still some work to do.

This spring, we were grateful recipients of a $325,000 grant renewal from the Helmsley Charitable Trust. The Trust, and our other generous funders — the MacArthur Foundation and the Arnold Foundation — have enabled us to continue our work, including hiring two new staff writers, Victoria Stern and Andrew P. Han.

Some other highlights:

On August 3 of last year, we announced a partnership with Science; this year, we published multiple features and news stories with them. A sampling:

This year, we also became regular contributors to the Boston Globe’s On Second Thought feature, recapping some of the more head-scratching coverage from our site for a different audience.

In other outside writing news, our co-founders Ivan Oransky and Adam Marcus contributed a chapter to The Oxford Handbook of the Science of Science Communication: The Oxford Handbook of the Science of Science Communication, titled: “Is there a Retraction Problem? And, If So, What Do We Know About How It Is and Can Be Addressed?” In May, we and Miguel Roig, a member of our parent non-profit organization’s board of directors, presented two abstracts at the World Conference on Research Integrity, one on who faces criminal sanctions for misconduct, and other other what happens to editorial expressions of concern.

Some numbers: We surpassed 14,000 subscribers to email alerts for individual stories, and 1,000 subscribers to our daily email. (You’re not subscribed yet? Click here.) And sometime later this month, we’ll publish our 4,000th post.

And let’s not forget all the other groups doing valuable work in this field — this year, we bestowed the first “Doing the Right Thing” — or DiRT — award.

As we are fond of saying, your readership, criticism, and tips are anniversary gifts enough, but we would be remiss if we didn’t note that donations to our parent non-profit organization, The Center For Scientific Integrity are tax-deductible. Should you feel so moved, we would be deeply grateful for any and all contributions to help us continue our work. While foundation support has been critical to our growth, there are always more investigations, more research, and more work that we’d like to do. Click here to contribute.

Stay tuned for more in year eight.

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10 thoughts on “Happy birthday to Retraction Watch! (We’re 7.) And an update on our database.”

  1. Happy Birthday and best wishes on your website’s birthday. Though I am no longer (by many years) faculty (and well published in med and psych journals) at Dallas medschool, and don’t have time to read R.W., I find myself reading it nearly every day. Ivan The Terrible must be striking fear in the fraudulent researchers across the globe and reminding journal editors to do their jobs better. If I were advising the POTUS, I’d recommend I-T-T to be head of NIH, or at a minimum NIMH. Keep up the good work.

  2. Happy Birthday RW. Some how directly, or indirectly your site has changed my life; in a good way. All the best.

  3. Retraction Watch is an important monitor of the dark side of science. Long may you watch retractions, Retraction Watch!

  4. Happy birthday to retraction watch. I’m growing with you since 7 years and learned a lot to become a good scientist. Best wishes :).

  5. Happy Birthday!!

    Once RW finalises the retractions would it be possible to then develop a cross reference database to which now retracted publications have been included in Grant applications?

    This may well be useful to then develop a database of the financials involved.

  6. Congrats to RW on turning another year older (& wiser)! Keep up the good work in trying to keep science honest.

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