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:
- Whistleblower sues Duke, claims doctored data helped win $200 million in grants
- How a dispute at Harvard led to a grad student’s forced mental exam and an extraordinary restraining order against a prominent scientist
- U.S. researchers guilty of misconduct later won more than $100 million in NIH grants, study finds
- Why would a university pay a scientist found guilty of misconduct to leave?
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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