Weekend reads: Why critics criticize; a Big Bang Theory retraction; Nobels under scrutiny

The week at Retraction Watch featured admissions of fake data from a biotech company whose compound is now in clinical trials, a look at who recycles text, and the apparent demotion of a researcher who had a paper on video games retracted. Here’s what was happening elsewhere:

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7 thoughts on “Weekend reads: Why critics criticize; a Big Bang Theory retraction; Nobels under scrutiny”

  1. Oh, wow. So, Donald J. Wright is a whole department, just by himself? 😉

    “Donald J. Wright, the acting U.S. Department of Health & Human Services”

  2. “As an author, I, like most of my colleagues, have often been frustrated by conflicting referee reports…” (Troy Shinbrot, Physics Today)

    Suggested headline: “Falling between two stools? No, stalling between two fools”.

  3. I highly recommend the first bulleted post:
    Thanks to RW for highlighting the article by James Heathers and putting it at the top of the list. It’s an awesome explanation from a whistleblower as to why he does what he does. It’s about science.

    Also excellent is the Buzzfeed article that inspired Heathers:
    That’s investigative journalism at its finest!

  4. As far as acknowledgements differing across disciplines is concerned, previous research has suggested that disciplines where papers list authors in alphabetical order have more acknowledgments (and fewer authors) then disciplines that list authors in order of contribution. The idea is that if an additional author gets equal attribution (alphabetical order) you are more likely to acknowledge minor contributions (e.g. research assistants doing what they are paid for) with an acknowledgement. However, if an additional author gets less credit when his name is last, there is less cost in adding him/her as a last author.

    1. I am in a “discipline where papers list authors in alphabetical order”. It would be completely inappropriate to not include an RA as a co-author if he/she contributed to the paper in any material way. It does not matter if this is what they are paid to do; we (the senior researchers) are also paid in part for doing research and writing papers, even if less directly.

      1. If they come up with ideas, etc. that did not occur to the authors, yes. but if they are just following instructions (e.g. searching Google Scholar for publication outcomes of conference papers, tabulating results from an email survey, or something like that), I would just acknowledge their help. I get the impression that in many disciplines that do not use alphabetical order, co-authorship is used as a way to make up for not having money to properly pay RAs to do grunt work.

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