The 2017 Retraction Watch Year in Review (hint: Our database is nearly done)

One journal broke a retractions record by pulling more than 100 papers in one day for faked reviews, a Harvard graduate student obtained a restraining order against his boss after being forced to undergo a psychiatric exam, and a well-known food scientist at Cornell faced heavy criticism about his research.

And that’s just some of what we reported in the first few months of 2017.

This year, our team worked hard this year to dig deeper into retractions and hold publishers and institutions accountable, while filing more public records requests (including investigation reports, which journals have noticed), and exploring larger stories affecting academic publishing.

But our biggest accomplishment this year was working on our database — now close to complete (thanks to the hard work of more than a dozen graduate students, librarians, and others), it includes just shy of 16,000 retractions.

Here’s a sampling of what else we worked on this year:

January

  • We told the extraordinary story of how lab disputes can go horribly wrong: After being forced to undergo a psychiatric evaluation (including being hauled away by police officers in the middle of the night), a PhD student at Harvard obtained a restraining order — against his boss. We reported the piece in Science (along with an update that appeared in July).

February

March

April

May

June

  • Is there a retraction problem? Marcus and Oransky explore the question in a chapter of The Oxford Handbook of the Science of Science Communication.
  • We’re filing more public records requests — including one that produced an investigation report from the University of Colorado Denver that showed a former professor had altered dozens of images.

July

August

September

  • Want to employ a commonly used research tool to measure medication adherence? Great, just pay up (or you may have to retract).

October

November

December

Today, we sent out our 500th edition of the Retraction Watch Daily email. Haven’t signed up yet? You can here.

Here’s a list of the most-viewed posts for the year:

  1. Why did Beall’s List of potential predatory publishers go dark?
  2. “I placed too much faith in underpowered studies:” Nobel Prize winner admits mistakes
  3. A new record: Major publisher retracting more than 100 studies from cancer journal over fake peer reviews
  4. Updated: Vaccine-autism study retracted — again  
  5. Updated: Ohio State revokes PhD of co-author of now-retracted paper on shooter video games

Now, some numbers:

  • Cumulative page views since our launch in August 2010: 30 million
  • Subscribers to our email alerts: More than 15,000
  • Facebook likes: Nearly 29,000
  • Twitter followers: More than 22,000

And the numbers we’re most grateful for: More than 75 individual donors made gifts to The Center For Scientific Integrity, totaling more than $14,000. That unrestricted funding will allow us to grow even more next year. It’s not too late to make an end-of-year tax-deductible donation, either. Here’s how.

As always, we owe much of our success to our readers — including our critics — and our fantastic, dedicated staff. Thank you, and all the best in 2018!

Like Retraction Watch? Consider making a tax-deductible contribution to support our growth. You can also follow us on Twitter, like us on Facebook, add us to your RSS reader, sign up on our homepage for an email every time there’s a new post, or subscribe to our daily digest. Click here to review our Comments Policy. For a sneak peek at what we’re working on, click here. If you have comments or feedback, you can reach us at retractionwatchteam@gmail.com.

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