Weekend reads: A new publishing scam; reproducibility as a political weapon; prosecuting predatory publishers

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The week at Retraction Watch featured a neither-correction-nor-retraction that made no one happy, a debate over an obesity intervention that ended without a resolution, and the retraction of a study that led to hyped claims about the dangers of tuna. Here’s what was happening elsewhere:

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5 thoughts on “Weekend reads: A new publishing scam; reproducibility as a political weapon; prosecuting predatory publishers”

  1. Will definitely consider making a donation. Need to read a few more issues to make up my mind.
    Very interested in seeing a retraction by field category in so far as this can be done. My suspicion is that papers guided by comprehensive theory (i.e. physics, chemistry) are less likely to be retracted. Comments?

    1. Would be delighted if you made a donation, thank you. Feel free to click through our archives for more posts — we’ve published more than 4,000.

      Re: retractions by field, are you familiar with our database? It’s a far more comprehensive look at retractions than is possible on the blog. retractiondatabase.org

  2. I wonder how much more limelight this pointless “Is reusing the two sentence paragraph already having the density of a neutron star in the Methods section of your new paper plagiarism?” pseudoargument will receive. I wish this was the most nagging problem with scientific publishing these days.

  3. I like the way you select tempting quotes to entice us to click on articles. One minor suggestion though: reading this long list each week takes work. It might take less work if the articles were groups into categories so that thematically similar topics would appear adjacent.

    I’m not sure what topics would be appropriate (systematic academic studies versus opinion pieces versus articles about particular incidents?). Regardless, I think some organization might help.

    thanks for considering the idea!

  4. Very interesting to see Spagat continue the spat over the Burnham et al. Lancet Iraq paper. Spagat published a mathematical model tendentiously claiming that Burnham’s results were due to a “Main Street Bias” whereby the sampling method used was more likely to find deaths because it *began* household sampling from a house selected two streets away from a main street (apparently such streets are “a natural habitat for patrols, convoys, police stations, road-blocks, cafes, and street-markets,” thereby meaning household members are somehow more likely to be casualties.)

    The article makes several claims that are dubious – for instance it is not surprising that comprehensive Lancet casualty estimates differ greatly from the Iraq Body Count project, which counts newspaper reports of deaths – not every Iraqi death during the war was reported in an newspaper.

    Burnham’s paper caused a great deal of anger and was politically inopportune. There were some minor corretions that had to be made to the original Lancet paper, and there were some difficulties regarding sharing data because of the confidentiality promised to respondants and the dangerous nature of Iraq at the time, but Spagat’s characterisation of it here is heavily biased.

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