Over the years, we have written about a number of the sleuths who, on their own time and often at great risks to their careers or finances, have looked for issues in the scientific literature. Here’s a sampling:
- David Allison and Andrew Brown tried getting journals to correct or retract two dozen papers with obvious errors. The results weren’t pretty.
Elisabeth “Eagle Eyes” Bik showed that one in 25 papers she examined had evidence of inappropriate image manipulation.
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- Paul Brookes created http://Science-Fraud.org. He had to shut it down after legal threats. But the scientists featured there have now retracted dozens of papers.
- Jennifer Byrne became a literature watchdog after she found a bunch of errors in DNA constructs reported by papers. The number of papers that have resulted from her inquiries keeps climbing.
- John Carlisle was instrumental in exposing the statistical anomalies in the work of Yoshitaka Fujii, who tops our leaderboard with 183 retractions. Another of Carlisle’s projects looked at more than 5,000 clinical trials, and flagged a study in the New England Journal of Medicine that was retracted and replaced last week.
Michael Dougherty has become the philosophy plagiarism police.
- Malte Elson and Patrick Markey paid a price for being right about problems in a study of violent video games.
- James Heathers — who calls himself a “data thug” — and Nick Brown have been central to the Brian Wansink saga, and have created tools that others can use to detect problems.
- Three years ago, Joshua Kalla and David Broockman began to think something wasn’t right with a paper in Science about how best to change people’s minds about same-sex marriage. They were right, and the retraction captured international attention.
- Michèle B. Nuijten, along with Chris Hartgerink, created “statcheck,” which automatically spots statistical mistakes in psychology papers, making it significantly easier to find flaws.
- The grad student who raised concerns about the work of Cornell psychology researcher Robert Sternberg was Brendan O’Connor. Another “data thug” is born.
- Mike Rossner has made a name for himself as an image manipulation detective for more than a decade.
- Deborah Weber-Wulff is a key member of VroniPlag Wiki, a group of German-language scientists who have been scanning for — and publicly tracking — cases of plagiarism.
Look for more profiles of such sleuths in the coming months. And a request: Our work takes resources, and we’d be grateful if you could consider a donation to support our work. Contribute by PayPal here, Crowdrise here, or by check made out to The Center For Scientific Integrity, 121 W. 36th St., Suite 209, New York, NY 10018.
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