Hey, we’re eight today!
Every year on August 3, we like to remind readers of everything we have to celebrate on our anniversary — and of what a privilege it is to be able to do this work.
We’ve come a long way since we launched in 2010. For one, we’re one shy of 4,500 posts. And we’re very close to completing work on something we hope we become an indispensable tool in scholarly publishing: Our database of retractions. Entries stretch back decades, and include nearly 18,000 retractions so far.
Now that the database is nearly complete, we’re able to step back, take stock, and think more broadly about scientific misconduct, academic incentives, and scholarly publishing. There are well over a thousand retractions each year, and we couldn’t possibly report on each one of them, so we are relying more and more on the database to inform researchers when a study is no longer reliable. Instead, we’re doing deeper dives, prompting us to file public records requests for reports of misconduct investigations and other materials (and our co-founders to urge universities to do a better job with them).
A lot of that work shows up in other outlets. In the past year, we’ve collaborated with a growing host of journalism organizations, using our joint resources to bring readers stories that go deep and reach larger audiences than we can on the blog. There are our established partnerships with STAT and Science, where we continue to break news and help readers make sense of developments. And this year we also appeared other places, for example:
- Two Researchers Challenged a Scientific Study About Violent Video Games—and Took a Hit for Being Right, Motherboard, July 25
- Errors Trigger Retraction Of Study On Mediterranean Diet’s Heart Benefits, NPR’s Shots, June 13
- Scientist Who Received Millions From NIH Leaves Alabama Posts, The Scientist, May 24
- Repeat Offenders: When Scientific Fraudsters Slip Through the Cracks, Undark, May 14
- Why are scientists filing lawsuits against their critics?, The Verge, November 27, 2017
In other news, we were cited twice on the front page of The New York Times within six months, first on problems with scientific integrity in China, and then on weaponized transparency at the U.S. EPA.
And it’s been great to see other journalists continue to pursue stories related to retractions and academic misconduct. Some of the most impressive ones we’ve seen recently include:
- Stephanie Lee’s work for BuzzFeed about Brian Wansink
- Colleen Flaherty’s work for Inside Higher Ed, such as about a prominent researcher’s decision to resign from a journal following allegations of overuse of self-citation
- Jodi S. Cohen’s reporting about Illinois psychiatrist Mani Pavuluri (a story we started pursuing in 2015)– including her need to return $3 million in federal funding over misconduct, and her decision to enroll her own sons in her research.
Those are just some of our highlights from last year. Share yours in the comments below.
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 — we have been funded at various times by the MacArthur Foundation, the Helmsley Trust, and the Arnold Foundation — has been critical to our growth, there are always more investigations, more research, and more work that we’d like to do.
At the moment, so that our dollars stretch as far as they can, neither I nor my co-founder Adam Marcus are taking salaries. We will do that as long as we need to.
Like Retraction Watch? You can make a tax-deductible contribution to support our growth, follow us on Twitter, like us on Facebook, add us to your RSS reader, sign up for an email every time there’s a new post (look for the “follow” button at the lower right part of your screen), or subscribe to our daily digest. If you find a retraction that’s not in our database, you can let us know here. For comments or feedback, email us at email@example.com.