Dear Retraction Watch readers:
Have you seen our database of retractions?
While we’re still putting finishing touches on it before an official launch, with more than 18,000 retractions, it’s already the most comprehensive collection of retractions anywhere. We have learned a great deal as we’ve gathered those retractions, which we look forward to sharing quite soon, along with ways that the database can help cut down on waste in research, but — and this is key — it has been painstaking work.
Because of how scattered, incomplete, and sometimes even wrong retraction notices are, every retraction must be located, double-checked, and entered by hand. That means all 18,129, at the time of this writing — and growing every day. Our full-time researcher spends much of her time curating the database, assisted at various points by a small army of terrific librarians, graduate students, and others interested in cleaning up the literature.
As you can guess, this effort requires resources. We have been fortunate to have this and other work funded by generous grants over the years, going back to 2014, but those grants have ended. We are always in discussions with past and potential funders — and would be grateful to hear suggestions on that front — but as is the case for most non-profits, our future depends on maintaining sufficient financial support. We’re therefore asking you to consider a tax-deductible financial contribution to our parent non-profit organization, The Center For Scientific Integrity.
We hope that this need is somewhat temporary. We have several sources of potential “earned revenue” sources either in existence or development. For example, all of the fees we earn from writing for Science, The Boston Globe, STAT, and other outlets are paid to the Center. While our database of retractions will always be free to search, and we are happy to make the data available to any scholar who intends to publish their findings, we plan to license the data to those who might have commercial uses for it, including publishers, investors, and universities. And we have been working on a specialized newsletter for a part of our audience that may find the information useful.
We also do our best to ensure that those revenue streams do not interfere with the reader experience. We carry no ads, except for text classifieds — which exist for now only on the Retraction Watch Daily. (If you know anyone who is trying to hire a journal editor, a research integrity officer, or a science librarian, or if you have a meeting you would like to promote, tell them to contact us.)
Building up these streams, however, takes time. Many of you have responded to our “fund drives” in the past, and even in the recent past, and for that we are deeply thankful. If it has been a while, and your circumstances permit, we’d ask you to consider contributing again. If not, we completely understand; please know that we value all kinds of support. Perhaps you could circulate this post to others who would be interested in donating, or whose companies participate in giving programs such as Benevity.
As is clear from our tax filings, the vast majority of our budget goes to staff salaries. 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.
The database is of course only one of our projects. We continue to tell the stories of scientific sleuths who are cleaning up the literature, and uncover reports of investigations into misconduct. Maybe you’re a researcher who likes keeping up with developments in scientific integrity. Maybe you’re a reporter who has found a story idea on the blog. Maybe you’re an ethics instructor who uses the site to find case studies. Or a publisher who uses our blog to screen authors who submit manuscripts — we know at least two who do.
Whether you fall into one of those categories or another, we need your help.