Weekend reads: Autism-“male brain” paper retracted; impact factor poison; meet a data detective

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The week at Retraction Watch featured a $112.5 million settlement at Duke following allegations of misconduct; a bizarre paper featuring ancient astronauts; and the retraction of two papers about homeopathy. Here’s what was happening elsewhere:

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6 thoughts on “Weekend reads: Autism-“male brain” paper retracted; impact factor poison; meet a data detective”

  1. ‘…bar scientists accused of sexual harassment from serving as peer reviewers’.
    Accusations are enough now?
    Adding words like integrity to justify it sounds more like newspeak than anything else.

  2. Reading just two paragraphs into article is helpful for explaining why.

    Merely being accused of sexual harassment could induce you to be biased even if innocent. “For example, a male reviewer accused of harassing female postdocs could give better scores to proposals from female postdocs to avoid appearing biased, even if the science didn’t deserve that score.” This could just as easily work the other way and bias an accused reviewer against applicants who are in the same identity-group as their accuser.

    By their logic, the accuser should also be removed from the peer review process. A woman who has been subjected to sexual harassment may very well be biased against male applicants, especially during the stressful period while the allegations are investigated and resolved. Just as excluding male reviewers “is not meant to be punitive, or to imply guilt”, excluding an accuser should be possible without being a reprisal and could very much be intended as a compassionate act. A sexual harassment complaint takes enough time and effort so they shouldn’t be asked to review until the whole thing is resolved.

  3. “An editor reverses a retraction decision “after taking advice from lawyers at the journal’s publisher Wiley” and COPE”

    The backstory for this dispute was covered earlier in RW (below) and is an important cautionary tale for those who advocate for open data and code. The issue was “co-owned data” on the occurrence of a rare (or not so rare) warbler, which one set of authors took as meaning that each co-owner was free to interpret and publish, and the other set argued “co-owned” meant that all “co-owners” had to agree. They did not agree with the others’ reworking of the data and sought to quash it under the data “co-ownership” claim. And this kerfuffle involved publicly funded data. If journals would stiffen their spines and require data sharing as a condition for publishing, disputes could focus on the best data and interpretations.


  4. Frankly, if the problem is a potential bias, it makes more sense to remove people accused of bias from acting as referees.

  5. RE The UCC report RE Robert Ryan
    This statement document is dated as from 20 months ago
    Not sure why it is appearing again – was this a specific re-release?

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