Weekend reads: How to fix peer review; a research ethics oath; papers become less readable

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The week at Retraction Watch featured:

Our list of retracted or withdrawn COVID-19 papers is up to 249. There are more than 34,000 retractions in our database — which powers retraction alerts in EndNoteLibKeyPapers, and Zotero. And have you seen our leaderboard of authors with the most retractions lately — or our list of top 10 most highly cited retracted papers?

Here’s what was happening elsewhere (some of these items may be paywalled, metered access, or require free registration to read):

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7 thoughts on “Weekend reads: How to fix peer review; a research ethics oath; papers become less readable”

  1. “Wall Street Journal Adds Editor’s Note Directly Refuting Paper’s Lead Editorial on Abortion Story.”

    “The Sarasota Herald-Tribune…was forced to issue an apology and retract a column defending the Proud Boys, a violent white nationalist group, following public outrage and a revelation that the author is married to a member of the extremist organization.”

    Excellent – I’m glad you Progressive propagandists are no longer even trying to hide your politicisation of this supposedly science-related site. Progressivism is a totalitarian cancer and it’s good that your readers can watch it slowly destroy this site.

    1. I agree. Retraction Watch should stick to scientific retractions. If they want to get political, they should at least strive to be even-handed. But this site contains no coverage of two of the greatest lapses in journalistic coverage since the Iraq War, which has resulted in substantial editorial notes, corrections, retractions, etc.

      1. False confirmation and attribution of the Steele dossier to Belarusian emigré Sergei Millian, when in fact it appears to have been a concoction of Steele himself after conversation with a Democratic operative. The WaPo made an unprecedented correction (essentially rewriting the entire article) when this was discovered:

      2. The Hunter Biden laptop has now been acknowledged to be legitimate (i.e., not Russian disinformation) by Politico, the NYT, the WaPo, and the WSJ. When the New York Post originally reported on this story, Twitter & Facebook took the unprecedented step of banning all sharing of the Post’s story on their platforms. In the lead-up to an election. But the emails reported by the Post on Biden’s business dealings in Ukraine and China (in which his father has been implicated) have now been confirmed as authentic:

      Neither of these massive and consequential press errors is mentioned anywhere on RW.

      Suggestion to RW editors: please stick to science.

  2. One thing that might ameliorate the peer reviewing process would be fewer shenanigans by the publishers, who are acting out the fable of the goose that laid a golden egg.

    The issues around peer review may be serious but they are, nonetheless, largely symptomatic. Predatory journals and predatory practices by historically reputable publishers put pressure on the system as a whole. What comes to mind here is the phrase “Please fix my horn – my brakes don’t work.”

    I get requests that go straight to junk, some by auto-filter. Some requests are generated by scripts. There are other publishers that I refuse to work with in any capacity (meaning, I have to check who owns a journal before replying), but they get a reply explaining the policy.

    If your gardener can’t keep up with the weeds, one solution might be to stop planting them.

    P.S. There is never an “obligation” to do pro bono work for a wealthy client. Specific circumstances come into consideration. It’s complicated.

  3. Just a quick correction for you request for help RE: RW DB:

    “… and plant to continue to do so…”

    Should probably be:
    “… and plan to continue to do so…”

  4. An “increasing number of adjectives and adverbs were used and the readability of scientific texts have decreased.”

    The strange multiplication of Buzzfeed-style prepositional phrases with no actual verbs as headlines.

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