As readers of this blog have no doubt sensed by now, the number of retractions per year seems to be on the rise. We feel that intuitively as we uncover more and more of them, but there are also data to suggest this is true.
As if to demonstrate that, we’ve been trying to find time to write this post for more than a week, since the author of the study we’ll discuss sent us his paper. Writing about all the retractions we learned about, however, kept us too busy.
A quick post this Sunday morning to draw your attention to two must-read items for anyone interested in the Anil Potti case or in how one goes about checking data. (A second paper by Potti et al was officially retracted on Friday.)
This is the second retraction of a paper by Potti, who resigned from his post at Duke in November in the midst of an investigation into scientific misconduct. The first retraction was in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.
The February 2010 retraction of the original Wakefield paper in the Lancet was, of course, a huge deal. If there were a Canon of Scientific Retractions, it would be in it. It happened before we launched Retraction Watch, however, so we haven’t commented much on it.
We plan on writing about major retractions in history, but the frequency of fascinating timely ones hasn’t abated enough yet to let us do that. (One exception: Our Best of Retractions series.) And in any case, there have been a lot of pixels spilled on this one already, so we’re not sure we have much to add. That’s the nice thing about the web: It leaves us free to curate as well as create.
2010 was a busy year at Retraction Watch. (Well, actually the first seven months of it weren’t busy at all, since we didn’t launch until August.) We’ve published 88 posts, an average of about four per week.
I confess that when Retraction Watch appeared, I predicted (silently, so nobody could catch me on it later) that it would die a slow death, because there would be too few retractions to justify paying attention to this worthy but misguided endeavor.
For what must surely be the first time in my reporting career, I was wrong.
The European Respiratory Journal (ERJ) is retracting a paper about whether mothers with asthma are more likely to have poor birth outcomes, after the journal found it overlapped with an earlier paper by the same group. The ERJ paper was published online on June 18, 2010.
Earlier this month, we reported that a group led by Jicun Ren, of Shanghai Jiaotong University, had retracted a paper in the Journal of the American Chemical Society (JACS) on a way to measure the concentration of gold nanoparticles. Turns out they are also retracting a very similar paper about silver nanoparticles published in the January 18, 2010 issue of Chemistry: A European Journal.