Earlier this week, we covered the case of a retraction that happened against one of the author’s wishes. That’s not all that unusual. What was unusual in this story, however, is that the author who objected to the retraction had published a well-considered paper in which she identified an error in the original work, and corrected it. That led many scientists on Twitter and elsewhere to ask: Doesn’t a retraction send the wrong message? Don’t we want researchers to correct and update their work?
The journal Evolution has retracted a 2007 paper about the roles of the different sexes in searching for mates, after the same author critiqued the work in a later paper.
The case raises important questions about when retractions are appropriate, and whether they can have a chilling effect on scientific discourse. Although Hanna Kokko of the University of Zurich, Switzerland — who co-authored both papers — agreed that the academic literature needed to be corrected, she didn’t want to retract the earlier paper; the journal imposed that course of action, said Kokko.
The Journal of Biology and Life Science, published by the Macrothink Institute, has retracted a paper that claimed “fossil does not provides [sic] the convincing and direct evidences for evolution,” for reasons that they left to us to figure out.
The entire notice for “Fossils Evidences (Paleontology) Opposite to Darwin’s Theory,” allegedly written by Md. Abdul Ahad, of Hajee Mohamed Danesh Science and Technology University in Bangladesh, and Charles D. Michener, of the University of Kansas, reads:
The editorial board announced that this article has been retracted on February 25, 2014. If you have any further question, please contact us at: firstname.lastname@example.org