Home > Interesting link > Retractions – how to keep track of them?

Retractions – how to keep track of them?

Science is a human endeavour and humans are notoriously bad in judging their own mistakes and being honest about them is not always their virtue either. The one part that makes science a unique human endeavour is that published results are being replicated by others, as well as different labs are competing to answer the same question(s). This results in, by approximation, self-correcting communal behaviour. Because of this self-correcting behaviour of the scientific community, it would seem obvious that cheating is not going to bring very far as it will most likely be revealed sooner or later. Once it is proven you have committed to biggest sin in science: scientific misconduct, you are done being a scientist. But these are the big cases to which the main-stream media loves to point at and magnify beyond recognition. Honest mistakes are far more common and will subsequently result in retractions.

You would expect that journals are in line with the overall goals of the scientific community to promote truth-finding over anything else. In other words, if a paper is to be retracted, that all journals would deal with these cases in a similar way that would be obvious to the readers, both scientific as well as non-scientific readers. This is not the case.

It is not uncommon that a journal will just post a short message that a paper was retracted, without removing the original paper from their online archives. If you would do a PubMed search, you would still find these papers. In other words, retracted papers are still part of the large body of published results.

For this purpose Adam Marcus and Ivan Oransky made a blog on retracted papers called: retraction watch.


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