You might think of it as a website winning a genius grant: Retraction Watch, after more than four years and 2,000 posts, has been awarded a two-year, $400,000 grant from the MacArthur Foundation to expand its work with the creation of a comprehensive database of retractions.
Such a database does not now exist, and its creation will close “a gap that deprives scholarly publishing of a critical mechanism for self-correction,” according to the proposal by Reaction Watch’s founders, Ivan Oransky and Adam Marcus.
“While we’re able to cover somewhere around two-thirds of new retractions as they appear, we’ll need more resources to be more comprehensive,” Oransky and Marcus wrote. They plan to hire an editor and database developer to join reporter Cat Ferguson, who was hired in October. And they’re inviting applications.
I hesitate to call Marcus and Oransky geniuses (especially Oransky–I mean, I run into the guy) but Retraction Watch is a brilliant creation. I’d like to say I knew that from the outset, but my journalistic integrity compels me to note what I wrote on Sept. 27, 2010, shortly after RW’s birth:
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.
Congratulations, Ivan and Adam. Continue to carry the banner for honesty, openness, and integrity in research.