KSJ Tracker August 7, 2012

Happy Birthday, Retraction Watch

Retraction Watch, the essential blog by Ivan Oransky of Reuters and Adam Marcus, just celebrated its second birthday. That's two years of pursuing retractions, demanding that editors be transparent about why they retracted papers, and making a fuss if they don't. (For more on the site's anniversary, see this interview with Oransky at The Scholarly Kitchen.)

You might think that there are not enough retractions to justify a blog on the topic, but my careful research has revealed the following: Since Retraction Watch was launched, there seem to be many, many more retractions than I remember reading about before. The conclusion is clear: Retraction Watch is the cause of the current epidemic of retractions. 

I'm sorry to say, however, that Retraction Watch has fallen short on one of its most important stories. On Dec. 14, 2011, it reported the mysterious retraction of a paper on Przewalski's horse. I took solemn note of this development here on the Tracker. And Retraction Watch has yet to solve this mystery, after lo these many months. Even Oransky and Marcus, it appears, are not perfect.

(Happy birthday, guys. And keep up the excellent work!)

-Paul Raeburn


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