Still, the surge in retractionsIn academic publishing, a retraction is the action by which ... More led many observers to call on publishers, editors, and other gatekeepers to make greater efforts to stamp out bad science. The attention also helped catalyze an effort by two longtime health journalists—Ivan Oransky and Adam Marcus, who founded the blog Retraction Watch, based in New York City—to get more insight into just how many scientific papers were being withdrawn, and why. They began to assemble a list of retractions.
That list, formally released to the public this week as a searchable database, is now the largest and most comprehensive of its kind. It includes more than 18,000 retracted papers and conference abstracts dating back to the 1970s (and even one paper from 1756 involving Benjamin Franklin). It is not a perfect window into the world of retractions. Not all publishers, for instance, publicize or clearly label papers they have retracted, or explainTo accept subjectively that a model accounts for real world ... More why they did so. And determining which author is responsible for a paper's fatal flaws can be difficult.