Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Higher Impact, More Retractions

I quote from Science magazine:
Higher-impact journals tend to retract more papers, according to a study published 8 August online in Infection and Immunity. A cluster of retractions at the journal prompted its editor-in-chief, Ferric Fang, to examine what drives retractions and whether they're connected to a journal's prestige. Fang and Arturo Casadevall, editor-in-chief of mBio, created a “retraction index” based on 10 years of retractions in 17 journals. The journals with more cachet, they found, also retracted more papers.

A number of possible explanations are offered for the phenomenon, but I would prefer to believe that journals such as Science and Nature, known for their careful peer review of submissions and for their selectivity, are also punctilious in retracting articles that are tainted post publication.

I have noted in the past that science is characterized by the skepticism of scientists, and the rates of retractions indicate that skepticism is not only warranted but productive in clarifying reported observations.

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