Retraction Watch to Build Comprehensive Database of Retractions

December 15, 2014

By Bio-IT World Staff

December 15, 2014 | For more than four years, Retraction Watch, a blog founded by science journalists and editors Ivan Oransky and Adam Marcus, has been a beloved resource in the scientific community, focused on retractions in the literature. From the beginning, Retraction Watch has tried to dig past the brief and sometimes opaque notices of retraction published by journals, contacting authors and editors to get the real scoop on why retractions have occurred. Its writers have covered everything from serious ethical lapses and repeat offenders, to innocent errors that have been dealt with in a frank and laudable manner. Along the way, they have also mused on the nature of retractions and the halting and sometimes all-too-human process of correcting the scientific record. More recently, Retraction Watch expanded its scope by hiring a permanent reporter, Cat Ferguson, and contributing a deeply reported feature on fraudulent peer review to Nature News.

Today, Retraction Watch announced significant support from the MacArthur Foundation to build a resource that its founders have long proposed and promoted. With a two-year, $400,000 grant, Retraction Watch will hire a new editor and database developer, and create an online, public, and freely accessible database of all retractions in every field of science. "The main benefit," the team writes, "would be that scientists could use it when planning experiments and preparing manuscripts to make sure studies they would like to cite have not been the subject of a retraction, correction, expression of concern or similar action."

While the MacArthur Foundation is best known for its individual fellowships, popularly called the "genius grants," and is often associated with the arts and literature, it has also supported broader collaborative projects and has a strong interest in both the sciences and providing vital information to the public. The Foundation seeks out creative and under-resourced efforts with a policy impact of wide benefit to society.