Retraction Watch is a blog that reports on retractions of scientific papers and on related topics. The blog was launched in August 2010 and is produced by science writers Ivan Oransky (Vice President, Editorial Medscape) and Adam Marcus (editor of Gastroenterology & Endoscopy News). Its parent organization is the Center for Scientific Integrity.
Oransky and Marcus were motivated to launch the blog to increase the transparency of the retraction process. They observed that retractions of papers generally are not announced, and the reasons for retractions are not publicized. One result is that other researchers or the public who are unaware of the retraction may make decisions based on invalid results. Oransky describes an example of a paper published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that reported that a certain molecule could cause some types of breast cancers to respond to a drug that would otherwise be ineffective. Although the paper was retracted, its retraction was not reported in the media outlets that had reported on its conclusions, and before it was retracted a company had been established to make use of the reported discovery.
The blog argues that retractions provide a window into the self-correcting nature of science, and can provide insight into cases of scientific fraud. Its operators say that as science journalists, they have "found retractions to be the source of great stories that say a lot about how science is conducted."
Retraction Watch has demonstrated that retractions are more common than was previously thought. When Retraction Watch was launched, Marcus "wondered if we'd have enough material". It had been estimated that about 80 papers were retracted annually. However, in its first year, the blog reported on approximately 200 retractions. As of August 2019 the Retraction Watch Database contains 20820 items.
Retraction watch has been funded by a variety of sources, including donations and grants. They received grants from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Helmsley Charitable Trust, and the Laura and John Arnold Foundation. The database of retractions was funded by a 400,000 dollar grant from the MacArthur Foundation received in 2015. They have partnered with the Center for Open Science, which is also funded by the Laura and John Arnold Foundation, to create a retraction database on the Open Science Framework.
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