Academia’s seamier side: Lying, Cheating and Fraud

Written by Janet Stoeger Wilke, Dean, Calvin T. Ryan Library

“Academia’s seamier side: Lying, Cheating and Fraud.” Fred Barbash, Washington Post, July 29, 2014.1

Now that I have your attention, following is a bit more information–

“Ethics Week” at UNK is a good time to point out the work of Adam Marcus and Ivan Oransky’s Retraction Watch blog which seeks to track retracted papers. Lying and cheating does occur in scholarly publishing but most often the mistakes identified are just that — mistakes.

During the time of paper journals, a retraction note would appear in a later issue, often some months or years down the road. In today’s online world, editors may “retract” the article—removing it from the journal’s archives and making it seem as if the article was never published in the first place. A 2008 paper in the Journal of Medical Ethics found that “…citation analysis shows that they (retractions) are not being recognized by subsequent users of the work…more aggressive means of notification …appear to be necessary.”2 Biologist Jim Woodgett, writing in the journal Nature says that Retraction Watch “…shines light on problems with papers and, by doing so, educates and celebrates research ethics and good practice.”3

Marcus and Ornasky’s blog provides a sort of clearing house to gather information on retractions and how they are handled by various publications. The blog also provides a forum for the needed discussion on how best to deal with the critical issues involved.

See more at: where you can also subscribe to the blog.

2J Med Ethics 2008;34:807-809 doi:10.1136/jme.2007.023069 Research ethics, Empirical developments in retraction, B K Redman, H N Yarandi, J F Merz.
3Nature 2012; 489:7414 We must be open about our mistakes, J Woodgett

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