Shouldn't a retraction get the same splash as the original news?

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Interesting case study raised by the Retraction Watch blog.

A 2009 journal article – promoted in a news release by the journal – and picked up by many news organizations – has now been retracted by the authors.

But now the journal issued no news release about the retraction – an issue of transparency that the RW blog raises.

And you can guess how much news coverage the retraction will get.

And this was all over a molecule that could supposedly “make breast tumors respond to a drug to which they’re not normally susceptible” – as the RW blog put it. But it was also a molecule, RW points out, that wasn’t even in clinical trials yet.

He/she who lives by the journal news release risks one’s longterm credibility.

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Comments (8)

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Gunther Eysenbach

December 3, 2010 at 11:19 am

I’ve written about another case – where there was also an empirical evaluation of how much attention the retraction got – and “retraction ethics” here:
Eysenbach G, Kummervold PE
“Is Cybermedicine Killing You?” – The Story of a Cochrane Disaster
J Med Internet Res 2005;7(2):e21
doi: 10.2196/jmir.7.2.e21

Elaine Schattner, M.D.

December 3, 2010 at 12:42 pm

Yes, of course a retraction should get equal attention as the initial statement of fact.

Carolyn Thomas

December 8, 2010 at 6:24 pm

Seems there’s been a wee rash of journal retractions lately – like the case of Dr. Andrew Wakefield, the now-discredited darling of the autism/childhood vaccination-link conspiracy movement whose 1998 study published in The Lancet was finally pulled (12 years later!) after its evidence was described by the journal’s editors as a “a damning indictment of the man and his research.”
And last month, we learned of the Nobel prize-winning scientist Dr. Linda Buck who has been forced to retract not one, not two, but THREE of her published peer-reviewed journal articles.
This really pokes a damning finger at the entire peer review system, not to mention the reputation of those whose current and future work gets published.
I for one am doing my small bit to help increase coverage of retractions! See more on THE ETHICAL NAG: MARKETING ETHICS FOR THE EASILY SWAYED: “Nobel Prize Winner Forced to Retract Three Flawed Peer-Reviewed Journal Articles”

Gregory D. Pawelski

December 16, 2010 at 2:32 pm

Top retractions of 2010 by TheScientist. A list of the biggest papers and scientists involved in retractions in the last year.