Archive by category | Science communication

The trouble with retractions: live webchat

At the turn of the millennium, science would see about 30 research papers retracted every year. This year, we are approaching 400 retraction notices. It’s not in the culture of science to revise its written record, yet over the past decade editors have started to retract more research papers. That surge is focusing attention on problems with the retraction system, as a Nature feature this week explores.

Join us at 4pm London time (11am Eastern Time) on Tuesday 11 October for a live Q&A with Ivan Oransky, executive editor at Reuters Health and co-founder of the blog Retraction Watch, and Nature’s Richard Van Noorden. We’ll be discussing trends in retractions, problems with the systems and what researchers, editors, and institutions might be doing to help. The webchat will feed into a real-life discussion on retractions on 20 October, in New York City.

The reasons for retraction

The reasons for retraction

I have a feature out today in Nature on the retractions system. Over the past decade, the number of retraction notices has grown 10-fold, though it’s still a miniscule sliver (about 0.02%) compared to the research literature. This rise is sharpening focus on various problems with the system for retracting papers. Retractions even have their own blog now, Retraction Watch, which covered a good two-thirds of last year’s retractions in detail.

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One question that’s often asked is whether we are changing our reasons for retraction. How many retractions are due to misconduct, and has this proportion increased in recent years?

The answer is frustrating: analyses can’t yet say for sure, although there are hints that calling out plagiarism is making an increasing contribution to the total. Only the barest headlines could be included in the feature, so this blog is an extra feature for those who really want to know the gory details.

Bottle-loving beetles, alarming wasabi powder, and tired tortoises: The 2011 Ig Nobel Prizes

Bottle-loving beetles, alarming wasabi powder, and tired tortoises: The 2011 Ig Nobel Prizes

Funny and fascinating science got top billing at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, on the evening of 29 Sept. The 21st First Annual Ig Nobel Prizes, continued its tradition of recognizing science that “makes people laugh, and then makes them think.”  … Read more

Journal pulls meditation paper after “additional data” surfaces

A journal said today that it was pulling a paper linking transcendental meditation to lowered rates of death from heart attack and stroke after its authors provided additional data “less than 24 hours” before the article had been slated to be published online.  Read more

Serious games: playing for a better world

Serious games: playing for a better world

The late US political scientist Clark Abt helped launch a movement with his 1970 book “Serious Games,” which explored ways in which games could be used to promote education and solve problems. More than four decades later, it would appear that serious games are at last coming into their own as a field of research and development. The next question is whether they will live up to their potential.  Read more

Science live, tweeted by a killer of Pluto

Science live, tweeted by a killer of Pluto

Open notebook science, in which scientists post their data publicly as fast as they collect it, is taking a fresh turn with the release of results in real time via Twitter. On 11 June, astronomer Mike Brown of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena sparked huge interest by live-tweeting his observations of a transit of dwarf planet Haumea by its moon, Namaka.

Equinox Summit: communiqué outlines vision for electrification in 2030

Equinox Summit: communiqué outlines vision for electrification in 2030

After nearly a week of dialogue, participants at the Equinox Summit in Waterloo, Ontario, released their initial communiqué envisioning a path forward on low-carbon electricity over the next two decades.  Read more

Iconic climate strategy was no mistake – scientist hits back at media reports

Princeton physicist Robert Socolow, the mastermind – together with ecologist Stephen Pacala – of the ´wedge´ strategy for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, has told Nature that he stands by his iconic concept – despite media report to the contrary.