How can academic journals ensure the integrity of the data they publish? For one journal, the key is looking deeply at statistics, which revealed crucial problems in the research of recent high-profile fraudsters such as Anil Potti. Editor-in-chief of the Journal of Management, Patrick Wright from the University of South Carolina, recently authored an editorial about how he’s taken those lessons to heart — and why he believes retractions don’t always hurt a journal’s reputation.
RW: Can you take us through the changes in the editorial policy of your journal?
PW: In large part it is two-fold. One is to allow reviewers to self identify when they do not feel fully capable of doing a strong critique of statistical analyses. They always could do that in their comments to the editor (and often did), but we wanted to be sure that Action Editors could identify situations where a paper was being evaluated by reviewers who were not skilled in the statistical techniques used. When that happens, Action Editors can bring in a third reviewer to focus on those analyses.