Ivan Oransky has been at the forefront of efforts to highlight research integrity issues for over a decade, co-founding Retraction Watch in 2010 to track and publicise retractions in the scientific literature. Following his presentation at the 2020 European Medical Writers Association (EMWA) symposium, we spoke to him about retractions during the COVID-19 pandemic and steps he believes should be taken to tackle research integrity challenges in the future.
An informative interview with Retraction Watch’s co-founder, Ivan Oransky talking about research integrity, retractions and research misconduct in the context of the tumultuous environment around the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I don’t know that I would choose any particular COVID-19-related retraction as most notable – I suppose that’s like asking which of your children is your favourite. There are certainly the ones that gained the most attention – if I had to pick one, it would be the Lancet paper about hydroxychloroquine that was based on a very questionable (at best) dataset from a company called Surgisphere. I think that paper captured the most attention, and close behind it was a New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) paper that was also based on those alleged data, but wasn’t about hydroxychloroquine so didn’t capture quite so many eyeballs. Those are the retractions where I think a lot of people had a Casablanca “shocked, shocked!” moment, with the idea that, somehow, this was completely different from anything that’s ever happened in science before. And that’s just nonsense – complete revisionist history.