Retractions — when an academic journal withdraws an already published study — are a big deal for researchers. Such withdrawals correct the record and remove faulty information from circulation, and they happen more often than you might realize. According to the Retraction Watch Database, over 3,100 scientific articles and studies have been retracted since 2020 in what researchers say is a reflection of tightened editorial oversight.
Retractions are often referred to as a component of the self-correcting nature of science. But is it working and stopping the dangerous spread of flawed science and nutty claims? This The Washington Post item dives into the issues and reflects on what really is going on. And it isn’t a pretty picture. We have included links to five related items.
In the paper, published in PNAS last month, researchers say most retractions do not happen soon enough to prevent the spread of faulty science.
The team studied nearly 3,000 retracted papers from the past decade, looking at their reach in news publications, social media and elsewhere online. When they compared the discredited papers’ reach with that of 13,500 studies that were not retracted, they found the problematic papers received more attention and were mentioned more often on news platforms than their counterparts, probably because of their compelling results.