Retraction Watch: a loose cannon threatens the scientific establishment

To make progress, science requires peer review. But the type of peer review that has assisted scientific research for centuries is a far cry from the self-appointed data police organization named Retraction Watch (RW). With its complete lack of accountability and nonexistent scientific credentials, RW only encourages unfiltered denigration. To quote Susan T. Fiske, chaired Professor of Psychology and Public Affairs at Princeton University and former APS president:

“The self-appointed data police is volunteering critiques of such personal ferocity and relentlessness that they resemble a denial-of-service attack that crashes a website by sheer volume of traffic”.

The immoderate behavior of RW founders Ivan Oransky and Adam Marcus and their collaborators create collateral damage to targets’ careers and well-being, with no accountability for the people engaging in the attacks. As we have reported here, nearly 85% of the Clare Francis (RW’s pseudonym) accusations of scientific misconduct mounted by Oransky and Marcus and fueled by begrudged tipsters end up being false positives. This leads to huge collateral damage with no accountability to speak of.

Retraction Watch is simply a loose cannon threatening the scientific establishment.

Emblem for the Federal Bureau of Investigation, US DOJ.

Worse, the modus operandi of RW borders that of a terrorist organization. For example, not long ago Oransky and Marcus have made a plea to imminent lawless action (coercion), as illustrated in their STAT article on April 6, 2017. In that article, the self-appointed research integrity officers wrote:

We need coercion precisely because so many scientists are loath to collaborate on any terms other than their own, if at all.

At this point, it is not entirely clear to us that this is not a matter for FBI intervention.



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