Retraction Watch is a watchdog organization that monitors scientific misconduct and, well, watches the retraction of scientific articles. Not only is their work very thorough and important, it also offers interesting insights into the scientific machinery.
They recently published a piece called Ten takeaways from ten years at Retraction Watch. I recommend you read it and also click on some of the links in it. Here are some highlights:
Two decades ago, journals were retracting roughly 40 papers per year. […] Journals now retract about 1,500 articles annually — a nearly 40-fold increase over 2000, and a dramatic change even if you account for the roughly doubling or tripling of papers published per year — and even that’s too few.
[…] Ferric Fang and Arturo Casadevall found in a 2011 analysis, the most highly ranked journals tend to have higher rates of retractions than less prestigious publications. (The analysis has basically held true over the years.) That means leading titles like The New England Journal of Medicine and Nature retract papers at a higher rate than their competitors.
Some other highlights mentioned in the article:
- SAGE Publications busts “peer review and citation ring,” 60 papers retracted Apparently, Taiwan’s education minister resigned in the wake of this scandal
- Purchased authorships seem to be quite a thing. And there is a Russian site which allegedly has brokered authorships for more than 10,000 researchers buy authorships on the black market (Science also published an article called China’s Publication Bazaar)
If you want to read more about problems in science, I recently wrote about The effect of Sci-Hub on science. In that piece I described the publishing landscape as a bad equilibrium we cannot escape.