Ivan Oransky on Today's Retraction Boom

Ivan Oransky, Science Journalist, Co-founder of Retraction Watch

Note: This interview was recorded on June 18, 2015.


Listen (1:57) The retraction boom

Listen (5:53) Media looks at scientists as high priests

Listen (5:21) How does Retraction Watch work?

Listen (6:37) Why is there so much bad research?

Listen (4:17) The problems of cell lineage and sample quality

Listen (3:29) The Genomics Grinch

Listen (4:16) Wow... Did that just happen?

When science journalist Ivan Oransky co-founded Retraction Watch, a blog with the express purpose of making scientific retractions more public, he didn’t think he would be posting much.

“Adam Marcus, my co-founder, was quoted as saying, ‘yeah, we figured we’d post periodically, our mothers would read it, they’d be very happy, nobody would read it other than them.’ Obviously that hasn’t been the case,” says Oransky in this first of a series of podcasts on scientific integrity.

Now putting out almost a post a day and funded in party by a grant from the MacArthur Foundation, the blog has revealed - and no doubt helped drive - a boom in retractions the last few years.

What is leading to so much bad research, and just how is Oransky’s blog keeping scientists honest?

Oranksy points to science career pressures and financial incentives as part of the problem. He also explores the issue of cell line authentication, a particular quality concern in cancer research.

We couldn't resist the chance to pull this veteran journalist into our recent debate over whether the genomics revolution is delivering on its promise.   

And finally, Oransky was at the now infamous woman's luncheon in South Korea last month when a nobel laureate, Tim Hunt, blew the crowd away . . .  and not with brilliance.