Wonderful Labor Day weekend in WV visiting granddaughter and 3 rambunctious great grand kids. Only problem was getting out of Parkersburg. Spent the whole day Sunday in the airport looking at our plane which could not fly in the rain (it was raining off and on). United finally gave up at around 6 PM and we went to the Blennerhassett Hotel, a hotel like old times. Had a delicious dinner and short night. Up at 4 AM to go back to the airport. Mechanics still working on the plane — got it fixed and we were off. Learned they only had 3 of these aircraft and the other 2 had been in use elsewhere so could not come to Parkersburg where only a handful of passengers were waiting (not worth the expense). Where have the old times gone when the airlines really cared about their passengers, gave them reading material, snacks, room for their legs (as opposed to “leg room” which by definition is too small for anyone with legs).
So what has been happening on the scientific integrity front while we were out of commission? A lot. But one thing that I have realized is that The Retraction Watch and especially their weekend reads is really on top of a lot of the integrity news that I was planning to cover. So I recommend it to all who stumble on to my website. I will continue to comment on things that strike me as important and I hope to post stories from whistleblowers and other mistreated individuals. Your stories are important so please send them along.
My big news is that my statistician colleague, Joel Pitt, and I have finally published a paper on our analysis of data that at the very least we would call anomalous. Here is the link (http://www.mdpi.com/2304-6775/2/3/71). The citation is Hill HZ, Pitt JH. Failure to replicate: A sign of scientific misconduct? Publications 2014, 2, 71-82. It has been mentioned on Retraction Watch and comments have already started to arrive.
A recent article on Medium reports that 7 of Italy’s top scientists were convicted of manslaughter for under-estimating the threat of an impending earthquake in an earthquake-prone region on April 5, 2009. 297 people were killed and 1000 were injured. How could they be held accountable? What a terrible price to pay for an error in judgment.
Retraction Watch reported on August 27 that 2 scientists at Cornell University were able to detect language quirks in 24 retracted papers by Diederik Stapel, the infamous Dutch data inventor, that were not present in 25 of his (presumed) legitimate papers. A cautionary note to all would-be data falsifiers – “watch your language”.
On August 27, Tracy Vance of The Scientist reported that readers queried on Twitter as to how long it took for journals to respond to questions raised about articles answered anywhere from one year to 3 years. One respondent quipped “the longest I’ve waited for action from a journal is forever, and the shortest time to real action–also forever.” Interesting. I am still waiting to hear from an Elsevier journal editor regarding a question that I raised over a year ago. Elsevier has a very explicit policy about the handling of questions of misconduct. Hmmm…
It was all over the news on August 28 that humans (and primates, in general) are not the only mammals that engage in deceptive practices. Pandas in China have been observed to fake pregnancy in order to get more elite accommodations and better treats and food. What ever is the world coming to.
Science on August 29 reported that of 221 experiments in a particular survey only 21% of those with iffy results were ever published, while 62% of those with strong results did reach the light of day. The authors called for a registry for all experimental results, good or bad, to avoid duplication and expense.