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I'm Looking Through You

In a column at The Scientist, Retraction Watch bloggers Ivan Oransky and Adam Marcus say it's time to devise a "transparency index" for journals to grade how well they share information about retractions, corrections, and the like with their readers. It has been suggested that journals publish a "retraction index" number along with their impact factors, to show how many papers they retract for every 1,000 they publish. But it's not enough to say a paper has been retracted, Marcus and Oransky say — the journals must also be willing to tell readers why the retraction happened. "We understand — in theory, at least — why some journals and editors might be reluctant to share the details of a retraction with their readers," they write. "But lack of transparency serves only to reinforce a sense of incompetence. Journals and editors willing to pull aside the curtain to show readers what went wrong with a particular article or group of articles send the messages that 1) they care about conveying truth to their audiences; 2) they are committed to producing a high-quality publication; and 3) potential fraudsters are not welcome in their pages."

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