Surprise, surprise! A scientist whistleblower has found that publicly questioning bad science papers vs privately notifying the publisher significantly increases the chances of getting them retracted.
[Paul] Brookes ran the blog Science Fraud from July 2012 to January 2013, before closing it down in response to threats of legal action. For the PeerJ study, Brookes compared the outcomes of two sets of papers — 274 whose alleged data problems he chronicled on his blog, and 223 that he was e-mailed about but did not post before he shut the site down. Those private e-mails, he says, were also copied to the relevant journals, funding agencies and authors’ research institutions, so authorities would also have had the opportunity to review the allegations.
Of the 274 papers Brookes blogged about, 16 were retracted and 47 corrected by December 2013, he reports, meaning that action was taken in 23% of the cases. But of the 223 unpublicized papers, only two were retracted and five corrected — a rate of 3%.
As always, the more freedom and openness we have, the better. The only people who suffer in such a situation are the incompetent and dishonest ones.