Thursday, January 30, 2020

The Pruitt retraction storm Part 1: The current state

At the suggestion of a colleague, this blog post is meant to document the status of Dr. Jonathan Pruitt's publications, two of which have formally been retracted.

Which papers are retracted?
Which have been checked and confirmed to be sound (and, by whom), so we may continue to confidently cite them?
Which papers are currently being discussed but are not yet to the point of being retracted or cleared?

HERE IS THE LIST  (**** A WORK IN PROGRESS)

The key motivation here is to highlight papers that remain reliable, for instance when data were generated by students or postdocs other than Pruitt.  At present, pending the findings of a formal inquiry, it appears that Pruitt-generated data are the common theme in the known retractions and concerns. It is crucial that we not discard sound science produced by junior scientists working with Pruitt, merely by association. For this reason, I personally would discourage people from dismissing all Pruitt-co-authored papers out of hand.

I am generating this list based on email and social media communications; I welcome new information by email or otherwise and will keep this page up to date (daniel.bolnick@uconn.edu). I am also following the pubpeer website which seems to be a spot where ongoing concerns are being discussed, but keep in mind these do not represent retractions, just conversations.

Another reason to maintain this page: many people may be simultaneously checking past data files for the kinds of flaws that led to two recent (and one pending) retraction. The pattern so far seems to be that Pruitt's co-authors are taking a great deal of time re-examining their past publications: checking for patterns in data files, redoing analyses on the existing data. This is a massive drain on their time, when what they probably need most is to focus on new research to help them recover. At the same time I am aware of some non-authors who are delving into the data files as well. This redundancy is perhaps good to a point (in at least one case a co-author did not find problems in the data that were then identified by someone more familiar with the other cases), but also is a drain on the field's collective time. Therefore, if a paper is actively being re-examined, and IF the researchers involved wish to be named, I can include their information on this page as well as contacts. However, so concerns do not linger indefinitely, please let me know when papers are cleared of concern, or when retractions are public.

Please note that for legal reasons the journals typically will not list in-progress retractions until they are official, as retractions are usually vetted by the publisher and lawyers before being made public.

The Google Spreadsheet documenting the current status of Pruitt papers can be found here

If you have additions or amendments or corrections please contact me at daniel.bolnick@uconn.edu

-Dan Bolnick



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