11 August 2010

Another example of the power of blogging

Yesterday, Aetiology and Pharyngula highlighted a strange paper in Virology Journal. Let’s just say that biblical verses are not the normal standard of evidence for any technical paper.

Today, that paper is being retracted.

This isn’t the first time an article has been retracted following scrutiny from the blogosphere. In 2008, Pharyngula brought a bizarre paper in Proteomics to light. It was retracted, because it was partly plagiarized (or, as the retraction diplomatically put it, “a substantial overlap of the content of this article with previously published articles in other journals”).

This case is a more powerful indication of the influence that blogging is gaining. Plagiarism is one of the big three “No no”s in research writing, so that gives an editor a clear reason to pull a paper. This one deosn’t give the editor as simple a reason to pull the paper.

It’s not just the power of blogging on display here, but an illustration of the changing nature of publication. As more and more journals make articles available at “corrected proof” stage, there are more opportunities for bloggers to cotton to problems and prevent the worst articles from entering into the permanent record.

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