Oct 25, 2011

The monitoring power of blogs on published research

The role of blogs monitoring the media is well know. It is also well known their role monitoring the effectiveness of foreign aid (Give Well is an example), or monitoring the functions of international organizations (this is a bright example). More recently blogs are monitoring academic research. Two examples: 

The blog Economic Logic has commented on some well known cases of possible plagiarism. Note that this blog is written by an anonymous author, nonetheless its impact on academic opinion can not be minimized. 

The blog Retraction Watch reports and comments on published research that  has been retracted because of errors or plagiarism. This task is indeed very important. For example, the most recent post in Retraction Watch is this:
The RAND Corporation has retracted a study linking Los Angeles pot dispensaries to drops in crime, the Los Angeles Times reports. The problem: RAND hadn’t included data from the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD). The institute tells the Times, referring to RAND researchers: 
“They made mistakes,” said Debra Knopman, a Rand vice president and director of the infrastructure, safety and environment division. “What we’re wrestling with is how the mistakes went undetected.”
The report was peer-reviewed, RAND said, and retractions are uncommon: Read the rest of this entry » 

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