Due process in the Twitter age

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Science  22 Apr 2016:
Vol. 352, Issue 6284, pp. 387
DOI: 10.1126/science.aaf8885

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Until recently, the only insight that the research community had into published papers that might be suspect, and thus candidates for retraction, was through the formal investigations by institutions or funders and the official announcements made by journals. Today, online communities such as PubPeer and Retraction Watch could be the first to raise an alert that a paper may require additional scrutiny. The involvement of such online entities has made the standardization of processes to address allegations more complex and has led to less patience from the scientific community and the public with what are often long timelines in institutional misconduct investigations. Editors are caught in the middle: They want to correct the literature as quickly as possible to avoid misleading readers with flawed information, but they also want to ensure that authors have received due process, even as rumors of scientific misconduct may be amplified through social media. Last month, a Journals Summit convened by the U.S. National Academy of Sciences tackled this topic in the larger context of research integrity, and several solutions emerged.