The Career Effects of Scandal: Evidence from Scientific Retractions
We investigate how the scientific community's perception of a scientist's prior work changes when one of his articles is retracted. Relative to non-retracted control authors, faculty members who experience a retraction see the citation rate to their earlier, non-retracted articles drop by 10% on average, consistent with the Bayesian intuition that the market inferred their work was mediocre all along. We then investigate whether the eminence of the retracted author and the cause of the retraction (fraud vs. mistake) shape the magnitude of the penalty. We find that eminent scientists are more harshly penalized than their less distinguished peers in the wake of a retraction, but only in cases involving fraud or misconduct. When the retraction event had its source in “honest mistakes,” we find no evidence of differential stigma between high- and low-status faculty members.
We gratefully acknowledge the financial support of the National Science Foundation through its SciSIP Program (Awards SBE-1460344) and the Sloan Foundation through its Research Program on the Economics of Knowledge Contribution and Distribution. We thank Ezra Zuckerman for insightful conversations. James Sappenfield provided excellent research assistance. The authors also express gratitude to the Association of American Medical Colleges for providing licensed access to the AAMC Faculty Roster, and acknowledge the stewardship of Dr. Hershel Alexander (AAMC Director of Medical School and Faculty Studies). The National Institutes of Health partially supports the AAMC Faculty Roster under contract HHSN263200900009C. All errors are our own. The views expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Bureau of Economic Research.
Pierre Azoulay & Alessandro Bonatti & Joshua L. Krieger, 2017. "The career effects of scandal: Evidence from scientific retractions," Research Policy, . citation courtesy of