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The Career Effects of Scandal: Evidence from Scientific Retractions

Author

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  • Pierre Azoulay
  • Alessandro Bonatti
  • Joshua L. Krieger

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Pierre Azoulay & Alessandro Bonatti & Joshua L. Krieger, 2015. "The Career Effects of Scandal: Evidence from Scientific Retractions," NBER Working Papers 21146, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:21146
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Azoulay, Pierre & Stellman, Andrew & Zivin, Joshua Graff, 2006. "PublicationHarvester: An open-source software tool for science policy research," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 35(7), pages 970-974, September.
    2. Pierre Azoulay & Joshua S. Graff Zivin & Bhaven N. Sampat, 2011. "The Diffusion of Scientific Knowledge across Time and Space: Evidence from Professional Transitions for the Superstars of Medicine," NBER Chapters,in: The Rate and Direction of Inventive Activity Revisited, pages 107-155 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    Cited by:

    1. Zunino, Diego & van Praag, Mirjam C. & Dushnitsky, Gary, 2017. "Badge of Honor or Scarlet Letter? Unpacking Investors' Judgment of Entrepreneurs' Past Failure," IZA Discussion Papers 11017, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    2. repec:eee:respol:v:47:y:2018:i:5:p:827-839 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Kiri, Bralind & Lacetera, Nicola & Zirulia, Lorenzo, 2018. "Above a swamp: A theory of high-quality scientific production," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 47(5), pages 827-839.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • O31 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Innovation and Invention: Processes and Incentives
    • O33 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Technological Change: Choices and Consequences; Diffusion Processes

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