“This study reports evidence consistent with the ‘deliberate fraud’ hypothesis. The results suggest that papers retracted because of data fabrication or falsification represent a calculated effort to deceive.”:
Med Ethics doi:10.1136/jme.2010.038125Research ethics
Retractions in the scientific literature: do authors deliberately commit research fraud?
R Grant Steen
R Grant Steen, Medical Communications Consultants LLC, 103 Van Doren Place, Chapel Hill, NC 27517, USA; firstname.lastname@example.org
Received 31 May 2010
Revised 29 July 2010
Accepted 13 August 2010
Published Online First 15 November 2010
Background Papers retracted for fraud (data fabrication or data falsification) may represent a deliberate effort to deceive, a motivation fundamentally different from papers retracted for error. It is hypothesised that fraudulent authors target journals with a high impact f actor (IF), have other fraudulent publications, diffuse responsibility across many co-authors, delay retracting fraudulent papers and publish from countries with a weak research infrastructure.
Methods All 788 English language research papers retracted from the PubMed database between 2000 and 2010 were evaluated. Data pertinent to each retracted paper were abstracted from the paper and the reasons for retraction were derived from the retraction notice and dichoto mised as fraud or error. Data for each retracted article were entered in an Excel spreadsheet for analysis.
Results Journal IF was higher for fraudulent papers (p<0.001). Roughly 53% of fraudulent papers were written by a first author who had written other retracted papers (‘repeat offender’), whereas only 18% of erroneous papers were written by a repeat offender (?=88.40 ; p<0.0001). Fraudulent papers had more authors (p<0.001) and were retracted more slowly than erroneous papers (p<0.005). Surprisingly, there was significantly more fraud than error among retracted papers from the USA (?2=8.71; p<0.05) compared with the rest of the world.
Conclusions This study reports evidence consistent with the ‘deliberate fraud’ hypothesis. The results suggest that papers retracted because of data fabrication or falsification represent a calculated effort to deceive. It is inferred that such behaviour is neither naï ve, feckless nor inadvertent.
For comments go here “The highest number of retracted papers were written by US first authors (260), accounting for a third of the total. One in three of these was attributed to fraud.”, or here (An excellent example of either crappy science reporting or crappy science …), for the view that it’s all a bum rap.
Self-plagiarism? If I plagiarize myself, can I sue myself?
Self-Plagiarist dies of his pains,
When “Been done!” the reviewer complains.
He was suing himself
In a courtroom in Guelph,
And his spectre now sues his remains.