Culture Science

Early coffee: Traction, retraction, and self-plagiarism (when scientists retread what they should retire)

Spread the love

“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
Correspondence to
R Grant Steen, Medical Communications Consultants LLC, 103 Van Doren Place, Chapel Hill, NC 27517, USA; g_steen_medicc@yahoo.com
Received 31 May 2010
Revised 29 July 2010
Accepted 13 August 2010
Published Online First 15 November 2010
Abstract
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 Data for each retracted article were entered in an Excel spreadsheet for analysis.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.

One site also offers a number of articles on the shortcomings of peer review. Also an article on self-plagiarism and one on self-plagiarism and bogus authorship.

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.

Wordle: retractionWordle: retractionWordle: retraction

One Reply to “Early coffee: Traction, retraction, and self-plagiarism (when scientists retread what they should retire)

  1. 1
    Barb says:

    Nobel laureate Linus Pauling once stated that science was a search for the truth. That seems idealistic considering the above post. Science is not now, nor has been ever, the final arbiter of truth.

    Scientist Steven Weinberg wants religion eliminated, presumably because it’s based on myths. My question to Dr. Weinberg is this: would replacing a myth with a lie really lead to any kind of improvement in any field of science?

Leave a Reply