That’s the question we pose in our newest column in LabTimes, based on some recent cases we’ve covered:
The implication seems to be that as long as researchers can pass off their mistakes as sloppiness, rather than intentional misconduct, they should be forgiven and carry on their work. We’re with that logic, to a point; after all, we’ve argued before that due process is much too important, no matter how apparently damning the evidence is. And as long as corrections and retraction notices are detailed, telling the whole story, science and the public are served.
But we know that’s not the case for many notices and corrections, and sloppiness isn’t such a good idea. We’ve seen “mega-corrections” that make us wonder why particular papers weren’t just retracted – just as some of the “it was just sloppiness” explanations make us wonder exactly where scientists draw the distinction between clumsiness and misconduct.
We welcome your thoughts.