Weekend reads: How common is scientific fraud?; the quest to get a paper retracted; ‘so, is this fraud or what?’

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The week at Retraction Watch featured:

Our list of retracted or withdrawn COVID-19 papers is up to more than 350. There are now 42,000 retractions in our database — which powers retraction alerts in EdifixEndNoteLibKeyPapers, and Zotero. The Retraction Watch Hijacked Journal Checker now contains 200 titles. And have you seen our leaderboard of authors with the most retractions lately — or our list of top 10 most highly cited retracted papers?

Here’s what was happening elsewhere (some of these items may be paywalled, metered access, or require free registration to read):

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2 thoughts on “Weekend reads: How common is scientific fraud?; the quest to get a paper retracted; ‘so, is this fraud or what?’”

  1. I am convinced that academia is designed to protect people who commit misconduct. It’s not about the competence or incompetence of any particular people or office, but a high level failure to design systems that prevent and respond to misconduct.
    Take for example these two step institutional processes that are designed to 1. Establish reliability of the data then 2. Attribute fault/establish misconduct. These are really hard to separate. It is far more efficient to do it all at once. But let’s say an institution has completed a decent internal investigation. The journal will then repeat the process because they are loathe to rely on institutional findings.
    Add in problems like underresourcing of investigations teams and litigious researchers and of course you can never establish misconduct. In order to prove misconduct you actually need to do it at least 3 times, not including appeals. It’s easier to be convicted of murder than research misconduct.

    1. This is generally the case in any well-established field. At the end of the day, protecting those who commit misconduct protects a group from public distrust, especially in academia where most all funding will come from those with frankly very little scientific knowledge or understanding. Even outside the scope of funding and public opinion, tenure and connections are just as, if not more important in academia than the quality and legitimacy of one’s work. Knowing people gets your foot in the door, and once you’re there, why rock the boat lest you lose your place? That combined with the amount of excess bureaucracy in misconduct investigations you mention makes a field that is prime territory for those who commit or are willing to commit misconduct of any kind.

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