Retraction Watch readers will no doubt be familiar with the fact that retraction rates are rising, but one of the unanswered questions has been whether that increase is due to more misconduct, greater awareness, or some combination of the two.
The psychology literature is meant to comprise scientific observations that further people’s understanding of the human mind and human behaviour. However, due to strong incentives to publish, the main focus of psychological scientists may often shift from practising rigorous and informative science to meeting standards for publication. One such standard is obtaining statistically significant results. In line with null hypothesis significance testing (NHST), for an effect to be considered statistically significant, its corresponding p value must be less than .05.
When Retraction Watch readers think of problematic psychology research, their minds might naturally turn to Diederik Stapel, who now has 54 retractions under his belt. Dirk Smeesters might also tickle the neurons.
But a look at our psychology category shows that psychology retractions are an international phenomenon. (Remember Marc Hauser?) And a new paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) suggests that it’s behavioral science researchers in the U.S. who are more likely to exaggerate or cherry-pick their findings.
The title of this post is the title of a new study in PLOS ONE by three researchers whose names Retraction Watch readers may find familiar: Grant Steen, Arturo Casadevall, and Ferric Fang. Together and separately, they’ve examined retraction trends in a number of papers we’ve covered.
The study of 2,047 retractions in biomedical and life-science research articles in PubMed from 1973 until May 3, 2012 brings together three retraction researchers whose names may be familiar to Retraction Watch readers: Ferric Fang, Grant Steen, and Arturo Casadevall. Fang and Casadevall have published together, including on their Retraction Index, but this is the first paper by the trio.