Misconduct Behind Most Science Retractions


NEW YORK, (UPI) —  Misconduct, not research errors, accounts for the majority of scientific paper retractions by journals, an analysis by U.S. scientists found.

Such misconduct, including fraud or suspected fraud, duplicate publication and plagiarism, is responsible for two-thirds of all retractions, they said.

The review of 2,047 papers retracted from biomedical literature through May determined reasons for the retractions through the use of sources such as the National Institutes of Health Office of Research Integrity and Retractionwatch.com, which investigate scientific misconduct.

“Biomedical research has become a winner-take-all game — one with perverse incentives that entice scientists to cut corners and, in some instances, falsify data or commit other acts of misconduct,” senior study author Arturo Casadevall said.

Casadevall is a professor of microbiology & immunology and professor of medicine at Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University in New York, and is also editor in chief of the journal mBio.

Journals with higher influence in scientific circles had especially high rates of retractions, he said, because the prevailing culture in science disproportionately rewards scientists for publishing large numbers of papers and getting them published in prestigious journals.

“Particularly if you get your papers accepted in certain journals, you’re much more likely to get recognition, grants, prizes, and better jobs or promotions,” he said in a release. “Scientists are human, and some of them will succumb to this pressure, especially when there’s so much competition for funding.”

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