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Retractions Symptom of Flawed System

Editors, concerned about the increasing numbers of retractions, propose solutions.

By | April 17, 2012

image: Retractions Symptom of Flawed System Wikimedia Commons, Vmenkov

WIKIMEDIA COMMONS, VMENKOV

Retractions of scientific papers are rising, and two journal editors outlined some ideas to address the issue, The New York Times reported yesterday (April 16). Ferric Fang of the University of Washington and Arturo Casadevall of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York, both editors at Infection and Immunity, investigated the interaction between retraction rate and journal impact and stressed their concerns in two editorials in their journal.

Several other reports have highlighted the rising rate of retractions, which has outpaced the increase in publication rate. Feng and Casadevall found that higher journal impact factors often correlated with more retractions. They fear that this is a symptom of an increasingly “winner take all” mentality in science, where a glut of scientists and a dearth of funding encourages drastic measures to obtain high-profile papers that will help secure grant funding and tenure.

Not everyone agrees with Casadevall’s and Feng’s interpretation of their findings. More retractions from high profile journals may be result from more attention, Monica M. Bradford, executive editor at Science, argued. “Papers making the most dramatic advances will be subject to the most scrutiny,” Bradford told The NYT.

Feng and Casadevall want to instill better practices in young graduate students. Caps in grant money per lab could help distribute funding among more labs, they said, and universities could emphasize collaboration as a factor in considering promotion.

“You can’t afford to fail, to have your hypothesis disproven,” Dr. Fang told The NYT. “It’s a small minority of scientists who engage in frank misconduct. It’s a much more insidious thing that you feel compelled to put the best face on everything.”

(Hat tip to GenomeWeb)

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Avatar of: JBG2

JBG2

Posts: 14

April 18, 2012

There is at least one journal that seems to specialize in plagiary - The Journal of Nanostructure in Chemistry.  They recently published a paper (Journal of Nanostructure in Chemistry 2 (1) (2011) 59-78)  that was completely identical to one published 6 months earlier (Plant Science 179 (2010) 154–163) except for authors names. The editor refused to retract it.

 A software analysis of 6 other randomly chosen papers from that journal showed the papers were either partially or wholly copied from other literature.

Avatar of: RichardPatrock

RichardPatrock

Posts: 52

April 18, 2012

When a paper is retracted, the retraction should not be held behind a pay-wall and any purchasers of the original article should be refunded for their costs.  The retraction(s) should be the first item listed on the table of contents of the journal, both for the issue, volume and year of the retraction.  Ideally, there should be a website where all retractions are databased for everyone to see.  Excellent journals would want to keep their reputation intact and involve themselves in this database.  Everyone makes mistakes and honest brokers admit to these to themselves and their associates in order to maintain their good character.  Retractions kept behind a wall would be noted in the database, of course.  Science journals, while stuck with this name should not have the same low level of ethics as journalistic newspapers.

Avatar of:

Posts: 0

April 18, 2012

There is at least one journal that seems to specialize in plagiary - The Journal of Nanostructure in Chemistry.  They recently published a paper (Journal of Nanostructure in Chemistry 2 (1) (2011) 59-78)  that was completely identical to one published 6 months earlier (Plant Science 179 (2010) 154–163) except for authors names. The editor refused to retract it.

 A software analysis of 6 other randomly chosen papers from that journal showed the papers were either partially or wholly copied from other literature.

Avatar of:

Posts: 0

April 18, 2012

When a paper is retracted, the retraction should not be held behind a pay-wall and any purchasers of the original article should be refunded for their costs.  The retraction(s) should be the first item listed on the table of contents of the journal, both for the issue, volume and year of the retraction.  Ideally, there should be a website where all retractions are databased for everyone to see.  Excellent journals would want to keep their reputation intact and involve themselves in this database.  Everyone makes mistakes and honest brokers admit to these to themselves and their associates in order to maintain their good character.  Retractions kept behind a wall would be noted in the database, of course.  Science journals, while stuck with this name should not have the same low level of ethics as journalistic newspapers.

Avatar of: Ferric Fang

Ferric Fang

Posts: 1457

April 20, 2012

Arturo Casadevall and I are not in disagreement with Monica Bradford.  In our commentary on retractions (Infect Immun 79:3855, 2011), we note that "One possibility is that fraud and scientific misconduct are higher in papers submitted... to higher-impact journals... Another possibility is that the desire of high-impact journals for clear and definitive reports may encourage authors to manipulate their data to meet this expectation... Alternatively, publications in high-impact journals have increased visibility and may accordingly attract greater scrutiny."  Agrawal and Sharma have suggested an additional possibility (Infect Immun 80:1300, 2012): "Simple Bayesian logic also predicts that the articles published in high-impact journals stand a higher chance of incorporating false-positive results."

Avatar of:

Posts: 0

April 20, 2012

Arturo Casadevall and I are not in disagreement with Monica Bradford.  In our commentary on retractions (Infect Immun 79:3855, 2011), we note that "One possibility is that fraud and scientific misconduct are higher in papers submitted... to higher-impact journals... Another possibility is that the desire of high-impact journals for clear and definitive reports may encourage authors to manipulate their data to meet this expectation... Alternatively, publications in high-impact journals have increased visibility and may accordingly attract greater scrutiny."  Agrawal and Sharma have suggested an additional possibility (Infect Immun 80:1300, 2012): "Simple Bayesian logic also predicts that the articles published in high-impact journals stand a higher chance of incorporating false-positive results."

Avatar of:

Posts: 0

April 22, 2012

While most reviewers (working for no pay) do their best to keep integrity and quality of academic publications, some authors CONSPIRE with friendly editors to get their papers (build on misconduct/fraud, i.e. data manipulation and/or plagiarism) published with the ONLY goal to register more publications in order to GET MORE PUBLIC MONEY (in the form of grants).
This is per se a conspiracy to obtain public money by deception.
However, in the era of internet, sooner or later the misconduct/fraud INEVITABLY is revealed.
Then, the editors are asked by members of the public to do the right thing, i.e. to retract the paper.
Now COPE provides detailed Flowcharts “What to do in cases of misconductâ€쳌.
Should the editors/publishers/institutions decide to turn a blind eye, they become associates in the conspiracy to obtain public money by deception.
IT’S TIME TO OUTLAW PUBLICATION FRAUD!

Avatar of: YouKnowBestOfAll

YouKnowBestOfAll

Posts: 16

April 22, 2012

While most reviewers (working for no pay) do their best to keep integrity and quality of academic publications, some authors CONSPIRE with friendly editors to get their papers (build on misconduct/fraud, i.e. data manipulation and/or plagiarism) published with the ONLY goal to register more publications in order to GET MORE PUBLIC MONEY (in the form of grants).
This is per se a conspiracy to obtain public money by deception.
However, in the era of internet, sooner or later the misconduct/fraud INEVITABLY is revealed.
Then, the editors are asked by members of the public to do the right thing, i.e. to retract the paper.
Now COPE provides detailed Flowcharts “What to do in cases of misconductâ€쳌.
Should the editors/publishers/institutions decide to turn a blind eye, they become associates in the conspiracy to obtain public money by deception.
IT’S TIME TO OUTLAW PUBLICATION FRAUD!

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