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An alarming two thirds of all scientific publications and research retracted found to be fraudulent

Published: October 2, 2012
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Biomedical and life-science research publications retracted because of fraud by country

An astonishing two-thirds of all biomedical and life-science research publications and research articles that have been retracted from the public domain have been retracted because of fraud.

An article published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America reviewed more than 2000 scientific articles for reasons why they were retracted from public scrutiny and discovered that 67.4% of retractions were attributed to misconduct, of which includes fraud or suspected fraud (43.4%)duplicate publication (14.2%) and plagiarism (9.8%).

Also, the number of articles retracted from circulation has increased 10 times since 1975.

So what is biomedical and life-science research? According to Wikipedia, Biomedical research (or experimental medicine), is known as medical research, is the basic research, applied research, or translational research conducted to aid and support the body of knowledge in the field of medicine.

Most of the publications were published by authors from more than 55 countries. Of the 2,047 publications analysed, an unprecedented two-thirds of the publications retracted because of fraud or suspected fraud were from the United States, Germany, Japan and China.

The top three publications that had the most retracted entries were:

  • Journal of Science
  • Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
  • The Journal of Biological Chemistry

However, the most alarming statistic from this publication is the fact that on average it took more than 32 months for the publications and research articles to be discovered and withdrawn.

Biomedical and life-science research publications Mean time-to-retraction by category

Publications and research articles retracted because of fraud took an average 46 months to be discovered and withdrawn.

So what’s so alarming about having publications and research articles in circulation for so long before being discovered to be fraudulent? Well, the major problem is that decisions and policy development could be falsely derived from one of these publications, resulting in public policy based on false assumptions.

How many publications and research articles based on global warming and climate change have been and should be retracted because of fraud?

The authors of the article suggest that ‘the surge of retractions suggests a need to re-evaluate the incentives driving this phenomenon’ and presents solutions to resolve the phenomenon such as:
Biomedical and life-science research publications time interval between publication and retraction

  • Increased use of check-lists.
  • Improved training in logic, probability and statistics.
  • Enhanced focus on ethics.
  • The formation of a centralized database of scientific misconduct.
  • The establishment of uniform guidelines for retractions and retraction notices.

At the end of the day, the authors of these fraudulent publications are human, and it should be expected from time to time that mistakes will happen.

However, all of these peer-reviewed publications can exert great influence on decisions and the attitudes of many people, therefore the public should in no way tolerate such an epidemic.

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