Science Says: What happens when researchers make mistakes

phys.org | 6/13/2018 | Staff
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Everyone makes mistakes, but when scientists do, the remedy goes far beyond saying you're sorry. Two fresh examples show how some journals and universities react when the need arises to set the record straight.

On Wednesday, the New England Journal of Medicine retracted and republished a landmark study on the Mediterranean diet, and issued an unprecedented five other corrections after an obscure report last year scrutinized thousands of articles in eight journals over more than a decade and questioned some methods.

Cornell - University - Range - Allegations - Research

Separately, Cornell University said it was investigating "a wide range of allegations of research misconduct" raised against a prominent food marketing faculty member.

The New England Journal's review did not alter any conclusions and should raise public trust in science, not erode it, said its top editor, Dr. Jeffrey Drazen.

Problem - Bottom - Fraud - Record

"When we discover a problem we work very hard to get to the bottom of it," he said. "There's no fraud here as far as we can tell. But we needed to correct the record."

HOW COMMON ARE ERRORS?

Retractions - Rise - Times - Corrections - Retractions

"Retractions are definitely on the rise" and there are 10 times as many corrections as retractions, said Dr. Ivan Oransky, a health journalism professor at New York University and co-founder of Retraction Watch, a website that tracks errors in science journals.

But they're still pretty rare. About 1,350 papers were retracted in 2016 out of 2 million published—less than a tenth of a percent, but up from 36 out of 1 million in 2000, he said.

Reason - People - Internet - Tools - Plagiarism

"The main reason they're up is that people are looking," and the internet makes it easier with tools to detect plagiarism and manipulated images, Oransky said.

Studies are often the main source of evidence that guides doctors' decision-making and patient care, and that's why journals are so meticulous when that evidence is called into question.

New - England - Journal

Here's what happened at the New England Journal.

Many experiments...
(Excerpt) Read more at: phys.org
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