Retracting Bad Science Doesn’t Make It Disappear

WIRED | 10/10/2017 | Jerome Samson
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Imagine you're a scientist. You published a paper in a reputable journal a couple of years ago, and that paper has made an impact in your field of study. It has shaped your own research and has inspired others to pursue similar lines of investigation. Thanks to that paper, you're enjoying a certain status among your peers. Now you find out that one of the works you cited in that paper has just been retracted. Whether it was an honest mistake, total fabrication, or something in between, that work has now been flagged and no longer stands up to scientific scrutiny.

What do you do?

Jerome - Samson - Data - Science - Media

Jerome Samson is a data science, media, and research communication consultant. He's principal at 3.14 Research Management Group, a research and communications agency, and was previously managing editor of scientific publications at Nielsen.

Modern science is a group effort. It's slow, it's complicated, it often involves multiple disciplines, and it's almost always expensive —  all excellent reasons for researchers to team up to share the burden and check each other's equations. A 2015 paper in Physical Review Letters had a record-breaking 5,154 co-authors. That's a bit extreme, of course, but there's no question that across many fields today, single-authorship is shrinking and multi-authorship is growing.

Science - Top - Science - Shoulders - Giants

And science is built on top of science. Standing on the shoulders of giants, as Google Scholar makes clear on its home page. Researchers read up on prior work before starting their own lines of inquiry, often replicating past experiments to lay a foundation for their own research. They cite references scrupulously, and peer-review is the norm before anything gets published.

Scientists form a giant altruistic community. There are turf considerations and funding to compete for, as in any other walk of life, but by and large, scientists are doing what they do because they're...
(Excerpt) Read more at: WIRED
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