Most retracted scientific papers retracted because of fraud

Here's some disheartening news that isn't actually as disheartening as it sounds. Please stick with me through this. Though it was often thought that most retracted scientific papers were retracted on account of error, it turns out that two-thirds were retracted because of fraud.

In addition, the amount of papers retracted because of fraud has increased tenfold since 1975.

I know: disheartening, right? And I said it wasn't going to be as disheartening as it sounds.

The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences published a study finding the aforementioned, after looking at 2,047 retracted papers that had been published through May 2012.

Of these, 67.4% were retracted because of scientific misconduct while 21.3% were retracted because of error. Though the unethical behavior might be surprising, the reasons make sense: it's become more and more important for scientists to publish studies in high-impact journals. In any industry, increases in fraud will follow increases in pressure.

What makes this not-so-disheartening is the fact that so many are caught and/or retracted by folks who can't go through with it. A lot of fraud might keep these papers out of journals, but it keeps them out of journals.

But maybe that's a far reach for a silver lining.

Via The Guardian

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