U.S. Scientists Significantly More Likely to Publish Fake Research

Professor FrinkVia LiveScience:

U.S. scientists are significantly more likely to publish fake research than scientists from elsewhere, finds a trawl of officially withdrawn (retracted) studies, published online in the Journal of Medical Ethics.

Fraudsters are also more likely to be “repeat offenders,” the study shows.

The study author searched the PubMed database for every scientific research paper that had been withdrawn — and therefore officially expunged from the public record — between 2000 and 2010.

A total of 788 papers had been retracted during this period. Around three quarters of these papers had been withdrawn because of a serious error (545); the rest of the retractions were attributed to fraud (data fabrication or falsification).

The highest number of retracted papers were written by first authors in the U.S. (260), accounting for a third of the total. One in three of these was attributed to fraud.

The UK, India, Japan, and China each had more than 40 papers withdrawn during the decade. Asian nations, including South Korea, accounted for 30% of retractions. Of these, one in four was attributed to fraud.

The fakes were more likely to appear in leading publications with a high “impact factor.” This is a measure of how often research is cited in other peer reviewed journals.

Read more here.

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  • Butter Knife

    The summary and article both lack sufficient data to reasonably come to the conclusion presented. It may be true, but to take the information presented and conclude that US based researchers are more likely to commit fraud is statistically and logically invalid.

    The most obvious problem is that no number is given for how many papers originate in each region. Absolute numbers mean very little when they cannot be rationally compared. Theoretically speaking, the retracted research might only account for 1% of US-based work, yet also account for 100% of another country’s contributions… no data is given to refute this (or, more importantly given the absurdity of my example, to refute the basic premise that the title implies a ratio where none can be established).

    What can be concluded is that any given piece of fraudulent research is more likely to have come from the US than any other single country, and that US researchers are more likely to have their work retracted due to fraud than they are due to error… both of which come with far too many confounding variables (some of which are potentially complimentary to the US system: fewer published errors relative to fraudulent ones could be just as easily explained by higher research standards as by greater levels of intended fraud) to draw any further conclusions.

    On the bright side, I’m still laughing from the absolutely hysterical irony of it all.

  • Butter Knife

    The summary and article both lack sufficient data to reasonably come to the conclusion presented. It may be true, but to take the information presented and conclude that US based researchers are more likely to commit fraud is statistically and logically invalid.

    The most obvious problem is that no number is given for how many papers originate in each region. Absolute numbers mean very little when they cannot be rationally compared. Theoretically speaking, the retracted research might only account for 1% of US-based work, yet also account for 100% of another country’s contributions… no data is given to refute this (or, more importantly given the absurdity of my example, to refute the basic premise that the title implies a ratio where none can be established).

    What can be concluded is that any given piece of fraudulent research is more likely to have come from the US than any other single country, and that US researchers are more likely to have their work retracted due to fraud than they are due to error… both of which come with far too many confounding variables (some of which are potentially complimentary to the US system: fewer published errors relative to fraudulent ones could be just as easily explained by higher research standards as by greater levels of intended fraud) to draw any further conclusions.

    On the bright side, I’m still laughing from the absolutely hysterical irony of it all.

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