A study made of 2047 papers on PubMed has revealed that two thirds of the papers that have been retracted were done so due to scientific misconduct and not because of error. Although scientific research fraud in the UK was not as significant as in some other countries, officials have warned that complacency is not an option and as much as possible must be done to track down any fraud and send the message out that it will not be tolerated.
The amount of scientific research that has been retracted due to fraud has gone up tenfold since 1975, according to the latest analysis which is the most comprehensive ever of how things can go wrong in research papers.
The study, which was published on Monday in PNAS, the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, revealed that over two thirds of the life sciences and biomedical papers that have been retracted from scientific records are due to the researchers misconduct and not error as many originally thought.
These results add further weight to the recent concerns that have been raised regarding scientific misconduct and the fact that fraud was on the rise. One worrying aspect of this is that fraud has been found to have an increasing effect on those field that underpin main areas for public concern, such as healthcare and medicine. The authors of the study have also said that their findings may be only a conservative estimate of what the true scale of scientific misconduct actually is.
Arturo Casadevall is a professor of Microbiology, Immunology and Medicine at New York’s Albert Einstein College of Medicine, and is one of the study’s authors. He has said that the better the discrepancies the harder it is to find them, and whatever figures they have revealed in the study is likely to be far off the mark as far as the actual figure is concerned.