Thursday, 27 May 2010

When Peer Review Fails - Fabricated Results

The idea behind peer review is that your peers are also experts in the field and so they should be able to spot weaknesses in the science and prevent the publication of fabricated results.

Here are a few cases where this has not worked.
This is likely to be the tip of the iceberg, these are serial offenders who had fabricated most of the data for their entire careers. It is much harder to find the one off fabrication or just the science that turns out to be wrong by error and irreproducible. Peers should be able to reproduce the experiment, that is what makes it science but this is not always the case as was seen with Cold Fusion.

Here is an article about retraction rates which shows Science and then Nature are at the top of the list. It also suggests a correlation between impact factor and retraction rates. Nature is affectionately referred to amongst the scientific community as the Journal of Irreproducible Results (cold fusion paper, memory of water paper ...)

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