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Lab Life: The Anatomy of a Retraction
Key Excerpts from Article on Website of Scientific American blog

Scientific American blog, October 10, 2013
Posted: March 17th, 2014

An essential part of the scientific process is the critical analysis of research results by scientists with expertise in the discipline. Because of this peer-review process, mistakes are supposed to be caught before they propagate in the literature. Yet despite careful pre-publication scrutiny, some reports are later retracted or, worse, widely suspected to be erroneous but never corrected. One recent examination of 53 landmark medical studies found that further research was unable to replicate all but six of them. How can the scientific community do better at avoiding published errors and correcting them more quickly when they are discovered? A growing group of scientists are addressing this question. They suggest incentives that will reward scientists to a greater degree for producing solid, trustworthy research that others are able to replicate successfully and then extend. Paradoxically, the same qualities trust and teamwork that are key to a productive and harmonious laboratory environment are the same ones that can lead to an informality that allows errors to be propagated. Despite the importance of retractions in correcting the scientific record, there are few guidelines as to how they should be handled or how fast self-correction should occur. To this end medical journalists Ivan Oransky and Adam Marcus created the web log Retraction Watch, which catalogs retractions as a window into the scientific process and explores the causes of each one; it has been called one of most important recent developments in science journalism by former Scientific American editor in chief John Rennie.

Note: For a powerful article showing how the author of the above article, Pamela Ronald, has not been truthful in her own studies, click here. For more on corruption in science, see the deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources available here.

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