Are US Scientists More Likely To Fake Research?

from the need-more-data dept

Yeebok Shu'in points us to a report claiming that US scientists are "significantly more likely to publish fake research." Of course, from the writeup, it's not actually clear if that's true. The study involved going through PubMed and looking at every paper that had been withdrawn between 2000 and 2010. There are two reasons why such papers are withdrawn: due to an error or due to fraud. The study did find that the largest number of retracted papers had someone from the US as their first author... but nowhere does it say what the percentage of the overall papers in PubMed are published by US authors. So it's hard to say, just from what's been reported, if US researchers are really more likely to withdraw papers. Honestly, for a scientific publication, the article is a bit weak in leaving out the details. It's entirely possible that the rest of the data is in the actual report, but Science Daily's writeup doesn't provide enough info.

The one stat it provides that is interesting is that 53% of the research withdrawn for fraud came from repeat offenders, while only 18% of the papers withdrawn for errors came from repeat offenders. Given the overall numbers, this actually suggests that fraud really isn't all that prevalent. A total of 243 papers overall were found as fraudulent over a ten year period, which represents about two per month. Perhaps that seems like a lot but given the number of scientific papers published that actually seems relatively low. Perhaps too low to read too much into the details.


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    Marcel de Jong (profile), Nov 19th, 2010 @ 1:17am

    Are US Scientists more likely to fake research?

    *puts on a lab coat*
    My research shows yes, they are more likely to fake research. And you can trust me because I'm not a US scientist. *toothpaste smile*

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Nov 19th, 2010 @ 8:38am

      Re: Are US Scientists more likely to fake research?

      My statistics shows that 99 percent of statistics are made up on the spot.

       

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    abc gum, Nov 19th, 2010 @ 5:06am

    That conclusion appears to be quite inclusive.

    I think this study is in dire need of additional research as it apparently focused upon only one journal - PubMed. I'm no expert, but I would imagine there are many more journals out there. Some of these other journals might even be devoted to science other than the medical field, imagine that.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Nov 19th, 2010 @ 8:39am

      Re:

      Actually I would venture to say that the medical field is probably the most prone to fraud because there is money to be made in the field and conflicts of interest might arise.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Nov 19th, 2010 @ 8:40am

        Re: Re:

        (well, there is money for many other fields as well, but especially the medical field in particular)

         

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    John Doe, Nov 19th, 2010 @ 5:18am

    Not sure, but Global Warming is an international fraud

    Not sure about the research the study covered, but Global Warming is the biggest fraud ever perpetrated on the public and it is an international effort.

     

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      TheOldFart (profile), Nov 19th, 2010 @ 5:56am

      Re: Not sure, but Global Warming is an international fraud

      Ah yes, the global conspiracy involving 122 nations and faked so well that 22 national academies of science, groups which have never led us too far astray in the last 100 years have all been taken in.

      Don't forget to check under your bed for communists because I hear they're bringing them in by the UFO load to Area 51 and there's another rumour that they've finally succeeded in converting the entire Bigfoot community to communism as well.

      The topic, I believe, is scientific fraud, not conspiracy theory.

      Personally I think saying "it's only 2 fraudulent papers a month" is like saying "Well it's only 2 defective airplanes a month". A lot of people may be depending on those papers to make important decisions, sometimes life critical ones. It's like having "only 2 bad teachers", over time they can screw up a whole lot of people.

      But by all means, feel free to try and change the subject from discussing science to your favorite subject, conspiracies against you and why scientists worldwide are conspiring to hide the evidence that the earth is only 6,500 years old or that climate isn't changing or that Elvis is still in charge of the shadow government or whatever it is.

      [click]

       

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        John Doe, Nov 19th, 2010 @ 6:10am

        Re: Re: Not sure, but Global Warming is an international fraud

        The head of the organization that faked & massaged the data admitted that there has been no significant warming in the past 15 years. Yet everyone rushes in to say oh, never mind that, it is real, I just know it is. Honest.

        So yes, it is a fraud. Just follow the trail of money and power.

         

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        Chuck Norris' Enemy (deceased) (profile), Nov 19th, 2010 @ 6:35am

        Re: Re: Not sure, but Global Warming is an international fraud

        It once was global warming and is now climate change. It's easier to turn global cooling into the bogeyman when that cycle starts (if you have any idea of what these climate catastrophe prophets have descried for the last century). Why can't it be 75 degrees F all day, week, month, year, century? The climate changes 30-40 degrees F every freaking day! I think average temperature changing 1-2 degrees F in half a century won't be a problem.

         

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          Anonymous Coward, Nov 19th, 2010 @ 8:37am

          Re: Re: Re: Not sure, but Global Warming is an international fraud

          It's called Climate Change because of idiots like you who think Global Warming means the planet will turn into Mercury.

           

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            Chuck Norris' Enemy (deceased) (profile), Nov 19th, 2010 @ 8:57am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Not sure, but Global Warming is an international fraud

            Okay, since you need to revert to name calling, I never said I don't believe in climate change. In fact, my post shows that I know it is happening...on a daily basis. And in 50 years it will have changed. Is this an emergency? Can humans even do anything to stop this minute change in temperature to prevent the end of world? Now that is the question. I think only an idiot could think that by spending trillions of dollars on 'remedies' we could actually affect the change. Wouldn't those trillions be more useful doing something that can be controlled, like...I don't know...feeding the hungry?

             

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            Anonymous Coward, Nov 19th, 2010 @ 1:15pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Not sure, but Global Warming is an international fraud

            The temperature has been rising, but not because of humans. It would still raise even if we weren't here. Suck it al gore, go buy another mansion

             

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          nasch (profile), Nov 19th, 2010 @ 12:21pm

          Re: Re: Re: Not sure, but Global Warming is an international fraud

          It might help to look up the difference between weather and climate.

           

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    Berenerd (profile), Nov 19th, 2010 @ 5:22am

    I wonder...

    Did the person who did this study fake the results?

     

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    out_of_the_blue, Nov 19th, 2010 @ 5:35am

    Don't forget the tobacco industry.

    First, I ain't against tobacco, which when *just* tobacco is relatively benign, but chemicals that the industry *adds* to get people addicted, and to make a "brand" with distinct taste, those are simply poisons. And "scientists" were the ones who came up the additives, with "physicians" faking up studies that the products didn't cause cancer -- when cigarettes were commonly called "coffin nails" since the 1930s. So from that example, the level of fraud among US scientists (and executives testifying to Congress) is manifestly high.

    Main problem is that MONEY CORRUPTS EVEN SCIENTISTS. They're frequently PAID to produce particular results. -- That's self-evident from common knowledge, and is not refuted by this or any study. -- But corruption never figures into the calculations of economists, so all they produce is fantasy that's not applicable to the real world.

     

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    pringerX (profile), Nov 19th, 2010 @ 7:54am

    As a scientist

    A couple things strike me as off about this study.

    PubMed, as previously commented on, is not a 100% comprehensive list of scientific research papers. It only deals with biology-related fields. I'd be interested to know what the fraud stats are like in other fields, like physics, astronomy, etc.

    A second point is the representation the US plays. If labs in the US are a bigger percentage of PubMed contributors than labs from the next biggest contributing country, then of course by probability alone there will be more fraudulent papers from the US.

    I am intrigued by the claim that frauds are more likely to come from repeat offenders. On the one hand, such offenders will tend to weed themselves out over time. More disturbing is the fact that frauds tend to appear in high-impact factor journals which are more visible and highly cited. The obvious concern is that because these journals are so influential, a fraud may send dozens of labs down the wrong path, wasting millions of dollars. The South Korean cloning scandal highlights this issue.

     

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      btrussell (profile), Nov 19th, 2010 @ 8:16am

      Re: As a scientist

      "I am intrigued by the claim that frauds are more likely to come from repeat offenders."
      I think this is pretty damning evidence. Why do they have the opportunity to continue publishing crap?

       

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    Christopher Smith, Nov 19th, 2010 @ 9:38am

    What about the "error" piece?

    "US scientists are significantly more likely to admit and correct errors in their own research than scientists from elsewhere, finds a trawl of officially withdrawn (retracted) studies, published online in the Journal of Medical Ethics.

    "Those who acknowledge problems with their experiments are also more likely to be 'consistently honest,' the study shows."

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 19th, 2010 @ 1:23pm

    I always knew that US scientists are pseudosciencists.

     

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    bikey, Nov 20th, 2010 @ 8:16am

    faking

    Who can blame them. Everyone gets away with any old lie, no matter how ridiculous - why not scientists? It's probably like the mortgage thing - your cohorts call you stupid if you don't jump on board.

     

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    Bluezy (profile), Nov 21st, 2010 @ 1:09am

    Psuedoscience practiced

    Makes me remember Science Digest and how they had a detailed article on "Self Cooling Cans". Yep. And they featured the inventor and info on how to buy stock. Just shortly before the magazine went out of circulation.

     

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    Niall (profile), Dec 9th, 2010 @ 5:11am

    US prestige

    Sorry to come onto this after a few weeks.

    One reason US scientists will likely be at the forefront of research papers is their 'prestige' value. Quite simply, I believe it has been found (through studies) that publications are more likely to accept Western names, and particularly Western (especially US) scientists, so they may be over-represented as the 'lead' name.

    Secondly, the US probably spends more on research than most of the rest of the world, even put togetherr.

    Thirdly, US scientists will most likely be picked up in a US-based system. I doubt PubMed publishes a lot of articles in Latvian or Urdu. But an educated, English-speaking European or Asian researcher will likely pick an American journal to publish in, for maximum exposure.

    BTW, all those debating climate change, don't you know that it is 'faked' by the same conspirators who 'pretend' the world is more than 6,500 years ok, who fake evidence of evolution and the expansion of space, and who are taking turns hiding Elvis in their labs? They even reached out and edited those photos from space to pretend the Earth is a curved sphere, not a disk! Don't they have the most amazing reach?

     

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