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A toast to the error detectors – Nature (Simine Vazire | December 2019)0

Posted by Admin in on March 24, 2020

Let 2020 be the year in which we value those who ensure that science is self-correcting.

Last month, I got a private Twitter message from a postdoc bruised by the clash between science as it is and how it should be. He had published a commentary in which he pointed out errors in a famous researcher’s paper. The critique was accurate, important and measured — a service to his field. But it caused him problems: his adviser told him that publishing such criticism had crossed a line, and he should never do it again.

Scientists are very quick to say that science is self-correcting, but those who do the work behind this correction often get accused of damaging their field, or worse. My impression is that many error detectors are early-career researchers who stumble on mistakes made by eminent scientists, and naively think that they are helping by pointing out those problems — but, after doing so, are treated badly by the community.

Stories of scientists showing unwarranted hostility to error detectors are all too common. Yes, criticism, like science, should be done carefully, with due diligence and a sharp awareness of personal fallibility. Error detectors need to keep conversations focused on concrete facts, and should be open to benign explanations for apparent problems.

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Scientists reveal what they learnt from their biggest mistakes – Nature Index (Gemma Conroy | March 2020)0

Posted by Admin in on March 23, 2020

How retractions can be a way forward.

Be it a botched experiment or a coding error, mistakes are easily made but harder to handle, particularly if they find their way into a published paper.

Although retracting a paper due to an error may not seem a desirable career milestone, it is seen as important for building trust within the research community and upholding scientific rigor.

2017 study found that authors who retract their papers due to a mistake earn praise from peer-reviewers and other researchers for their honesty.

Below are four lessons from researchers who have retracted flawed papers.

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(Taiwan) Researcher formerly of OSU and Taiwan’s Academia Sinica gets 10-year ban – Retraction Watch (Adam Marcus | February 2020)0

Posted by Admin in on March 6, 2020

After a 20-month investigation, Taiwan’s leading science institution has hit a former star cancer researcher with a 10-year ban for research misconduct.

Troubling news from Taiwan shows not even high flyers can evade the consequences if they are caught cheating.

Academia Sinica (AS) said its inquiry found that Ching-shih Chen, formerly a distinguished research fellow at the center, was guilty of fabricating or falsifying data in several of the nearly two dozen papers he’d published while affiliated with the institution from 2014 to 2018. AS said Chen was being directed to retract one of the affected papers and correct three others.

A 2018 article in the Taipei Times quoted an AS official, Henry Sun, saying that Chen, who resigned his post there that year, admitted that his staff had “beautified” his results and that he kept loose reins over this lab.

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Oops!… I Did It Again. When to correct or retract? – Science Integrity Digest (Elisabeth Bik | January 2020)0

Posted by Admin in on February 27, 2020

How many image duplications in a paper would be acceptable? If the paper has two identical photos that represent different experiments, and the authors’ reply is: ‘Oops, we uploaded the wrong photo’, that would be acceptable. Mistakes happen, and the authors can correct the error by sending in an erratum with the correct photo(s). But should editors be equally forgiving in the case of two cases of “Oops, we made a mistake”, or other, more complicated scenarios?

An interesting piece about image manipulation, ‘errors’, corrections, retractions and misconduct proceedings

Let’s take a look at different types and numbers of duplications. As I explained in two previous blog posts (here and here), there are three categories of image duplications.

  • Category I duplications: simple, identical duplications.
  • Category II duplications: duplications involving shift, rotation, or a flip.
  • Category III duplications: parts within the same panel are duplicated or parts from other panels are duplicated into another panel.

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