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ResourcesResearch IntegrityTwo papers that we’ve covered have been retracted—here’s why – ars Technica (John0 Timmer | October 2019)

Australasian Human Research Ethics Consultancy Services Pty Ltd (AHRECS)

Two papers that we’ve covered have been retracted—here’s why – ars Technica (John0 Timmer | October 2019)

Published/Released on October 18, 2019 | Posted by Admin on October 24, 2019 / , , ,
 


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Not all retractions are created equal.

Science is an activity performed by humans, so it’s inevitable that some of the scientific papers we cover will end up being wrong. As we noted yesterday, the cause can range from factors completely outside of a researcher’s control—like OS implementation oddities—to mistakes and errors or even intentional fraud. In some cases, the problems are minor or peripheral to the main conclusions of a study and can be handled with a correction. In others, the issues are fatal to the paper’s conclusion. In these cases, the only option is to retract the paper.

When Ars discovers that a paper we’ve covered has been retracted, we make an effort to go back and provide a notice of it in our article. But until recently, we didn’t have a formal policy regarding what that notice should look like, and we typically didn’t publish anything new to indicate a retraction had occurred.

Having given it some thought, that practice seems insufficient. A failure to prominently correct the record makes it easier for people to hang on to a mistaken impression about our state of understanding. Perhaps more importantly, not reporting a retraction leaves people unaware of a key aspect of science’s self-correcting nature and how retractions can sometimes actually advance our scientific understanding. This is definitely apparent in the contrast between two retractions that we’ll revisit today.

Read the rest of this discussion piece

 



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