Accurate, Focused Research on Law, Technology and Knowledge Discovery Since 2002

Scientific publishing’s new weapon for the next crisis: the rapid correction

STAT News: “Research papers published in scientific journals are both the primary source of public scientific information and the main metric for scientists’ career success. Getting a paper published can be a long, tedious process that involves peer review: a detailed assessment of the manuscript by a small number of external experts.These experts aren’t infallible, so some published papers contain errors. These may be obvious and egregious, but usually have more consequences for other scientists than the general public — when a study about how to get children to eat more carrots is retracted, it’s mostly an issue for other researchers who have built their work off the findings. Yet even when conclusions could immediately affect public health, scientific publishing maintains an astonishingly strong resistance to modifying or correcting previously published articles. And doing nothing is the most common outcome. If evidence of errors does emerge, the process for correcting or withdrawing a paper tends to be alarmingly long. Late last year, for example, David Cox, the IBM director of the MIT-IBM Watson AI Lab, discovered that his name was included as an author on two papers he had never written. After he wrote to the journals involved, it took almost three months for them to remove his name and the papers themselves. In cases of large-scale research fraud, correction times can be measured in years…” [h/t Pete Weiss]

Sorry, comments are closed for this post.