Scientific Fraud Cases Have Increased Dramatically

There is no other field that creates such scholarly activity which generates a lot of writing as does science research along with opinion. These publications are supposed to be peer-reviewed, inspected, and replicated. Many titles are published every single week by labs all over the world!

A scientist is held to a high moral standard, because scientific research requires honesty! So why are fraud cases in the scientific community have been increasing so dramatically in recent times? Is there better detection on discovering the fraudulent papers or what? Are there just more errors as a result of more complexity in the papers or more errors being detected because of the amount of papers being submitted?

According to nature, a survey reveals some disturbing news…

“Conventional wisdom says that most retractions of papers in scientific journals are triggered by unintentional errors. Not so, according to one of the largest-ever studies of retractions. A survey1 published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences has found that two-thirds of retracted life-sciences papers were stricken from the scientific record because of misconduct such as fraud or suspected fraud — and that journals sometimes soft-pedal the reason.”

“The survey examined all 2,047 articles in the PubMed database that had been marked as retracted by 3 May this year. But rather than taking journals’ retraction notices at face value, as previous analyses have done, the study used secondary sources to pin down the reasons for retraction if the notices were incomplete or vague. These sources included investigations by the US Office of Research Integrity, and evidence reported by the blog Retraction Watch.”

Wow, the 2,047 retracted papers surveyed they find…43 percent were fraud cases and they find another 24 percent were due to either duplicate publication or copies from other scientists! The 2047 papers which  had been retracted all came from major publications that dominate the secular science realm, like nature, PNAS, and science. Only one-fifth of those papers were retracted due to mistakes. An incredible low number amount!

The Scientist attempts to explain why this is happening…

“The disproportionate number of fraud-related retractions from high-IF journals likely reflects the pressures on scientists to publish impressive data in prestigious journals. “There’s greater reward,” said Resnik, “and more temptation to bend the rules.”

Wait a minute, there are many people who work under stress, and have temptations to bend the rules, but it doesn’t compel them to break the rules! Shouldn’t scientists be models of integrity? Misconduct in scientific papers is not a victimless crime. Some have suggested that “scientific misconduct may be a crime that only affects the perpetrators.” Not so, scientists do publish papers on a variety of topics that the public cares about!

Also not only the 2/3 of the papers retracted because of fraud, but some reviews of the papers are frauds too! The Scientist discovered a new trend where scientists log into another name, posing as someone else and then give rave reviews on their paper! Only a few of them have been caught so far, it’s unknown how large this trend has become.

 “At least four scientists have been cheating the peer review system in a whole new way: when submitting a paper to a scientific journal, they suggest reviewers with email addresses that track back to themselves; then they write a glowing review.… “I find it very shocking,” Laura Schmidt, an Elsevier publisher, told The Chronicle. “It’s very serious, very manipulative, and very deliberate.”

“This “has taken a lot of people by surprise,” Irene Hames, a member of the Committee on Publication Ethics that advises journals on how to handle misconduct, said in an e-mail to The Chronicle. “It should be a wake-up call to any journals that don’t have rigorous reviewer selection and screening in place.”

One of the bigger problems in fraud concerning the scientific community is the length of time some of them have lasted before being retracted as reported in Nature News

“One of the biggest purges of the scientific literature in history is finally getting under way. After more than a decade of suspicion about the work of anaesthesiologist Yoshitaka Fujii, formerly of Toho University in Tokyo, investigations by journals and universities have concluded that he fabricated data on an epic scale. At least half of the roughly 200 papers he authored on responses to drugs after surgery are in line for retraction in the coming months.”

“Like many cases of fraud, this one has raised questions about how the misconduct went undetected for so long. But the scope and duration of Fujii’s deception have shaken multiple journals and the entire field of anaesthesiology, which has seen other high-profile frauds in the past few years.”

This is unquestionably the most dangerous (for people physically) when fraud in the medical field happens and is able to prolong its detection by spreading itself out in various journals.

Last month, Marc Hauser, former Harvard evolutionary psychologist admitted making mistakes in his research that eventually lead to a misconduct investigation which prompted him to resigned. Harvard magazine listed various things that investigators discovered about Hauser doing such as fabricating data and falsely describing results.  His department voted against him resuming his normal teaching duties.

In light of Hauser’s misconducted, an opinion in nature says…“The scientific community must be diligent in highlighting abuses, develop greater transparency and accessibility for its work, police research more effectively and exemplify laudable behaviour,” he warned. “This includes encouraging more open debate about misconduct and malpractice, exposing our dirty laundry and welcoming external examination.”

Science Daily lists options to solve the fraud problem…

1) More emphasis on the quality of publications rather than quantity

2) Less emphasis on impact measures when rating journals

3) Fostering a cooperative and collaborative culture in the research community

4) Developing more stable and sustainable sources of research funding.

5) Creating more flexible career pathways to prevent the ongoing loss of capable scientists due to inadequate funding

While it’s great to read that there is now a growing concern over scientific fraud cases and those five solutions science daily had given can help limit fraud but some have tried to marginalize the problem. But one has to keep in mind, nobody knows how many papers should have been retracted. Yes,  over 2,000 were retracted and that is quite the number in itself as well but how many more went undetected?

The evolutionists worldview doesn’t account for sin, it doesn’t have a reasonable explanation on why stuff happens, only it happens. They only borrow from Judeo-Christian moral principles found in the Bible while claiming it was the result of natural selection in a purposeless world.

In a biblical worldview, sin is accounted for, the Bible says all men have come short of the glory of God and all men are sinners and how to deal with it. While it’s true that the scientific community are not the only ones who have committed such sins as fraud. The Biblical worldview teaches God demanding holiness. Not as merit to get into heaven, but fruits of salvation!

2 thoughts on “Scientific Fraud Cases Have Increased Dramatically

  1. A scientist is held to a high moral standard, because scientific research requires honesty!

    Amen to that. When we read a scientific paper, we can at least assume that it is not fraudulent—in the sense that, as you walk down your street, you can assume that your neighbor is not going to pop off and shoot you.

    Creationist pronouncements, on the other hand, can be assumed prima facie to be lies. Only the occasional exception bears any resemblance to truth or accuracy. All we have to do is look at the last few posts in this blog.

    The scientific publication process itself discourages fraud, by exposing experimental results and conclusions to replication and criticism by peers. In recent years, however, the sheer volume of data and the numbers of people on a project degrade the ability of reviewers[1] and readers to detect the many forms of errors—including fraud—that can invade research projects.

    This is especially true in the life sciences, where clinical trials may involve thousands of subjects over many years, and cost millions of dollars. Duplicating such efforts is sometimes prohibitive. Checking the records is a daunting task.

    Growing pressure to produce favorable results has also recently become an incentive to cheat. A researcher gets a $50M grant from NIH to investigate a new drug. The drug turns out a dud. This is not a career-enhancing move, even though the researcher may have been more than justified in his initial expectation. Demands for progress from politicians can incentivize institutions such as NIH and CDC to generate favorable results—and thus to soft-pedal possible fraud. Fraud is a black eye to the journals, thus leading them to dispose of it quietly.

    The AAAS, the NAS, the Royal Society, and many other institutions have stepped up their campaigns against all kinds of errors and fraud. There are improved tools to detect plagiarism and duplicate publication, for example. Enhancements to review protocols have been proposed.

    “The disproportionate number of fraud-related retractions from high-IF journals likely reflects the pressures on scientists to publish impressive data in prestigious journals. “There’s greater reward,” said Resnik, “and more temptation to bend the rules.”

    Wait a minute, there are many people who work under stress, and have temptations to bend the rules, but it doesn’t compel them to break the rules!

    You don’t think stressed workers in other fields break the rules?
    Scientists remain paragons of virtue in comparison.

    The Nature article notes that all retractions amounted to 0.01% of the papers they studied. If we subtract those which are unethical but do not impugn their results, this number falls to about 0.0043%. Please show me some other field where the rules are broken less than 0.0043% of the time. The next time you fly, think about how many counterfeit bolts are holding your aircraft together.

    Creationists have no room to complain. A couple months ago, I went through half a dozen Answers Journal papers. I found at least one major misrepresentation[2] in every one of them.

    The evolutionists worldview doesn’t account for sin,

    If the scientists’ fraud rate is 0.0043% and the creationists’ rate approaches 100%, then sin seems not to count for much with creationists. Whatever it is that keeps the scientists honest, it seems to work a hell of a lot better than fear of everlasting punishment for sin.

    . . . . . . . . . . . WE EXPECT SCIENTISTS TO BE HONEST.
    . . . . . . . . . . . . . WE EXPECT CREATIONISTS TO LIE


    [1] Although reviewers do consider fraud, their major purpose is to assess the reasonableness of conclusions, to ensure that relevant prior publications are referenced, and to judge the design adequacy of experiments.

    [2] Usually called a “lie.”

  2. To add to what Olorin wrote, I was actually sympathetic to this article before I got to the end and you mounted your high horse. Flaunting the high standards of your ‘Biblical worldview’ made me consider how this entire blog is a four-year monument to research misconduct—and I don’t mean by documenting it. Look at everything you do: you misrepresent the content of cited articles, omit essential data, fail to acknowledge contrary evidence, etc. Everything that was discussed as a reason for retracting an article is something that you do on a daily basis.

    I believe your ‘Biblical worldview’ also has something in it about motes and beams. Maybe you should reflect on that for a while.

    P.S. How have you established that “scientific fraud cases have increased dramatically“? There doesn’t seem to be any support for that contention in the survey data.

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