Tuesday, July 08, 2014


  1. Retractions of the Year? The Rise and Fall of STAP (a Special Section in Nature website on the STAP fiasco, with all the relevant links. I presume (but haven't checked) that all the links there are open access).

    Two papers published in Nature in January 2014 promised to revolutionize the way stem cells are made by showing that simply putting differentiated cells under stress can 'reprogram' them and make them pluripotent — able to develop into any type of tissue in the body. But soon, errors were found in the papers, and attempts to replicate the experiments failed. Haruko Obokata, the lead author, was found guilty of misconduct, and the RIKEN Center for Developmental Biology, where she worked, was threatened with dismantlement. Five months after publication, Nature published retractions of the papers, but the aftermath of the episode is likely to endure for much longer.

  2. R. Grant Steen in Publications (yes, there is a journal by that name ...): The Demographics of Deception: What Motivates Authors Who Engage in Misconduct? From the abstract:

    Journal IF was higher for papers retracted for misconduct (...). Roughly 57% of papers retracted for misconduct were written by a first author with other retracted papers; 21% of erroneous papers were written by authors with >1 retraction (...). Papers flawed by misconduct diffuse responsibility across more authors (...)) and are withdrawn more slowly (...) than papers retracted for other reasons.

  3. Joel Achenbach in WaPo: Science is open to error, misinterpretation and even fraud.

    Since science is a human enterprise, it is open to error, misinterpretation and, rarely but notoriously, fraud and fakery. Here’s a rundown of a few science mishaps, misapprehensions and debatable interpretations in recent years.

  4. Jalees Rehman in 3 Quarks Daily: The Road to Bad Science Is Paved with Obedience and Secrecy: "The recent events surrounding the research in one of the world's most famous stem cell research laboratories at Harvard shows us the disastrous effects of suppressing diverse and dissenting opinions."

  5. Dan Drezner in CHE: The Uses of Being Wrong: "Why is it so hard for scholars to admit when they are wrong?"