While medical errors in hospital and clinical settings remain the focus of patient safety efforts, a growing trend of fraud in academic research papers, including medical research, has caught the attention of the media and the scientific community.
A new study published online in the “Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences” has found a disturbing and growing trend of fraud peer-reviewed scientific journal, including medical journals which healthcare practitioners use to provide diagnoses and treatment to sick patients.
According to an Associated Press report on the new study, “Fraud in life sciences research is still minuscule and committed by only a few dozen scientific scofflaws. However, it causes big problems, said Arturo Casadevall, a professor of microbiology at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York. Casadevall is the lead author of the study which looked at the reasons for 2,047 retractions among many millions of studies published in journals and kept in a government database for medically focused research.
Fraud was the No. 1 cause of retractions, accounting for 43 percent of them. When fraud was combined with other areas of misconduct, such as plagiarism, it explained about 2 out of 3 retractions, the study found.
“Very few people are doing it, but when they do it, they are doing it in areas that are very important,” Casadevall said. “And when these things come out, society loses faith in science.”
Prominent retractions that Casadevall cited for fraud include a notorious British study that wrongly linked childhood vaccines to autism, nine separate studies on highly touted research at Duke University about cancer treatment, and work by a South Korean cloning expert who later was convicted in court of embezzlement and illegally buying human eggs for research.”
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