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The Boston Globe

Opinion

Adam Marcus and Ivan Oransky

A rash of scientific retraction

Despite assaults on the science of global warming and evolution, the real threat to research these days may be coming from within. Last year set a record for retractions from the scientific literature, with some 400 in recognized scientific journals. This year looks on pace to meet or possibly even exceed that mark. In fact, an anesthesiologist in Japan may set a new individual record, with 193 papers under suspicion for bad data.

Retractions happen for many reasons, from honest error to plagiarism and faked data. The trend is clear: Journals today are retracting more than 10 times as many articles each year than they did a decade ago, while publishing only about 50 percent more studies than before.

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