A Chinese scientific study was retracted Monday after one of the authors admitted the data was falsified, and several of the co-authors didn’t exist or used false names.
Chinese researchers with the Nuclear Power Institute of China claimed in 2014 they developed a new method to make uranium oxide fuel pellets more compatible with nuclear reactors, but they later admitted that the data was falsified. The Journal of the European Ceramic Society, which published the study, did not say who falsified that data or even which of the authors were real people.
“This article has been retracted at the request of the author following disclosure by the corresponding author that data in the article has been falsified,” states the retraction notice.”The publisher has also been unable to verify the identities of the co-authors listed on the article.”
No one even responded to comments filed by the academic journal watchdog Retraction Watch with the journal that published the study.
There are enormous financial incentives for scientists to engage in dubious laboratory practices like tweaking statistical analyses to make results seem significant, sloppy research and even outright fakery. A growing number of scientists and major scientific journals like Nature have noticed the wave of retractions, especially among Chinese scientists. Polling indicates that such consequences are causing science itself to become less trusted.
Social sciences appear to be especially affected by dubious practices. Last summer, the Open Science Collaboration attempted to replicate 100 published psychology experiments sampled from three of the most prestigious journals in the field, 65 percent of these experiments that showed positive results could not be replicated.
In addition to outright fraud, researchers often don’t even bother to write up negative results, as they aren’t the kind of groundbreaking research upon which scientific prizes, grant money, and tenure decisions are awarded.
Even if the research was written up, scientific journals tend to only publish the flashiest and most popular research. Researchers also have a documented tendency to find evidence of phenomenons they happen to believe in and to reject observations that are unpopular. In a survey of two thousand research psychologists conducted in 2011, over half admitted they selectively reported experiments, which gave the result they were after.
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