Right Hooks

The Science Is... Oh, Never Mind

One thing led to another and "peer reviewed" articles got pulled.

Dan Gilmore · Aug. 20, 2015

We’d like to think that science is the pure output of human inquiry. Slap on the word “science,” and you’ve got a product sold, a policy advanced or a viewpoint defended. But like anything else touched with human hands, science has its limitations and its flaws. In what appears to be a cautionary tale to this effect, Springer, a publisher of peer-reviewed journals in subjects ranging from science, medicine to law, announced that it retracted 64 articles from 10 publications when it found that the peer review process, a process that is supposed to bring greater credibility to the work, was faked. While editors were reviewing articles, they discovered fake email addresses. One thing led to another and the articles got pulled. Retraction Watch, a blog that monitors retractions in scientific journals, reports that falsified peer reviews are not always the authors’ fault. Some of the fault lies with some agencies that offer submission services. Retraction Watch writes, “Given that there have been about 1,500 papers retracted overall since 2012 … faked reviews have been responsible for about 15% of all retractions in the past three years.” While most of these articles showed up in journals covering subjects like molecular neurobiology and tumor biology, the incident shows that science is not always as clear as some politicians would like us to believe when hawking their favorite government solution.

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