An editorial in Nature this week that outlines the journal's correction and retractions policy following investigations of suspicious data has blogger Ms. PhD at YoungFemaleScientist "wondering." She gives two examples of misconduct, about which she "know[s] about peripherally" that haven't been investigated. In the first case, she writes, the "author makes an outrageous claim, [the] paper gets reviewed by high-impact journal because the result is so 'surprising'. Turns out the crux of the claim is based on an extremely high sample number and/or vastly overstated statistical power." This is alarming to Ms. PhD because no one had tried to verify that the authors had replicated their experiment in a smaller number of samples and "nobody can publish anything conflicting with the model based on these published claims, without reproducing the original results in at least as many samples, and no one can afford to do that because it's so outrageously expensive," she writes. In a second scenario, authors submit a paper with misprocessed data to a high-impact journal; when it is rejected by reviewers, the authors re-submit the paper to another high-impact journal who publishes it. "Sometimes I wonder how often these kinds of things are happening. More often I wonder why everyone puts up with it," the blogger writes.
'Surprising' Results, Suspicion, and Silence
Apr 29, 2010