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Misconduct prompts most retractions

Two-thirds of scientific papers pulled from journals are for fraud, suspected fraud and plagiarism

Scientific misconduct — including fraud, suspected fraud and plagiarism — is the reason behind most retractions of papers published in scientific journals, a new study shows.

Only 21.3 percent of biomedical and life sciences studies pulled from scientific journals were withdrawn because honest errors invalidated the findings, researchers report online October 1 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Retraction notices often don’t explain why a study is being withdrawn, or they cover up the real reason for pulling a paper, says study coauthor Arturo Casadevall, a microbiologist at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City and editor of the journal mBio.

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