Imprimir Republish

Good practices

The costs of retracting articles

According to a study by a researcher from the University of Washington, in recent years a loss in the amount of $390,000 was incurred each time the publication of a scientific article on biomedicine was canceled due to unethical behavior. The estimate refers to the loss of public funds invested in the research that was the source of the recycled papers. Microbiologist Ferric Fang arrived at this figure after analyzing 149 articles between 1992 and 2012 that had been retracted due to fabrication or falsification of data, whose authors had received financing from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in the United States. He found that NIH had invested $58 million in fraudulent research (less than 0.01% of its budget in that period), or $390,000 per article. The work was published in the online journal eLife.

Fang warns that the problem extends to more than monetary losses. There is also the damage to the careers of the researchers that are involved, which causes major losses, and in some cases even impacts researchers who did not act in bad faith. Then there are the institutional costs of investigating suspected fraud and time lost by other scientists who attempted, in vain, to reproduce the experiments.