Science is littered with zombie studies. Here’s how to stop their spread.

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Many people think of science as complete and objective. The reality is that science continues to evolve and is full of errors. Since 1980, more than 40,000 scientific articles have been taken. They contained errors, were based on outdated knowledge or were outright frauds.

Identifying these errors is how science should work. Finding and editing publications—and keeping scholarly reports up to date—is part of the process. Yet these zombie publications continue to be unwittingly cited and used to support new arguments.

why? It’s almost always because No one noticed. They were sent back.

It is important for scientists to build future research on a solid foundation, which is necessary to build a better system.

Just by citing zombie publications, new research can go viral: a single unreliable citation threatens the reliability of the research it cites. The infection may worsen, spread over hundreds of papers. A 2019 paper on childhood cancer cites an example 51 different copied papersIt makes the study impossible to save.

For the scientific record to be the record of the best knowledge, we must take a View of knowledge maintenance On scholarly literature. We need to keep a parallel record to reflect what we actually know. And we must build on this knowledge, not on the error and fraud.

Currently, it can be Difficult to determine As soon as a publication is returned. And it’s even harder to be sure what’s been deducted – and the information posted as returned varies depending on where it comes from.

Science corrects itself, but scientific reporting does not. Researchers are paid to publish – not to edit the articles and especially to edit them. So who does this work?

For zombie-hunters, there’s some good news: tracking down citations of lifted publications just got easier. In September, Crossref and Retraction Watch Partnership To unlock the best data on the returned object. Accessing the database He started It was easier than finding a way to pay to stay. However, the costs are minimal: $775,000 in five years As special information to check manually why? One publication returned.

Another major challenge is that researchers often identify withdrawal as an occupational hazard. It is time-consuming at best: it can take up to two years to revise or retract a publication, even if the authors agree. Although retreats can be beneficial, especially when others are experiencing retreats, the process can be. Painful.

But it is not possible to quickly correct the record A career changerLet’s take Mark Tessier Lavigne, who resigned from Stanford’s presidency, as an example on the same day Science picked up two of the publications. Tessier-Lavigne It didn’t continue. By updating his writings, he knew his own writings had problems, but at a cost: to Tessier Lavigne. Not going back It was an occupational hazard.

The retreat itself is not the problem, but how it is dealt with. Another lesson is that science should be given priority Laboratory work culture: We have to lionize failure. Slow science, live articles and reducing pressure to print are among the interventions. We need a healthy, trusting ecosystem that rewards effort, not just results.

Early career researchers can to find their profession added, not to threaten, self-refusal. And by being open about honest mistakes, they show their honesty. Nobel Prize winners Extracting papersas well as. Correct response: Bravo!

Individuals and organizations doing scientific work must ensure that the work does not stop at publication. Sometimes, it’s just the beginning.

Jodi Schneider Associate Professor of Information Science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, NSF CAREER Awardee and Public Voice Fellow Oped project. She is the daughter of Alfred P. She directs the Sloan Foundation Project “Reducing the Dissemination of Inadvertent Science.”

Copyright 2023 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This article may not be published, distributed, rewritten or redistributed.

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