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Behind the scenes of scientific articles: defining categories of fraud and regulating cases

Abstract : Two major interpretations are generally contrasted when facing scientific fraud scandals. The first tolls the bell of scientific integrity: it is mainly based on the massive increase of the number of articles retracted , on the fact that these retractions are strongly correlated with the journals’ impact factor or that the retractions for fraud take place in journals with a higher impact factor than the retractions for experimental or calculation errors. It also responds to the high frequency of researchers declaring having observed colleagues involved in practices they deem contrary to scientific ethics. In contrast, the second interpretation ferociously defends tooth and nail a model of self-regulation. It is founded, for example, on the usually brief time between publication and retraction, the generally low number of citations related to these articles [16], the appearance in some journals of temporary publication bans, and considers the creation of specialized places such as the Abnormal Science and Retraction Watch blogs as extensions of peer review. Our objective in this article is not to choose between these two positions, which stabilized over the 1980s and were regularly reactivated by other actors with each new case detected. Instead, from a sociology of science perspective, we wish to establish a general diagnosis on the regulation of publication practices and suggest methods of analysis, by reviewing both the recent cases and others, less recent, that they call to mind. First of all, this paper reviews how the practices deemed to be deviant have been categorized in the past by distinguishing the categories stemming from data integrity and the conditions of data production from those concerning the relationships between the authors of publications and their content. We will then analyze three specific problems and the institutional responses aiming to prevent them, channel them, and attempt to solve them.
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David Pontille, Didier Torny. Behind the scenes of scientific articles: defining categories of fraud and regulating cases. 2012. ⟨halshs-01981265⟩

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