Let’s hope the term “fake research” doesn’t catch on


What’s hot? What’s rot?/Niklas Bildhauer, Wikimedia

In place of “research misconduct.” From Helen Briggs at BBC News:

The scale of “fake research” in the UK appears to have been underestimated, a BBC investigation suggests.

Official data points to about 30 allegations of research misconduct between 2012 and 2015.

However, figures obtained by the BBC under Freedom of Information rules identified hundreds of allegations over a similar time period at 23 universities alone.

Co-founder of Retraction Watch, Dr Ivan Oransky, told BBC News: “We do not have a good handle on how much research misconduct takes place, but it’s become quite clear that universities and funding agencies and oversight bodies are not reporting even a reasonable fraction of the number of cases that they see.” More.

It will be too bad if the term “fake research” catches on, in place of the traditional term “research misconduct,” which covers such issue as plagiarism, fabrication, and piracy.

“Fake research” is modeled, of course, on “fake news,” a term that gained widespread currency only recently. “Fake news” has become nearly useless as a descriptor because the tag gets attached to any information that the hearer does not like, irrespective of provenance. The same thing will happen, and probably quite swiftly, with “fake research.”

“Research misconduct” means misconduct according to a known and agreed set of rules, honed over centuries. It hails from an earlier era, when Piltdown Man, for example, wasn’t just “fake research,” it was a fraud perpetrated for decades.

Researchers today, influenced by post-modernism, probably inwardly reject those standards. In our “many worlds” reality, why aren’t they entitled to enforce acceptance of a reality that helps them grow personally and compensates them for their sufferings due to systemic injustice?

Note—as just one item—the growth of claims that science is post-fact, and objectivity is sexist. And that we need the right kind of post-fact science to help women succeed.

Keep up to date with Retraction Watch.

See also: Peer review “unscientific”: Tough words from editor of Nature

We need the right kind of post-fact science to help women succeed.

Objectivity is sexist.


A scientist on the benefits of post-fact science

Also: Part I: What is fake news? Do we believe it?

Part II: Does fake news make a difference in politics?

Part III: What can we do about fake news that would not diminish real news? real news? Critics of ‘fake news’ should go to China — only the government has the right to post fake news.

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