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In this month's editorial, the PLOS Medicine Editors discuss the challenges caused by ever changing ideas in science as a result of both honest error and research misconduct.
Many scientific findings, once thought to be certain, will ultimately be shown to be wrong by new techniques, a change in thinking, improved data, or the result of an honest error. Unfortunately, changes in the published literature—whatever their origin—simply don't have an adequate paper or electronic trail.
It has never been clearer that the scientific and medical literature is a vibrant, evolving, but imperfect ecosystem. The editors argue that we need to build a system that reflects that dynamism and enables linking to corrections of errors or evolution of thinking from whatever source.
It is a collective responsibility for all countries and institutions to improve their oversight and management of research misconduct. Two papers by David Resnik and Zubin Master and Joseph Ana and colleagues discus this issue further. The editors argue that as scientific literature is no longer primarily print based, it could in future, using the new technologies that the web enables, link to corrections of errors from whatever source, and hence allow full integration of articles with post publication comments, leading to a fully connected and correctable research literature.
Image Credit: Nic McPhee at flickr.com
PLOS Medicine: published March 26, 2013 | https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001408
PLOS Medicine: published March 26, 2013 | https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001315
PLOS Medicine: published March 26, 2013 | https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001406
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PLOS Medicine: published March 26, 2013 | https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001409
PLOS Medicine: published March 26, 2013 | https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001410