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article imageBig science stories of 2012 retracted

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By Tim Sandle     Dec 30, 2012 in Science
Over the course of 2012 a number of big science stories, some of which made the headlines, were retracted (or 'called back in') due to issues with the research.
Following on from an earlier Digital Journal news article about the top three science scandals of 2012, comes a report from the blog Retraction Watch which looks at the major retractions of the year in relation to science papers.
Retraction Watch tracks all of the science paper retractions. The most significant retraction relates to Japanese anesthesiologist Yoshitaka Fujii, who falsified data in 172 of 212 of his papers published between 1993 and 2011.
The more headline grabbing retractions have been listed by Fox News. These are:
1. Studies by the scientist Hyung-In Moon into alcoholic liver disease and an anticancer plant substance, which are now considered unreliable due to the way in which the peer review and journal citation process was conducted.
2. An article published in the journal Computers and Mathematics contained links to stores that sold computer games and was ultimately considered to have little scientific value.
3. Dutch social psychologist Diederik Stapel published research which seemed to imply that meat eaters are more selfish and less social than vegetarians. This has now been called into question because Stapel's employer, Tilburg University in the Netherlands, has placed him on suspension as it investigated the allegations into falsification of data.
4. A paper which grabbed many headlines, published in International Journal of Andrology, which indicated that cellphones in standby mode lowered the sperm count and caused other adverse changes in the testicles of rabbits, has been retracted due to lack of evidence and lack of agreement between the study authors.
5. A study, by Shinya Yamanaka, which suggested that there can be a stem-cell cure for heart disease has now been shown to have, in all likelihood, to have been based on inaccurate studies.
The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences implies in an article that the majority of retractions are due to some type of misconduct.
As a Digital Journalist remarked earlier: "Although a great deal of scientific research is accurate, these... examples show the value of a skeptical mind: don't believe all that you read and any scientific research that makes a bold claim will need to have been tested, re-tested and critically appraised by several scientists at different institutions and with research published in different papers", it is best to be cautious.
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