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Science

Fraud in Medical Research

Already in September last year, Der Spiegel published an interview with Peter Wilmshurst, a British medical doctor and whistleblower who made fraudulent practices in medical research public:

In the course of the 66-year-old’s career, he conducted studies for pharmaceutical and medical devices companies, and unlike many of his colleagues, never hesitated to publish negative results. He’s been the subject of multiple cases of legal action and risked bankruptcy and his reputation to expose misconduct in the pharmaceutical industry.

A very interesting article that’s worth reading. Fact is, that companies who have a strong economic interest in the scientific process will have an impact on the quality of the research. It is, again and again, horrible to learn how far companies try to go – and often successfully do. While medical companies has always been an obvious target (and perpetrator), the problem runs deeper than the narrative of “Big Pharma”. 

Categories
Science

Two retractions as end of investigation

The German Society of Psychology (DGPs) today announced that the court of honor has put an end to its investigation on Jens Förster after they mutually agreed to the retraction of two papers in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: General:1

By this [agreement] the proceedings against Prof. Dr. Jens Förster at the court of honor at the German Society of Psychology will be concluded. Prof. Förster is obliged to act upon the publishers of the Journal of Experimental Psychology to pursue a retraction of the following to publications:

Förster, J. (2009). Relations between perceptual and conceptual scope: How global versus local processing fits a focus on similarity versus dissimilarity. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 138(1), 88-111. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/a0014484

Förster, J. (2011). Local and global cross-modal influences between vision and hearing, tasting, smelling, or touching. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 140(3), 364-389. dx.doi.org/10.1037/a0023175

This settlement is neither a confession of guilt by Prof. Förster nor an imputation of blame by the court of honor.

Past analyses and reports have hinted at a possible scientific misconduct, but he always denied those claims. However, this settlement is rather strange to me: either there is sufficient evidence of fake data or very questionable practices or there is none. In the first case, an investigation should formally be started to identify any publication that might be based on those data. And in the latter case a retraction seems unreasonable – what reason should a retraction have in that case? Especially when both parties are so eager to underline that no confession of guilt or blame is made.

Seems like I’m not the only one wondering about this course of events:

I’m pretty sure that this is not the end of the discussion and that there will be other investigations.