To accompany feature ‘Retractions: Righting the wrongs of science’
- “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.” This is a common expression in science. Write a brief paragraph explaining its meaning.
- If you come across a mistake in an article, book or other document, what is your reaction? Does finding an error affect your attitude toward that document and/or its author? Explain why or why not?
- What does it mean when a journal retracts a paper?
- Explain the role of mistakes in furthering science.
- How did a biologist tinker with the HIV vaccine experiment?
- Why could a retraction cost a scientist or a research institution money?
- Is the number of retractions growing or shrinking?
- Explain the role a now-retracted study has played in convincing some parents not to vaccinate their children against measles, mumps and rubella.
- In the subway study in New York City, why didn’t the authors have to make a full retraction? What did they do instead?
- Can an honest mistake lead to a retraction? Explain your answer, citing details from the article.
- What did a team of biologists learn after examining more than 2,000 retracted studies?
- What supporting evidence do experts quoted in this article provide in recommending researchers to act honestly when retracting a study?
- What numbers does the author of this article cite to make the claim that retractions are “extremely rare?” Do you agree?
- Explain how the Andrew Wakefield study on autism had an effect on public health.
- The article suggests that journals may now be retracting about 400 of the 1,400,000 studies published each year. Express that relationship as a fraction in lowest terms.