Verkhratsky 2023 Function (Oxf)

From Bioblast
Publications in the MiPMap
Verkhratsky A, Petersen OH (2023) How do we clean up the scientific record? Function (Oxf) 4:zqad055.

Β» PMID: 37841522 Open Access

Verkhratsky A, Petersen Ole H (2023) Function (Oxf)

Abstract: The famous phrase β€œErrare humanum est, sed in errare perseverare diabolicum” (β€œTo err is human, but to persist in error is diabolical”), which is attributed to the Roman philosopher and orator Lucius Annaeus Seneca (∼4 bce to 65 ce), is as relevant today as it always was. It is particularly important for science. We all make mistakes, but we should be careful not to persist in error and, most importantly, do everything we can to correct our errors and do so as quickly as possible. Otherwise, our scientific record will be unreliable and therefore not a secure basis for further work and rational decision making. In the worst cases, real harm is done to the care of patients.

The problem is often dealt with under the heading of irreproducibility, but it is really a question of getting it right. There are many examples of incorrect findings that were perfectly reproduced by repeating the mistakes or wrong assumptions others had made. In extreme cases, fraud or glaring errors, published papers are usually retracted and the scientific record is therefore cleaned up. However, there are unfortunately many more cases in which seriously flawed articles remain uncorrected. Although new papers may appear that correct erroneous articles previously published, the wrong papers usually remain part of the literature and may continue to cause confusion.

β€’ Bioblast editor: Gnaiger E

Selected quotes

As Rajagopal and Rosenberg point out in their commentary published in this issue,3 the clinical utility and safety of amlodipine is now no longer in question, thanks to the rigorous work reported by Parekh and colleagues. This case highlights, as previously discussed,4 that the most critical issues with reports of experimental work, contrary to the general belief, are not poor statistics or lack of adherence to guidelines, but simply flawed methodology and absence of appropriate controls.
There is little place for open and transparent critical discussion of published data. The ideal solution is of course that an author accepts errors made and publishes a correcting paper. The most famous paper of Sydney Ringer, demonstrating the fundamental role of Ca2+ in the contraction of the heart,7 is an illustrious example, as it repudiated his own results published a year earlier.8
Whether academic decency will prevail in our brave new world, or we succumb to senseless overproduction of irrelevant or erroneous papers, is the main challenge that will define future academic progress. We must find practical ways to deal with this problem, and discussion about how to do this has started.9 We now need a serious debate about the merits and perils of various measures. As mentioned in an earlier editorial in another journal,4 certain β€œcures” could be worse than the β€œdisease.” No doubt we, and many others, will return to this theme on many occasions in the future.


Ambiguity crisis, Gentle Science 

Cookies help us deliver our services. By using our services, you agree to our use of cookies.