Teaching by Retraction

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Science  28 Feb 2014:
Vol. 343, Issue 6174, pp. 950
DOI: 10.1126/science.343.6174.950-d

As funding for research grants becomes more competitive, the pressure to publish in top journals increases and may lead to an increase in ethical lapses. One way to overcome this may be through better education, but how best to teach it? Burnett et al. address this issue using research articles that have been retracted to highlight the types of ethical problems that can ultimately hinder scientific progress. Students in upper-level biology and chemistry courses were required to read a retracted research paper and the official retraction notice. Students then presented the ethical issues raised in the retraction and explained how these problems could have been avoided. This often led to class discussions, as the cause for retraction was not always clear. Instructors were able to take advantage of this process to teach about the scientific process and the importance of peer review, with students being able to see direct examples of how retractions alter scientific progress. Hopefully, by raising their awareness of ethical lapses that can derail research, the students can gain an appreciation for scientific ethics that they can carry with them throughout their careers.

J. Coll. Sci. Teach. 43, 24 (2014).

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