A number of studies have spotted a worrisome trend: although the number of scientific journals and articles published is increasing each year, the rate of papers being retracted as invalid is increasing even faster. Some of these are being retracted due to obvious ethical lapses—fraudulent data or plagiarism—but some past studies have suggested errors and technical problems were the cause of the majority of problems.
A new analysis, released by PNAS, shows this rosy picture probably isn’t true. Researchers like to portray their retractions as being the result of errors, but a lot of these same papers turn out to be fraudulent when fully investigated. If there’s any good news here, it’s that a limited number of labs 38, to be exact are responsible for a third of the fraudulent papers that end up being retracted.