19 June 2024
A legal scholar explains the need for government databases to retract information

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Discovering the shocking truth behind Dr. Hwang Woo-suk’s fabricated data, renowned legal scholar emphasizes the crucial role of government databases in retracting false information. Unveiling the scandal that rocked the scientific community, this article reveals the urgent need for accountability and transparency in research publications.

Retractions in scientific research are often seen as a negative aspect of the scientific process. They can be embarrassing for the institutions involved and may expose flaws in the peer review process. However, retractions can also be seen as a positive part of science working the right way. They allow for the identification and correction of errors, and the public acknowledgement of incorrect information.



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But what happens when information cannot be retracted? This is a particularly harmful problem when it comes to government databases, which are often considered a source of trustworthy data but are prone to error and lack any means to retract information. One example of this is patents. Patents contain technical details that can be useful to scientists, but there is no mechanism to retract a patent. Furthermore, patents often contain errors, including fictional experiments and data. In fact, about 25% of life sciences patents contain fictional experiments. This can be confusing for nonspecialists, who may assume that the information presented in a patent is accurate.

A troubling example of the lack of retraction in government databases is the case of Dr. Hwang Woo-suk. He published a breakthrough discovery in 2004 claiming to have created cloned human embryos. However, it was later revealed that he had fabricated the data. The article in the journal Science was retracted, but Dr. Hwang later received a U.S. patent on his retracted discovery. The patent office did not investigate the accuracy of the data and there is no indication on the patent that it contains information that has been retracted elsewhere.

This problem extends beyond patents. Other authoritative sources, such as the Environmental Protection Agency and the Food and Drug Administration, also disseminate information that is known to be incorrect or unverified. This can be deeply misleading to readers and can have economic consequences, such as hindering the approval of generic drugs.

The system of retractions in scientific journals, while not perfect, is more effective than the absence of retractions. Retracted articles are clearly marked as such, informing readers that the information is incorrect. However, patents and other government databases lack a retraction mechanism, allowing incorrect information to continue to spread.

To address this issue, trusted data sources, including those from the government, should consider implementing a mechanism to retract erroneous information, similar to what is done in scientific journals. This would help to ensure that readers are aware when they are looking at incorrect information and would promote more accurate and reliable data.

In conclusion, retractions in scientific research are an important part of the scientific process, allowing for the correction of errors and the acknowledgement of incorrect information. However, the lack of a retraction mechanism in government databases can be harmful, as it allows for the spread of flawed or unverified information. Implementing a retraction mechanism in these databases would help to ensure the accuracy and reliability of the information they provide.

SOURCE: A legal scholar explains the need for government databases to retract information

https://phys.org/news/2023-12-legal-scholar-databases-retract.html

FAQ’s

1. What is a retraction in scientific research and why is it important?

A retraction in scientific research refers to the withdrawal or removal of a published article or study due to errors, misconduct, or inaccuracies. It is an important part of the scientific process as it allows for the correction of mistakes and the acknowledgement of incorrect information.

2. Why are retractions seen as a positive aspect of science?

Retractions are seen as a positive aspect of science because they help to maintain the integrity and credibility of scientific research. By retracting incorrect or flawed information, scientists can ensure that future studies and publications are based on accurate and reliable data.

3. What are the consequences of not being able to retract information in government databases?

The inability to retract information in government databases can have harmful consequences. It can lead to the dissemination of incorrect or unverified information, which can be misleading to readers. This can also have economic implications, such as hindering the approval of generic drugs.

4. How do retractions in scientific journals differ from retractions in government databases?

Retractions in scientific journals are clearly marked and acknowledged, informing readers that the information is incorrect. However, government databases lack a retraction mechanism, allowing incorrect information to continue to spread without proper notification. This highlights the need for a similar retraction mechanism in government databases.

5. What can be done to address the lack of retraction mechanism in government databases?

To address this issue, trusted data sources, including government databases, should consider implementing a retraction mechanism similar to what is done in scientific journals. This would help to ensure that readers are aware of incorrect or flawed information, promoting more accurate and reliable data.



Related Wikipedia Articles

Topics: Dr. Hwang Woo-suk (scientist), Retractions in scientific research, Government databases

Hwang Woo-suk
Hwang Woo-suk (Korean: 황우석, born January 29, 1953) is a South Korean veterinarian and researcher. He was a professor of theriogenology and biotechnology at Seoul National University until he was dismissed on March 20, 2006. He was considered a pioneering expert in stem cell research and even called the "Pride...
Read more: Hwang Woo-suk

Retraction in academic publishing
In academic publishing, a retraction is a mechanism by which a published paper in an academic journal is flagged for being seriously flawed to the extent that their results and conclusions can no longer be relied upon. Retracted articles are not removed from the published literature but marked as retracted....
Read more: Retraction in academic publishing

Government database
A government database collects information for various reasons, including climate monitoring, securities law compliance, geological surveys, patent applications and grants, surveillance, national security, border control, law enforcement, public health, voter registration, vehicle registration, social security, and statistics.
Read more: Government database

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