Imagine a researcher publishing a paper that contains a key error in some fact or figure. This error slips through review and ends up being cited in future papers. Later, the original researcher notices the error and publishes a correction. Is there any process for dealing with the network of papers that cited his information and now have faulty premises? Or does this not happen enough in the real world to be of concern?

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    real-life case: retractionwatch.com/2023/06/09/… -2017: publish flawed study; -2018-2022: get multimillions grant to perform follow up study; -2023: retract original paper from 2017 saying "We are sorry it was flawed, we will do it better soon"
    – EarlGrey
    Commented Jun 30, 2023 at 17:27
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    Or this one: statmodeling.stat.columbia.edu/2023/06/21/… Post fraudulent study about honesty. Someone else publishes a much larger study with evidence of no effect. Fraud study gets lots of citation, author publishes popular books. Failure to replicate gets few citations. Retract 1/3rd of fraud study. Later find that another 1/3rd is also fraud.
    – Bryan Krause
    Commented Jun 30, 2023 at 18:57
  • This has good answers: academia.stackexchange.com/questions/167236/… Commented Jun 30, 2023 at 21:06

1 Answer 1


There is no process. Yet the literature is full of errors. It has been credibly claimed that most published papers are false. (And most false papers fall into obscurity without ever being corrected or retracted.) Any researcher who wants to rely on previously published claims had better check these claims.

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    If you read the linked paper by Ioannidis, you will see that despite claiming the opposite, it doesn't anywhere show that "most published research findings are false". It doesn't look at any actual research findings at all, instead it uses an extremely simplified model for the research process that relies on debatable parameter choices. In this sense what is claimed there may itself be a false "research finding", if it counts as a "finding" at all (Ioannidis doesn't really discuss what "counts", which is one of the shortcomings of his approach). Agree with the last sentence though. Commented Jul 2, 2023 at 20:05
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    Another attempt at testing the reliability of research, this one in psychology: nature.com/articles/nature.2015.17433 . Commented Jul 3, 2023 at 7:32

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