Majority of Retractions are Due to Misconduct

January 31, 2013

31 Jan (01 Oct 2012 RETRACTION WATCH) – A new study out in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) today finds that two-thirds of retractions are because of some form of misconduct — a figure that’s higher than previously thought, thanks to unhelpful retraction notices that cause us to beat our heads against the wall here at Retraction Watch.

The study of 2,047 retractions in biomedical and life-science research articles in PubMed from 1973 until May 3, 2012 brings together three retraction researchers whose names may be familiar to Retraction Watch readers: Ferric Fang, Grant Steen, and Arturo Casadevall. Fang and Casadevall have published together, including on their Retraction Index, but this is the first paper by the trio.

The paper is — as we’ve come to expect from these three — an extremely careful analysis, the most comprehensive we’ve seen to date. Other studies have offered clues to these trends, but by looking at as many years of data as they did, and by including secondary sources on the reasons for retraction, this becomes a very important contribution to our understanding of what drives retraction.  The study is convincing evidence that we’re onto something when we say that unhelpful retraction notices distort the scientific record.

For more on this article to go Retraction Watch.

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