Temporal characteristics of retracted articles
There are three main reasons for retraction: (1) ethical misconduct (e.g. duplicate publication, plagiarism, missing credit, no IRB, ownership issues, authorship issues, interference in the review process, citation manipulation); (2) scientific distortion (e.g. data manipulation, fraudulent data, unsupported conclusions, questionable data validity, non-replicability, data errors—even if unintended); (3) administrative error (e.g. article published in wrong issue, not the final version published, publisher errors). The first category, although highly deplorable has almost no effect on the advancement of science, the third category is relatively minor. The papers belonging to the second category are most troublesome from the scientific point of view, as they are misleading and have serious negative implications not only on science but also on society. In this paper, we explore some temporal characteristics of retracted articles, including time of publication, years to retract, growth of post retraction citations over time and social media attention by the three major categories. The data set comprises 995 retracted articles retrieved in October 2014 from Elsevier’s ScienceDirect. Citations and Mendeley reader counts were retrieved four times within 4 years, which allowed us to examine post-retraction longitudinal trends not only for citations, but also for Mendeley reader counts. The major findings are that both citation counts and Mendeley reader counts continue to grow after retraction.
KeywordsScientific fraud and dishonesty Citation analysis Altmetrics
The present study is an extended version of an article presented at the 16th International Conference on Scientometrics and Informetrics, Wuhan (China), 16–20 October 2017 (Bar-Ilan and Halevi 2017b). The first author was supported by EU COST Actions PEERE and KnowEscape. We thank Mike Thelwall for using his Webometric Analyst for data collection from the altmetric platforms. Funding was provided by European Cooperation in Science and Technology (Grant Nos. TD1210 - Knowescape, TD1306 - PEERE).
- Bar-Ilan, J., & Halevi, G. (2017b). Temporal characteristics of retracted articles—Research in progress. In Proceedings of ISSI 2017—The 16th international conference on scientometrics and informetrics (pp. 664–669). Wuhan University, China.Google Scholar
- Gunn, W. (2016). Comment #00632—Clarification/correction of Mendeley saves definition—NISO RP-25-201x-3, Altmetrics Data Quality Code of Conduct—Draft for public comment.pdf. Retrieved from http://www.niso.org/apps/group_public/view_comment.php?comment_id=632.
- Inoue, Y., & Muto, K. (2016). Noncompliance with Human Subjects’ Protection Requirements as a reason for retracting papers: Survey of retraction notices on medical papers published from 1981 to 2011. Accountability in Research, 23(2), 123–135. https://doi.org/10.1080/08989621.2015.1069713.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Marušić, A. (2018). Private communication.Google Scholar
- Merton, R. K. (1942). Science and technology in democratic order. Journal of Legal and Political Sociology, 1, 111–126. Reprinted in: The sociology of science: Theoretical and empirical investigations. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1973, pp. 286–324.Google Scholar
- Moradi, S. (2017). The altmetrics of retracted articles in biochemistry & molecular biology. Paper presented at: IFLA WLIC 2017—Wrocław, Poland. Retrieved from http://library.ifla.org/1607/1/080-shima-en.pdf.
- Nath, S. B., Marcus, S. C., & Druss, B. G. (2006). Retractions in the research literature: Misconduct or mistakes? Medical Journal of Australia, 185(3), 152–154.Google Scholar
- RetractionWatch. (2017). The 2017 retraction watch year in review (hint: Our database is nearly done). Retrieved from http://retractionwatch.com/2017/12/29/2017-retraction-watch-year-review-hint-database-nearly-done/.
- van Leeuwen, T., & Luwel, M. (2014). An in-depth analysis of papers retracted in the Web of Science. STI 2014 Leiden, 337.Google Scholar
- Wager, E., Barbour, V., Yentis, S., & Kleinert, S. [on behalf of the COPE Council]. (2009). Retraction guidelines. Retrieved from https://publicationethics.org/files/retraction%20guidelines_0.pdf.
- Wikipedia. (2017). Séralini affair. Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=S%C3%A9ralini_affair&oldid=812654074.