We’ve known for a while that too many researchers cite retracted papers. But in what context do those citations occur? Are some authors citing a retracted paper as an example of problematic findings, or do most citing authors treat the findings as legitimate, failing to realize they are no longer valid? In a new paper in Scientometrics, Gali Halevi at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York and Judit Bar-Ilan at Bar-Ilan University in Israel examined citations to 15 papers retracted in 2014. Halevi told us why she was surprised to see how many authors don’t realize retracted papers are problematic, and what the publishing community can do to get the word out.
Surprising interview about papers that are cited long after they have been retracted. Such practice isn’t just remarkable it raises concerns about the veracity of some of the knowledge that underpins practice. Definitely a new topic for professional development for HDR candidates and other ECRs. Also might be time to check your own list of references.
Gali Halevi: Understanding the context of the citations was one of our main goals. We expected that although retracted articles were still cited these would be negative mentions. It did surprise us to discover that the vast majority of them treated retracted articles as legitimate citations despite of their faults. What’s worrying is that many of the retracted articles were due to faulty data, plagiarism and unethical behavior. Citing these articles as valid presents a danger to the progress and validity of science.