A study of more than 1200 chemistry retractions over 20 years shows an increase in research fraud.
The overwhelming number of published papers and of retractions, with the accompanying noise in that data, makes it difficult to answer even basic questions. 1. Are the numbers of retractions in chemistry increasing? 2. What proportion of papers in chemistry are being retracted? 3. Is this a good estimation of the number of questionable research projects in chemistry? This piece published in ChemistryWorld in September 2023 looks at those questions. The conclusion is there may not be enough retractions happening and what papers retracted, they still being cited.
The lead author of the new study notes the number of retracted chemistry papers increased over 20 years from about 10 to about 100 a year. But ‘retraction growth is not uniform and varies, as massive frauds are only detected incidentally’, says chemistry librarian Yulia Sevryugina of the University of Michigan.
Using the Retraction Watch database, Sevryugina and her co-author identified 1292 retracted articles published in chemistry journals between 2001 and 2021 – roughly 0.06% of chemistry papers published during that time.