Five-year deal will share journal watchdog’s widely used database with Crossref in return for stable funding
Retraction Watch, the influential website and database that tracks retractions in scholarly literature, is joining forces with another publishing nonprofit, Crossref, in hopes of helping researchers and journals flag articles that have been retracted and sustain the literature’s veracity. The deal announced today will link information about the 42,000 retractions in Retraction Watch’s database to Crossref’s digital object identifier system in return for $775,000 over 5 years.
Research can be retracted for several reasons. However, it is often because the work is flawed, compromised or otherwise dodgy. It is a significant concern when such work continues to be cited. To be fair, it is not always easy for a researcher to identify if a research output has been retracted. Consequently, the new link between @Crossref and @Retraction Watch is fantastic news and will make it much easier to determine if an output has been retracted. Given this important work of Retraction Watch it is tremendous to hear they are receiving this injection of funding.
Founded by two biomedical reporters in 2018, the Retraction Watch database includes the reason for retraction and is believed to be the largest of its kind. It is the best source of such data because it is expertly curated and covers multiple disciplines, Schneider says. Creating such databases using automated methods has been difficult because retraction notices contain nuances and inconsistencies. “Retraction Watch is the ideal group to be maintaining this database because they are journalist watchdogs who are interested in understanding what’s getting retracted,” Schneider says.
Until now, Retraction Watch has funded this work by collecting licensing fees from developers who use the database to assist readers. For example, the website Zotero, which allows scientists to store information about papers for future reference, flags retracted papers based on Retraction Watch’s data. Retraction Watch will no longer collect those fees. Now that publishers can get the same data for free, this could incentivize them to expand their own methods to catch retracted papers in citation lists and remove them before the citing paper is published, Schneider says. The move also frees scholars from having to sign data-access agreements for research on patterns in retractions (for which Retraction Watch didn’t charge).