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ResourcesResearch IntegrityWhy Growing Retractions Are (Mostly) a Good Sign (Papers: Daniele Fanelli | 2013)

Australasian Human Research Ethics Consultancy Services Pty Ltd (AHRECS)

Why Growing Retractions Are (Mostly) a Good Sign (Papers: Daniele Fanelli | 2013)

 


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Summary Points

  • Corrections to scientific papers have been published for much longer than retractions, and show little sign of a recent increase.
  • The number of journals issuing retractions has grown dramatically in recent years, but the number of retractions per retracting-journal has not increased.
  • The number of queries and allegations made to the US Office of Research Integrity has grown, but the frequency of its findings of misconduct has not increased.
  • Therefore, the rising number of retractions is most likely to be caused by a growing propensity to retract flawed and fraudulent papers, and there is little evidence of an increase in the prevalence of misconduct.
  • Statistics on retractions and findings of misconduct are best used to make inferences about weaknesses in the system of scientific self-correction.

Research Integrity Series

This is one article in an occasional PLOS Medicine series on research integrity that examines issues affecting the ethics of health research worldwide.

Fanelli D (2013) Why Growing Retractions Are (Mostly) a Good Sign. PLoS Med 10(12): e1001563. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001563
Publisher (open access): http://journals.plos.org/plosmedicine/article?id=10.1371/journal.pmed.1001563

Also see Publishing: Rise in retractions is a signal of integrity (Nature Correspondence | May 2014)

There are many features of forced retractions that you might find disturbing (e.g. their frequency and apparent increase in number) but in this 2013 open access paper Daniele Fanelli reflects on why, for the most part, the increase is a good thing.



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