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ResourcesResearch IntegrityRetraction Watch: We’re officially launching our database today. Here’s what you need to know.

Australasian Human Research Ethics Consultancy Services Pty Ltd (AHRECS)

Retraction Watch: We’re officially launching our database today. Here’s what you need to know.


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Readers, this is a big day for us.

We’re officially launching the Retraction Watch Database of more than 18,000 retractions, along with a six-page package of stories and infographics based on it that we developed with our partners at Science Magazine. In that package, you’ll learn about trends — some surprising, some perhaps not — and other tidbits such as which countries have the highest retraction rates. Thanks as always to our partners at Science, particularly Jeffrey Brainard and Jia You, who crunched the numbers and developed the package.

We think this is wonderful news because the database will be of great assistance to researchers of all experience levels. We know collaborating with someone with a previous retraction can be costly and citing a retracted paper is unwise, but finding reliable information hasn’t always been easy. We recommend this service for inclusion in your research integrity resources and professional development material.  Full disclosure: AHRECS proudly sponsor Retraction Watch

As readers no doubt know, we’ve been working on the database for some years. Some have asked us why it has taken so long — can’t we just pull retractions from existing databases like PubMed, or publishers’ sites? The answer is resoundingly no. All of those databases are missing retractions, whether by design or because notices aren’t transmitted well. That’s why we found more than 18,000, far more than you’ll find elsewhere. And we also went through each one and assigned it a reason, based on a detailed taxonomy we developed over eight years of reporting on retractions.
Now that you know how much work the database is, please consider thanking Alison Abritis, our researcher, who has done the lion’s share of the work on this project. She had some help — see below — but without Alison’s expertise and painstaking efforts, we wouldn’t have a database. And true to form, Alison has created an exhaustive user’s guide that we would strongly urge you to review if you’re planning to use the database for anything other than simple searches.

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