Is it Retracted? Check Before You Cite.

Delete key on computer keyboard

It’s rare, but it happens. A very small fraction (about 4 in 10,000) of peer-reviewed manuscripts are retracted – papers that are withdrawn from their original publication. Some are retracted because of honest errors – an error in a modeling equation, a mistake in patient data entry – and some are not, for instance intentional manipulation of data.

When a manuscript is retracted, the publisher removes the paper from the website (presumably there are still print copies in existence, if the journal offers a print format). Until recently, there was no systematic way to find retracted papers or comb the data on retractions.

Now, there is: the Retraction Watch Database, which contains information on over 18,000 retracted manuscripts, including the reasons for retraction.

The folks at Retraction Watch teamed up with colleagues at Science to analyze the retraction data and they found some interesting trends:

  • Relatively few authors (about 500) are responsible for a disproportionate number of retractions.
  • The majority of retractions have involved scientific fraud or other kinds of misconduct.
  • The rate of retraction due to plagiarism looks to be stabilizing and possibly declining over the last 7 years.
  • Retraction due to fake peer-review has increased steadily, and is the reason for about 20% of all retractions (as of 2015 data).

Before you submit your next manuscript for peer-review, double check the Retraction Watch database to ensure you’re not unknowingly citing a retracted paper.

“Publish that Paper” just released: Free e-course to improve your scientific publication record

Researcher performing work at a laptop computer.

Are you having a difficult time writing a scientific paper? Do you want to publish your manuscripts in more prestigious journals? You are not alone.

It is becoming harder to receive recognition for your manuscript (in the form of citations) when competing against the approximate 1.8 million articles published each year and growing at 3% per year. At some established journals, rejection rates are on the rise because of an increased number of submissions.

I’ve just released a free e-course, “Publish that Paper,” to help you polish your scientific manuscripts and boost your publication record.  You’ll learn tips and techniques that will help your papers get accepted quickly.  Editors will appreciate the improved results and colleagues will praise your clear data.

To become a world-class scientist today one must…be able to navigate the publishing process with skill and speed, as well as write with clarity, accuracy, and grace. Monica Bradford, Executive Editor, Science

Cartoon depicting peer review as a series of physical beatings.
Cartoon by Nick D Kim, Used by permission.

The content in these lessons is meant to be general enough to apply to manuscripts across all STEMM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics, medicine) fields.

Publish that Paper” is a 14-part e-course that I developed to help scientists clearly communicate their research. At the end of the lessons, you will have amassed a list of resources and guidelines that you can refer back to as often as needed.

Tell me what you need to learn about scientific publication. What is the biggest thing you’re struggling with today? I’d love to hear from you.

Do you have questions about the e-course? Please email me and I will be happy to help out.