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 A very small fraction (about 4 in 10,000) of peer-reviewed manuscripts are retracted – papers that are withdrawn from their original publication.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.
I am on twitter. I follow another account, @AcademicsSay. Recently, there was a post by @AcademicsSay ….
As of my writing, there are over 1,100 likes and 3,100 retweets on this post.
I read through the replies to the post and saw many academics commiserating with this statement.
This got me thinking… A lot of people struggle with making time for their writing.
Let’s get you back on track with your writing and make it a productive summer:
Continue reading Writing hacks – keep your summer writing on track
Ah, times have changed. An article in JAMA Internal Medicine reveals the practices that led to the 1967 publication of a 2-part literature review on “Dietary Fats, Carbohydrates and Atherosclerotic Disease.”
In short, the review articles were written with heavy involvement from the Sugar Research Foundation, which has since become the Sugar Association with a mission to “promote the consumption of sugar through sound scientific principles while maintaining an understanding of the benefits that sugar contributes to the quality of wholesome foods and beverages.”
From a the perspective of a medical writer acquainted with publication guidelines, the current article lays out a troubling path to publication for the 2-part review. Continue reading Why publication guidelines were made
In the last few months, a variety of new and updated resources on scientific publication were released. Some of the resources are geared more toward authors and researchers, while others will be most useful for medical writers and publication planners. Here they are, in no particular order:
Continue reading New scientific publication resources
Companies that sponsor medical research should pay attention to an updated guideline that was recently released. The document, Good Publication Practice for Communicating Company-Sponsored Medical Research“, more commonly known as GPP3, is the third iteration of the guideline, which goes back to 2003.
The guideline covers all types of documents published in peer-reviewed journals (original research articles, short reports, reviews, letters to the editor) and presentations at scientific congresses and meetings (oral presentations, posters, abstracts).
Continue reading GPP3: New guidelines for publishing company-sponsored medical research
The most widely referenced and followed guideline for authorship of scientific publications is that issued by the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE). In it, the ICMJE recommends that authorship be determined by:
- Substantial contributions to the conception or design of the work; or the acquisition, analysis, or interpretation of data for the work; AND
- Drafting the work or revising it critically for important intellectual content; AND
- Final approval of the version to be published; AND
- Agreement to be accountable for all aspects of the work in ensuring that questions related to the accuracy or integrity of any part of the work are appropriately investigated and resolved.
The ICMJE states that
All those designated as authors should meet all four criteria for authorship, and all who meet the four criteria should be identified as authors. Those who do not meet all four criteria should be acknowledged.
A recent study looked at challenging authorship scenarios and asked clinical investigators, medical journal editors, publication professionals, and medical writers to decide who should be granted authorship status in these situations and how confident they were in their decision.
Results of the survey study showed several cases where there were higher levels of disagreement between the groups surveyed than other cases. Continue reading Are ICMJE authorship guidelines leaving people out?
Recently, I gave a webinar on publishing a scientific manuscript for the American Medical Writers Association (AMWA). [An archived version of the webinar is located AMWA On Demand Webinars.] In the webinar, I reviewed topics including selecting a compatible journal, online resources for literature searches, and writing strategy.
Following the webinar, there was a Q&A session in which I was asked some great questions by the audience. Here is a condensed version of the questions and my answers from the webinar on publishing a scientific manuscript:
Continue reading Tips to prepare a scientific manuscript that gets published