Academic journal article Library Philosophy and Practice

Context Analysis of Top Seven Retracted Articles: Should Retraction Watch Revisit the List?

Academic journal article Library Philosophy and Practice

Context Analysis of Top Seven Retracted Articles: Should Retraction Watch Revisit the List?

Article excerpt


The loss of ethics, delinquency or fraud in research indicates the lack of dedication and honesty of knowledge- seeking behavior of a researcher/scientist. Scientific misconduct includes multiple practices such as falsification of results, plagiarism, in consistency in data, image duplication and compromised peer review. The identification of research misconduct in a research article leads to its retraction (Greitemeyer, 2014). Noorden (2011) defines retraction as "science's ultimate postpublication punishment: retraction, the official declaration that a paper is so flawed that it must be withdrawn from the literature". Prior to retraction an article with slight error or incorrect information might be sent an alteration message or in a more acute case "expression of concern" may be issued (Grieneisen& Zhang, 2012). Even though retractions are uncommon, a number of studies suggest that retractions are on the rise with reference to overall growth in scientific literature (Marcus &Oransky, 2014). The growing rate of retracted scientific articles is an alarming trend. Any retraction speaks to an enormous misuse of scientific assets and the publication of retracted literature can erode the faith of public in science (Fang &Casadevall, 2011). Retraction of an article can take many years from the time of its publication till retraction depending on the reason of retraction. Articles involving misconduct take longer time to be retracted than erroneous papers (Steen, 2011; Fang, Steen &Casadevall, 2012; Moylan &Kowalczuk, 2016). However, studies suggest that articles continue to be cited even after their retraction (da Silva &Dobranszki, 2017; da Silva & Cimenti,2017). Citations to flawed research propagates error and can be dangerous particularly in medical literature where patients are put to risk by flawed research (Steen,2011). When researchers approvingly cite erroneous articles a number of problems arise. First, such citations make erroneous paper credible. Second, approvingly citing erroneous research to defend a claim implies that evidence for the claim is good. Finally, a reader may go on to write other articles prompted by the invalid point, citing the flawed article for support, or share the point as fact with other people, propagating the error (Sood& Cor, 2017). In order to find out type of propagation of error the study is initiated to find out the context in which the citing authors/ articles quote the retracted information. This study is therefore, an attempt to focus on the number of post retraction citations received by top seven highly cited retracted articles with particular reference to the nature of post retraction citations to these articles.


Since it is deemed by many studies that citing the retracted article propagates the false signs. The study is based on context analysis of post- retraction citations to top seven highly cited retracted articles to carefully examine the exact mention of the retracted article within the text. Each mention was classified as follows: Positive and Negative citation. A positive citation indicates that the retracted article was cited as legitimate prior work and its findings used to support the author/s current study. A negative citation indicates that the authors mentioned the retracted article as such and its findings inappropriate. Thus, the study reveals that every citation to a retracted article is not necessarily in positive context, a negative citation will help other authors to become more cautious about using the citation in future and validate their study in more strong way by highlighting intentional or unintentional scientific fraud.


The scope of study is confined to top seven highly cited retracted articles as ranked by the Retraction Watch. These articles received altogether 1736 citations. However, analysis is based on 1097 citing papers as rests were in accessible as full text. …

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