eugene.garfield at THOMSONREUTERS.COM
Fri Aug 12 16:36:21 EDT 2011
RETRACTED SCIENCE AND THE RETRACTION INDEX
Ferric C. Fang1 and Arturo Casadevall2
1 Editor in Chief, Infection and Immunity; Departments of Laboratory Medicine and Microbiology, University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle, WA, 98195-7735
2 Editor in Chief, mBio; Departments of Microbiology & Immunology and Medicine, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Bronx, NY 10461
Articles may be retracted when their findings are no longer considered trustworthy due to scientific misconduct or error, they plagiarize previously published work, or are found to violate ethical guidelines. Using a novel measure that we call the "retraction index," we found that the frequency of retraction varies among journals and shows a strong correlation with the journal impact factor. Although retractions are relatively rare, the retraction process is essential for correcting the literature and maintaining trust in the scientific process.
Address correspondence to: Prof. Ferric C. Fang Department of Microbiology, University of Washington School of Medicine, 1959 NE Pacific Street, Box 357735, Seattle, WA 98195-7735, Phone: 206-221-6770, Fax: 206-616-1575, Email: fcfang at u.washington.edu<mailto:fcfang at u.washington.edu>
F. Fang, A. Casadevall, "Retracted science and the retraction index," Infection and Immunity, doi:10.1128/IAI.05661-11<http://iai.asm.org/cgi/content/abstract/IAI.05661-11v1?maxtoshow=&hits=10&RESULTFORMAT=&fulltext=retraction&searchid=1&FIRSTINDEX=0&resourcetype=HWCIT>, 2011.
"Journals differ in their retraction frequency. To determine whether journals differ in the
frequency of retracted articles and whether there is a relationship between retraction frequency
and journal impact factor, we carried out a PubMed search for retracted articles among 17
journals ranging in impact factor between 2.00 to 53.484. We defined a "retraction index" for
each journal as the number of retractions in the time interval from 2001-2010, multiplied by
1000 and divided by the number of published articles with abstracts. A plot of the journal
retraction index versus the impact factor revealed a surprisingly robust correlation between the
journal retraction index and its impact factor (p < 0.0001 by Spearman rank correlation) (Figure 1).
Although correlation does not imply causality, this preliminary investigation suggests that
the probability that an article published in a higher impact journal will be retracted is higher than that of
an article published in a lower impact journal."
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