What proportion of chemistry paper retractions over the past 20 years are due to misconduct?
Jessica Allerton | | Review
Between 2001 and 2021 the Retraction Watch database recorded a total of 1,292 Chemistry paper retractions. What were the most common reasons for retractions? Are retractions increasing? How fast do retractions occur? Yulia Sevryugina and Ryan Jimenez from the University of Michigan delved into the data (1); we summarize their main findings below.
The Authors Concluded…
“Inevitably, errors may occasionally penetrate the published scholarly literature, but a retraction shall not be considered a penalty but rather an act of repair, an intrinsic part of the research lifecycle.
“The reliance of chemistry professionals on the peer-reviewed form of scholarly communication makes it imperative for authors to understand how to report their mistakes. Despite the general support for promoting the ‘heroic acts’ of authors retracting their publications when a serious problem has been identified, the negative connotation of retractions makes authors reluctant to self-retract. In this regard, adopting Barbour’s proposal of substituting the term ‘retraction’ for a more neutral ‘amendment’ could help mitigate the derogatory stigma associated with the process of correcting the publication record.
“Maintaining scientific integrity is the collective responsibility of authors, reviewers, editors, and all consumers of scientific knowledge. In this viewpoint, we call for a vigilant citizenry of science-ethics-literate chemistry professionals.”
- Y Sevryugina, R Jimenez, “Analysis of Retracted Manuscripts in Chemistry: Errors vs Misconduct,” ACS Omega (2023). DOI: 10.1021/acsomega.3c03689.