Home > Interesting link > Impact factor positively correlates with retraction rate

Impact factor positively correlates with retraction rate

September 13, 2011 Leave a comment Go to comments

Frequently we hear about papers being retracted and in many cases these are papers from high impact journals, such Nature, Science, Cell, New England Journal of Medicine, and the Lancet. But is this a representative correlation or just the fact that these are well-known and well-regarded journal, do we pay attention to retractions?

Ferric Fang and Arturo Casadevall, two editor-in-chiefs, did a literature search and counted the number of retraction in 17 journals and compared them to each other in respect to their impact fact.

Is it surprising that high impact journals retract more than other journals? Not really. High impact journals are high impact in part because of the high risk/influential research that is being published. With high risk research comes a lot of enthusiasm of the researchers as well as some wishful thinking. The desire to see papers that might cause paradigm shifts is also a potential contributing factor.  Another reason why retracted papers are more commonly found in high-impact journals is these papers are not eliminated from search-engines such as PubMed or from the archive of the respective journals.

Most papers that are retracted are retracted because of incorrectly used methodology or reagents, not because of scientific misconduct (although this does get much more attention in the (regular) media). The authors therefore advise to be transparent about the reasons for retraction.

To keep track of retracted papers, the blog Retraction Watch is worthwhile following.

Link to original paper.

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Categories: Interesting link
  1. Ron
    January 21, 2012 at 7:04 pm

    It is not correct to assume that most of the retracted papers appeared in high-impact journals because “With high risk research comes a lot of enthusiasm of the researchers as well as some wishful thinking…” I think these papers appearing in very low impact journals are least scrutinized by peers, at the time of publication and afterwards. Even if someone finds problems, they discount it as a paper in low impact journal and do not bother to report. An interesting two-part article on impact factor was found at: http://www.sciencedebate.com/science-blog/journal-impact-factors-2011-released
    The reason for few misconduct retraction could be because it takes a lot of institutional effort to establish misconduct, instead easier to get them retracted.

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