Science and Engineering Ethics

, Volume 16, Issue 2, pp 251–261 | Cite as

Analysis of Citations to Biomedical Articles Affected by Scientific Misconduct

  • Anne Victoria Neale
  • Rhonda K. Dailey
  • Judith Abrams
Original Paper

Abstract

We describe the ongoing citations to biomedical articles affected by scientific misconduct, and characterize the papers that cite these affected articles. The citations to 102 articles named in official findings of scientific misconduct during the period of 1993 and 2001 were identified through the Institute for Scientific Information Web of Science database. Using a stratified random sampling strategy, we performed a content analysis of 603 of the 5,393 citing papers to identify indications of awareness that the cited articles affected by scientific misconduct had validity issues, and to examine how the citing papers referred to the affected articles. Fewer than 5% of citing papers indicated any awareness that the cited article was retracted or named in a finding of misconduct. We also tested the hypothesis that affected articles would have fewer citations than a comparison sample; this was not supported. Most articles affected by misconduct were published in basic science journals, and we found little cause for concern that such articles may have affected clinical equipoise or clinical care.

Keywords

Bibliometric analysis Journalology Journal citations Quantitative content analysis Retraction Scientific misconduct 

References

  1. Atlas, M. C. (2004). Retraction policies of high-impact biomedical journals. Journal of the Medical Library Association, 92, 242–250.Google Scholar
  2. Benos, D. J., Fabres, J., Farmer, J., Gutierrez, J. P., Hennessy, K., Kosek, D., et al. (2005). Ethics and scientific publication. Advances in Physiology Education, 29, 59–74.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Budd, J. M., Sievert, M., & Schultz, T. R. (1998). Phenomena of retraction: Reasons for retraction and citations to the publications. Journal of the American Medical Association, 280, 296–297.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Budd, J. M., Sievert, M., Schultz, T. R., & Scoville, C. (1999). Effects of article retraction on citation and practice in medicine. Bulletin of the Medical Library Association, 87, 437–443.Google Scholar
  5. Buhles, W. C., & Starnes, H. F. (1992). Retraction: Effects of interleukin-1 on platelet counts. The Lancet, 340, 496.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Caen, J. P., & Han, Z. C. (1993). Control of megakaryocyte development: From basic data to clinical results. Comptes Rendus de l’Academie des Sciences. Série III, Sciences de la vie, 316, 925–930.Google Scholar
  7. Cokol, M., Iossifov, I., & Rodriguez-Esteban, R. (2007). How many scientific papers should be retracted? European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO) Reports, 8, 422–423.Google Scholar
  8. Cokol, M., Ozbay, F., & Rodriguez-Esteban, R. (2008). Retraction rates are on the rise. EMBO Reports, 9, 2.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Couzin, J. (2006). Stem cells…and how the problems eluded peer reviewers and editors. Science, 311, 23–24.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Couzin, J., & Unger, K. (2006). Scientific misconduct. Cleaning up the paper trail. Science, 312, 38–43.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Friedman, P. J. (1990). Correcting the literature following fraudulent publication. Journal of the American Medical Association, 263, 1416–1419.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Gardner, W., Lidz, C. W., & Hartwig, K. C. (2005). Authors’ reports about research integrity problems in clinical trials. Contemporary Clinical Trials, 26, 244–251.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Garfield, E., McVeigh, M., & Muff, M. (2006). Re: Research misconduct, retraction, and cleansing the medical literature: Lessons from the Poehlman case. Annals of Internal Medicine, 145, 472–473.Google Scholar
  14. Garfield, E., & Welljams-Dorof, A. (1990). The impact of fraudulent research on the scientific literature. The Stephen E. Breuning case. JAMA, 263(10),1424–1426.Google Scholar
  15. Horton, R. (1999). Scientific misconduct: Exaggerated fear but still real and requiring a proportionate response. The Lancet, 354(9172), 7–8.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Katz, T. J. (2006). Propagation of errors in review articles. Science, 313, 1236.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Maier, S. F., & Watkins, L. R. (1999). Bidirectional communication between the brain and the immune system: Implications for behaviour. Animal Behaviour, 57, 741–751.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Nath, S. B., Marcus, S. C., & Druss, B. G. (2006). Retractions in the research literature: Misconduct or mistakes? Medical Journal of Australia, 185, 152–154.Google Scholar
  19. National Comprehensive Cancer Network, Inc. (2009). NCCN Clinical Practice Guidelines in Oncology™ (v.1.2009, 09/10/08) [website]. http://www.nccn.org. Accessed 1 Jan 2009.
  20. National Library of Medicine. (2008). Fact sheet. Errata, retractions, partial retractions, corrected and republished articles, duplicate publications, comments (including author replies), updates, patient summaries, and republished (reprinted) articles policy for MEDLINE (updated 10/08/2008) [website]. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/pubs/factsheets/errata.html. Accessed 12 Jan 2009.
  21. Neale, A. V., Northrup, J., Dailey, R., Marks, E., & Abrams, J. (2007). Correction and use of literature affected by scientific misconduct. Science and Engineering Ethics,13, 5–24.Google Scholar
  22. Norton, M. L., & Saltman, D. C. (2007). Corrections in an electronic environment. BMC Medicine, 5, 4.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Parrish, D. M. (1999). Scientific misconduct and correcting the scientific literature. Academic Medicine, 72, 221–230.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Pfeifer, M. P., & Snodgrass, G. L. (1990). The continued use of retracted, invalid scientific literature. Journal of the American Medical Association, 263, 1420–1423.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Pfeifer, M. P., & Snodgrass, G. L. (1992). Medical school libraries’ handling of articles that report invalid science. Academic Medicine, 67, 109–113.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Poulton, A. (2007). Mistakes and misconduct in the research literature: Retractions just the tip of the iceberg. Medical Journal of Australia, 186, 323–324.Google Scholar
  27. Roberts, I., Smith, R., & Evans, S. (2007). Doubts over head injury studies. British Medical Journal, 334, 392–394.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Snodgrass, G. L., & Pfeifer, M. P. (1992). The characteristics of medical retraction notices. Bulletin of the Medical Library Association, 80, 328–334.Google Scholar
  29. Sox, H. C., & Rennie, D. (2006). Research misconduct, retraction, and cleansing the medical literature: Lessons from the Poehlman case. Annals of Internal Medicine, 144, 609–613.Google Scholar
  30. Tewari, A., Buhles, W. C., Jr., & Starnes, H. F., Jr. (1990). Preliminary report: Effects of interleukin-1 on platelet counts. The Lancet, 336, 712–714.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Thomson Reuters. (2009). Institute for Scientific Information Web of Science [website]. Available at http://isiknowledge.com/WOS. Accessed 14 Jan 2009.
  32. Tobin, M. J. (2000). Reporting research, retraction of results, and responsibility. American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, 162, 773–774.Google Scholar
  33. Whitsett, C. F. (1995). The role of hematopoietic growth factors in transfusion medicine. Transfusion Medicine II. Hematology/Oncology Clinics of North America, 9, 23–68.Google Scholar
  34. Zauli, G., & Catani, L. (1995). Human megakaryocyte biology and parthophysiology. Critical Reviews in Oncology/hematology, 21, 135–157.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Anne Victoria Neale
    • 1
  • Rhonda K. Dailey
    • 2
  • Judith Abrams
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Family Medicine and Public Health SciencesWayne State University School of MedicineDetroitUSA
  2. 2.Department of Family Medicine and Public Health SciencesWayne State University School of MedicineDetroitUSA
  3. 3.Integrated Biostatistics UnitWayne State University School of MedicineDetroitUSA

Personalised recommendations