The research output of countries is among the indicators that help us understand the dynamics of science. Increasingly, these dynamics have been marked by changes in scientific communication. Researchers’ attitudes toward open science, alternative models of publication and toward originality are among the elements shaping the current scientific landscape. This changing panorama reflects on the attitude of authors, editors and publishers toward the correction of the literature, a practice that is encountered to different extents in different fields. This practice may suggest, among several issues, commitment of the scientific community to boosting the reliability of the research record. Would the research output of countries have any association with this panorama? We analyzed 1623 retractions issued in 2013–2015 and discussed in Retraction Watch (RW), www.retractionwatch.com. These retractions account for a considerable fraction of the total of retraction notices in PubMed in the same period. They were categorized by reason, field and country (that of the corresponding author). These retractions were distributed among 71 countries, with 15 countries accounting for a major share (85%)—most of those with the largest number of publications in the Scimago Journal & Country Rank (SJR). However, there is no consistent pattern for the relationship between ranking in SJR and ranking in number of retractions across countries in our RW dataset, which is skewed mostly by the fact that the RW website tends to post newsworthy retractions, with a bias toward biomedical and clinical sciences. This caveat notwithstanding, the prevalence of the most productive countries in our dataset of retractions is worth noting. Gradually, retractions have been permeating the dynamics of research productivity in many countries but, so far, there is limited knowledge of this interaction. We believe it should be further explored.
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We thank Ivan Oransky for useful information on particularities of the Retraction Watch website. Miguel Roig and Martha Sorenson are also acknowledged for their suggestions and critical reading of the manuscript. We also thank Alison Abritis who made valuable commentary in earlier versions. The interpretation of the data is the sole responsibility of the authors. The first author acknowledges support from the Coordination for the Advancement of Higher Education Personnel (CAPES).
A correction to this article is available online at https://doi.org/10.1007/s11192-018-2653-6.
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Ribeiro, M.D., Vasconcelos, S.M.R. Retractions covered by Retraction Watch in the 2013–2015 period: prevalence for the most productive countries. Scientometrics 114, 719–734 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11192-017-2621-6