An analysis of Malaysian retracted papers: Misconduct or mistakes?

  • M. K. Yanti Idaya Aspura
  • A. Noorhidawati
  • A. Abrizah
Article
  • 21 Downloads

Abstract

Retracted publications are a crucial, yet overlooked, issue in the scientific community. The purpose of this study was to analyze the prevalence, characteristics and reasons of Malaysian retracted papers. The Web of Science and Scopus databases were queried to identify Malaysian retracted publications. Available versions of original articles and publication notices were accessed from journal websites. The publications were assessed for various characteristics, including reason for retraction, based on the Committee on Publication Ethics guidelines, and the authority calling for the retractions. From 2009 to June 2017, 125 Malaysian publications comprising (33 journal articles and 92 conference papers) were retracted. There was a spike in the prevalence of retracted articles in 2010 and 2012 with 42 articles (33.6%) and 41 articles (32.8%) respectively from the 125 retracted articles. The mean time from electronic publication to retraction was 1 year. There is no significant relationship between a journal quartile and the mean number of months to retraction (P = 0.842). The reason for retraction for conference papers was specified as “violation of publication principle”. Journal articles were retracted mainly for duplicate publication, plagiarism, compromised peer review process, and self-plagiarism. Most retracted articles do not contain flawed data; and only 2 retracted articles have been accused of scientific mistakes. The study concludes that retractions were mostly due to the authors misconduct. Despite the increases, the proportion of published scholarly literature affected by retraction remains very small, indicating that retraction represents an uncommon, yet potentially increasing and incipient, issue within Malaysian papers, which publishers as well as editors may have consistently and sufficiently addressed.

Keywords

Journal retractions Publication ethics and integrity Scientific misconduct Scientific mistakes Scholarly communication 

Notes

Acknowledgements

This research received no specific grant from any funding agency in the public, commercial, or not-for profit sectors. The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

References

  1. Abrizah, A., Badawi, F., Zoohorian-Fooladi, N., Nicholas, D., Jamali, H., & Norliya, A. K. (2015). Trust and authority in the periphery of world scholarly communication: A Malaysian focus group study. Malaysian Journal of Library & Information Science, 20(2), 67–83.Google Scholar
  2. Almeida, R. M. V. R., Catelani, F., Fontes-Pereira, A. J., & Gave, N. S. (2016). Retractions in general and internal medicine in a high-profile scientific indexing database. Sao Paola Medical Journal, 134(1), 74–78.  https://doi.org/10.1590/1516-3180.2014.00381601.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Amos, K. A. (2014). The ethics of scholarly publishing: exploring differences in plagiarism and duplicate publication across nations. Journal of Medical Library Association, 102(2), 87–91.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Anderson, M. S., Ronning, E. A., De Vries, R., & Martinson, B. C. (2007). The perverse effects of competition on scientists’ work and relationships. Science and Engineering Ethics, 13(4), 437–461.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bozzo, A., Bali, K., Evaniew, N., & Ghert, M. (2017). Retractions in cancer research: A systematic survey. Research Integrity and Peer Review.  https://doi.org/10.1186/s41073-017-0031-1.Google Scholar
  6. Budd, J. M., Sievert, M., Schultz, T. R., & Scoville, C. (1998). Effects of article retraction on citation and practice in medicine. Bulletin of the Medical Library Association, 87(4), 437–443.Google Scholar
  7. Cokol, M., Iossifov, I., Rodriguez-Esteban, R., & Rzhesky, A. (2007). How many scientific papers should be retracted? EMBO Reports, 8(5), 422–423.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. COPE. (2008). Code of Conduct. Committee on Publication Ethics. Available at: https://publicationethics.org/files/2008%20Code%20of%20Conduct.pdf.
  9. Damineni, R. S., Sardiwal, K. K., Waghle, S. R., & Dakshyani, M. B. (2015). A comprehensive comparative analysis of articles retracted in 2012 and 2013 from the scholarly literature. Journal of International Society of Preventive & Community Dentistry.  https://doi.org/10.4103/2231-0762.151968.Google Scholar
  10. Editorial, (2003). The long road to retraction. Nature Medicine.  https://doi.org/10.1038/nm0903-1093.Google Scholar
  11. Fanelli, D. (2010). Do pressures to publish increase scientists’ bias? An empirical support from US states data. PLoS ONE.  https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0010271.Google Scholar
  12. Fang, F. C., & Casadevall, A. (2011). Retracted science and the retraction index. Infection and Immunity, 79(10), 3855–3859.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Fang, F. C., Steen, R. G., & Casadevall, A. (2012). Misconduct accounts for the majority of retracted scientific publications. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.  https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1212247109.Google Scholar
  14. Franzoni, C., Scellato, G., & Stephan, P. (2011). Changing incentives to publish. Science, 333(6043), 702–703.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Furman, J. L., Jensen, K., & Murray, F. (2012). Governing knowledge in the scientific community: Exploring the role of retractions in biomedicine. Research Policy, 41(2), 276–290.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Grieneisen, M. L., & Zhang, M. (2012). A comprehensive survey of retracted articles from the scholarly literature. PLoS ONE.  https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0044118.Google Scholar
  17. Hesselmann, F., Graf, V., Schmidt, M., & Reinhart, M. (2017). The visibility of scientific misconduct: A review of the literature on retracted journal articles. Current sociology, 65(6), 814–845.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Huh, S., Kim, S. Y., & Cho, H. M. (2016). Characteristics of retractions from Korean medical journals in the KoreaMed database: A bibliometric analysis. PLoS ONE.  https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0163588.Google Scholar
  19. Lei, L., & Zhang, Y. (2017). Lack of improvement in scientific integrity: An analysis of WoS retractions by Chinese researchers (1997–2016). Science and Engineering Ethics.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s11948-017-9962-7.Google Scholar
  20. Moylan, E. C., & Kowalczuk, M. K. (2016). Why articles are retracted: A retrospective cross-sectional study of retraction notices at BioMed Central. British Medical Journal Open.  https://doi.org/10.1136/bmjopen-2016-012047.Google Scholar
  21. Nogueira, T. E., Gonçalves, A. S., Leles, C. R., Batista, A. C., & Costa, L. R. (2017). A survey of retracted articles in dentistry. BMC Research Notes.  https://doi.org/10.1186/s13104-017-2576-y.Google Scholar
  22. Noorhidawati, A., Aspura, M. K. Y. I., & Abrizah, A. (2017). Characteristics of Malaysian highly cited papers. Malaysian Journal of Library & Information Science, 22(2), 85–99.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Qiu, J. (2010). Publish or perish in China. Nature.  https://doi.org/10.1038/463142a.Google Scholar
  24. Rai, R., & Sabharwal, S. (2017). Retracted publications in orthopaedics. The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery.  https://doi.org/10.2106/JBJS.16.01116.Google Scholar
  25. Resnik, D. B., Wager, E., & Kissling, G. E. (2015). Retraction policies of top scientific journals ranked by impact factor. J Med Libr Assoc.  https://doi.org/10.3163/1536-5050.103.3.006.Google Scholar
  26. Retraction (2017). Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Retraction.
  27. Rosenkrantz, A. B. (2016). Retracted publications within radiology journals. American Journal of Roentgenology, 206(2), 231–235.  https://doi.org/10.2214/AJR.15.15163.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Steen, R. G. (2011). Retractions in the scientific literature: do authors deliberately commit research fraud? Journal of Medical Ethics, 37(2), 113–117.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Steen, R. G., Casadevall, A., & Fang, F. C. (2013). Why has the number of scientific retractions increased? PLoS ONE.  https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0068397.Google Scholar
  30. Stretton, S., Bramich, N. J., Keys, J. R., Monk, J. A., Ely, J. A., Haley, C., et al. (2012). Publication misconduct and plagiarism retractions: A systematic, retrospective study. Current Medical Research and Opinion, 28(10), 1575–1583.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. van Dalen, H. P., & Henkens, K. (2012). Intended and Unintended consequences of a publish-or-perish culture: A worldwide survey. Journal of the Association for Information Science and Technology, 63(7), 1282–1293.Google Scholar
  32. van Noorden, R. (2011). Science publishing: The trouble with retractions. Nature.  https://doi.org/10.1038/478026a.Google Scholar
  33. Wager, E., & Williams, P. (2011). Why and how do journals retract articles? An analysis of medline retractions 1988–2008. Journal of Medical Ethics, 37, 567–570.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Walker, R. L., Sykes, L., Hemmelgarn, B. R., & Quan, H. (2010). Authors’ opinion on publication in relation to annual performance assessment. BMC Medication Education, 10, 21.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Zuckerman, H. (1977). Deviant behaviour and social control in science. In E. Sagarin (Ed.), Deviance and Social Change (pp. 87–138). SAGE: Beverly Hills.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Akadémiai Kiadó, Budapest, Hungary 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Library and Information Science, Faculty of Computer & Information TechnologyUniversity of MalayaKuala LumpurMalaysia

Personalised recommendations