Retractions in Science
Retractions are rare in science, but there is growing concern about the impact retracted papers have. We present data on the retractions in the journal Science, between 1983 and 2017. Each year, approximately 2.6 papers are retracted; that is about 0.34% of the papers published in the journal. 30% of the retracted papers are retracted within 1 year of publication. Some papers are retracted almost 12 years after publication. 51% of the retracted papers are retracted due to honest mistakes. Smaller research teams of 2–4 scientists are responsible for a disproportionately larger share of the retracted papers especially when it comes to retractions due to honest mistakes. In 60% of the cases all authors sign the retraction notice.
KeywordsRetraction Scientific publication Science Authorship Collaboration in science Misconduct Honest errors
We would like to thank Kristian Hvidtfelt Nielsen for feedback on an earlier draft. We would also like to thank our audience in Gent, when KBW presented an earlier version of the paper at the Society for Philosophy of Science in Practice conference, in July 2018. We also thank the referees for Scientometrics for their critical feedback. Finally, we thank Aarhus Universitets Forskningsfond (AUFF) for a Starting Grant awarded to KBW. This grant, AUFF-E-2017-FLS-7-3, supports LEA.
- Berg, J. (2017). Editorial expression of concern. Science, 357(6357), 1248.Google Scholar
- Budd, J. M., Coble, Z. C., & Anderson, K. M. (2011). Retracted publications in biomedicine: Cause for concern. In Association of college and research libraries national conference proceedings (pp. 390–395)Google Scholar
- de Solla Price, D. (1963). Little science, big science. New York: Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
- Hilgard, J., & Jamieson, K. H. (2017). Science as ‘broken’ versus science as ‘self-correcting’: How retractions and peer-review problems are exploited to attack science. In K. H. Jamieson, D. Kahan, & D. A. Scheufele (Eds.), The Oxford handbook of the science of science communication (pp. 85–92). Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
- Hull, D. L. (2001). Why scientists behave scientifically. In D. L. Hull (Ed.), Science and selection: Essays on biological evolution and the philosophy of science (pp. 135–138). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
- Marcus, A., & Oransky, I. (2017). Is there a retraction problem? And, if so, what can we do about it? In K. H. Jamieson, D. Kahan, & D. A. Scheufele (Eds.), The Oxford handbook of the science of science communication (pp. 119–126). Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
- Wray, K. B. (2018). The impact of collaboration on the epistemic cultures of science. In T. Boyer-Kassem, C. Mayo-Wilson, & M. Weisberg (Eds.), Scientific collaboration and collective knowledge: New essays (pp. 117–134). Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar