Analysis of retractions in Indian science

Abstract

An increasing problem throughout the world, plagiarism and related dishonest behaviors have been affecting Indian science for quite some time. To curb this problem, the Indian government has initiated a number of measures, such as providing plagiarism detecting software to all the universities for free. Still, however, many unfair or incorrect papers are published. For some time, publishers have used an efficient tool to deal with such situations: retractions. A published paper that is later discovered to not deserve publication—which can be for a number of reasons—can be withdrawn (and often removed from the online contents of the journal) by the publisher. This study aims (1) to identify retracted publications authored or co-authored by researchers affiliated to Indian institutions and (2) to analyze the reasons for the retractions. To meet these aims, we searched the SCOPUS database to identify retraction notices for articles authored or coauthored by Indian authors. The first retraction notice was issued back in 1996, an exceptionally early retraction, as the next one was published in 2005. Thus, we analyzed 239 retractions (195 from journals and 44 from conference proceedings) published between 2005 and 3 August 2018 (but most were published after 2010), in terms of the following qualitative retraction-wise parameters: the main reason for retraction, authorship, a collaboration level, collaborating countries, sources of retraction (a journal or conference proceedings), and funding sources of the research. We also detected journals with high retraction frequencies. Mainly two phrases—“Retraction notice to” and “Retracted Article”—were used to retract publications. The most frequent reason for retractions was plagiarism.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3

References

  1. Arora, S. C., & Kalucha, G. (2008). Retraction of “quasihyponormal toeplitz operators”. Journal of Operator Theory, 60(2), 445.

    MathSciNet  MATH  Google Scholar 

  2. Aspura, M. Y. I., Noorhidawati, A., & Abrizah, A. (2018). An analysis of Malaysian retracted papers: Misconduct or mistakes? Scientometrics, 115(3), 1315–1328.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  3. Ataie-Ashtiani, B. (2018). World map of scientific misconduct. Science and Engineering Ethics, 24(5), 1653–1656. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11948-017-9939-6.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  4. Bar-Ilan, J., & Halevi, G. (2018). Temporal characteristics of retracted articles. Scientometrics, 116(3), 1771–1783.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  5. Bozzo, A., Bali, K., Evaniew, N., & Ghert, M. (2017). Retractions in cancer research: A systematic survey. Research Integrity and Peer Review, 2(1), 5.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  6. Callaway, E. (2016). Publisher pulls 58 articles by Iranian scientists over authorship manipulation. Nature. https://doi.org/10.1038/nature.2016.20916.

    Google Scholar 

  7. Chaddah, P. (2014). Not all plagiarism requires a retraction. Nature News, 511(7508), 127.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  8. Chaddah, P., & Lakhotia, S. C. (2018). A policy statement on “Dissemination and Evaluation of Research Output in India” by the Indian National Science Academy (New Delhi). Proceedings of the Indian National Science Academy, 84(2), 319–329.

    Google Scholar 

  9. Chauhan, S. K. (2018). Research on plagiarism in India during 2002–2016: A bibliometric analysis. DESIDOC Journal of Library & Information Technology, 38(2), 69–74.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  10. Dhingra, D., & Mishra, D. (2014). Publication misconduct among medical professionals in India. Indian Journal of Medical Ethics, 11(2), 104–107.

    Google Scholar 

  11. Elango, B., & Ho, Y. S. (2017). A bibliometric analysis of highly cited papers from India in Science Citation Index Expanded. Current Science, 112(8), 1653–1658.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  12. Elango, B., & Ho, Y. S. (2018). Top-cited articles in the field of tribology: A bibliometric analysis. COLLNET Journal of Scientometrics and Information Management, 12(2), 289–307.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  13. Elango, B., Rajendran, P., & Bornmann, L. (2013). Global nanotribology research output (1996–2010): A scientometric analysis. PLoS ONE, 8(12), e81094.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  14. 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, 109(42), 17028–17033.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  15. He, T. (2013). Retraction of global scientific publications from 2001 to 2010. Scientometrics, 96(2), 555–561.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  16. 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.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  17. Ho, Y. S. (2014). A bibliometric analysis of highly cited articles in materials science. Current Science, 107(9), 1565–1572.

    Google 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, 11(10), e0163588.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  19. Ison, D. C. (2018). An empirical analysis of differences in plagiarism among world cultures. Journal of Higher Education Policy and Management, 40(4), 291–304.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  20. Lei, L., & Zhang, Y. (2018). Lack of improvement in scientific integrity: An analysis of WoS retractions by Chinese researchers (1997–2016). Science and Engineering Ethics, 24(5), 1409–1420.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  21. Li, G., et al. (2018). Exploring the characteristics, global distribution and reasons for retraction of published articles involving human research participants: a literature survey. Journal of Multidisciplinary Healthcare, 11, 39–47.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  22. Liu, X., & Chen, X. (2018). Journal retractions: Some unique features of research misconduct in China. Journal of Scholarly Publishing, 49(3), 305–319.

    Google Scholar 

  23. Marcus, A., & Oransky, I. (2014). What studies of retractions tell us. Journal of Microbiology & Biology Education, 15(2), 151–154.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  24. Misra, D. P., Ravindran, V., Wakhlu, A., Sharma, A., Agarwal, V., & Negi, V. S. (2017). Plagiarism: A viewpoint from India. Journal of Korean Medical Science, 32(11), 1734–1735.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  25. Moradi, S., & Janavi, E. (2018). A scientometrics study of Iranian retracted papers. Iranian Journal of Information Processing and Management, 33(4), 1805–1824.

    Google Scholar 

  26. Necker, S. (2014). Scientific misbehavior in economics. Research Policy, 43(10), 1747–1759.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  27. Nikumbh, D. B. (2016). Research vs plagiarism in medical science (cytohistopathology). Archives of Cytology and Histopathology Research, 1(1), 1–3.

    Google Scholar 

  28. 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, 10(1), 253.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  29. Noorden, R. V. (2011). The reasons for retractions. http://blogs.nature.com/news/2011/10/the_reasons_for_retraction.html. Accessed August 21, 2018.

  30. R Core Team. (2018). R: A language and environment for statistical computing. R Foundation for Statistical Computing, Vienna, Austria. https://www.R-project.org/. Accessed December 19, 2019.

  31. Rajendran, P., Elango, B., & Manickaraj, J. (2014). Publication trends and citation impact of tribology research in India: A scientometric study. Journal of Information Science Theory and Practice, 2(1), 22–34.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  32. Ribeiro, M. D., & Vasconcelos, S. M. R. (2018). Retractions covered by Retraction Watch in the 2013–2015 period: Prevalence for the most productive countries. Scientometrics, 114(2), 719–734.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  33. Sarkar, D. (2008). Lattice: Multivariate data visualization with R. New York: Springer.

    Google Scholar 

  34. Shan, J. (2017). Journal publisher removes Chinese articles. Global Times, April 21, 2017. http://www.globaltimes.cn/content/1043584.shtml.

  35. Sharma, O. P. (2015). Ethics in science. Indian Journal of Microbiology, 55(3), 341–344.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  36. Sharma, G. L. (2016). Academic plagiarism: an Indian scenario. Paripex – Indian Journal of Research, 5(4), 23–24.

    Google Scholar 

  37. Singh, N., Handa, T. S., Kumar, D., & Singh, G. (2016). Mapping of breast cancer research in India: A bibliometric analysis. Current Science, 110(7), 1178–1183.

    Google Scholar 

  38. Stigbrand, T. (2017). Retraction note to multiple articles in Tumor Biology. Tumor Biology. https://doi.org/10.1007/s13277-017-5487-6.

    Google Scholar 

  39. Tripathi, M., Dwivedi, G., Sonkar, S. K., & Kumar, S. (2018). Analysing retraction notices of scholarly journals: A study. DESIDOC Journal of Library & Information Technology, 38(5), 305–311.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  40. Wang, T., Xing, Q.R., Wang, H., & Chen, W. (2018). Retracted publications in the biomedical literature from open access journals. Science and Engineering Ethics. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11948-018-0040-6.

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Acknowledgements

We would like to thank the anonymous referees for their valuable comments on the first version of the manuscript.

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Bakthavachalam Elango.

Ethics declarations

Conflict of interest

All authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Elango, B., Kozak, M. & Rajendran, P. Analysis of retractions in Indian science. Scientometrics 119, 1081–1094 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11192-019-03079-y

Download citation

Keywords

  • Publication ethics
  • Research ethics
  • Retracted publications
  • India