The (lack of) Impact of Retraction on Citation Networks


Article retraction in research is rising, yet retracted articles continue to be cited at a disturbing rate. This paper presents an analysis of recent retraction patterns, with a unique emphasis on the role author self-cites play, to assist the scientific community in creating counter-strategies. This was accomplished by examining the following: (1) A categorization of retracted articles more complete than previously published work. (2) The relationship between citation counts and after-retraction self-cites from the authors of the work, and the distribution of self-cites across our retraction categories. (3) The distribution of retractions written by both the author and the editor across our retraction categories. (4) The trends for seven of our nine defined retraction categories over a 6-year period. (5) The average journal impact factor by category, and the relationship between impact factor, author self-cites, and overall citations. Our findings indicate new reasons for retractions have emerged in recent years, and more editors are penning retractions. The rates of increase for retraction varies by category, and there is statistically significant difference of average impact factor between many categories. 18 % of authors self-cite retracted work post retraction with only 10 % of those authors also citing the retraction notice. Further, there is a positive correlation between self-cites and after retraction citations.

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This publication was supported in part by Grant Number UL1RR024979 from the National Center for Research Resources (NCRR), a part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Its contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the CTSA or NIH. We also thank Todd Papke for his comments on this work.

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Correspondence to Charisse R. Madlock-Brown.

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Madlock-Brown, C.R., Eichmann, D. The (lack of) Impact of Retraction on Citation Networks. Sci Eng Ethics 21, 127–137 (2015).

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  • Scientific misconduct
  • Publication ethics
  • Citation networks
  • Retractions