Ever see a retracted article in PubMed when you’re searching?

Retractions happen for a variety of reasons. Not all retractions are evidence of scientific misconduct. In fact, according to a recent study written by Grieneisen and Zhang and published in PLOS, most retractions are due to other factors. Retractions can occur due to alleged publishing misconduct, questionable data/interpretations, and publisher error as well.

PubMed MeSH terms to understand:

* a retracted publication (the article that was retracted);
* retraction of publication (the published notice that an article was retracted);
* a published erratum (articles which discuss retractions as their topic)

There are other places where you might want to go to for information on retractions. One example is Retraction Watch blog. The Retraction Watch blog has published reports of scientific article retraction since 2010. It details several hundred retractions, and you can browse by author, country, journal, institution, publisher, reason for retraction, subject, and more. You can also search by any keyword.

News sources often report on high-profile cases of scientific retraction, fraud, and misconduct. YouTube and blogs often contain interviews, commentary, and more on scientific retraction. For blog searching, use Google blog search.

The bad news, according to the PLOS article, is that retractions are widespread across disciplines and author affiliation countries. The good news is that they represent only a small fraction of a percent of all publications.