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Study: Hundreds of retracted scientific research papers are not marked as such and are still available through major research databases to be cited

Summarised by Centrist

A study by Caitlin Bakker of the University of Regina found that less than half of 441 retracted publications in 2023 were identified as such in nearly a dozen major databases like PubMed. 

Unmarked retractions pose challenges to the integrity of scientific publishing, as researchers may unknowingly cite retracted work. 

For many years, Bakker said she has taught students the importance of using critical thinking about information sources and publishers to ensure “information literacy”.

“But, all of those activities and skills rely on accurate information being provided through those resources,” she said.

The study also highlights the inadequacy of retraction notices, with fewer than half meeting COPE guidelines. Despite increased interest in addressing these issues, meaningful improvements in search and discovery practices are still needed. 

Tools like BrowZine, LibKey, EndNote, and Zotero can help, but no foolproof method exists, requiring researchers to use multiple strategies. 

Standardised forms for retractions and a more unified approach across the scholarly publishing industry are suggested to enhance the reliability of retraction notices.

“I wouldn’t say that I’ve seen meaningful improvement. However, what I have seen changing is the level of interest in tackling the issue,” says Bakker.

Read more over at Retraction Watch

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