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The lowdown on retracted science papers

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From Nature, Genuine retraction is uncommon, but

But retraction notices are increasing rapidly. In the early 2000s, only about 30 retraction notices appeared annually. This year, the Web of Science is on track to index more than 400 (see ‘Rise of the retractions’) — even though the total number of papers published has risen by only 44% over the past decade.

Another problem:

The posts on Retraction Watch show how wildly inconsistent retractions practices are from one journal to the next. Notices range from informative and transparent to deeply obscure. A typically unhelpful example of the genre would be: “This article has been withdrawn at the request of the authors in order to eliminate incorrect information.” Oransky argues that such obscurity leads readers to assume misconduct, as scientists making an honest retraction would, presumably, try to explain what was at fault.

Yes, but they may have been stuck with some party line one-size-fits-all statement, whether the problem is error, misfortune, overactive imagination, or ? Lots of good stuff here.

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– Richard Van Noorden, “Science publishing: The trouble with retractions: A surge in withdrawn papers is highlighting weaknesses in the system for handling them.” 5 October 2011 | Nature 478, 26-28 (2011) | doi:10.1038/478026a

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