Nearing 5,000 retractions: A review of 2022
In 2002, journals retracted 119 papers from the scientific literature.
What a difference two decades make.
On several occasions this year, publishers announced they were retracting several times that number, all at once. (For some of the stories among 2022’s retractions that captured the most attention, see our 10th annual roundup for The Scientist.)
This year’s 4,600-plus retractions bring the total in the Retraction Watch Database to more than 37,000 at the time of this writing.
As the graphic at the top of this post illustrates, the annual rate of retractions as a share of total published papers continues to grow, to now about 8 in 10,000 papers published. The spike in 2015 reflects the lag of how long some retractions can take, and recent greater scrutiny of papers by sleuths. It also suggests – along with many publishers’ realizations that they are being overwhelmed by paper mills – that the growth isn’t slowing down.
We had a few key developments of our own this year. A sampling:
- Ellie Kincaid joined us as editor, the first time we have been funded to have a salaried person in that role since 2018. Her impact was immediate, we’re sure you’d agree, breaking stories right and left.
- Nature invited us to contribute a World View column reflecting on a dozen years of Retraction Watch, notably the growth in retractions and the fact that so many papers that should be retracted haven’t yet been.
- We presented, or were part of teams who presented, findings at the World Conference on Research Integrity and the Peer Review Congress.
- In partnership with Anna Abalkina, we launched the Retraction Watch Hijacked Journal Checker.
- We published an invited editorial in Anesthesiology, “How to Stop the Unknowing Citation of Retracted Papers.”
- We partnered with Clarivate, who used the Retraction Watch Database to exclude researchers “found to have committed scientific misconduct in formal proceedings conducted by a researcher’s institution, [or] a government agency” from their list of Highly Cited Researchers.
- The WoodNext Foundation awarded us a two-year, $250,000 grant that will allow us to hire another editor who will join us in the first week of 2023.
Our database – with about three times as many retractions as PubMed – continues to power retraction alerts in EndNote, Papers and Zotero. It is also frequently cited in the scholarly literature. Our work is regularly featured in major news outlets such as The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, Boston Globe, and The Guardian.
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