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Fig. 8.10
The rate of retraction is increasing in PubMed (As of 3/29/2012)
new articles per year. The rate of retracted articles is calculated as the number of
eventually retracted articles published in a year divided out of the total number of
articles published in the same year in PubMed. The rate of retraction is the number
of retraction notices issued each year out of the total number of publications in
PubMed in the same year. The retraction rate in 2001 was 0.00005. It was doubled
three times since then, in 2003, 2006, and 2011, respectively. The retraction rate
in 2011 was 0.00046. Figure 8.10 shows that the number of retracted articles per
year peaked in 2006. The blue line is the retraction rate, which is growing fast. The
red line is the actual number of retracted articles. Although currently fewer recent
articles have been retracted than the 2006 peak number, we expect that this is in part
due to a delay in recognizing potential flaws in newly published articles. We will
quantify the extent of such delays later in a survival analysis.
On the one hand, the increasing awareness of mistakes in scientific studies
(Naik 2011 ), especially due to the publicity of high-profile cases of retraction and
fraudulent cases (Kakuk 2009 ; Service 2002 ) has led to a growing body of studies
of retractions. On the other hand, the study of retracted articles, the potential risk
that these articles may bring to the scientific literature in a long run, and actions
that could be taken to reduce such risks is relatively underrepresented, given the
urgency, possible consequences, and policy implications of the issue. We will
address some common questions concerning retracted articles. In particular, we
introduce a visual analytic framework and a set of tools that can be used to facilitate
situation awareness tasks at macroscopic and microscopic levels.
At the macroscopic level, we will focus on questions concerned with retracted
articles in a broader context of the rest of scientific literature. Given a retracted
article, which areas of the scientific literature are affected? Where are the articles
that directly cited the retracted article? Where are the articles that may have related
to the retracted articles indirectly?
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