Nullius in verba: a maioria dos artigos em química retraídos das publicações científicas por problemas sérios!

segunda-feira, junho 03, 2019

Correcting the Scientific Record: Retraction Practices in Chemistry and Materials Science

François-Xavier Coudert

Cite This: Chem. Mater.201931103593-3598

Publication Date:May 28, 2019

Copyright © 2019 American Chemical Society

Peer-reviewed articles, published by scholarly journals, currently form the cornerstone of the modern scholarly publication system and guarantee the dissemination of research findings through the worldwide, ever-increasing community of researchers. Collectively these published works, stamped with the seal of approval of a review by the authors’ peers, form the scientific record—the record of knowledge accumulated by mankind. It is the duty of every scholar to add knowledge to this record by publishing but also to ensure the integrity of the existing works by critically assessing them: before publication, acting as a reviewer or editor, and post-publication, by building upon existing works, improving them, and checking their reproducibility.

The means of post-publication peer review of articles, which was once limited to formally published comments (“Comment on...”), journal clubs and conference coffee breaks, are rapidly expanding through the use of Internet and social media. Discussion of published papers regularly takes place on Twitter and through blog posts and preprints, as well as in structured discussions: comments on the webpage on published papers (e.g., PLOS Oneand Frontiers journals), indexing servers (PubMed Commons, now closed(1)), or dedicated websites (such as PubPeer(2)). Critique of published articles is a necessary and healthy part of the advancement of science. Sometimes, it can lead to the identification of serious flaws in the data or authors’ analysis, so that the findings or the conclusions published cannot be trusted anymore. In such cases, the paper may be corrected or retracted, i.e., expunged from the scientific record.

COPE, the Committee on Publication Ethics, publishes a series of guidelines (policies and practices) that are considered the industry standard in publishing ethics. The areas covered include the handling of allegations of misconduct, complaints and appeals, data issues and reproducibility, and standards of authorship, as well as post-publication corrections and the retraction of papers. COPE guidelines give clear insights into the difference in nature between corrections and retractions.(3) Articles should be corrected if “a small portion of an otherwise reliable publication proves to be misleading (especially because of honest error)”. On the other hand, “journal editors should consider retracting a publication if:

they have clear evidence that the findings are unreliable, either as a result of misconduct (e.g., data fabrication) or honest error (e.g. miscalculation or experimental error),

the findings have previously been published elsewhere without proper crossreferencing, permission or justification (i.e. cases of redundant publication),

it constitutes plagiarism,

it reports unethical research.”Retractions thus ensure that the literature is corrected, alerting readers to the fact that a publication contains erroneous or unreliable data, and give clear insight into the nature of the issues.

Despite the healthy role of retractions in preserving the scientific record, and while erroneous data can be the result of a good faith mistake, there is definitely a stigma associated with the retraction of a paper. COPE guidelines state that “The main purpose of retractions is to correct the literature and ensure its integrity rather than to punish authors who misbehave”,(3) but previous work has shown a notable resistance to admitting error in scientific papers.(4) The term retraction is too often associated with research misconduct, giving it a negative connotation for authors.(5) This is particularly true in a highly competitive environment, where academics are driven to publish often and produce high-impact papers: Jin et al. showed that retractions have a negative effect on citations for early career researchers.(6,7) The same argument can also be made for the publishers, who may fear a dent in the reputation of the journal. Thus, none of the actors involved have any direct incentive to retract a paper.

In this context, and while the number of retractions is rising,(8,9) there is relatively little information available about retractions and retracted papers, beyond the retraction notices infrequently published by journals. There is no central repository or authoritative database that can be easily queried—although the Retraction Watch website, which covers the topic of retractions and publication ethics in general, has been collating such a database.(10)Previous systematic studies have focused on retractions in specific fields, and in particular in medicine(11−13)—with the notable exception of a study by Grieneisen et al. that spanned several fields of research.(14) In order to better understand the existing practices for article retraction in the chemical sciences, I have performed a systematic survey of 331 papers retracted in 2017 and 2018 and their retraction notices, publicly available on the journals’ websites. This article looks at the statistics of retractions, their distribution per country, and the occurrence of multiple retractions. I also provide a classification of the reasons behind the retractions and the distribution of their occurrence.

FREE PDF GRATIS: ACS Chemistry Materials Sup. Info. 1, Sup. Info. 2.