Papers Announces Expanded Retraction Support

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We are thrilled to announce that we’ve further expanded the breadth of our article retraction alerting capabilities within the Papers platform. With the integration of the Retraction Watch database, Paper users will enjoy expanded coverage to the current retraction data already available within Papers. What’s more, in our October release, users will see even more retraction-related features within the application, including access to complete retraction notices as well as alerts when attempting to cite a paper that was retracted.

Since 2010, Retraction Watch has tracked retraction activity across publishers, promoting transparency and integrity in science and scientific publishing. The Retraction Watch’s curated database includes over 30,000 items and is known for its robust coverage and accuracy. 

What is a journal retraction?

A journal retraction is a journal’s statement that a previously published study should no longer be a part of ongoing scientific inquiry because the data is flawed or the study was done in an unethical manner, such as issues with informed consent or plagiarism.  Flawed publications undermine the integrity of science and lead to the propagation of erroneous data to other genuine publications. Thus, retraction of such work is needed to preserve the integrity of the entire scientific research ecosystem.

It’s important to note that not every retracted article means that something nefarious has gone on.  While many articles are retracted for scientific misconduct or fraud, others are retracted by the authors themselves because they realize after publication because they made an honest error. Others are retracted because the authors may have simply misworded their findings, and the article is immediately republished with a wording or paragraph change. 

A retraction can be reported in several ways—by a keen reader, a peer reviewer, the authors themselves, a learned society, or the publisher.  In most cases, the concerns are brought to the journal editor’s attention, and an investigation begins. Unfortunately, this is often not a fast process. The average time from original publication to retraction is 3.5 years. So by the time a reader is aware of a retraction, the data has continued to be disseminated.

Connecting the Dots

While retraction data historically is listed on publisher websites, for most researchers, once a paper is downloaded locally or into a reference manager, returning to the publisher page to continuously check for article updates is not a standard workflow. This disconnect can lead to the accidental use of retracted research and contribute to the issue of recitation, where such research continues to be cited post retraction. 

Recitation can impact an author’s credibility and negatively impact the scientific community by extending erroneous data. The implications become more severe if health professionals put patients’ health at risk based on incorrect information. By automatically flagging retracted literature within Papers, we hope to eliminate the burden of our users relying on manual workflows to track these important status changes, therefore dramatically reducing recitation and the use of retracted material in one’s research work.

What’s next?

retracted article in EPDF

At Papers, we spend a lot of time thinking about how we can better connect your libraries to related research data. Today users benefit from dynamic citation metrics, auto-fetched supplemental data, auto-populated article metadata, interactive reading environments, seamless full-text access options, and now, retractions. We’d love to hear from you what data you’d like to see connected next!

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Val Podbelski