Skip to main content
Premium Trial:

Request an Annual Quote

Side Effects of Retractions

A retraction in a particular scientific area of study can have "spillover effects" on related fields, says a working paper from economists at MIT and Boston University.

The economists examined the effects of more than 1,100 scientific retractions on the citation frequencies of related papers, finding a 5 percent to 10 percent decline. "Our findings show that scientific misconduct and mistakes, as signaled to the scientific community through retractions, cause a relative decline in the vitality of neighboring intellectual fields," they write.

In addition, the Boston-area team classified the retractions by whether the research findings were called into question or not, and how that affects related fields. It adds that there's evidence that the "penalty" seen by related fields is greater when the retraction is due to fraud or misconduct.

This, notes Ivan Oransky at Retraction Watch, underscores the need for journals to clearly state why articles are being retracted. "If notices make it clear there was no misconduct involved, the field may not take as big a hit," he writes. "This is the sort of nuance that is often lost in the discussion of whether highlighting misconduct promotes mistrust in science — a phenomenon we suggest is shooting the messenger."

The Scan

Study Reveals New Details About Genetics of Major Cause of Female Infertility

Researchers in Nature Medicine conducted a whole-exome sequencing study of mote than a thousand patients with premature ovarian insufficiency.

Circulating Tumor DNA Shows Potential as Biomarker in Rare Childhood Cancer

A study in the Journal of Clinical Oncology has found that circulating tumor DNA levels in rhabdomyosarcoma may serve as a biomarker for prognosis.

Study Recommends Cancer Screening for Dogs Beginning Age Seven, Depending on Breed

PetDx researchers report in PLOS One that annual cancer screening for dogs should begin by age seven.

White-Tailed Deer Harbor SARS-CoV-2 Variants No Longer Infecting Humans, Study Finds

A new study in PNAS has found that white-tailed deer could act as a reservoir of SARS-CoV-2 variants no longer found among humans.