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Retracted Articles Live On

Researchers continue to cite papers after they've been retracted, writes Cat Ferguson at Retraction Watch.

A recent study appearing in the journal Publications from an Australian team led by the University of South Australia's Alison Hill reports that one randomized controlled trial has been cited 52 times since it was retracted in 2008 for containing falsified data. Only two of those citing papers mentioned that it had been retracted, the team adds.

Ferguson notes that the articles citing the retracted study have themselves been cited nearly 950 times, which she says "[points] to the ripple effect this kind of unwitting mention can have throughout the literature." She notes that another study has found that 92 percent of citations of retracted studies don't reference the retraction.

Hill and her colleagues say that journals need to handle retracted articles in a uniform way, and suggest the word "retracted" be added to the title and be mentioned on the PDF of the paper. Additionally, they say that authors and reviewers should try to be cognizant of retracted articles in their fields and not include them in manuscript citations.