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SOM Scientific Writing: Article Retraction

What is a retracted article?

A retracted article is an article that was withdrawn from the publication in which it appeared after it was published. A retraction is issued through a decision made by the publication's editorial board and may be initiated by the journal's editors or the author(s) of the paper. If only a portion of an article is being retracted it is often labelled as a correction or corrected article. 

Authors should check their citation list for retractions before submitting a paper for publication. If you would like to cite a retracted article, note that it is retracted and also cite the retraction notice. 

Reasons for Retraction

Retractions frequently occur because of research misconduct.  Research misconduct is defined as one or all of the following1:

  • Fabrication:  making up data or results rather than having them come from actual research, and recording or reporting them.
  • Falsification:  manipulating research materials, equipment, or processes; changing or omitting data; providing results where the research is not accurately represented.
  • Plagiarism:  using another person's ideas, processes, results, or words without giving attribution. 

Retractions can also occur because of dishonest or unethical behavior that does not fall under commonly accepted definitions of research misconduct.  Such behavior may include:

  • Forged authorship
  • Fake peer reviews
  • Failure to receive institutional review board approval for research on human subjects or animals
  • Legal issues:  copyright infringement or libelous content
  • Not obtaining proper permissions to use data
  • Failure to disclose a competing or potential conflict of interest that may influence interpretations or conclusions. 

Retractions do not always indicate that research misconduct or unethical actions occurred.  Articles may also be retracted for the following reasons:

  • Errors in the research.
  • Problems with its reproducibility.
  • Poor management of data from the research
  • Duplicate publishing:  being submitted and accepted in more than one publication, or due to publisher error.
  • Author(s) of published article requesting a retraction for any of these reasons.

1National Science Foundation (2018).  Key regulations.  Retrieved from https://www.nsf.gov/oig/regulations/

Identifying Article Retractions

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Searching Databases for Retracted Publications or Articles

In a database or Google Scholar search, try using one of these keywords in a search:

  • "Article retracted"
  • "Notice of retraction"
  • "Retracted"
  • "Retracted article"
  • "Retraction"
  • "Retraction of article"

Some databases also have the option to search for retracted, corrected, or republished articles:

  • CINAHL (Advanced Search, Publication Type):
    • Corrected Article
  • PubMed (Article Types Filter): 
    • Corrected and Republished Article
    • Retracted Publication
    • Retraction of Publication
  • Web of Science (Advanced Search, Document Types):
    • Correction
    • Correction, Addition
    • Retracted Publication
    • Retraction

Source: Guide to Science Information Resources LibGuide created by Kristy Padron, Florida Atlantic University Libraries

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