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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2012 Oct 16;109(42):17028-33. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1212247109. Epub 2012 Oct 1.

Misconduct accounts for the majority of retracted scientific publications.

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  • 1Department of Laboratory Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle, WA 98195, USA.

Erratum in

  • Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2013 Jan 15;110(3):1137.


A detailed review of all 2,047 biomedical and life-science research articles indexed by PubMed as retracted on May 3, 2012 revealed that only 21.3% of retractions were attributable to error. In contrast, 67.4% of retractions were attributable to misconduct, including fraud or suspected fraud (43.4%), duplicate publication (14.2%), and plagiarism (9.8%). Incomplete, uninformative or misleading retraction announcements have led to a previous underestimation of the role of fraud in the ongoing retraction epidemic. The percentage of scientific articles retracted because of fraud has increased ∼10-fold since 1975. Retractions exhibit distinctive temporal and geographic patterns that may reveal underlying causes.

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