Genetics Articles Retracted at Higher Rate than Other Disciplines
Genetics Articles Retracted at Higher Rate than Other Disciplines

Genetics Articles Retracted at Higher Rate than Other Disciplines

A study estimates that 0.15 percent of genetics articles are retracted, most commonly for duplication and plagiarism.

Jul 26, 2019
Chia-Yi Hou

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Genetics articles are retracted at an estimated rate of 0.15 percent, which is about four times higher than for all disciplines (this includes genetics) listed in the Retraction Watch database, researchers reported in the Journal of Medical Genetics on July 25. They find that duplication is the most common reason for retracting genetics papers.

The authors looked at 1,582 retracted genetics articles that were published between 1970 and 2018 and catalogued in the Retraction Watch database and split them into medical genetics (44 percent) and non-medical genetics (56 percent). Twenty-eight percent of the non-medical genetics articles contained fabricated or falsified data and 26.3 percent involved duplication. In medical genetics articles, duplication (21.6 percent) was more common than fabricated or falsified data (18.5 percent). The other retraction reasons included plagiarism, unreliable information, and authorship issues, which combined account for about one-third of the retractions for both categories. 

To estimate the retraction rate of genetics articles, the authors referenced a database of 975,000 genetics papers published between 1996 and 2017, a period during which 1,476 retracted genetics papers were published, according to the Retraction Watch database. The authors compared their estimated retraction rate for genetics articles to previously reported retraction rates published in PNAS and Science.

The researchers also examined trends in the reasons for retracting genetics articles. Data fabrication or falsification were more common reasons for the retraction of papers published from 1970–2000, whereas plagiarism and duplication were more common reasons for papers published after 2001. They also report that genetics articles retracted for fabrication or falsification took 2–2.8 times longer from publication to retraction than genetics articles that were retracted due to plagiarism.

Chia-Yi Hou is an intern at The Scientist. Email her at chou@the-scientist.com.