New Retraction Watch Database Recently Launched

In August of 2010, two longtime health journalists, Ivan Oransky and Adam Marcus, founded Retraction Watch, “a site dedicated to reporting on scientific retractions and related issues” to bring to light how many scientific papers are withdrawn yearly and why.

In their first post, they quoted the following from a 2008 paper in the Journal of Medical Ethics as support for why such a forum was needed:

“Although retractions are on average occurring sooner after publication than in the past, citation analysis shows that they are not being recognized by subsequent users of the work…More aggressive means of notification to the scientific community appear to be necessary.”

Oransky and Marcus also stated in their inaugural post:

“We hope this blog will form an informal repository for the retractions we find, and might even spur the creation of a retraction database such as the one called for here by K.M. Korpela.”

After many years of development, in October 2018, such a database was indeed launched. The Retraction Watch Database does not just pull retractions from existing databases like PubMed or publishers’ sites, rather it is a curated, searchable database of over 19,000 retractions (more than you will find elsewhere). Each record is assigned a reason(s) for retraction, including concerns about data, conflict of interest, error in image, falsification/fabrication of results, and misconduct. Also included in the database are corrections and expressions of concern.

The various fields included in each record allow for a wide array of data to be pulled from the database, including the number of retractions from a/an:

  • author
  • particular journal
  • specified timeframe
  • institution/affiliation
  • subject area

To determine if a particular article has been retracted (or has a correction or expression of concern), the article’s PubMed ID or DOI can be searched in the “Original Paper” section on the right (see below).

Retraction Watch Database Original Paper Search
Click on image to see full version.

For assistance in searching the database, review the user guide or send an e-mail to Ask a Librarian. If you know of a retraction not yet included in the database, fill out the “Submit a Retraction to Retraction Watch” form.

~Melissa Ratajeski