Misconduct accounts for the majority of retracted scientific publications

Ferric C. Fang, R. Grant Steen, Arturo Casadevall

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)17028-17033
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number42
StatePublished - Oct 16 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Bibliometric analysis
  • Biomedical publishing
  • Ethics
  • Research misconduct

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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