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Retraction Watch & Retracted COVID-19 Articles

While research publications on coronavirus have mushroomed in an amazing speed in 2020, some of them had to be retracted for various reasons. Retraction Watch is a good source to help us keep track of them.

By the time most people start their postgraduate studies, they have a good handle of the typical academic publishing cycle: read and research; find a question or problem to work on; do original research; write a paper, submit paper to a journal; undergo peer review; revise according to peer review comments; re-submit; paper acceptance; and then publish. 

There is also another stage, a stage that no one wants, but that is important to understand and learn from: retraction. Papers are retracted for many reasons, none of them nice: errors (in methods, analysis, results, etc.); duplication (of images, or article); non-reproducible results; falsification of data or images; ethical violations by author(s); plagiarism; objections by author(s) or third parties;  and many more.  A few years ago, some scientific journalists started a blog called “Retraction Watch, which later developed a database. As the authors, Ivan Oransky and Adam Marcus, point out, retraction is “a window on the scientific process” and we can all learn from these examples (as warning, as showing what not to do).  

Among the pressing scientific problems in this part year has been COVID-19. A lots of important research is being done to help us learn more about the disease and how to deal with it, papers being published quickly. Some of them have been retracted, and it can be a useful for researchers to take a look at Retraction Watch’s section on retracted coronavirus papers, because while articles published often make the news, retractions less often. 

— By Victoria Caplan, Head of Information Instruction and Collection Services, Library

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published December 8, 2020
last modified March 11, 2022