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High impact factor journals have more retractions

In their article published ahead of print in IAI this week, Arturo Casadevall and Ferric Fang examined retractions in 17 journals between 2001 and 2010 and plotted the retraction index against the impact factor of the journal. Considering the far-from-random correlation they uncovered, Casadevall and Fang point say the scientific publication process may well have some systematic aspects that can impact retraction rates.

For some of the underlying reasons, first think about why scientists are so eager to publish in high-impact journals: Casadevall and Fang say the benefits of publishing in a top-tier journal are plenty and may outweigh the importance of the work a given study describes. The promise of improved job opportunities, grant success, peer recognition and honorific rewards can encourage some authors to play fast and loose with study design, data presentation, analysis, and interpretation – which may or may not lead to a retraction down the road. Out-and-out fraud is another response to this temptation. Either way, I don’t think these possibilities say anything good about the reward system in science.

Click on the “source” link above to read more on mBio’s blog, mBiosphere…

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