University of Wollongong epidemiologist Gideon Meyerowitz-Katz speaks with The Scientist about his team’s finding that flawed and fraudulent COVID-19 research continues to be cited.
(14 Jul 2022) Retraction, a process in which a journal withdraws research after publication, is an essential tool for pruning flawed or fraudulent studies from the scientific literature. But a preprint posted to medRxiv on June 30 shows that retraction may not be functioning as intended: Retracted papers on clinical COVID-19 research have been cited more than 1,000 times, largely uncritically, indicating that conclusions drawn from untrustworthy research may continue to affect the literature and scientists’ understanding of the disease.
Furthermore, many of these citing papers were submitted for publication after the original papers were retracted, raising concerns about authors’ and journals’ standards for citations. Research published in PNAS on June 14 similarly found that most papers that are later retracted have already been widely disseminated on news sites and social media before they’re removed from the record, further fueling worries that the tool is ill-equipped to limit the spread of bad information.
The Scientist spoke with preprint coauthor Gideon Meyerowitz-Katz, an epidemiologist at the University of Wollongong in Australia, about the implications of citations of retracted papers and potential solutions, as well as broader issues around research production and publication.
The story in full is here.