The Importance of Retractions and the Need to Correct the Downstream Literature

How to Cite

Teixeira da Silva, J. A. (2015). The Importance of Retractions and the Need to Correct the Downstream Literature. Journal of Scientific Exploration, 29(2). Retrieved from


Keywords: accountability—corrigendum—erratum—ethics—retraction

The past three to four years has seen—as far as can be perceived—what appears to be an increase in retractions (Fanelli 2013), possibly due to an increase in awareness. This awareness relates to the issues underlying science publishing, whether these involve authorship issues, publisher-related ethics, or what appears to be an explosion in open access journals (Butler 2013), which is making more science more visible to a wider audience. This aspect in itself is an extremely positive development, and we have only to thank the freedom of the Internet and the existence of increasingly global databases, some of which are publisher-controlled, for creating this wider perspective on science and science publishing. However, like anything in life, or society, with such openness comes a darker side. The issue of revelations and anonymous whistle-blowing (Yong, Ledford, & Van Noorden 2013) are all aspects of science publishing that may have been poorly discussed even as little as 5 or 10 years ago. Now, with tools such as Retraction Watch ( and other blogs that allow for greater awareness and interaction about publishing, and sites like PubPeer ( or PubMed Commons (, which allow for a more frank and open discussion of the issues surrounding individual papers or topics, science publishing has, without a doubt, entered a new era of debate, and scrutiny. Those who do not observe this change, who find it insipid, or who wish to ignore it, ultimately risk becoming its victims. This increase in awareness has also drawn the attention and focus to research misconduct, including duplications, plagiarism, and even the issue of fake peer reviews (Ferguson, Marcus, & Oransky 2014), and pseudo-scientific journals or paid-for authorship (Seife 2014). These are issues that affect all scientists and that have now become the centerpiece of science publishing. Thus, greater awareness, and acceptance, of these issues is required.

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