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Research misconduct in health and life sciences research: A systematic review of retracted literature from Brazilian institutions

Stavale, R; Ferreira, GI; Martins Galvao, JA; Zicker, F; Carvalho Garbi Novaes, MR; de Oliveira, CM; Guilhem, D; (2019) Research misconduct in health and life sciences research: A systematic review of retracted literature from Brazilian institutions. PLoS One , 14 (4) , Article e0214272. 10.1371/journal.pone.0214272. Green open access

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Abstract

Background Measures to ensure research integrity have been widely discussed due to the social, economic and scientific impact of research integrity. In the past few years, financial support for health research in emerging countries has steadily increased, resulting in a growing number of scientific publications. These achievements, however, have been accompanied by a rise in retracted publications followed by concerns about the quality and reliability of such publications. Objective This systematic review aimed to investigate the profile of medical and life sciences research retractions from authors affiliated with Brazilian academic institutions. The chronological trend between publication and retraction date, reasons for the retraction, citation of the article after the retraction, study design, and the number of retracted publications by author and affiliation were assessed. Additionally, the quality, availability and accessibility of data regarding retracted papers from the publishers are described. Methods Two independent reviewers searched for articles that had been retracted since 2004 via PubMed, Web of Science, Biblioteca Virtual em Saúde (BVS) and Google Scholar databases. Indexed keywords from Medical Subject Headings (MeSH) and Descritores em Ciências da Saúde (DeCS) in Portuguese, English or Spanish were used. Data were also collected from the Retraction Watch website (www.retractionwatch.com). This study was registered with the PROSPERO systematic review database (CRD42017071647). Results A final sample of 65 articles was retrieved from 55 different journals with reported impact factors ranging from 0 to 32.86, with a median value of 4.40 and a mean of 4.69. The types of documents found were erratum (1), retracted articles (3), retracted articles with a retraction notice (5), retraction notices with erratum (3), and retraction notices (45). The assessment of the Retraction Watch website added 8 articles that were not identified by the search strategy using the bibliographic databases. The retracted publications covered a wide range of study designs. Experimental studies (40) and literature reviews (15) accounted for 84.6% of the retracted articles. Within the field of health and life sciences, medical science was the field with the largest number of retractions (34), followed by biological sciences (17). Some articles were retracted for at least two distinct reasons (13). Among the retrieved articles, plagiarism was the main reason for retraction (60%). Missing data were found in 57% of the retraction notices, which was a limitation to this review. In addition, 63% of the articles were cited after their retraction. Conclusion Publications are not retracted solely for research misconduct but also for honest error. Nevertheless, considering authors affiliated with Brazilian institutions, this review concluded that most of the retracted health and life sciences publications were retracted due to research misconduct. Because the number of publications is the most valued indicator of scientific productivity for funding and career progression purposes, a systematic effort from the national research councils, funding agencies, universities and scientific journals is needed to avoid an escalating trend of research misconduct. More investigations are needed to comprehend the underlying factors of research misconduct and its increasing manifestation.

Type: Article
Title: Research misconduct in health and life sciences research: A systematic review of retracted literature from Brazilian institutions
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0214272
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0214272
Language: English
Additional information: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited. https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > Institute of Epidemiology and Health
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > Institute of Epidemiology and Health > Epidemiology and Public Health
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10073779
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