17% of 331 retracted papers in chemistry, materials science are from India

Nearly 17% of 331 papers retracted in 2017 and 2018 were from India, published papers stood at around 7% of total

In a May 28, 2019, editorial published in the journal Chemistry of Materials, Francois-Xavier Coudert from Institut de Recherche de Chimie Paris, a joint CNRS/Chimie ParisTech research institute in Paris, looked at retraction practices in chemistry and materials sciences and found some interesting insights.

From Elsevier’s Scopus database, Dr. Coudert found 331 papers that were retracted in 2017 and 2018 in chemistry, materials science and chemical engineering. At 31.4%, China had the most number of retractions. But researchers from China also published the most papers at 30.9%. The U.S. too showed similar trend — retractions standing 14.2% while the percentage of papers published is 15.1%.

At 17.2%, the retraction percentage from India is nearly 50% less than China. However, the percentage of papers published from India is way less than China — just 7.3%. So the “share” of retractions far exceeds the share of papers published from the country. There is 2.4-fold difference between retractions and papers published, which is way higher than China.

Iran is even worse than India. Retraction is at 11.2% while papers published from Iran are only 2.7%. “The ratio of retracted papers from Iran is 4.1 times larger than from the rest of the world,” Dr. Coudert writes.

The next information that would be of interest to chemistry and material science researchers and policy makers in India is which researchers or research groups had more retractions during the two years. Dr. Rashmi Madhuri from the Department of Applied Chemistry and Dr. Prashant Sharma from the Department of Applied Physics from IIT Dhanbad, had the most retractions globally during this period. With 18 papers retracted during 2017-2018, Dr. Madhuri and Dr. Sharma, who are co-authors in all of these papers, have the “largest clusters of retractions in that two-year period”. Dr. S. Thakur and R.B. Tokas from Bhabha Atomic Research Centre in Mumbai have seven retractions during the same period. “These retractions were, in every case, linked to ethical shortcomings,” he writes.

After plagiarism (42%), unethical issues with the data reported (27% or 90 papers) in papers — research misconduct, data fabrication, data falsification, inappropriately and extensively digitally manipulated — was the second most common cause for retraction. And among the papers with data issues, he found falsification of data accounted for 60% of the cases. “This includes cases of fabrication, invalid duplication, digital editing, etc. and accounts overall for 16% of retracted papers,” he says.

In the 127 papers from India retracted so far for image duplication and manipulations, 55 were found to be due to manipulation and the rest due to reuse of the same image in other papers for different experiment and material. In addition to the 127 papers, searching the database of RetractionWatch using a simple term “image” yielded another 65 papers with questionable images that have been retracted so far, taking the total to 192.

In the 65 papers with problematic images, nine papers were retracted already this year. There were eight retractions last year, nine in 2017 and 11 in 2016. While error in images accounted for 21 paper retractions, fabrication/falsification of images was responsible for 15 retractions.

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Printable version | Aug 2, 2020 11:51:57 AM |

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