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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Visibility of retractions: a cross-sectional one-year study

Evelyne Decullier123*, Laure Huot123, Géraldine Samson123 and Hervé Maisonneuve2

Author affiliations

1 Hospices Civils de Lyon, Pôle Information Médicale Evaluation Recherche, Unité de Recherche Clinique, Lyon F-69003, France

2 RECIF, EAM Santé Individu Société 4128, Université de Lyon, Lyon F-69003, France

3 Université Lyon 1, Lyon F-69003, France

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Citation and License

BMC Research Notes 2013, 6:238  doi:10.1186/1756-0500-6-238

Published: 19 June 2013



Retraction in Medline medical literature experienced a tenfold increase between 1999 and 2009, however retraction remains a rare event since it represents 0.02% of publications. Retractions used to be handled following informal practices until they were formalized in 2009 by the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE). The objective of our study was to describe the compliance to these guidelines.


All retractions published in 2008 were identified using the Medline publication type “retraction of publication”. The notices of retraction and the original articles were retrieved. For each retraction, we identified the reason for retraction, the country of affiliation of the first author, the time to retraction, the impact factor of the journal and the mention of retraction on the original article.


Overall, 244 retractions were considered for analysis. Formal retraction notices could not be retrieved for 9. Of the 235 retractions available (96%), the reason was not detailed for 21 articles (9%). The most cited reasons were mistakes (28%), plagiarism (20%), fraud (14%) and overlap (11%). The original paper or its location was found for 233 retractions (95%). Of these, 22% were available with no mention of the retraction.


A standard retraction form could be helpful, with a check list of major reason, leaving the editor free to provide the reader with any further information. Original articles should remain available with a clear mention of the retraction.

Retraction of publication; Scientific misconduct; Guidelines