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Characteristics of Retracted Research Articles About COVID-19 vs Other Topics

Educational Objective
To identify the key insights or developments described in this article
1 Credit CME

Manuscript retractions represent attempts to officially withdraw published papers or posted preprints that contain errors, fraud, or other kinds of misconduct. Retractions have increased in both number and prominence over the past 2 decades.1,2 More recently, concerns have been raised about the number of retracted COVID-19 studies.3 While these retractions may be due to greater external scrutiny of COVID-19 literature, little is known about the potential differences between retracted COVID-19 studies and studies on other topics. Accordingly, in this cross-sectional study, we compared author characteristics and reasons for retractions of COVID-19 and non–COVID-19 research articles.

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CME Disclosure Statement: Unless noted, all individuals in control of content reported no relevant financial relationships. If applicable, all relevant financial relationships have been mitigated.

Article Information

Accepted for Publication: August 16, 2022.

Published: October 4, 2022. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2022.34585

Open Access: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the CC-BY License. © 2022 Shi X et al. JAMA Network Open.

Corresponding Author: Joshua D. Wallach, PhD, MS, Department of Environmental Health Sciences, Yale School of Public Health, 60 College St, Floor 4, Rm 411, New Haven, CT 06510 (joshua.wallach@yale.edu).

Author Contributions: Ms Shi and Dr Wallach had full access to all of the data in the study and takes responsibility for the integrity of the data and the accuracy of the data analysis.

Concept and design: Shi, Ross, Wallach.

Acquisition, analysis, or interpretation of data: All authors.

Drafting of the manuscript: Shi, Wallach.

Critical revision of the manuscript for important intellectual content: All authors.

Statistical analysis: Shi, Wallach.

Administrative, technical, or material support: Shi.

Supervision: Shi, Abritis, Oransky, Wallach.

Conflict of Interest Disclosures: Ms Shi reported grant funding by the China Scholarship Council and the Yale Graduate School of Arts and Sciences outside the submitted work. Dr Abritis reported employment with The Center For Scientific Integrity, which developed and maintains the Retraction Watch Database. Dr Oransky reported voluntary service as executive director of The Center For Scientific Integrity, a nonprofit organization which is funded through database licensing fees, a subcontract from the University of Illinois on a Howard Hughes Medical Institute grant, and donations from individuals. Dr Ross reported service as cofounder of medRxiv, former Associate Editor of JAMA Internal Medicine, and current Research Editor at BMJ; he reported receiving research support through Yale University from Johnson and Johnson to develop methods of clinical trial data sharing, from the Medical Device Innovation Consortium as part of the National Evaluation System for Health Technology, the US Food and Drug Administration for the Yale-Mayo Clinic Center for Excellence in Regulatory Science and Innovation program (grant No. U01FD005938), the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (grant No. R01HS022882), the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health (R01HS025164, R01HL144644), and the Laura and John Arnold Foundation to establish the Good Pharma Scorecard at Bioethics International outside the submitted work; in addition, Dr Ross reported serving as an expert witness in a qui tam suit alleging violations of the False Claims Act and Anti-Kickback Statute against Biogen Inc. Dr Wallach reported receiving grant support by the US Food and Drug Administration, Arnold Ventures, Johnson & Johnson through Yale University, and the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism of the National Institutes of Health under award No. 1K01AA028258; he reported serving as a consultant for Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro LLP and Dugan Law Firm APLC.

References
1.
Brainard  J .  Rethinking retractions.   Science. 2018;362(6413):390-393. doi:10.1126/science.362.6413.390PubMedGoogle ScholarCrossref
2.
Lievore  C , Rubbo  P , Dos Santos  CB , Picinin  CT , Pilatti  LA .  Research ethics: a profile of retractions from world class universities.   Scientometrics. 2021;126(8):6871-6889. doi:10.1007/s11192-021-03987-yPubMedGoogle ScholarCrossref
3.
Abritis  A , Marcus  A , Oransky  I .  An “alarming” and “exceptionally high” rate of COVID-19 retractions?   Account Res. 2021;28(1):58-59. doi:10.1080/08989621.2020.1793675PubMedGoogle ScholarCrossref
4.
The Center for Scientific Integrity. The Retraction Watch Database. Accessed May 27, 2022. http://retractiondatabase.org/
5.
Cortegiani  A , Catalisano  G , Ippolito  M , Giarratano  A , Absalom  AR , Einav  S .  Retracted papers on SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19.   Br J Anaesth. 2021;126(4):e155-e156. doi:10.1016/j.bja.2021.01.008PubMedGoogle ScholarCrossref
6.
Anderson  C , Nugent  K , Peterson  C .  Academic journal retractions and the COVID-19 pandemic.   J Prim Care Community Health. 2021;12:21501327211015592. doi:10.1177/21501327211015592PubMedGoogle ScholarCrossref
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