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Profile of retracted articles by Brazilian authors

Researchers from the Federal University of Pernambuco (UFPE) examined the profile of scientific articles published by Brazilian authors and later retracted between 2002 and 2019. Based on data from the Retraction Watch website, the group identified 162 articles retracted in the period, of which almost 60% involved misconduct—the most common cases were duplicate or adulterated images (14.2% of the total); plagiarism or self-plagiarism (12.2%); and falsified or manipulated results (5.4%). Another 19% were retracted due to errors made in good faith and 14.8% due to mistakes made by the journals themselves. In 6.1% of cases, it was not possible to determine the reason for the retraction. The study was published in the journal Transinformação in November.

Most of the retractions were in the biosciences (27 articles retracted for misconduct and 9 for errors), clinical and experimental medicine (15 for misconduct and 8 for errors), and chemistry (21 for misconduct and 1 for errors). Karen Santos-d’Amorim, an information scientist from the Department of Information Sciences at UFPE and the lead author of the study, explains that a large number of papers are published in these fields. “It’s not surprising that they also have more articles retracted,” he says. The University of Campinas (UNICAMP) and the University of São Paulo (USP) were the institutions with the most papers retracted, at 35 and 19 respectively. They were followed by São Paulo State University (UNESP) and the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul (UFRGS), with 6 articles each, then the federal universities of Mato Grosso (UFMT), Espírito Santo (UFES), Minas Gerais (UFMG), Viçosa (UFV), and the State University of Maringá (UEM), with 3 articles each.

In her study, Santos-d’Amorim observed that of the 114 journals that retracted articles by Brazilian authors, 31 were from Brazil, such as Jornal de Pediatria and the Brazilian Journal of Biology. According to her, this suggests that editorial policies related to retraction are not limited to international publications, but are also widespread in Brazil. “The country is investing in initiatives designed to promote research integrity and more editors are feeling encouraged to invest in policies of this nature,” said the researcher. The survey by the UFPE group also calculated the reach of journals that retracted articles by Brazilian authors: 24 retractions occurred in journals with an impact factor (IF) greater than 5—this means that on average, papers in these journals are cited in at least five others. Another 52 were retracted by titles with an IF of between 2 and 5; 25 in journals with an IF lower than 2; and 36 in journals with no measured impact factor.