India ranks third — after China and the US — with regard to the number of biomedical and life sciences articles retracted due to plagiarism, a just-released study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) journal has revealed.
Germany , Japan, China and the US, meanwhile, accounted for three-quarters of the retractions due to fraud or suspected fraud, the study — titled ‘Misconduct accounts for majority of retracted scientific publications’ — stated. The study was made public on Monday.However, one of the authors of the study — Prof Ferric C Fang of the University of Washington — said it would be misleading to compare countries without "proper normalisation".
“I am not able to rank countries according to the true rate of retraction because I do not have data on the total number of articles published from each of country,” he said.
The retracted articles were authored in 56 countries. While India ranked sixth with regard to retracted articles on life sciences, it ranked third in the lists pertaining to those pulled back due to plagiarism and duplication.
Confirming a marked increase in the frequency of retractions, Professor Fang and his team of researchers found that 67.4% of the 2,047 retractions reviewed were on account of fraud, suspected fraud, plagiarism or duplication. Retractions due to errors stood at a relatively low 21.3%.
“The recent increase in fraud-related retractions cannot be attributed solely to an increase in the number of research publications. Retractions for fraud or suspected fraud as a percentage of the total articles have increased near tenfold since 1975,” the authors wrote.
A study conducted a few months ago, titled ‘Scientific misconduct in India’ by Indian Institute of Science professor T A Abinandanan, stated that the retraction rate of papers in India was higher than global average.
Rahul Siddharthan from the Institute of Mathematical Science, who had held a conference on academic ethics last year, said: “There should be guidelines on how to deal with misconduct, and these need to be implemented by all institutions.”