Skip to main content
Below is a case of a retracted yet highly cited study.
You will use various tools and library resources to investigate this retracted article, in an attempt to make a conclusion as to the ethical and other issues surrounding this case.
Retraction: An Introduction
A "work consisting of the designation of an article or book as retracted in whole or in part by an author or authors or an authorized representative. It identifies a citation previously published and now retracted through a formal issuance from the author, publisher, or other authorized agent..."
A comprehensive survey of retracted articles from the scholarly literature
Grieneisen ML, Zhang M. A comprehensive survey of retracted articles from the scholarly literature. PLoS One. 2012;7(10):e44118. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0044118. Epub 2012 Oct 24. PubMed PMID: 23115617; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3480361.
From the abstract:
Retracted articles occur across the full spectrum of scholarly disciplines. Most retracted articles do not contain flawed data; and the authors of most retracted articles have not been accused of research misconduct. Fifteen prolific individuals accounted for more than half of all retractions due to alleged research misconduct.
Science publishing: The trouble with retractions
Van Noorden R. Science publishing: The trouble with retractions. Nature. 2011 Oct 5;478(7367):26-8. doi: 10.1038/478026a. PubMed PMID: 21979026.
Has nice image of retraction notices by year.
Why Has the Number of Scientific Retractions Increased?
Steen RG, Casadevall A, Fang FC. Why has the number of scientific retractions increased? PLoS One. 2013 Jul 8;8(7):e68397. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0068397.
Print 2013. Erratum in: PLoS One. 2013;8(7).
doi:10.1371/annotation/0d28db18-e117-4804-b1bc-e2da285103ac. PubMed PMID:
23861902; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3704583.
The increase in retracted articles appears to reflect changes in the behavior of both authors and institutions. Lower barriers to publication of flawed articles are seen in the increase in number and proportion of retractions by authors with a single retraction. Lower barriers to retraction are apparent in an increase in retraction for “new” offenses such as plagiarism and a decrease in the time-to-retraction of flawed work.
Retraction policies of top scientific journals ranked by impact factor
Resnik DB, Wager E, Kissling GE. Retraction policies of top scientific journals ranked by impact factor. J Med Libr Assoc. 2015 Jul;103(3):136-9. doi:10.3163/1536-5050.103.3.006. PubMed PMID: 26213505; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4511053.
From the abstract:
One hundred forty-seven journals (74%) responded to a request for information. Of these, 95 (65%) had a retraction policy. Of journals with a retraction policy, 94% had a policy that allows the editors to retract articles without authors' consent.
Locating retracted publications in databases (U Mass Amherst)
Similar methods may be used to locate retractions in databases, although no single method is obvious. Searching various databases for title entries including 'retracted article' or 'retracted publication' or 'retraction of publication' produces results that include articles that have been retracted, and occasionally include other uses of the search terms as well.
Scientific Misconduct, Expressions of Concern, and Retraction (International Committee of Medical Journal Editors)
Scientific misconduct includes but is not necessarily limited to data fabrication; data falsification including deceptive manipulation of images; and plagiarism. When scientific misconduct is alleged, or concerns are otherwise raised about the conduct or integrity of work described in submitted or published papers, the editor should initiate appropriate procedures ... and if the investigation proves scientific misconduct, publish a retraction of the article.
Citation Analysis of the Retracted Article
Find citing articles in Web of Science
How many times has this article been cited in Web of Science? How recent is the most recent citing article? How many times has the citing article that itself has been cited the most been cited?
Find citing articles in Scopus
How many times has this article been cited in Scopus? How recent is the most recent citing article? How many times has the citing article that itself has been cited the most been cited?
Extra credit: Can you find the citing articles from UC Berkeley authors? Do you see a common theme among these three?
Find citing articles in Google Scholar
How many times has this article been cited in Google Scholar? (Note: This number is likely highly inflated due to duplicate entries). How recent is the most recent citing article? How many times has the citing article that itself has been cited the most been cited?
About the Author
Author Profile in Scopus
Hint: Search using last name and first name.: Kumar, Ranjit
Note the number of publications, the number of co-authors, and the number of citations.
Google Patent Search
Hint: Search last name, first name.
Notice anything about what he is patenting..?
Personal Website (available via the Internet Archive)
His personal website (http://drrkchandra.com) is gone. However, put the URL in an Internet Archive Wayback Machine search (using the link above), and pick a date in the past to view it.
The Controversy and Possible Outcomes
RetractionWatch Story: Lancet retracts 24-year-old paper by “father of nutritional immunology” after reopening inquiry
Following questions from outside experts, a retraction of a related paper, a university investigation and a court case, The Lancet has [in January 2016] decided to retract a 1992 paper by Ranjit Kumar Chandra, the self-proclaimed “father of nutritional immunology.”
Ranjit Kumar Chandra ... is a researcher in the field of nutrition and immunology who has been accused of committing scientific fraud .... His fraud was also the subject of a 2006 documentary by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. A jury trial in July, 2015, concluded that the allegations of fraud were truthful. Due to these allegations, a number of his scientific articles have been subject to retractions.
More from RetractionWatch: After court verdict, BMJ retracts 26-year-old paper
Today [28 October 2015], The BMJ retracted a 1989 paper about the role of breastfeeding and formula in infant eczema — 20 years after the data were called into question by a university report.
The continued use of retracted, invalid scientific literature.
Pfeifer MP, Snodgrass GL. The continued use of retracted, invalid scientific literature. JAMA. 1990 Mar 9;263(10):1420-3. PubMed PMID: 2406475.
From the Abstract:
Little is known about the ultimate scientific fate of retracted, invalid literature. We identified 82 completely retracted articles by electronic and manual methods and measured their subsequent use in the scientific literature by performing citation analysis. After retraction, these studies were cited, for support of scientific concepts, 733 times.
Retractions (National Bureau of Economic Research Working Paper 18499)
One finding: New articles and funding flows into fields represented by retracted articles decrease after a retraction.
... Is this bad?