Costly collaborations : the impact of scientific fraud on co-authors’ careers
Article [Accepted Manuscript]
Is part ofJournal of the association for information science and technology ; vol. 67, no. 3, pp. 535-542.
Publisher(s)Association for information science and technology
Over the last few years, several major scientific fraud cases have shocked the scientific community. The number of retractions each year has also increased tremendously, especially in the biomedical field, and scientific misconduct accounts for approximately more than half of those retractions. It is assumed that co-authors of retracted papers are affected by their colleagues’ misconduct, and the aim of this study is to provide empirical evidence of the effect of retractions in biomedical research on co-authors’ research careers. Using data from the Web of Science (WOS), we measured the productivity, impact and collaboration of 1,123 co-authors of 293 retracted articles for a period of five years before and after the retraction. We found clear evidence that collaborators do suffer consequences of their colleagues’ misconduct, and that a retraction for fraud has higher consequences than a retraction for error. Our results also suggest that the extent of these consequences is closely linked with the ranking of co-authors on the retracted paper, being felt most strongly by first authors, followed by the last authors, while the impact is less important for middle authors.