Here’s one article that won’t be making any top 50 papers list

Who doesn’t love a list? The 500 best rock songs of all time. The 100 tallest buildings on the planet. The 10 smartest dog breeds. The 14 silliest place-names on earth (with Middelfart, Denmark in the six-spot, you can only imagine the places you’ll go.)

In October, the Arthroscopy, Sports Medicine, and Rehabilitation tried – and failed – to publish its own ranking of important papers in the field. The article, “The Top 50 Articles on Knee Posterolateral Corner Injuries,” by a group at Tulane University in New Orleans, purported to give readers a run-down of the 50 most-cited papers on posterolateral corner injuries between 1976 and 2021.  

If you’re afraid of numbers, you might want to skip ahead. If not: Within the top 50 was a Top 10 list, capped by this 2009 review article, which, according to the authors, had garnered 205 citations – and amassed a citation density of 15.77 (citations divided by years in print) – since publication. 

Citation density, meet the dust. According to the retraction notice

This article has been retracted at the request of the authors. An investigation found that the authors did not correctly retrieve the data for this review and as a result, the authors have concluded that the study results are not reproducible, and the list of the top 50 articles on knee posterolateral corner injury contains errors.

The senior author of the study, Mary K. Mulcahey, did not respond to requests for comment, and we couldn’t get a reply from the editor, either. 

However, an Elsevier spokesperson told us: 

A complaint was made to the Editor-in-Chief on errors in reproducibility on 13 November 2022.  The Editor-in-Chief reviewed the complaint, sought advice from a number of Editorial Board members, and then contacted the corresponding authors. The authors acknowledged their methodology was flawed and requested a retraction on 1 December 2022 and the retraction was processed early this year, there was no misconduct.

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