Retraction Watch Database User Guide Appendix A: Fields


Field Search And Entry Hints
Author(s) Always start with the last name, entering letters until the suggestions listed below has the last name you are looking for.  Then scroll down the suggestions until you locate the name you want.

We are currently attempting to normalize all names, but as there is no consistency in how authors’ names are listed in journals, there may be several permutations of the same name.  Some journals publish first initial only, and the affiliations given are insufficient to determine the first name. Even last names may be different, especially in the cases of persons who use multiple combinations of first and surnames.  For example, Maria Jones Thomas Smith may appear in the suggestion list as “Smith, Maria Jones Thoms”, “Thomas-Smith, Maria Jones” or “Smith, Maria J T”. We have found that some authors (based on email usage cross-checked by CVs) have been published as “First Name, Last initial”, making normalization a very daunting task.  We are working on a resolution to this issue, but until that time, searches for a single author may require several checks of the Author field to locate all related notices.

Country(s) Countries are determined by the affiliations given.  In a few cases where affiliations are not given or may be fraudulent, Countries have been assigned based on subsequent information from Retraction Watch posts, or published (reliable) sources.  Multiple countries can be assigned based on the affiliations; the list is alphabetical by default.
Title The Title is that of the original article. Entering the Title from the first letter should bring back suggestions matching the character string. Using a title “cut and paste” method may or may not return the desired article.  Often, hidden character formats (such as spacing between hyphens or parentheses) may prevent the database from matching a “cut and paste”. The easiest thing to do in such cases as to remove all characters (left to right) from any hyphen, parentheses, or other non-letter character to the end to allow for the database to match the letter string and make a suggestion.  Clicking on the suggestion, then clicking on the Search button should return the desired title.
Reason(s) for Retraction Most entries have multiple reasons for retractions, which defaults to an alphabetical list.  Reasons for Corrections and Expressions of Concern are drawn from the same list as for retractions – there is no difference in definitions of reasons based on the Nature of the Notice.

Some “Reasons” are more descriptive of the nature of the notice, and not of the actual reason.  For example, “Notice – Lack of” indicates that the article was removed from the Table of Contents without any related notice, not that there is no reason for provided in a notice.  Appendix B gives descriptions of the individual reasons.

Searches in “Reason(s) for Retraction” allow for either free-text or drop-down menu selection, and the Boolean search criteria apply.

Subject(s) With the exception of those prefaced by (PUB), “Subjects” refer to the field of study most likely to be referenced or search for the information provided in the article. The Subject(s) field is the only field with two drop-down selections: the single arrow will return the list of all subjects, the serial drop-down will return only those with the same serial prefix.

The prefixes are:

(B/T): Business and Technology

(BLS): Basic Life Sciences

(ENV): Environmental Sciences

(HSC): Health Sciences


(PHY): Physical Sciences

(SOC): Social Sciences

Many articles do have overlap in subjects with different prefixes.  An article about hospital management and its effect on patient mortality may have subjects in both Business Technology and Health Sciences.  However, in order to prevent overload of subjects being assigned, only subjects perceived as the most relevant are selected – an admittedly subjective view.  We do welcome suggestions from experts in these fields as to changes or additions to the Subject(s) field.

The use of the (PUB) is to indicate whether a journal is published by an institution (e.g., university or governmental agency) or an association or society (e.g., Society of Toxicology).  Unfortunately, as many of the same journals are published using larger publishing firms, we found that the inputting of these indicators was not consistent. Therefore, until we have resources to resolve the inconsistencies, it is strongly recommended that searches and analyses using (PUB) be avoided.

Article Type(s) Article types refer to the type of the original article.  
Journal Journal names are taken from how the journal lists its name in its own website.  Entering the name will return a list of suggestions matching the character string, read from left to right.  Note: Some journals use “The” (as in “The Journal of…”) in its official title, even though colloquially the name is used with the “The”.  For example, the Journal of Biological Chemistry is listed as “The Journal of Biological Chemistry”, and searches using just “Journal of Biological Chemistry” will not return a matching suggestion, although the database will return all journals with that character string if the Search button is clicked.  Therefore, if after entering a journal name no suggestion is given as a drop-down, try either adding “The” in front of the name, or just click on the Search button to see what journals are returned.

The Journal field can be used as free text or drop down.  If free text is used, the database will return entries matching the search string.  If the drop-down menu is selected, only the entries for that selection will be return.  Therefore, if all journals titles with the word “Biochemistry” is desired, just type “*Biochemistry*” and click on the Search button.  If only the journal “Biochemistry” is desired, use the drop-down button to find and select “Biochemistry” from the list, then click on the Search button.

In some cases, Journals have changed names between the time the original article was published, and the publishing of the relevant notice.  In such cases, the most recent name is used, and the comment “Journal formerly known as ….” will be placed in the Notes field.

Publisher Like Journal, the Publisher field can be used as free text or by the drop-down menu, and selecting from the drop-down menu will return entries for only that publisher.  Also like Journals, Publishers may change several times over a Journals’ lifetime. However, because Journals may cycle to and from a particular Publisher, or may have several Publisher changes, generally no comment is made in Notes concerning past Publisher’s unless pertinent to the entry.
Affiliation(s) Searches in affiliations are free text.  We do not yet have the resources to normalize the affiliation information, so searches for a particular institution may require several permutations of the name.  The affiliations are generally taken verbatim from the original article. They are entered in the same order as in the original article, but there should be no association made between the order of authors and the order of the affiliations.  When no affiliations are available from the original articles, affiliations may be determined from other papers by the sme authors during the same time frame. In such cases, a comment to such effect would be made in the Notes section.
Notes A free text field containing extra comments concerning the article, authors, journal of publisher.  May contain links to non-Retraction Watch stories. Free text searches do best with the use of the wildcard symbol *
URL The URLs apply to a single Retraction Watch post, or may apply to a general name or subject having several posts.  
Original Paper Box Refers to the article about which the notice is published
Retraction or Other Notices Box Refers to the Notice published concerning the original article
From Date Use the MM/DD/YYYY format.
To Use the MM/DD/YYYY format
PubMedID From the PMID field in PubMed Entries. All zeros or empty indicates no PMID found at the time the article was entered.  Some retractions have been indexed in PubMed multiple times. The lowest number is the one entered into the database.
DOI “Unavailable” or empty field indicates no DOI was apparent at the time the article was entered into the database.
Nature of Notice Searches are made by drop down menu only, and only a single type of notice can be searched at a time.
Paywalled Searches are made by drop down menu only, and only a single type of paywall status can be searched at a time.