Reducing the residue of retractions in evidence synthesis: ways to minimise inappropriate citation and use of retracted data

Caitlin Bakker, Stephanie Boughton, Clovis Mariano Faggion, Daniele Fanelli, Kathryn Kaiser, Jodi Schneider*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
48 Downloads (Pure)


The incorporation of publications that have been retracted is a risk in reliable evidence synthesis. Retraction is an important mechanism for correcting the literature and protecting its integrity. Within the medical literature, the continued citation of retracted publications occurs for a variety of reasons. Recent evidence suggests that systematic reviews and meta-analyses often unwittingly cite retracted publications which, at least in some cases, may significantly impact quantitative effect estimates in meta-analyses. There is strong evidence that authors of systematic reviews and meta-analyses may be unaware of the retracted status of publications and treat them as if they are not retracted. These problems are difficult to address for several reasons: identifying retracted publications is important but logistically challenging; publications may be retracted while a review is in preparation or in press and problems with a publication may also be discovered after the evidence synthesis is published. We propose a set of concrete actions that stakeholders (eg, scientists, peer-reviewers, journal editors) might take in the near-term, and that research funders, citation management systems, and databases and search engines might take in the longer term to limit the impact of retracted primary studies on evidence syntheses.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere111921
JournalBMJ Evidence-Based Medicine
Early online date18 Jul 2023
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 18 Jul 2023


  • Retraction of Publication as Topic
  • Evidence-Based Practice
  • Information Storage and Retrieval
  • Publishing
  • Systematic Reviews as Topic


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