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High retraction rate of Chinese articles: it is time to do something about academic misconduct
  1. Yu Xiao1,2,
  2. Jia Chen3,
  3. Xiao-hong Wu4,
  4. Qin-ming Qiu5
  1. 1Psychosomatic Medical Center, The Clinical Hospital of Chengdu Brain Science Institute, MOE Key Laboratory for Neuroinformation, University of Electronic Science and Technology of China, Chengdu, China
  2. 2Psychosomatic Medical Center, The Fourth People's Hospital of Chengdu, Chengdu, China
  3. 3Department of Psychiatry, The Fourth People's Hospital of Chengdu, Chengdu, China
  4. 4Nursing Department, Sichuan Cancer Hospital and Institute, Chengdu, China
  5. 5Department of Psychiatry, Huzhou Third People's Hospital, Huzhou, China
  1. Correspondence to Dr Yu Xiao, Psychosomatic Medical Center, The Clinical Hospital of Chengdu Brain Science Institute, MOE Key Lab for Neuroinformation, University of Electronic Science and Technology of China, Chengdu, China; xiaoy3{at}outlook.com

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As researchers, we found the article, ‘Peer reviews. A peer reviewer’s view’1 thought provoking. The author states that a detailed analysis of retracted papers reveals that faked peer reviews are not uncommon. Shockingly, 75% of 250 retracted papers that had faked peer review were written by Chinese authors.2 Nowadays, because researchers are eager to be recognised and cited, the peer review system is greatly challenged. Between 2007 and 2018, the retraction rate of Chinese authors’ Science Citation Index (SCI) papers was the highest in the world, reaching 22.7/10 000 papers, five times that of the USA.3 Retractions were issued because of fraud, inconsistent reporting, plagiarism, mistakes, duplication, legal and ethical concerns, and disputed authorship. A study shows that the article types which are frequently retracted are original research works, randomised trials and reviews, and there is a strong association between the retracted items and the total number of publications across countries.4 Inappropriate statistical analysis is a common reason for retractions in top journals, while plagiarism in reviews is a problem in lower-impact periodicals.4 Lei and Zhang pointed out that in the past 20 years, the number of retracted papers from Chinese authors had been increasing, three-quarters of which were triggered by fake peer review, plagiarism and falsification.5 Although this problem has occurred frequently with Chinese papers, it is not just a Chinese problem, but a question of how scientists should be evaluated. Since Chinese scholars play an increasingly important role in global scientific research, it is necessary to have a general discussion on the causes and countermeasures for academic misconduct.

One important cause of misconduct is that the academic evaluation system is unreasonable. In China, the scientific evaluation function of SCI …

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Footnotes

  • Contributors YX conceived the article. YX and X-hW wrote the first draft, which was critically revised by JC and Q-mQ. All authors approved the final version of the manuscript. YX is responsible for the overall content as a guarantor.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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