What is Retractions Australia?
Retractions Australia has launched an online resource dedicated to shedding light on scientific retractions – the removal of published research papers from scientific journals. Through an interactive tool known as the Retractions Australia Explorer, the website highlights retracted papers from researchers in Australia and New Zealand.
A scientific retraction is when a published scientific paper is removed from the academic record, and can be initiated by the authors themselves or by the publisher usually when inaccuracies or errors in the study are identified.
Retractions Australia uses data from Retraction Watch, a US website founded in 2010 by science journalist and physician Ivan Oransky and Adam Marcus. The website is known within the scientific community for tracking and analysing retractions.
Launched with permission and under license from Retraction Watch, Retractions Australia enables both researchers and the public to better understand the landscape of scientific retractions in Australia and New Zealand.
“We are always pleased to see organisations making use of The Retraction Watch Database,” said Ivan Oransky, co-founder of Retraction Watch and executive director of its parent non-profit, the Center For Scientific Integrity. “We have evidence that publicity about scientific misconduct and retractions can speed up the process of correction and cut down on the citation of retracted papers. Taken together, that makes us confident that the Retractions Australia effort will be a constructive force.”
What is the purpose of Retractions Australia?
“Retractions Australia grew out of a necessity to uphold scientific standards and public values of integrity and transparency,” said Professor Simon Gandevia, founder of Retractions Australia and deputy director of Neuroscience Research Australia (NeuRA). “As medical research is largely taxpayer-funded, it is important for the public to know when retractions take place.”
“As scientists, we have a responsibility to release high-quality research that adheres to rigorous, transparent, and reproducible standards,” added Professor Gandevia.
“Reliable and reproducible research not only creates a solid basis for further studies, but informs better decision-making and the development of evidence-based practices and policies. Importantly, it upholds the integrity of the scientific community and instils public trust in medical research.”
Quality Output Checklist and Content Assessment (QuOCCA) – part of the solution
Recognising the challenges associated with assessing research quality at both individual and organisational levels, led by Professor Gandevia, NeuRA’s Research Quality Committee has developed the QuOCCA (Quality Output Checklist and Content Assessment), a free and easy-to-use checklist designed to support researchers in conducting open, rigorous, and reproducible science.
To assist researchers in using the QuOCCA, NeuRA has developed an Instructional Guide, which provides step-by-step help. The guide is accessible online at: neura.edu.au/about/research-quality.
By providing researchers and institutions with tools that increase research transparency, both Retractions Australia and NeuRA aim to foster a culture of openness, reproducibility, and continuous improvement in scientific research.