Call for Papers: Retractions and their Discontents

Guest Editors: Christopher J. Ferguson, Nicholas Brown

Retractions of scientific articles have been increasing steadily over the past 20 years. Articles are retracted, either by the journal that published them or by the authors themselves, because of major scientific flaws (sometimes, but not always, due to misconduct), but also on occasion when they have come under intense scrutiny because their conclusions are socially or politically controversial.

Yet, although they are an integral de facto part of the scientific landscape, very little study has been made of retractions as a (meta-)scientific phenomenon. Whether this is because scientists tend to find discussions of the subject rather distasteful, or simply because they haven't thought much about it, is unclear. With this special issue of Current Psychology, we hope to stimulate discussion of all aspects of the "unpublication" of scientific articles.

Possible topics might include the following, or variations thereon:

  • The relationship between retractions and inquiries into possible scientific misconduct
  • The role of editors and publishers, and their possible conflicts of interest
  • When is retraction the appropriate action, versus an expression of concern or a correction?
  • What should be the "due process" rights of authors whose articles are slated for retraction?
  • How do, or should, the criteria for retracting an article differ from those for accepting or rejecting it in the first place?
  • What is, or should be, the role of criteria other than the purely scientific in a decision to retract?
  • Empirical analyses of the circumstances of when and why retractions occur, the relation between retractions and journal metrics, or any other quantitative meta-science about the phenomenon of retraction
  • Analyses of retraction efforts, why some succeed and some fail
  • Analyses of scholars' opinions of retractions and if these are associated with resistance to their use

The above list should not be treated as a table of contents; rather, if you have an idea for an article and you can imagine its 15-word summary fitting into that list, we would like to hear from you!

While the principal focus will be on retractions within psychology, submissions that discuss related issues that are more relevant to other scientific fields will also be considered. Manuscripts that take a broad approach to a topic within the overall subject area are more likely to be accepted than detailed case studies of particular retracted papers.

Submission Deadline: May 1, 2022