The Impact of Retractions on Collaboration Networks and Scientific Careers: An Analysis of Academic Social Control

Project Summary

Retracting academic papers serves as a fundamental mechanism for maintaining social control within the academic community. While retractions are typically reserved for extreme circumstances involving scientific validity or author integrity, their consequences can significantly affect retracted authors and their careers. Existing research has examined the effects of retractions on citations and co-authors’ citations, yet it has not fully explored the underlying mechanisms that drive these effects. Specifically, little is known about how retracted authors’ collaboration networks are affected, including the potential loss of established collaborations and challenges in forming new ones. The possibility of scientists avoiding retracted peers adds to the significance of retractions as a general mechanism for social control.

To bridge this gap, we leverage comprehensive retraction data linked to the Microsoft Academic Graph and analyze the collaboration networks of retracted scientists, comparing them with a control group of scientists without retractions. Additionally, we measure the attention given to retractions using Altmetric data. Our findings reveal that retracted authors face negative consequences, with over 20% of them leaving publishing careers as a result. Furthermore, we observe that retractions attracting widespread attention are associated with a higher likelihood of authors leaving scientific careers. These findings shed light on the impact of retractions on collaboration networks and scientific careers, highlighting the implications of academic social control.

Characteristics of retracted authors


1. “Characterizing the effect of retraction on careers of scientists” at IC2S2 2022, Chicago, IL, and ICSSI 2023, Chicago, IL.

2. Exploring the impact of scientific retractions on academic reputation”, at WTFNS Workshop 2023, NYU, New York.

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