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, 65 (6), 814-845

The Visibility of Scientific Misconduct: A Review of the Literature on Retracted Journal Articles


The Visibility of Scientific Misconduct: A Review of the Literature on Retracted Journal Articles

Felicitas Hesselmann et al. Curr Sociol.


Retractions of scientific articles are becoming the most relevant institution for making sense of scientific misconduct. An increasing number of retracted articles, mainly attributed to misconduct, is currently providing a new empirical basis for research about scientific misconduct. This article reviews the relevant research literature from an interdisciplinary context. Furthermore, the results from these studies are contextualized sociologically by asking how scientific misconduct is made visible through retractions. This study treats retractions as an emerging institution that renders scientific misconduct visible, thus, following up on the sociology of deviance and its focus on visibility. The article shows that retractions, by highlighting individual cases of misconduct and general policies for preventing misconduct while obscuring the actors and processes through which retractions are effected, produce highly fragmented patterns of visibility. These patterns resemble the bifurcation in current justice systems.

Keywords: Retractions; scientific misconduct; sociology of deviance; sociology of science; visibility.

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    1. Abritis A. (2015) An assessment of retractions as a measure of scientific misconduct and impact on public health risks. Graduate Theses and Dissertations, University of South Florida.
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