A randomized trial alerting authors, with or without co-authors or editors, that research they cited in systematic reviews and guidelines has been retracted

Alison Avenell* (Corresponding Author), Mark J Bolland, Greg D Gamble, Andrew Grey

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Retracted clinical trials may be influential in citing systematic reviews and clinical guidelines. We assessed the influence of 27 retracted trials on systematic reviews and clinical guidelines (citing publications), then alerted authors to these retractions. Citing publications were randomized to up to three e-mails to contact author with/without up to two coauthors, with/without the editor. After one year we assessed corrective action. We included 88 citing publications; 51% (45/88) had findings likely to change if retracted trials were removed, 87% (39/45) likely substantially. 51% (44/86) of contacted citing publications replied. Including three authors rather than the contact author alone was more likely to elicit a reply (P = 0.03). Including the editor did not increase replies (P = 0.66). Whether findings were judged likely to change, and size of the likely change, had no effect on response rate or action taken. One year after e-mails were sent only nine publications had published notifications. E-Mail alerts to authors and editors are inadequate to correct the impact of retracted publications in citing systematic reviews and guidelines. Changes to bibliographic and referencing systems, and submission processes are needed. Citing publications with retracted citations should be marked until authors resolve concerns.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)14-37
Number of pages24
JournalAccountability in Research
Volume31
Issue number1
Early online date26 Jun 2022
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2024

Bibliographical note

We thank Paul Manson, Information Specialist at the Health Services Research Unit, University of Aberdeen, for assistance with references obtained from Web of Science.

Data Availability Statement

Study data are either available in the public domain or can be obtained from the lead author upon reasonable request.

Keywords

  • publication integrity
  • retraction
  • systematic review
  • clinical guideline
  • impact

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