The Oxford English Dictionary (2018) defines retraction as "the action or fact of revoking or rescinding a decision, decree, etc." A more thorough definition is, "the action of withdrawing a statement, accusation, etc., which is now admitted to be erroneous or unjustified... recantation; an instance of this; a statement of making such a withdrawal."
When a retraction is applied to academic or scholarly publishing, it indicates that an article was withdrawn from the publication in which it appeared after it was published. A retraction is issued through a decision made by the publication's editorial board.
In a database search, an article may have "RETRACTED" appear before its title in its brief record. A retraction notice may also appear in search results. Also, the full text of a research article may be labeled, "Retracted." Both of these indicate that an article has been retracted. See the "Identifying Retractions" tab for examples.
Source: Oxford University Press (2018, July). OED online. http://www.oed.com/view/Entry/164384
Identifying retracted articles. When finding articles in a database, its brief record may indicate if it is retracted (Image 1), and the article may have a "retracted" label across its content (Image 2). The editorial board of a publication will release a retraction notice to publicize their retraction decision (Image 3).
Reasons for retractions. Retractions frequently occur because of research misconduct. Research misconduct is defined by the National Science Foundation (2018) as one or all of the following:
Retractions can also occur because of dishonest or unethical behavior that does not fall under commonly accepted definitions of research misconduct. Such behavior may include:
Retractions do not always indicate that research misconduct or unethical actions occurred. Articles may also be retracted for the following reasons:
Source: National Science Foundation (2018). Key regulations. Retrieved from https://www.nsf.gov/oig/regulations/
Find Retracted Articles
Searching Databases for Retracted Publications or Articles
In a database or Google Scholar search, try using one of these keywords in a search:
Some databases also have the option to search for retracted, corrected, or republished articles: