Technology article retractions rise in the developing world

A recent bibliometric study of article retractions in the technology field from developing countries reveals that the number of retractions has increased over the past 20 years, with an annual growth rate of 20.79%.

Authored by Metwaly Eldakar at Minia University in Egypt and Ahmed Shehata at Sultan Qaboos University in Oman, the study published in Scientometrics on 20 September analysed retractions of technology-related publications from 1998-2022 in 90 countries in the Arab world, Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean.

A retracted publication is the original article that has been withdrawn from the public domain. Although it may still be available in archives or online databases, it should not be relied upon as a source of information as it is considered unreliable.

Technology fields in this study refer to academic disciplines that involve the application of scientific knowledge to create new products, services or processes that aim to solve problems or meet human needs including engineering, computer science, information technology and other related fields.

According to the study, 7,529 authors published the retracted technology articles with affiliations to 1,300 institutes and universities from 72 countries. In addition, all 3,703 retracted articles received 34,167 citations, with an average number of citations of 9.22.

The study found that the first retracted article was published in 1998, growing to a total of 2,412 in 2017. “Divided into 12-year and 13-year periods, the retraction trend indicates that the first period, 1998–2009, included 749 retracted publications, and the second period (2010-2021), which included 2,954 retracted publications, represents a considerable increase in retracted publications in recent years.

“This increase in withdrawals is worrying because incorrect data can cause bias in new technologies,” the study’s authors note.


The study put forward several recommendations for higher educational institutions in developing countries to reduce retraction numbers by fostering a culture of integrity.

These measures include educating scholars about academic ethics through comprehensive training on ethical conduct, responsible research methodologies and the consequences of misconduct.

They also include enhancing collaborative research practices by nurturing trust and the careful selection of collaborators. The need for adequate research funding was also highlighted as well as the establishment of robust systems for evaluating research, prioritising quality and impact over quantity and implementing transparent peer reviews.

The study also called for the establishment or strengthening of research ethics committees comprised of experts from various disciplines who review research proposals and protocols to ensure adherence to ethical guidelines.

Collaboration with international partners, especially those with strong research integrity practices, would facilitate valuable knowledge exchange and mentorship opportunities, it said.

Publication of research in reputable and peer-reviewed journals that have rigorous review processes in place to uphold research integrity was also important, the study noted.

Reasons for retraction

Using the Retraction Watch Database, the study found that most reasons for retractions were policy breaches by the author at 44.3% and journal-publisher investigations which accounted for 40.9% of retractions.

Other reasons included fake peer reviews, duplication and plagiarism, problems in referencing and-or attributions and misconduct by the author and rogue editors.

The study also highlighted the problem of retracted articles continuing to receive citations. For example, from 1998-2009 retracted publications received 7,811 citations, while during 2010-2022 retracted articles received 26,356 citations.

The study suggested that this ongoing citation cycle may be the result of a lack of awareness about retracted articles by people who rely on unreliable sources to obtain accurate information about retractions, such as predatory journals.

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