Dynamics of cross-platform attention to retracted papers

Hao Peng, Daniel M. Romero, and Emőke-Ágnes Horvát

PNAS June 14, 2022 119 (25) e2119086119

Scientific retraction has been on the rise recently. Retracted papers are frequently discussed online, enabling the broad dissemination of potentially flawed findings. Our analysis spans a nearly 10-y period and reveals that most papers exhaust their attention by the time they get retracted, meaning that retractions cannot curb the online spread of problematic papers. This is striking as we also find that retracted papers are pervasive across mediums, receiving more attention after publication than nonretracted papers even on curated platforms, such as news outlets and knowledge repositories. Interestingly, discussions on social media express more criticism toward subsequently retracted results and may thus contain early signals related to unreliable work.

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