The Schön case: Analyzing in-text citations to papers before and after retraction

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The Schön case: Analyzing in-text citations to papers before and after retraction

Type: Article in monograph or in proceedings
Title: The Schön case: Analyzing in-text citations to papers before and after retraction
Author: Luwel M.Eck N.J. vanLeeuwen T. van
Journal Title: STI 2018 Conference Proceedings
Start Page: 1025
End Page: 1030
Publisher: Centre for Science and Technology Studies (CWTS)
Issue Date: 2018-09-11
Keywords: Scientometrics
Abstract: Although only a small fraction of all scientific publications is retracted for misconduct, it has a profound impact on the research community, policy makers and the public at large. Indeed, over the last decades scientific integrity became a hot issue in science policy. Moreover, papers retracted for fraud or other reasons should not be cited or used anymore. Although in most cases they are earmarked as retracted in bibliographic databases and in the electronic version of journals, they often remain cited a long time after the retraction notice is published. The misconduct case of Jan Hendrik Schön is a well know example. It attracted a lot of attention due to the renown of the researcher’s institute, the claims and the sheer number of publications involved. This researcher co-authored more than 100 papers and rose through prominence at the turn of the century with a number of apparent ground breaking discoveries in materials science. In September 2002, an investigation commissioned by Bell Labs, his employer, concluded that 17 papers contained manipulation and misrepresentation of data. They were retracted along with an additional 14 papers based on them Other papers raised suspicion among the co-authors and the scientific community. Notwithstanding all the rumors provoked by this scandal in the physics community, the retracted papers remained cited even several years after they were removed from the body of literature. To get insight in the role of citations to Schön’s oeuvre in citing publications, natural language processing techniques on publications’ full text are used. The main questions are: to what extent, in what sections in the citing publications and in what context are papers co-authored by Schön cited. We make a distinction between retracted and non-retracted papers and between the citations that papers receive before and after the results of the fraud investigation became publicly available.

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