Crossref acquired Retraction Watch data to open it for the scientific community  

The agreement means Crossref and Retraction Watch will combine to publicly distribute data about tens of thousands of retracted research papers and grow the service together. It also provides sustainability to Retraction Watch's work. 

The Center for Scientific Integrity, the organisation behind the Retraction Watch blog and database, and Crossref, the global infrastructure underpinning research communications, both not-for-profits, announced on 12 September 2023 that the Retraction Watch database has been acquired by Crossref and made a public resource. An agreement between the two organisations will allow Retraction Watch to keep the data populated on an ongoing basis and always open, alongside publishers registering their retraction notices directly with Crossref.

Both organisations have a shared mission to make it easier to assess the trustworthiness of scholarly outputs. Retractions are an important part of science and scholarship regulating themselves and are a sign that academic publishing is doing its job. But there are more journals and papers than ever, so identifying and tracking retracted papers has become much harder for publishers and readers. That, in turn, makes it difficult for readers and authors to know whether they are reading or citing work that has been retracted. Combining efforts to create the largest single open-source database of retractions reduces duplication, making it more efficient, transparent, and accessible for all.

The Center for Scientific Integrity and the Retraction Watch blog will remain separate from Crossref and will continue its journalistic work investigating retractions and related issues. The agreement with Crossref is confined to the database only and Crossref remains a neutral facilitator in efforts to assess the quality of scientific works. Both organisations consider publishers to be the primary stewards of the scholarly record and they are encouraged to continue to add retractions to their Crossref metadata as a priority.

Retraction Watch was founded by Ivan Oransky and Adam Marcus in 2010 as a journalism blog. With grant funding in 2014 and 2015, the two began compiling a database of retracted articles, which launched in 2018. It became very popular but financial constraints hampered its ability to be as comprehensive in its reach as it wanted. Bothe Oransky and Marcus volunteer for the project, although it now has two reporter-editors on staff, funded by a grant from the WoodNext Foundation. The deal with Crossref, with its consistent funding stream, guarantees the sustainability of the database and opens up the possibility of additional paid staff.

Supporting details

  • Crossref retractions number 14k, and the Retraction Watch database currently numbers 43k. There is some overlap, making a total of around 50k retractions.
  • The full dataset has been released through Crossref’s Labs API, initially as a .csv file to download directly: your ‘mailto’).
  • The Crossref Labs API also displays information about retractions in the /works/route when metadata is available, such as (add your ‘mailto’). If you don’t have a .json viewer, please see below for screenshot.
  • Crossref is paying an initial acquisition fee of $175,000 and will pay Retraction Watch $120,000 each year, increasing by 5% each year.
  • The initial term of the contract is 5 years..
  • An open FAQ documentis available to collect questions to be answered at the webinar.
  • This announcement will always be accessible via Crossref DOI; please use this persistent link for sharing.