Find Retractions Using PubMed and My NCBI!


Researchers agree that citing retracted articles can be embarrassing.  It’s easy to overlook that research has been retracted. Sometimes retractions are buried in the editorial pages of a journal.  Not all retracted literature makes a big splash in a field or in the general press, so it can be easy to miss these notices.

PubMed tracks these notices in the literature, including follow up comments, erratum, corrected and republished work, partial or complete retractions and updates.  Of the 22 million plus records in PubMed there are over a million records that have these notes.  The most common notes are comments on an article.  Just over 5,000 records have some type of retraction note. It can be like finding a needle in a haystack!

Special keywords are noted in the “Comment Correction Type” field of PubMed records:

  • Comment in: hascommentin
  • Comment on: hascommenton
  • Erratum in: haserratumin
  • Erratum for:: haserratumfor
  • Corrected and republished in: hascorrectedrepublishedin
  • Corrected and republished from: hascorrectedrepublishedfrom
  • Partial Retraction in: haspartialretractionin
  • Partial Retraction of: haspartialretractionof
  • Republished in: hasrepublishedin
  • Republished from: hasrepublishedfrom
  • Retraction in: hasretractionin
  • Retraction of: hasretractionof
  • Update in: hasupdatein
  • Update of: hasupdateof

These notices appear in the Abstract display of records in PubMed, so you can search for these notes. Use the search strategy below to find these records.

hascommentin or hascommenton or haserratumin or haserratumfor or hascorrectedrepublishedin or hascorrectedrepublishedfrom or haspartialretractionin or haspartialretractionof or hasrepublishedin or hasrepublishedfrom or hasretractionin or hasretractionof or hasupdatein or hasupdateof

Add your subject at the end of the search strategy and you can find articles that have these added notes.  For example:
hascommentin OR hascommenton OR haserratumin OR haserratumfor OR hascorrectedrepublishedin OR hascorrectedrepublishedfrom OR haspartialretractionin OR haspartialretractionof OR hasrepublishedin OR hasrepublishedfrom OR hasretractionin OR hasretractionof OR hasupdatein OR hasupdateof AND p53

PubMed Retracted search

How can you follow these notes and monitor their impact on your research?  My NCBI offers two ways to track retractions using automated methods.

(Don’t want to have to follow these instructions? Ask Us! to meet with you
and mention this post – it will take a librarian 5 minutes to get these set up!)

You can –

  1. set up a filter via My NCBI to catch retractions within your results as you are searching
  2. set up a search topic alert on your topic of research to stay on top of retractions.

You must first sign up for a My NCBI account if you don’t have one already. This is simple – you choose your own password, and NLM/NCBI does not send any email to you besides the search topic alerts you request.

To set up your filter, click on the “Manage Filters” link to the right of your results.  Then select the “Properties” option. Click to open the Publication Types list, then scroll down the list and check the boxes next to “Retracted Publication” and “Retraction of Publication”.

PubMed Retracted Filter

Once you’ve selected these filters, you will see subsets to the right of your results.  Simply click on the subset to note which articles in your set have been retracted.

PubMed Retracted Filter2

To set up your email alert, be sure to start at the Library’s PubMed link and include
AND (“retraction of publication”[Filter] OR “retracted publication”[Filter])
in your search strategy. Then click the “Save Search” under the search box.

PubMed Retracted search

Select your delivery interval, Abstract format, increase the number of results, and then click save.

PubMed Retracted Alert2

You will receive an email whenever there are new retractions on your subject. The email will include citation and abstract, and should include a link to the Library’s full text journal linker.

PubMed Retracted Email Alert

Avoid future embarrassment and stay alert to retractions in your research field with these techniques!  Ask Us! to meet with you and mention this blog post if you’d like to have a Librarian work with you to get this set up!

[Lynne M. Fox, Education Librarian]

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