[Skip to Content]
Access to paid content on this site is currently suspended due to excessive activity being detected from your IP address 18.204.55.168. Please contact the publisher to request reinstatement.
[Skip to Content Landing]
Limit 200 characters
Limit 25 characters
Conflicts of Interest Disclosure

Identify all potential conflicts of interest that might be relevant to your comment.

Conflicts of interest comprise financial interests, activities, and relationships within the past 3 years including but not limited to employment, affiliation, grants or funding, consultancies, honoraria or payment, speaker's bureaus, stock ownership or options, expert testimony, royalties, donation of medical equipment, or patents planned, pending, or issued.

Err on the side of full disclosure.

If you have no conflicts of interest, check "No potential conflicts of interest" in the box below. The information will be posted with your response.

Not all submitted comments are published. Please see our commenting policy for details.

Limit 140 characters
Limit 3600 characters or approximately 600 words
    Original Investigation
    Medical Journals and Publishing
    November 15, 2019

    Assessment of Citations of the Retracted Article by Wakefield et al With Fraudulent Claims of an Association Between Vaccination and Autism

    Author Affiliations
    • 1Medical College of Wisconsin Libraries, Medical College of Wisconsin, Milwaukee
    • 2Ziebert Medical Library, Advocate Aurora West Allis Medical Center, West Allis, Wisconsin
    • 3Todd Wehr Library, Carroll University, Waukesha, Wisconsin
    JAMA Netw Open. 2019;2(11):e1915552. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2019.15552
    Key Points español 中文 (chinese)

    Question  What are the characteristics of citations of the retracted 1998 article by Wakefield et al that purported to show an association between the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine and autism?

    Findings  In this cross-sectional bibliographic analysis of 1153 works citing the article by Wakefield et al, citation characteristics were mostly negative, but since the notice of retraction was issued in 2010, many of the citing works published afterward did not indicate that the article was retracted.

    Meaning  The findings suggest that improvements are needed from publishers, bibliographic databases, and citation management software to ensure that retracted articles are accurately documented.

    Abstract

    Importance  The number of citations can be used to show the influence of an article or to measure the validity of a research study. The article by Wakefield et al that fraudulently reported an association between vaccination and autism continues to accumulate citations even after it was retracted.

    Objectives  To examine the characteristics of citations from scholarly literature that reference the 1998 article by Wakefield et al and to investigate whether authors are accurately citing retracted references.

    Design, Setting, and Participants  In this cross-sectional bibliographic analysis of the scholarly publications that cited a 1998 article by Wakefield et al, cited references were collected from a Web of Science Core Collection search performed on March 11, 2019. A total of 1211 articles were identified, with 58 citing works excluded because they were non–English-language publications or the citation to the study by Wakefield et al could not be located by reviewers. Citing works consisted of books, research articles, letters, editorials, news items, and other scholarly literature. Citations to the article by Wakefield et al were identified and analyzed by 2 reviewers in a blinded screening. Reviewers assigned a characteristic to each citation and indicated whether the retraction was documented.

    Main Outcomes and Measures  The characteristics of citations to the article by Wakefield et al, were categorized as negative, affirmative, or contrastive; if not, persuasive; and if not, assumptive, perfunctory, methodologic, or conceptual. Whether the partial retraction or notice of retraction was included in the citing work was also documented.

    Results  Among the 1153 citing works included in this analysis, the most common citation characteristics were negative (838 [72.7%]) followed by perfunctory (106 [9.2%]) and affirmative (94 [8.2%]). A total of 123 of 322 citing works (38.2%) published between 2005 and 2010 documented the partial retraction. After the notice of retraction was published in 2010, the percentage of citing works that documented the partial retraction and/or notice of retraction between 2011 and 2018 increased to 360 of 502 (71.7%).

    Conclusions and Relevance  Since the article by Wakefield et al was initially published, authors have mostly negated the findings of the study. A significant number of authors did not document retractions of the article by Wakefield et al. The findings suggest that improvements are needed from publishers, bibliographic databases, and citation management software to ensure that retracted articles are accurately documented.

    ×