Crossref, an open registry of unique identifiers for scholarly metadata, has acquired the Retraction Watch database, which houses records of more than 42,000 retractions.
The Retraction Watch Database was launched in 2018 by the Center for Scientific Integrity. It has been free for use on a small scale, but researchers or organizations in need of large amounts of data to carry out studies or analyses have had to sign license agreements with the Center for Scientific Integrity.
Now, with Crossref’s takeover, all the retraction data will be available for free, without any need for license. “For me, it’s a dream come true,” says Jodi Schneider, an information scientist at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign who has signed data use agreements to carry out scientometrics studies in the past.
Earlier this year, Schneider published a study comparing close to 50,000 papers deemed to be retracted by at least one of Retraction Watch, Web of Science, Scopus, and Crossref. Her study found that just 3% of papers were listed as being retracted in all four data sources, suggesting that retraction data archiving is wildly inconsistent across databases.
As part of the acquisition, Crossref will pay Retraction Watch an initial fee of $175,000 and $120,000 per year going forward, with that amount increasing by 5% annually. The initial term for the deal is 5 years.
“It’s a modest amount of money for unlocking the data to date and maintaining it for the next five years,” Schneider says.
The takeover by Crossref means that new scholarly tools can be built on top of the data for free, and existing tools can incorporate the retraction data.
“Collaborating with Retraction Watch augments publisher efforts by filling in critical gaps in our coverage, helps the downstream services that rely on high-quality, open data about retractions, and ultimately directly benefits the research community,” Crossref product director Rachael Lammey says in a statement.
The Center for Scientific Integrity will continue to maintain the Retraction Watch blog independently from Crossref.
Editor’s note: The author of this article worked as a full-time reporter for the Retraction Watch blog between 2016 and 2017. He still carries out work for the Center for Scientific Integrity and contributes to the Retraction Watch blog on a freelance basis.