Retraction Stigma and its Communication via Retraction Notices

Shaoxiong Brian Xu, Guangwei Hu

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


Retraction of published research is laudable as a post-publication self-correction of science but undesirable as an indicator of grave violations of research and publication ethics. Given its various adverse consequences, retraction has a stigmatizing effect both in and beyond the academic community. However, little theoretical attention has been paid to the stigmatizing nature of retraction. Drawing on stigma theories and informed by research on retraction, we advance a conceptualization of retraction as stigma. We define retraction stigma as a discrediting evaluation of the professional competence and academic ethics of the entities held accountable for retraction. Accordingly, we identify seven core dimensions of retraction stigma, consider its functional justifications at both social and psychological levels, and distinguish its various targets and stakeholders. In view of the central role of retraction notices, we also discuss how retraction stigma is communicated via retraction notices and how authors of retraction notices may exercise their retraction stigma power and manipulate the stigmatizing force of retraction notices. We conclude by recommending retraction stigma as a theoretical framework for future research on retraction and pointing out several directions that this research can take.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)349-374
Number of pages26
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2022


  • Retraction notice
  • Retraction stakeholder
  • Retraction stigma
  • Stigma communication
  • Stigma power
  • Stigmatizing force

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • General Social Sciences


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