In a paper published this week in Infection and Immunity (IAI) by Ferric Fang and Arturo Casadevall, “Retracted Science and the Retraction Index.”, the authors have calculated what they are calling the “retraction index” for various scientific journals and plotted it against the impact factors for those same journals:
(Image linked from a post on Retraction Watch. h/t DrugMonkey)
The retraction index for a journal is the number of retractions from 2001 to 2010, times one thousand, divided by the number of published articles. Although the authors are careful to not claim a causal relationship between impact factor and retraction index, they are clearly implying that the higher retraction indexes of high impact journals represents something bad about those journals relative to other journals.
Here is an alternative hypothesis. The reason high impact factor journals have more retractions than low impact factor journals is that there is much less chance of getting away with shitte in a publication in a high impact factor journal: fucketonnes more people read the shitte and fucketonnes more people try to build on the shitte. The low impact factor literature is riddled with bogus shitte that never gets retracted because no one reads itte, no one tries to build upon itte, and no one gives a shitte.