This is the first of the posts with stuff that didn't go into the working paper on misconduct in India.
Richard Grant Steen's paper, Retractions in the scientiﬁc literature: do authors deliberately commit research fraud?, and discussions of some of its controversial findings were the ones that motivated me to take a detailed look at retractions of papers by Indian authors. Here's one of Steen's findings:
Retracted papers are more likely to appear in journals with a high impact factor (IF), are more likely to involve certain ‘repeat offender’ authors and are more likely to involve authors from the USA. [Bold emphasis added by me]
Just the other day, Retraction Watch linked to a study which looked at retractions by a bunch of journals spanning a wide range of impact factors, and found "a surprisingly robust correlation between the journal retraction index and its impact factor."
All that is about retractons. But Steen also found that "journal impact factor was higher among papers retracted for fraud than among those retracted for error." Interestingly, his definition of 'fraud' includes fabrication, falsification and data plagiarism; plagiarism -- just copying text from one's own papers or from otehrs' papers -- constitutes an 'error' in his classification.
Since almost all the misconduct cases from India are due to plagiarism, they too tend to be published in (and later, retracted from) lower profile journals. Indeed, the list of retracted papers by Indian authors doesn't appear to be populated with high profile journals. This should not really be surprising, because we expect plagiarizers to try to "fly under the radar" by sending their papers to lower tier journals where, presumably, plagiarism detectors were not much in use (at least until 2007-08 or so).
On the other hand, not only do the fraudsters from the West (or, more generally, the rich countries) tend to commit serious fraud (fabrication and falsification), they also appear to be ambitious: they work in fields where the stakes and payoffs (by way of high profile publications) are higher.
[The lead case (which is from Japan) discussed in this WSJ story by Gautam Naik is illustrative, The stakes just can't get any higher than playing with the lives of hundreds of thousands of people! The Retraction Watch blog is filled with cases of this kind.]