Journal Editors should consider retracting a publication if:
- It contains infringements of professional ethical codes, such as multiple submissions, bogus claims of authorship, plagiarism, fraudulent use of data, etc.
- It contains major errors (e.g. miscalculations or experimental errors) or the main conclusion is no longer valid or seriously undermined as a result of new evidence coming to light of which Authors were not aware at the time of publication.
Journal Editors shall determine based on investigation whether a retraction is required and in such cases shall act in accordance with COPE’s Retraction Guidelines. Besides these guidelines, standards for dealing with retractions have been developed by a number of library and scholarly bodies (refer to ICMJE’s recommendations on Corrections, Retractions, Republications and Version Control or the U.S. National Library of Medicine’s policy on Errata, Retractions, and Other Linked Citations in PubMed) and based on these the following will be implemented
- A retraction note titled “Retraction: [Article Title]” will be published in a subsequent issue of the journal and is listed in the table of contents of this issue.
- In the electronic version, a link is added to the original article.
- The online article is preceded by a screen containing the retraction note; it is to this screen that the link resolves; the reader can then proceed to the article itself.
- The original article is retained unchanged except for a watermark which is included on each page of the article PDF indicating that it has been “retracted”.
- The HTML version of the document is removed.
Note that if Authors retain copyright for an article this does not mean they automatically have the right to retract it after publication. The integrity of the published scientific record is of paramount importance and COPE’s Retraction Guidelines still apply in such cases.
Journal Editors should consider issuing a correction if:
- A small part of an otherwise reliable publication reports flawed data or proves to be misleading, especially if this is the result of honest error.
- The Author or Contributor list is incorrect (e.g. a deserving Author has been omitted or someone who does not meet authorship criteria has been included).
Corrections to peer-reviewed content fall into one of four categories:
- Publisher correction (a.k.a. ‘erratum’): to notify readers of an important error made by publishing/journal staff (usually a production error) that has a negative impact on the publication record or the scientific integrity of the article, or on the reputation of the Authors or the journal.
- Author correction (a.k.a. ‘corrigendum’): to notify readers of an important error made by the Authors which has a negative impact on the publication record or the scientific integrity of the article, or on the reputation of the Authors or the journal.
- Addendum: an addition to the article by its Authors to explain inconsistencies, to expand the existing work, or otherwise explain or update the information in the main work.
- Retraction: see previous section. Retractions are normally reserved for publications that are so seriously flawed (for whatever reason) that their findings or conclusions cannot be relied upon. Note that partial retractions are not helpful because they make it difficult for readers to determine the status of the article and which parts may be reliable. Similarly, if only a small section of an article (e.g. a few sentences in the discussion) is plagiarized, Editors should consider whether readers (and the plagiarized Author) would be best served by a correction (which could note the fact that text was used without appropriate acknowledgement) rather than retracting the entire article which may contain sound original data in other parts.
Withdrawal of articles is strongly discouraged and only used in exceptional circumstances for early versions articles which have been accepted for publication but which have not been formally published yet (“articles in press”) but which may already appear online. Such versions may contain errors, may have accidentally been submitted twice or may be in violation a journal’s publishing ethics guidelines (e.g. multiple submission, bogus claims of authorship, plagiarism, fraudulent use of data, etc.). In such situations, especially in case of legal/ethical violations or false/inaccurate data which could pose a detrimental risk if used, it may be decided to withdraw the early version of the article from our electronic platform. Withdrawal means that the article content (both the HTML- and PDF-versions) is removed and replaced with an HTML page and PDF stating the reason for withdrawn.
Note that if Authors retain copyright for an article this does not mean they automatically have the right to withdraw it after publication. The integrity of the published scientific record is of paramount importance and these policies on retractions and withdrawals still apply in such cases.
In an extremely limited number of cases, it may be necessary to remove a published article from our online platform. This will only happen if an article is clearly defamatory, or infringes others’ legal rights, or where the article is, or we have good reason to expect that it will be, the subject of a court order, or where the article, if acted upon, may pose a serious health risk. In such circumstances, while the metadata (i.e. title and author information) of the article will be retained, the text will be replaced with a screen indicating that the article has been removed for legal reasons.
In cases where an article, if acted upon, may pose a serious health risk, the Authors of the original paper may wish to retract the flawed original and replace it with a corrected version. Under such circumstances, the above procedures for retraction will be followed with the difference that the article retraction notice will contain a link to the corrected re-published article together with a history of the document.