Retractions and Corrections

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NOTE: this section is the basically the same as Best Practices for Electronic Resources. Revised information is in bold, including a new introduction and the addition of statements #6 through 8.


Retractions and corrections are published when errors, omissions, or plagiarism occur in previously published material. A corrective (errata) statement by the authors generally addresses errors in the original paper. Publisher’s notes will provide a notice about minor errors (such as grammar or production errors) and are made to provide clarification. A retraction statement indicates that an article should not have been published for any number of reasons, including plagiarism, invalid data or results, and fraud.
In the case of material that is known to be erroneous or controversial:

  1. Online items under dispute and retracted items must not be removed from the system. They must remain online and be clearly identified as disputed or retracted.
  2. The statement of the dispute or retraction must provide an explanation of why the item is being disputed or retracted and must include the complete citation of the original item.
  3. Retraction statements and corrections must be clearly linked to the original item, and vice versa. Particular attention should be paid to the placement of the link so that it is readily apparent and not bypassed when the article or the correction/retraction statement is accessed directly through another product such as an indexing, abstracting, or alerting service.
  4. Retraction statements and corrections should appear on a numbered page in a prominent section of the journal.
  5. Retraction statements and corrections should be listed in the contents page, and include in their headings the title of the article.
  6. Retractions should include the source of statement (who requested the retraction) such as publisher, author, or editor (editorial board).
  7. Corrections statements should include a brief description of the corrections and any impact on the paper’s conclusion.
  8. Retraction and correction statements should prominently include the appropriate word — errata, correction or retraction — in the statement title.

In the case of material that the publisher had no right to publish in the first place (as in the case of material published in violation of copyright or prior license arrangements) removal of material is permitted but an explanatory statement must be provided for both the print editions and at the original URL along with a link or reference to the legally available version of the material if such exists.


Reader awareness of article corrections (and retractions) can be of critical importance in engineering and the physical sciences just as in the biological sciences and medicine where the issue has received more attention. Reproducibility of experiments, laboratory safety, and deterrence of scholarly misconduct are just some of the reasons that corrections and retractions are essential and, as such, must be made properly accessible as outlined above. It is also crucial that retracted items not be removed. Removal of retracted items destroys the integrity of the scientific record, prevents widespread peer review (if the article is gone researchers cannot evaluate the disputed article for themselves) and causes reader confusion in locating items.

Best Practices

American Physical Society — Physical Review Letters’ Editorial Policies and Procedures

Electronic Proceedings in Theoretical Computer Science

Online Ethics Center (National of Academy of Engineering)

Wiley-Blackwell Publishing

Conference Publishing homepage