As outlined in our Author Guidelines, authors are welcome to request corrections, expressions of concern, or retractions for their own articles.
As outlined in our Post-Publication Concerns, there may be times when concerns about the integrity of a published paper are raised by others. In these cases, concerns will be investigated by the editors in accordance with this policy, which may include referral to the authors' institution. During or after this process, the publication of a correction, expression of concern, or retraction may be necessary.
Expressions of Concern
An Expression of Concern will be published either at the request of the authors or after receiving an unsatisfactory response (or no response) to queries about the integrity of the paper. The editors will draft the Expression of Concern to provide information on the nature of the concerns and the steps being taken to resolve those concerns, in accordance with the Committee on Publication Ethics’s retraction guidelines. The editors will provide the authors with a chance to comment on the draft Expression of Concern. While the editors will attempt to agree with authors on issuing of an Expression of Concern and its wording, author agreement is not required to publish an Expression of Concern.
An Expression of Concern may be lifted with a correction or, when a correction is not required, updated to reflect the exoneration of the original paper. An Expression of Concern may also be superseded by a Retraction.
If evidence for the publication’s reliability is inconclusive or will not be obtained for a significant period of time, retraction may not be appropriate (in accordance with COPE retraction guidelines). However, if the evidence is inconclusive or no progress has been made for at least 6 months, the editors may update the Expression of Concern, issue a new Expression of Concern, or issue a Retraction where there is sufficient doubt over the veracity of the article.
An article will be retracted if, in the opinion of the editors, there is sufficient evidence that the article is not reliable, there are breaches of scientific codes of conduct, or the paper meets other criteria for retraction as outlined by COPE guidelines.
Articles will also be retracted if there are findings of misconduct or breaches of relevant scientific codes of conduct, integrity, or ethics related to the paper. Institutional investigations that do not find misconduct or breaches of scientific codes of conduct may still prompt the editors to retract an article if sufficient doubt remains over the veracity of the article.
If the editors decide a retraction is appropriate, then they will make at least 3 attempts to contact the authors for feedback on the wording of the retraction notice. The retraction notice will be drafted in accordance with COPE retraction guidelines. For example, they must give the reasons for the retraction, be publicly accessible, and state who is retracting the article. They will also detail whether individual authors agreed with the retraction, disagreed with the retraction, or could not be contacted.
In some circumstances papers may be retracted even though no misconduct has occurred, for example, in the case of honest error. As outlined in our Author Guidelines, the editors will attempt to expedite the publication of corrected findings by contacting original reviewers or only asking internal reviewers to examine the paper.
Enriched metadata is registered using Crossref’s Crossmark service which requires the publisher to ensure that readers can be readily alerted to “substantial changes such as the retraction of an article due to an error, or a correction to an author’s name”. For more, see our Crossmark Policy: Corrections and Retractions.
Last amended on 29 August 2021.