Journal editors are expected to reject an article having following abnormalities are found.
- if it is proved that research contains either vague or erroneous or manipulated data or misrepresentation.
- if research is neither unpublished purely/partly nor even having written consent for republishing or cross-referencing from original author
- If plagiarism is detected
- If research is found to be immoral or unethical
Journal editors can seek further clarification or issue an expression of concern for re-verification if
- Editors do not have concrete proof for authors’ misconduct.
- Editors may have concrete proof of untrustworthiness of research but do not have faith on authors that they will scrutinize the case.
- Editors may have doubts regarding reliability of authority who examines alleged misbehavior with unfair or incomplete outcome in publication.
- When editor suspects that result of inquiry will be inordinate delay.
Journal editors should consider issuing a corrigendum if
- If editor appreciates reliability of publication which contains minor unintentional mistake which may create confusion.
- If editor finds that author list is erratic which includes the name of author who is unfit or it excludes name of genuine author.
- Withdrawals or disclaimers are discouraged if
- Name of authors required to be deleted or included without any genuine reason
Intimation of retraction should
- It should be clearly visible in title with author name
- It should be clearly visible
- It should be published in such a way which can prevent adverse effects
- It should be freely accessible for all the readers
- Mention the name of person who has retracted
- Describe the exact cause of retraction
- Discourage offensive reports
The purpose of retraction
- It is a tool to rectifying and improving texts which acts as a warning to readers regarding untrustworthy/erratic contents which may be due to research misbehavior or honest error.
- It is used to restrain readers from superfluous/repeated publication, plagiarism or which do not declare competing interest [which may misguide explanations or approvals.
- The motive of retractions should be to rectify the texts and strengthening reliability but not to penalize guilty author
- Retraction notice should contain the exact reason and intention whether it is caused due to misbehavior or honest error with retractor’s name in retraction heading. It should be reflected in all versions of the journal.
- Retracted articles needs to be noticeable easily in all versions. Editors should ensure that retractions are easily identified in all modes whether it is electronic or physical.
- Retracted research should be kept permanently in journal indicating visible status.
Major causes that can lead to retraction
- In case, there is minor, honest and genuine unintentional error, it can be rectified by issuing an erratum which is treated as journal error. In case, there is author error in some portion, then the rectification can be done by issuing a corrigendum.
- Likewise, if plagiarism is detected in rare sentences then, editor is required to justify whether article can be accepted by rectifying the same [to avoid suitably giving credit to original author] for the mutual benefit of reader and the guilty author or reject the whole paper by using unpublished content in other portion.
- Normally, Rejections are to be earmarked or kept aside for publications because of their defective and unreliable nature.
- When an article is found to be superfluous [i.e. if the contents of an article is repeated in many journals without clarification or consent or without having direction to readers to look elsewhere], a redundant notice can be issued by first journal where this paper was originally published. Paper should not be rejected unless it has untrustworthy contents. The journals which consequently publish superfluous papers are supposed to reject the same with proper reason for rejection.
- When a paper is presented (either on-line or in hardcopy) to multiple journals at the same time and processed by all the journals, then preference should be decided based on time and date of either copyright transfer agreement signed by authors or authorization certificate/document was obtained for publishing
- An editor is supposed to take suitable decision when partly repetition contents of a published article with new research. The decision should justify whether paper is to be rejected or a redundant notice explaining which portion is repeated with proper direction to readers to look elsewhere is to be issued for the benefit of readers. The editor should always remember that his intention is to rectify the text not to penalize the guilty authors.
- Withdrawals can be done only for published articles. OARS illustrations should be referred to see manuscripts identified with redundant publications
- Once the final version is posted in website, it represents as paper is published even if hard copy is not released. In case, of paper which is required to be withdrawn in online version before final printing, it should be shown in journal’s both website as well as in all the relevant physical database records with visible retraction notice. Full proof arrangements to be made regarding retraction clearly visible in electronic version in order to warn researcher.
- It is the accountability & discretion of editor whether to retract the paper or to issue expressions of concern, irrespective of disagreeing by any or all remaining editors.
- The retraction of a publication should be done on priority when it is proved that either it is plagiarized or it contains misleading and imperfect data. The delay in retraction may maximize the number of researchers and adversely affect outcome of their research work resulting erratic conclusions.
- Once the editors have decided to retract the article on the basis of concrete proof, it should not be delayed due to want of authors’ cooperation. On the other hand, if the allegation for misconduct has converted into legal penal action, it is advisable to wait for the verdict before completing retraction formality. However, editor can release expression of concern in order to alert readers in advance.
- When authors are reluctant and misleading/misguiding editors by creating confusion & suspense and in absence judgment of legal formalities/concrete proof, editors are expected to issue expression of concern instead of retraction.
- The original publication (whether it is electronic or it is physical hardcopy), link should be provided to reflect expression of concern or reasons for concern or retraction notice visibly. When final judgment is declared by investing authority, the expression of concern should be replaced with retraction notice. On the other hand, if article is legally proved authentic, a letter of confession should be released/linked.
- Should retraction be applied in cases of controversial authorship?
- Whenever authorship is claimed by multiple authors after publication they insist for retraction. In such cases, if editor have concrete evidence about authentic article/author, retraction (simply due to baseless challenge) is not justified. The editor should communicate to the involved authors his inability to resolve the case but he is agreed to publish a corrigendum if the concrete proof justifying proposed change is provided.
- Whether authors can detach themselves from a retracted article?
- Since authorship is a joint venture of a group of authors and all are equally responsible for deeds and misdeeds of one or all. In case of retraction, it is advisable for all the authors to continue even if they are not guilty, for the sake of reliability of the research article.
- Whether prosecution is legitimate against journal for retraction or its refusal for retraction?
- Journal editors often faces challenge for lawful steps from the authors who raise objection for retraction or whose retraction request is not honored and such disputes may force editors to become unresponsive to retraction request.
- Concerned authors should be made well aware of entire procedure with situations/conditions for retractions through printing and circulating of contracts indicating terms and conditions. Even if such contract fails to indicate the condition for retraction, authors may not have strong base for opting lawful litigation if the journal strictly adheres to proper system and appropriate probes/inquiry.
- It is advised to consult an expert advocate for drafting an allegation properly of retraction or for expressing concern. The drafting should not be offensive and should clearly specify the exact cause of retraction and it should be able to differentiate between honest error and misconduct.
- Editors should try their best to bargain with authors to conclude the drafting which should be transparent and helpful to readers as well as satisfying the concerned authors. This will avoid unanticipated legal complications but such process should not become reason for unjustified delay in publication of retraction in spite of disagreement among authors and editors.