This compilation of primary guidance documents and other materials provides information related to handling retractions of scientific publications. All resources in this collection have been developed by respected authorities and professional groups and are linked here in one location as an aid for editors and others involved in scientific publication. The materials provided also address publication corrections, errata, partial retractions, and editorial expressions of concern, and include information on how the Office of Research Integrity (ORI) handles suspected scientific misconduct in the research funded by agencies under its governance.
Primary Guidance Documents
COPE Retraction Guidelines: https://publicationethics.org/files/retraction-guidelines.pdf
This document provides guidelines on retractions for journal editors. It discusses corrections, expressions of concern, and partial retractions as well as retractions and gives clear and comprehensive instructions on how and when retractions should be undertaken and by whom.
COPE Flowcharts: http://publicationethics.org/resources/flowcharts
The flowcharts offer step-by-step instructions to help editors implement COPE’s guidelines.
CSE White Paper on Promoting Integrity in Scientific Journal Publications, 2012 Update. Section 3.5 Correcting the Literature
This section provides a background on practices for correcting the literature, definitions of key types of corrections, and a list of things to consider when processing corrections of any type. It also provides many examples of errata, partial retractions, retractions, and expressions of concern directly from the literature.
ICMJE Recommendations on Corrections, Retractions, Republications, and Version Control: http://icmje.org/recommendations/browse/publishing-and-editorial-issues/corrections-and-version-control.html
This document outlines the differences between corrections, retractions, and expressions of concern, and it describes the process editors should follow when publishing one of these three types of updates to the literature.
Handling Misconduct at the Office of Research Integrity (ORI): https://ori.hhs.gov/handling-misconduct
This link directs to a landing page on the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Research Integrity (ORI) site. The landing page contains links to several other important pages within the ORI site, such as ORI protocols for investigating allegations of misconduct. These may be helpful to publishers and editors who are faced with allegations of misconduct regarding studies funded by those agencies governed by the ORI.
NLM Fact sheet for Errata, Retractions, and Other Linked Citations in PubMed: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/pubs/factsheets/errata.html
This document, produced by the National Library of Medicine (NLM), outlines the NLM’s policies and procedures for indexing various types of corrections, including errata, retractions, partial retractions, and corrected articles. Duplicate publications, comments and author responses, expressions of concern, patient summaries, and republished (reprinted) articles are also addressed.
How to Find Retractions
PubMed retracted publication search: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed?term=retracted+publication+%5bpt%5d
Retraction Watch Database: https://retractionwatch.com/retraction-watch-database-user-guide/
Budd JM, Sievert M, Schultz TR. Phenomena of retraction: reasons for retraction and citations to the publications. JAMA. 1998; 280(3):296–7. doi: 10.1001/jama.280.3.296. https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/187739
Budd JM, Coble ZC, Anderson KM. Retracted publications in biomedicine: cause for concern. 2011. pp. 390–5. Association of College and Research Libraries Conference; Philadelphia, PA. Available at: http://www.ala.org/acrl/sites/ala.org.acrl/files/content/conferences/confsandpreconfs/national/2011/papers/retracted_publicatio.pdf
Casadevall A, Steen RG, Fang FC. Sources of error in the retracted scientific literature. FASEB J. 2014; 28(9):3847-55. doi: 10.1096/fj.14-256735. Epub 2014 Jun 13. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5395722/
Casadevall A, Fang FC. Making the scientific literature fail-safe. J Clin Invest. 2018 Oct 1;128(10):4243-4244. doi: 10.1172/JCI123884. Epub 2018 Sep 4. https://www.jci.org/articles/view/123884
Collaborative Working Group from the conference “Keeping the Pool Clean: Prevention and Management of Misconduct Related Retractions.” RePAIR consensus guidelines: Responsibilities of Publishers, Agencies, Institutions, and Researchers in protecting the integrity of the research record. Res Integr Peer Rev. 2018 Dec 19;3:15. doi: 10.1186/s41073-018-0055-1. eCollection 2018. https://researchintegrityjournal.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s41073-018-0055-1
Davis PM. The persistence of error: a study of retracted articles on the Internet and in personal libraries. J Med Libr Assoc. 2012; 100: 184–9. doi: 10.3163/1536-5050.100.3.008. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3411255/
Fanelli D, Ioannidis JPA, Goodman S. Improving the integrity of published science: An expanded taxonomy of retractions and corrections. Eur J Clin Invest. 2018 Apr; 48(4). doi: 10.1111/eci.12898. Epub 2018 Feb 23. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/eci.12898
Fang FC, Steen RG, Casadevall A. Misconduct accounts for the majority of retracted scientific publications. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 2012; 109(42):17028-17033. Available at: http://www.pnas.org/content/109/42/17028.full
Fang FC, Steen RG, Casadevall A. Misconduct accounts for the majority of retracted scientific publications. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 2012; 109(42):17028-33. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1212247109. Epub 2012 Oct 1. https://www.pnas.org/content/109/42/17028.long
Furman JL, Jensen K, Murray F. Governing knowledge in the scientific community: exploring the role of retractions in biomedicine. Res Policy. 2012; 41(2):276–90. doi: 10.1016/j.respol.2011.11.001.
Grieneisen ML and Zhang M. A Comprehensive Survey of Retracted Articles from the Scholarly Literature. PLoS One. 2012; 7(10): e44118. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0044118 http://www.plosone.org/article/info:doi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0044118
Kotzin S and Schuyler PL. NLM’s Practices for Handling Errata and Retractions. Bull Med Libr Assoc. 1989; 77(4): 337-342. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC227483/
Marcus A, Oransky I. What studies of retractions tell us. J Microbiol Biol Educ. 2014; 15(2):151-4. doi: 10.1128/jmbe.v15i2.855. eCollection 2014 Dec. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4278466/
Nath SB, Marcus SC, Druss BG. Retractions in the research literature: misconduct or mistakes? Med J Aust. 2006; 185:152-4.
Office of Research Integrity Case Summaries: https://ori.hhs.gov/content/case_summary
Peterson GM. The effectiveness of the practice of correction and republication in the biomedical literature. J Med Lib Assoc. 2010; 98(2):135–9. doi: 10.3163/1536-5050.98.2.005. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20428278
Redman BK, Yarandi HN, Merz JF. Empirical developments in retraction. J Med Ethics. 2008; 34(11): 807–9. doi: 10.1136/jme.2007.023069.
Resnik DB, Wager E, Kissling GE. Retraction policies of top scientific journals ranked by impact factor. J Med Libr Assoc. 2015;103(3):136-9. doi: 10.3163/1536-5050.103.3.006. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4511053/
Steen RG. Retractions in the scientific literature: is the incidence of research fraud increasing. J Med Ethics. 2011; 37(4):249–53. doi: 10.1136/jme.2010.040923.
Steen RG. Retractions in the scientific literature: Do authors deliberately commit research fraud? J Med Ethics. 2011; 37:113–117. Abstract/FREE Full Text
Steen RG, Casadevall A, Fang FC. Why has the number of scientific retractions increased? PLoS One. 2013; 8(7):e68397. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0068397. https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0068397
Stern AM, Casadevall A, Steen RG, Fang FC. Financial costs and personal consequences of research misconduct resulting in retracted publications. eLife. 2014; Aug 14;3:e02956. doi: 10.7554/eLife.02956. https://elifesciences.org/articles/02956
Van Noorden R. Science publishing: The trouble with retractions. Nature. 2011; 478:26–28. https://www.nature.com/articles/478026a
Wager E, Williams P. Why and how do journals retract articles? an analysis of Medline retractions 1988–2008. J Med Ethics. 2011; 37:567–70. doi: 10.1136/jme.2010.040964.
Wright K, McDaid C. Reporting of article retractions in bibliographic databases. J Med Lib Assoc. 2011; 99(2):164–7. doi: 10.3163/1536-5050.99.2.010.
Prepared November 2013 by Pam Erickson, Kelly Hadsell, Stephen Morrissey, Kristi Overgaard, and Daniel Salsbury for the CSE Editorial Policy Committee.
Updated April 2020 by Etta Kavanagh.