Global Ground Media considers
Retracting a publication if:
- we have clear evidence that the findings are unreliable, either as a result of misconduct (e.g. data fabrication) or honest error (e.g. miscalculation or experimental error);
- the findings have previously been published elsewhere without proper cross-referencing, permission or justification (i.e. cases of redundant publication);
- it constitutes plagiarism;
- it reports unethical research. Please refer to our Code of Ethics for what constitutes unethical research.
Issuing an expression of concern if:
- we receive inconclusive evidence of research or publication misconduct by the authors;
- an investigation is underway but a judgement will not be available for a considerable time.
Issuing a correction if:
- a small portion of an otherwise reliable publication proves to be misleading (especially because of honest error);
- the author/contributor list is incorrect (i.e. a deserving author has been omitted or somebody who does not meet authorship criteria has been included).
Retractions are not usually appropriate if:
- a change of authorship is required but there is no reason to doubt the validity of the findings.
Notices of retraction:
- are linked to the retracted article wherever possible (i.e. in all electronic versions);
- clearly identify the retracted article (e.g. by including the title and authors in the retraction heading);
- are clearly identified as a retraction (i.e. distinct from other types of correction or comment);
- are published promptly to minimize harmful effects of misleading publications;
- are freely available to all readers (i.e. not behind access barriers or available only to subscribers);
- state who is retracting the article;
- state the reason(s) for retraction (to distinguish misconduct from honest error);
- avoid statements that are potentially defamatory or libellous.
The purpose of retraction
Retraction is a mechanism for correcting the publication and alerting readers to publications that contain such seriously flawed or erroneous information that their findings and conclusions cannot be relied upon. Unreliable information may result from honest error or from research misconduct.
Retractions are also used to alert readers to cases of redundant publication (i.e. when authors present the same data in several publications), plagiarism, and failure to disclose a major competing interest likely to influence interpretations or recommendations.
The main purpose of retractions is to correct the publication and ensure its integrity rather than to punish authors who misbehave.
What form does a retraction take?
Notices of retraction mention the reasons and basis for the retraction, to distinguish cases of misconduct from those of honest error; they also specify who is retracting the article. They are published in all versions of the publication (i.e. print and/or electronic).
Retracted articles are clearly identified as such in all electronic sources (e.g. on the website of the publication and any archives). The retraction appears on all electronic searches for the retracted publication.
Retracted articles are not removed from printed copies of the magazine (e.g. in libraries) nor from electronic archives but their retracted status is indicated as clearly as possible.
Which publications are retracted?
If only a small part of an article reports flawed information, and especially if this is the result of genuine error, then the problem is best rectified by a correction. Partial retractions are not helpful because they make it difficult for readers to determine the status of the article and which parts may be relied upon.
Similarly, if only a small section of an article (e.g. a few sentences in the discussion) is plagiarised, Global Ground Media considers whether readers (and the plagiarised 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/information in other parts.
Retraction is usually reserved for publications that are so seriously flawed (for whatever reason) that their findings or conclusions are not be relied upon.
If redundant publication has occurred (i.e. authors have published the same data or article in more than one media outlet without appropriate justification, permission or cross-referencing) the outlet that first published the article may issue a notice of redundant publication but doesn’t retract the article unless the findings are unreliable. Any outlets that subsequently publish a redundant article retract it and state the reason for the retraction.
If an article is submitted to more than one publication simultaneously, and is accepted and published in both (either electronically or in print) at the same time, precedence may be determined by the date on which a licence to publish or a copyright transfer agreement was signed by the authors.
In cases of partial overlap (i.e. when authors present some new findings in an article that also contains a substantial amount of previously published information) Global Ground Media needs to consider whether readers are best served if the entire article is retracted or whether it would be best to issue a notice of redundant publication clarifying which aspects had been published previously and providing appropriate cross-references to the earlier work. This will depend on the amount of overlap.
Only published items can be retracted. Posting a final version on a website constitutes publication even if an article has not appeared (or will not appear) in print. If an article is retracted before it appears in the print version, the electronic version is retained on the website with a clear notice of retraction even if it does not appear in print. This is because electronic versions may already have been accessed and cited by others who need to be alerted to the fact that the article has been retracted.
Who issues the retraction?
Articles may be retracted by Global Ground Media. Global Ground Media may retract publications (or issue expressions of concern) even if all or some of the authors disagree with retracting the publication.
When are publications retracted?
Publications are retracted as soon as possible after Global Ground Media is convinced that the publication is seriously flawed and misleading (or is redundant or plagiarised). Prompt retraction minimizes the number of views and references of the erroneous work.
If we have convincing evidence that a retraction is required we do not delay retraction simply because the authors are not cooperative. However, if an allegation of misconduct related to a potential retraction results in a disciplinary hearing or institutional investigation, it is normally appropriate to wait for the outcome of this before issuing a retraction (but an expression of concern may be published to alert readers in the interim).
What do we do in the face of inconclusive evidence about a publication’s reliability?
If conclusive evidence about the reliability of a publication cannot be obtained (e.g. if authors produce conflicting accounts of the case or if investigations are taking an unreasonably long time to reach a conclusion) Global Ground Media issues an expression of concern rather than retracting the publication immediately.
Such expressions of concern, like retraction notices, are clearly linked to the original publication (i.e. in electronic databases and by including the author and title of the original publication as a heading) and state the reason(s) for the concern. If more conclusive evidence about the publication’s reliability becomes available later, the expression of concern is replaced by a notice of retraction (if the article is shown to be unreliable) or by an exonerating statement linked to the expression of concern (if the article is shown to be reliable and the author exonerated).
Version: June 2018
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