Article Retraction & Withdrawal
It is a general principle of scholarly communication that the Editor of a journal or proceedings is solely and independently responsible for deciding which articles submitted shall be published. In making this decision, the Editor is guided by journal policies and constrained by such legal requirements in force regarding libel, copyright infringement and plagiarism. An outcome of this principle is the importance of the scholarly archive as a permanent, historic record of the transactions of scholarship: articles which have been published shall remain extant, exact and unaltered as much as possible. However, occasionally circumstances may arise where an article is published that must later be retracted or even removed. Such actions must not be taken lightly and can only occur under exceptional circumstances.
Atlantis Press recognizes the importance of the integrity and completeness of the scholarly record to researchers and the wider academic community. Honest errors are a part of science and publishing and require publication of a notification or correction when they are detected. We adhere to the highest standards to maintain the trust in and correctness of our electronic archive and in all cases our official archives in the “e-Depot” of the National Library of the Netherlands will retain all article versions, including retracted or otherwise removed articles. Our publications operate according to the below policies for making corrections to scholarly published material.
Journal Editors should consider retracting a publication if:
- It contains infringements of professional ethical codes, such as multiple submissions, bogus claims of authorship, plagiarism, fraudulent use of data, etc.
- It contains major errors (e.g. miscalculations or experimental errors) or the main conclusion is no longer valid or seriously undermined as a result of new evidence coming to light of which Authors were not aware at the time of publication.
Journal Editors shall determine based on investigation whether a retraction is required and in such cases shall act in accordance with COPE’s Retraction Guidelines. Besides these guidelines, standards for dealing with retractions have been developed by a number of library and scholarly bodies (refer to ICMJE’s recommendations on Corrections, Retractions, Republications and Version Control or the U.S. National Library of Medicine’s policy on Errata, Retractions, and Other Linked Citations in PubMed) and based on these the following best practice for article retraction has been adopted by Atlantis Press:
- A retraction note titled “Retraction: [Article Title]” which is signed by the Authors and/or the Editor is published in a subsequent issue of the journal and is listed in the table of contents of this issue.
- In the electronic version, a link is added to the original article.
- The online article is preceded by a screen containing the retraction note; it is to this screen that the link resolves; the reader can then proceed to the article itself.
- The original article is retained unchanged except for a watermark which is included on each page of the article PDF indicating that it has been “retracted”.
- The HTML version of the document is removed.
Note that if Authors retain copyright for an article this does not mean they automatically have the right to retract it after publication. The integrity of the published scientific record is of paramount importance and COPE’s Retraction Guidelines still apply in such cases.
Journal Editors should consider issuing a correction if:
- A small part of an otherwise reliable publication reports flawed data or proves to be misleading, especially if this is the result of honest error.
- The Author or Contributor list is incorrect (e.g. a deserving Author has been omitted or someone who does not meet authorship criteria has been included).
Corrections to peer-reviewed content fall into one of four categories:
- Publisher correction (a.k.a. ‘erratum’): to notify readers of an important error made by publishing/journal staff (usually a production error) that has a negative impact on the publication record or the scientific integrity of the article, or on the reputation of the Authors or the journal.
- Author correction (a.k.a. ‘corrigendum’): to notify readers of an important error made by the Authors which has a negative impact on the publication record or the scientific integrity of the article, or on the reputation of the Authors or the journal.
- Addendum: an addition to the article by its Authors to explain inconsistencies, to expand the existing work, or otherwise explain or update the information in the main work.
- Retraction: see previous section. Retractions are normally reserved for publications that are so seriously flawed (for whatever reason) that their findings or conclusions cannot be relied upon. Note that partial retractions are not helpful because they make it difficult for readers to determine the status of the article and which parts may be reliable. Similarly, if only a small section of an article (e.g. a few sentences in the discussion) is plagiarized, Editors should consider whether readers (and the plagiarized 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 in other parts.
The decision whether a correction should be issued is made by the Editor(s) of a journal or proceedings, sometimes with advice from Reviewers, Advisory Board members or Editorial Board members. Handling Editors will contact the Authors of the paper concerned with a request for clarification, but the final decision about whether a correction is required and if so which type rests with the Editors. Corrections to published articles are bi-directionally linked to and from the article being corrected and are represented by a formal notice both on the PDF- and HTML-version of the article concerned.
Withdrawal of articles is strongly discouraged and only used in exceptional circumstances for early versions articles which have been accepted for publication but which have not been formally published yet (“articles in press”) but which may already appear online. Such versions may contain errors, may have accidentally been submitted twice or may be in violation a journal’s publishing ethics guidelines (e.g. multiple submission, bogus claims of authorship, plagiarism, fraudulent use of data, etc.). In such situations, especially in case of legal/ethical violations or false/inaccurate data which could pose a detrimental risk if used, it may be decided to withdraw the early version of the article from our electronic platform. Withdrawal means that the article content (both the HTML- and PDF-versions) is removed and replaced with an HTML page and PDF stating that the article has been withdrawn according to Atlantis Press policies on article withdrawal with a link to the then-current policy text.
Note that if Authors retain copyright for an article this does not mean they automatically have the right to withdraw it after publication. The integrity of the published scientific record is of paramount importance and these policies on retractions and withdrawals still apply in such cases.
In an extremely limited number of cases, it may be necessary to remove a published article from our online platform. This will only happen if an article is clearly defamatory, or infringes others’ legal rights, or where the article is, or we have good reason to expect that it will be, the subject of a court order, or where the article, if acted upon, may pose a serious health risk. In such circumstances, while the metadata (i.e. title and author information) of the article will be retained, the text will be replaced with a screen indicating that the article has been removed for legal reasons.
In cases where an article, if acted upon, may pose a serious health risk, the Authors of the original paper may wish to retract the flawed original and replace it with a corrected version. Under such circumstances, the above procedures for retraction will be followed with the difference that the article retraction notice will contain a link to the corrected re-published article together with a history of the document.