A manuscript was published in our journal in 2015, and at the time of publishing (as now), the author was a faculty member of a university. The author's affiliation was not declared in the article, just the author's qualifications. Now the author wishes us to correct the paper and list her affiliation in the article.
Question(s) for the COPE Forum
- What is the Forum's advice?
- Should the journal correct the affiliation of the author in the paper after publication?
Correcting the paper is important for maintaining the accuracy of the published record and to maintain consistency and clarity. Authors make mistakes all the time. There is nothing unethical in a missed affiliation. A formal correction/erratum is appropriate here. It is considered good practice that author affiliations should be published for all articles. This information is important for identifying conflicts of interest.
Downloaded versions of the paper may be available, and therefore a formal erratum, linked directly to the online article, should be done. The correction should state the facts, that the affiliation was not included in the original paper, but it was the affiliation at the time and remains the affiliation now. Issued corrections are good for a journal as they provide proof that the journal is doing what it must do to keep the public record straight, accurate and transparent.
The journal might like to consider requiring all authors to use ORCID IDs. This way, affiliations can be updated, but the ORCID ID stays the same.
Following the advice from the Forum, the journal complied with the author’s request. The journal changed the affiliation in the online version and re-uploaded the article on the journal’s website.