COPE's Retraction Guidelines for advice and guidance for editors.
Journal editors should consider retracting a publication if:
- they have clear evidence that the findings are unreliable, either as a result of misconduct (e.g. data fabrication) or falsification (eg image manipulation) or honest error (e.g. miscalculation or experimental error)
- the findings have previously been published elsewhere without proper attribution, permission or justification (i.e. cases of redundant publication)
- it constitutes plagiarism
- it reports unethical research
- the author(s) failed to disclose a major competing interest
- there is a serious legal issue
- it has been published on the basis of a manipulated peer review process
Notices of retraction should:
- be linked to the retracted article wherever possible (ie, in all online versions)
- clearly identify the retracted article (eg, by including the title and authors in the retraction heading or citing the retracted article)
- be clearly identified as a retraction (ie, distinct from other types of correction or comment)
- be published promptly to minimise harmful effects
- be freely available to all readers (ie, not behind access barriers or available only to subscribers)
- state who is retracting the article • State the reason(s) for retraction
- be objective, factual and avoid inflammatory language.
Retractions are not usually appropriate if:
- the authorship is disputed but there is no reason to doubt the validity of the findings
- the main findings of the work are still reliable and correction could sufficiently address errors or concerns
- an editor has inconclusive evidence to support retraction, or is awaiting additional information such as from an institutional investigation (for information about Expressions of Concern see https://publicationethics.org/expressions-of-concern-forum-discussion)
- author conflicts of interest have been reported to the journal after publication, but in the editor’s view these are not likely to have influenced interpretations or recommendations or the conclusions of the article.
This is an extract. Refer to the PDF for the full document.
About this resource
Author Elizabeth Wager, Virginia Barbour, Steven Yentis, Sabine Kleinert on behalf of COPE Council
Version 1 2009
Version 2 2019
How to cite this
COPE Council. COPE Guidelines: Retraction Guidelines. November 2019. https://doi.org/10.24318/cope.2019.1.4
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Full page history
11 December 2019
2019 updated Retraction Guidelines replace version 1 as pdf.