Editors should consider retracting a publication if:
They have clear evidence that the findings are unreliable, either as a result of major error (eg, miscalculation or experimental error), or as a result of fabrication (eg, of data) or falsification (eg, image manipulation)
It constitutes plagiarism
The findings have previously been published elsewhere without proper attribution to previous sources or disclosure to the editor, permission to republish, or justification (ie, cases of redundant publication)
It contains material or data without authorisation for use
Copyright has been infringed or there is some other serious legal issue (eg, libel, privacy)
It reports unethical research
It has been published solely on the basis of a compromised or manipulated peer review process
The author(s) failed to disclose a major competing interest (a.k.a. conflict of interest) that, in the view of the editor, would have unduly affected interpretations of the work or recommendations by editors and peer reviewers.
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Be linked to the retracted article wherever possible (ie, in all online versions)
Clearly identify the retracted article (eg, by including the title and authors in the retraction heading or citing the retracted article)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
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.
Author Elizabeth Wager, Virginia Barbour, Steven Yentis, Sabine Kleinert on behalf of COPE Council Version 12009 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
17 May 2020
Text replaced with summary text from 2019 guidelines.