Correction of the literature, corrigenda & errata


Case discussion: repeated complaints about meta-analysis

Case: how to respond to a reader's repeated concerns



How to respond to a reader's repeated concerns


A meta-analysis was published in a journal ahead of print, and then subsequently in print. Several months later, the journal was contacted by a faculty member at a university not connected with the study. The reader outlined three general concerns with the meta-analysis. The concerns were discussed by the editorial team, including the statistical editor, and it was decided that the overall results of the meta-analysis were not affected.


Author admits failure to credit other authors


An author submitted a manuscript and stated that he was the sole author. The manuscript received a favourable peer review and eventually was accepted. Some time after the article was published, a co-author told the author to contact the journal to correct the author list. The author of record (AOR) did this and supplied co-author names to the journal.  


Letter from the COPE co-Chairs: November 2018

My initial introduction to COPE many years ago occurred when, as an editor of a peer reviewed journal, a reviewer called to my attention, a blatant example of fabrication in a manuscript in which years and volumes of references had been altered to make them more current. I contacted COPE, presented the case at a Forum, and received excellent advice and consultation. This ultimately resulted in numerous retractions of manuscripts published by this researcher, across three journals.


Undisclosed conflict of interest


We published two peer-reviewed articles—one protocol and one paper with the results of a comparative analysis comparing a group of people associated with a specific “complementary medicine health care organization” (CMG), with the general population, which concludes that the group has “unusual health indicators” (more favourable than the general population).


When to conclude correspondence from reader about errors in a published article


A reader, Dr A, wrote to the editors explaining a number of concerns she had with some of the figures in a paper published in the journal. The editors sought the advice of an associate editor with more expertise in the subspecialty of the paper. The associate editor concurred with Dr A’s opinion of the paper and the authors were invited to respond.


Identifying patient information published in a figure


A reader emailed a society, which forwarded the message to the journal office, noting that he can read the name of a patient in a figure in a published letter to the editor. The letter was published online 3 months earlier and had just appeared in print; it was the print version the reader saw. The reader asked if the patient's name could be removed.


How to correct a published paper


A paper was published in July 2012. The author was told by their institution that one of the figures had to be replaced, in the interests of national security. Failure to do this would result in imprisonment. The editor checked with one of his reviewers who said that replacing the figure will not affect the results or conclusions of the paper.