Editors should consider retracting a publication if:
- They have clear evidence that the findings are unreliable, either as a result of major error (e.g., miscalculation or experimental error), or as a result of fabrication (e.g., of data) or falsification (e.g., 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 (i.e., cases of redundant publication)
- It contains material or data without authorization 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- Be linked to the retracted article wherever possible (i.e., in all online versions)
- Clearly identify the retracted article (e.g., by including the title and authors in the retraction heading or citing the retracted article)
- Be clearly identified as a retraction (i.e., distinct from other types of correction or comment)
- Be published promptly to minimize 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.
For more information: COPE (Version 2: November 2019) https://publicationethics.org/files/retraction-guidelines.pdf