In DepthScientific Publishing

Rethinking the dreaded r-word

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Science  09 Jun 2017:
Vol. 356, Issue 6342, pp. 998
DOI: 10.1126/science.356.6342.998

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Summary

Two groups of experts say it's time to develop alterna1tives for the word "retraction," which carries a strong connotation of scientific misconduct that makes scientists who made honest mistakes reluctant to step forward. Some journals also want more options for a troubled paper than either a correction—used for minor errors—or a wholesale retraction. A December 2016 workshop at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California, resulted in a proposal for a more granular system that has 14 solutions for different situations; retractions would remain for misconduct, but five other terms would cover papers withdrawn for other reasons. Meanwhile, a working group of the Committee on Publication Ethics posted a plan on bioRxiv in March that would simply retire the word retraction altogether and call everything from a minor correction to a complete retraction an "amendment."