Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Oops — Springer journals retract three articles published by accident

with one comment

springerJournals published by Springer have retracted three articles in different disciplines, noting in all instances the articles were published by mistake.

A Springer spokesperson told us all three papers were pulled as a result of “human error.” In two instances, the notices say the editors-in-chief never meant to accept the papers, since the recommendation was to reject. 

We’ll start with the retraction that has the most interesting explanation. Here’s the notice:

This article has been retracted by the Publisher as it was published accidentally without consent of the Editor in Chief.

Herzschrittmachertherapie + Elektrophysiologie, the journal that published “Differenzierung von Misunderstanding und Mismanagement,” (which no longer seems to be online) is not indexed by Clarivate Analytics’ Web of Science, formerly part of Thomson Reuters.  

The explanation for why the article was pulled is more interesting than the notice suggests. According to the editor of the journal, Carsten Israel, a cardiologist at the Ev. Hospital of Bielefeld in Germany:

A letter to the editor contained a rude passage. Another author was basically accused of being stupid and corrupt, in friendly words but with this meaning.

He added:

I overlooked the respective passage and only realized it when it was already online. The wording was ok but the meaning was not.

We’ve reached out to the study’s sole author, Marcus Wiemer, a chief physician at Ruhr University Bochum in Germany, for a comment.

The other two retraction notices say the papers were published when the editors overlooked the recommendations, such as from reviewers. First, here’s the retraction notice published in the Journal of Oceanography:

This article has been retracted at the request of the Editor in-Chief, who noted an administrative error. The Editor in Chief accidentally accepted while the reviewers’ recommendation was to reject. The journal apologizes for this error. The online version of this article contains the full text of the retracted article as electronic supplementary material.

The 2016 paper, “Elevated water level from strong wind along the Gulf of Thailand,” has yet to be indexed.

Joji Ishizaka, the journal’s editor-in-chief from Nagoya University in Japan, took complete responsibility for the mistake. He noted:

[The retraction] was not caused by any scientific problem, but it was fully my fault after the decision. I feel very sorry [for the] author…he agreed to the retraction.

He explained that the journal has

added one more step in the system before the publication. So [this] should not happened again.

The extra step, according to a Springer spokesperson, is that typeset proofs of all papers submitted to the Journal of Oceanography will now checked and approved by the editor-in-chief before online publication.

Here’s the final retraction notice for “On the unification of nuclear-structure theory: A response to Bortignon and Broglia,” issued by The European Physical Journal A:

The original version of this article has been retracted at the request of the Editors-in-Chief, who noted an administrative error. The communicating Editor-in-Chief accidentally accepted the article before receiving recommendations as part of the usual procedure. Recommendation received and endorsed by the Editors-in-Chief is to reject. The journal apologizes for this error.

We’ve reached out to the journal’s editors-in-chief for more information, and will update the post with anything else we learn.

The Springer spokesperson told us:

In all three cases…the cause was human error and the papers were accepted/published accidentally.

Although all three publisher errors occurred in Springer journals, the spokesperson assured us they didn’t stem from a systematic error in the publishing process.

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Comments
  • Dean November 21, 2016 at 12:58 pm

    I thought that most letters to the editor were polite ways of saying that another author was stupid. How was that one different?

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