UK government research watchdog publishes new retraction guidelines

The UK’s Research Integrity Office (UKRIO) has just published “Guidance for researchers on retractions in academic journals.” The document is an adaptation of existing guidelines by the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE), a UK charity.

Nothing has changed, COPE chair Liz Wager told Retraction Watch. UKRIO just decided to convert COPE’s existing guidelines, targeted to journal editors, so that they were useful to researchers.

Two of the bullets in particular caught our eye:

3.12 Retractions and expressions of concern should:

e) be freely available to all readers and not behind access barriers or available only to subscribers;

g) state the reason(s) for retraction, in order to distinguish misconduct from honest error.

Both of these are lacking in many of the retractions we’ve covered. Wager told Retraction Watch that COPE felt the way we do about the exasperating lack of transparency of many retraction notices. They also felt — as we do — that it’s critical to say why a paper was retracted. It’s unclear to us — and apparently to COPE and UKRIO — how the scientific community will benefit from obfuscation.

Hat tip to Wager, who blogged about the guidelines.

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