In August, we reported on the retraction of a paper in Virology Journal about whether a woman allegedly cured by Jesus Christ had the flu or some other ailment. The original paper was published on July 21, 2010. On August 11, after a flurry of criticism from various bloggers, the journal’s editor, Robert Garry, apologized for publishing it in a comment. On the 13th, the journal published a retraction notice.
But as an eagle-eyed Retraction Watch reader has pointed out, the original paper, and its abstract, both remain online, without any suggestion that the paper was retracted. We found that puzzling, so we called Garry, of Tulane’s department of microbiology and immunology. He seemed as mystified as we are. “I saw the retraction article, we retracted it very quickly, but I’ll follow up and see what their policy is,” he told us.
Virology Journal is published by BioMed Central, whose policy was described by two editors in 2007:
We at BioMed Central believe that by providing immediate and unrestricted access, open access online publishing provides a unique environment in which to prevent the perpetuation of errors. To date, we have followed a policy of displaying a note about corrections prominently at the beginning of the original article, in accordance with the National Library of Medicine (NLM) guidelines . In the interests of high quality publication of correct scientific research, we are considering a policy to directly correct our online publications when we have sufficient evidence that the original published article warrants amendment, along with an explanation of how the amended article differs from the original. These updated publications will be reflected on our mirror sites as well.
Failing to mark the original paper with a retraction notice doesn’t seem consistent with that policy. We’ll update as we hear more about this apparent resurrection.