Oxford University Press clarifies policy: All retraction notices will be open access

Last week, we reported on an uniformative retraction notice in Molecular Biology and Evolution (MBE), an Oxford University Press (OUP) title, that the publisher wanted $32 to read. To OUP’s credit, they quickly acknowledged that the retraction hadn’t been handled properly.

Earlier this week, OUP’s senior publisher for journals Cathy Kennedy followed up with some welcome news:

We agree completely that retractions should be made available free: we are in the process of making all OUP retractions past and future free.

We of course feel the same way, and this was in fact the subject of our first column in Lab Times. So we’re very glad to hear it, since not every publisher agrees. (We’ve started a “behind a paywall” category on Retraction Watch to keep track.)

Kennedy also said OUP was “in the process of putting the retracted MBE article back online,” but marked retracted, and that the retraction notice would read:

This article has been retracted at the authors’ request because, subsequent to its publication, the authors realised that the results were likely to have been biased by a misunderstanding of the raw data.

We asked for a bit more detail about OUP’s policy, and Ian Russell, the publisher’s editorial director for science, responded:

The policy of Oxford University Press is (and as far as I am aware always has been) that retraction notices should be freely available online.  However, we have to hold our hands up and say that a mistake was made operationally which obviously led to this instance of a retraction notice being part of subscription content.  We are currently checking our content to identify any other instances where this has happened and we will obviously rectify any that are found.  At the same time we are reviewing and updating our internal procedures to try to ensure that this doesn’t happen again – never say never, but our clear intention is that our systems and processes will be more robust.

We hope that there aren’t any other instances and that, if there are, the process we are currently undertaking will identify them.  However, I can’t give an absolute guarantee that we will be able ensure that none are missed for some reason.  I can restate that our policy is that retraction notices should be freely available.  If we are alerted to any that are not freely available we will endeavour to rectify the situation as soon as possible.

So, Retraction Watch readers, if you find any OUP retraction notices that are behind a paywall, let them know.

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