Last week, we reported on a new paper by Scripps Research Institute researchers in which they described how two of their previous papers had been based on mistaken interpretations. The authors wrote in their new paper that they were retracting the earlier works, but the journal had told them the papers would be corrected instead.
We had asked Protein Science editor Brian Matthews for clarification, and he emailed us late last week:
When Dr. Kelly submitted this manuscript he explained that the new results had led him to the realization that the interpretation of the data presented in two earlier Protein Science articles was incorrect. The experiments described in the original reports were carried out in a technically satisfactory fashion and were reproducible. It was the interpretation of the experiments that was at fault. In his letter of submission Dr. Kelly indicated that he would be willing to either retract the earlier articles or handle the matter as corrigenda. His new manuscript was subject to standard scientific review and, after revision, judged to be acceptable for publication. The matter was also considered by legal staff at the publisher who advised that the correction should best be made via corrigenda statements. We anticipate that these statements, together with the above-referenced article, will appear in the November issue of Protein Science.
The article from Dr. Kelly which was posted on the Protein Science website was a working version which referred to “retractions” rather than “corrections”. It should not have been released and I apologize for the confusion.
So, the papers will be corrected, not retracted. The distinction drew a lot of comments on our original post, so we thought we’d poll Retraction Watch readers in another installment of “Ask Retraction Watch:”