Recently, a reader contacted us with an interesting scenario: He’d recently heard about an author who asked for a refund of his page charges after he had to retract a paper for an honest error.
The scenario raised questions we’d never considered before. On the one hand, page charges often cover work that was completed in order to publish the paper, such as typesetting, printing, and distribution. That work happened, regardless of whether or not the paper was eventually retracted. On the other hand, researchers often depend on grants to cover publication fees, and if a paper is retracted, they may not be able to charge the grant, leaving them out of pocket.
If there is a fundamental problem with the paper, which the journal could have caught during editing and peer review, does that leave the journal partly responsible to shoulder some of the cost? What about if the article was retracted due to a publishing error, such as the journal posting the wrong version, or the same version twice?
Note that page charges are distinct from Article Processing Charges (APCs), associated with open access journals. On that point, publishers such as Elsevier and BioMed Central have made their positions clear: No refunds of APCs after a paper is retracted.
So are there any situations in which retractions should prompt refunds of page charges? Tell us what you think, below.
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are there any situations in which retractions should prompt a refund in publishing fees?