Elsevier retracts entire issue after mistakenly publishing it online

Publishing giant Elsevier has retracted an entire issue of one of its journals because the contents — abstracts from a conference about child neurology — were never supposed to make it online.

We discovered the retraction after realizing that every aspect of the issue in Brain & Development had been retracted, including the cover, editorial board, and the contents.

We contacted Elsevier, and a spokesperson told us:

The issue of Brain & Development that you’re referring to (Volume 39, Issue 3, Supplement) is a set of abstracts of the 14th Asian and Oceanian Congress of Child Neurology (AOCCN2017) held in Japan in May 2017. These abstracts were meant to be distributed to participants only, in print format, but were erroneously published on ScienceDirect as well. We removed them from ScienceDirect as soon as we detected the error.  

We asked what was the harm of having the abstracts online:

Brain and Development is an official journal of the Japanese Society of Child Neurology, and the congress, the 14th Asian and Oceanian Congress of Child Neurology (AOCCN2017), was organized by the Asian and Oceanian Congress of Child Neurology Association. The Japanese Society of Child Neurology didn’t want to create the impression that they were the organizers of the event. So they preferred sharing print copies with the participants only, who were well aware of who organized the congress. Publishing them online might give readers not involved in the congress the (wrong) impression that the congress was organized by the society.

What a tangled web we weave.

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