Researcher Floribert Patrick Endong had been looking forward to seeing his paper in print. Several months after he submitted it to Gender Studies, the journal told him in March that it was online. But when he read it, Endong was disappointed to see some changes he had not approved, which he believed “deformed much of the initial text.”
It turns out, the journal “did not allow me to vet the changes before publication,” he explained.
When Endong notified the editor-in-chief of his concerns that March, he asked the journal if he could correct the issues. If, however, a correction was not possible, he asked the journal to retract his article.
The journal opted to retract. The notice for “The Female Media Producer as an Advocate of Women’s Empowerment in Nigeria: The Cross River State Experience,” retracted last April, simply states:
The author has requested withdrawal of the article, since he thinks that some of the revisions of the text have distorted the original meaning of his statements.
The paper explores whether female journalists and producers in Cross River State, Nigeria use their roles to enact social change for women.
Why did the journal make reportedly substantive changes to the paper without running them by the author first?
Reghina Dascal, the journal’s editor-in-chief, told us that a reviewer recommended “minor changes” to the paper, which were not “related to content so much but to some language errors and tautologies.” Dascal, who told us this is the journal’s first retraction since it began in 2002, explained:
I sent the report back to its author and when there was no answer by the deadline I had set I decided to publish it.
We asked Dascal why the journal retracted the paper instead of publishing a corrected, author-approved version. She told us:
I also think we could have published an erratum but the author was adamant about having his work retracted.
But Endong, a researcher at the University of Calabar in Nigeria, explained that he had asked the journal to retract the paper “only as a last resort.”
In his email to the journal last March, Endong said:
It is true that in some instances, the proofreaders improved the level of language and corrected some mistakes but overall, the published version of my article is to some extent a “deformation” of the initial version.
We asked Endong about some of the unauthorized changes he objected to. He told us:
For instance the use of the possessive (Women’s) in the title reduces the elegance of the formulation. Also, in the introduction you find section like “since as far back … media industry” (p.168); “media governing bodies will enable … women media” (p.168); “one thing that strikes … in the country” (p.168-169), among many others, which are clear deformation of the initial manuscript.
Dascal said this experience has taught her to “always wait for the Ok of the author before publishing.”
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