By its very nature, standing scientific research is inherently subject to re-analysis, re-investigation and possible contradiction by newer research.
The scientific publishing community of course has an inherent obligation – and desire – to publish the highest-quality, most accurate research. The very existence of the Retraction Watch initiative (www.retractionwatch.com) demonstrates that scrutiny of possible cases for retraction, and action that is taken as a result of investigation into these, is a key concern for publishers.
It is interesting to note the apparent increase in retractions due to cases where the reviewer identities have been called into question, and also some cases of spurious or faked reviews (see http://retractionwatch.com/2015/08/17/64-more-papers-retracted-for-fake-reviews-this-time-from-springer-journals/ for an example).
A recent article shows that this is a global issue: http://www.universityworldnews.com/article.php?story=20160108194308816
In cases where authors are invited to recommend reviewers, it is of course important for authors to ensure that any names provided are valid and accurate.
We recommend that authors and researchers keep track of news relating to article retractions in their disciplines, and also carefully review any publisher statements or revisions to author guidelines and policies, in order to ensure that due process is followed during the publication process.
It will be interesting to see if initiatives such as ORCID (www.orcid.org – which provides a persistent identifier for individual researchers) will facilitate the checking of valid people-data for the future.
In the meantime, the best advice is for authors to take responsibility for checking data of any kind that they submit to the publisher, and to make a note if they require the publisher to cross-check such information.
Another difficulty can be the fact that articles may continue to be cited after articles are retracted, as the ‘flagging’ of such cases of retraction may not be clear (or the authors may store particular articles on file to refer to, which might subsequently have been retracted). The following article highlights this issue: http://qz.com/583497/researchers-keep-citing-these-retracted-papers/. Again, checking citation data and the online links for cited articles may help to limit the risk of citing such retractions, and it is recommended that authors check for this before submission.
Any doubts or questions? For authors needing specific advice or who have concerns about the possibility of dealing with retraction, we first recommend that you contact the publisher, and also carefully review the publisher’s Notes for Authors and other guidelines;
We are also happy to help with any general questions on this topic. Please contact email@example.com.