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sub-category Publication Ethics

Simple measures to avoid an Article Retraction

Simple measures to avoid an Article Retraction

Causes of retractions

Firstly, it is important to recognize why articles are retracted in the first place. Unfortunately, there are dishonest researchers who are willing to falsify data and bypass codes of ethics in order to achieve recognition for the results they want. (Most likely, you are not one of these researchers.) Indeed, although relatively rare, retractions can occur for honest, and often simple mistakes, which can make the publication process seem daunting. With a good awareness of the best codes of practice, however, it need not be that way.

Preventing a retraction

There are some steps during the research and write-up process that you can take to prevent the possibility of a retraction. 

a. Follow the relevant ethics guidelines

It is important to familiarize yourself with the ethical guidelines issued by the recognized body in your field of expertise. Studies deemed unethical because of the treatment of animals or issues of privacy surrounding studies on people, to take just two examples, may be retracted.

b. Clearly state any conflicts of interest (COIs)

Transparency is just as important for authors as it is for publishers and journals; readers must have all the information available to them to evaluate the limitations of the study. Therefore, ensure you disclose all COIs at the time of submission.

c. Take measures to avoid plagiarism

When writing up your research, be sure to reference correctly and comprehensively; else, you may end up being guilty of plagiarism. Even when using or referring to material written or produced by yourself, the work must be correctly referenced. Self-plagiarism is a form of plagiarism and may lead to article retraction or at least redundancy.

d. Declare all author affiliations

All authors and their affiliations must be clearly and correctly indicated.

e. Select a journal wisely

Finally, it is important to consider carefully which journal to submit your paper to. A reliable and reputed journal will have a rigorous editorial or review process in order to identify any experimental or calculation errors, thus minimizing the risk of your article being retracted further down the line.

Selecting a journal according to industry guidelines (to avoid a retraction)

Together, the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE), the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ), the Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association (OASPA) and the World Association of Medical Editors (WAME) have compiled a set of publishing guidelines for open access (OA) journals. They could be used as a guide for selecting a reliable journal. 

  • Journal and publisher staff transparency: Staff details should be available on the company website.
  • Editorial staff and referees: The names and affiliations of editorial staff should be available. Reviewers should be experts in their field so that they can give provide useful feedback on manuscripts.
  • Procedures and protocol: The peer review process must be clearly indicated on the journal website, along with their publication schedule.
  • Income and publishing fees: All publication costs must be stated clearly at the beginning of the process.
  • Indexing and marketing: Journals and publishers must be open about where the journal is indexed, its impact factor (IF) and must not lock its proofs to hinder copyright checks and prevent scanning by search engines.


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