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Article Correction, Retraction and Removal Policy

Policy overview

Elsevier recognizes the importance of the integrity and completeness of the scholarly record to the scientific community and attaches the highest importance to maintaining trust in the authority of its published articles. Articles that have been published shall remain extant, exact and unaltered as far as is possible. However, circumstances may arise where an article needs to be corrected, retracted, or even removed.

The policies on this page relate to Journal articles.  For information on Elsevier’s policy regarding Book or Book Chapter removal, please see: Chapter Removal Policy

It is a general principle of scholarly communication that the editor of a learned journal is solely and independently responsible for deciding which articles submitted to the journal shall be published. In making this decision, the editor is guided by policies of the journal's editorial board and constrained by such legal requirements in force, for example regarding libel, copyright infringement and privacy issues. An outcome of this principle is the importance of the scholarly record as a permanent and historic record of the transactions of scholarship. Therefore, when the scientific record requires correction, this will be made by a notice that will be permanently linked to the article, providing transparency for the scientific community.

This policy describes Elsevier’s approach to correcting the scientific record. It is reviewed and updated as standards and best practices evolve.

Authors who discover an error in their published article

Authors who discover an error in their published article must contact the journal as soon as possible using the contact details listed on the journal’s home page.

In most cases, the corresponding author will be responsible for sharing the details of the error with the journal. The journal Editor or a designated representative (such as another member of the editorial team with appropriate subject matter expertise) will review the proposed correction, together with any accompanying data or information. They may send the proposed correction for further peer-review. The journal Editor will determine the appropriate mechanism to correct the article. They may also consult with the journal’s editorial team and Elsevier’s Research Integrity & Publishing Ethics Center of Expertise before reaching their decision.

Article correction

A Corrigendum will be published where it is required to correct an error or omission, but the integrity and findings of the article are not impacted by the error.

The Corrigendum should be drafted by the authors. All authors must agree to publication. The Corrigendum will be linked to the article that it corrects.

On rare occasions the Publisher may need to correct an error made during the publication of an article. Where this is the case, the journal will issue an Erratum to correct the error. The Erratum will be linked to the article that it corrects.

Expressions of concern

Journal editors or designated representative(s) (such as members of a journal’s Ethics Committee), in consultation with Elsevier’s Research Integrity & Publishing Ethics Center of Expertise, will consider issuing an Expression of Concern if any of the below conditions have been met:

  • They receive inconclusive evidence of research or publication misconduct, which has not been resolved by an investigation and which warrants notification to readers.

  • They believe that an investigation into alleged misconduct related to the publication either has not been, or would not be, fair and impartial or conclusive.

  • An investigation is underway, but a judgment will not be available for a considerable time.

This Expression of Concern may be temporary or permanent. Where a temporary Expression of Concern is published, it will generally be replaced with a further notice – which may include a permanent Expression of Concern, a retraction or removal, or a notice of exoneration in the form of an Editor’s Note – that outlines the outcome of the investigation and the conclusions of the editor or their designated representative.

Article withdrawal

Articles-in-Press which represent early versions of articles that have been accepted for publication but not yet published in their final form may be withdrawn prior to final publication. Articles-in-Press may be withdrawn where:

  • They are found to contain errors.

  • They are discovered to be an accidental duplicate of another published article.

  • They may have breached Elsevier’s journal publishing policies in the view of the editor, e.g., multiple submission, bogus claims of authorship, plagiarism, fraudulent use of data.

  • They represent an early version of an article that was published due to an editorial or production error.

When Articles-in-Press are withdrawn, the article content (HTML and PDF) will be removed and replaced with a HTML page and PDF stating that the article has been withdrawn according to the Elsevier Policy on Article in Press Withdrawal, with a link to this policy.

Article retraction

The retraction of an article by its authors or the journal Editor under the advice of members of the scholarly community has long been an occasional feature of the learned world. Articles may be retracted to correct errors that impact the findings reported by an article where they are too extensive in the view of the editors to publish a correction, or due to infringements of Elsevier’s journal policies, such as multiple submission, bogus claims of authorship, plagiarism, fraudulent use of data or the like.

Journal editors or designated representative(s) (such as members of a journal’s Ethics Committee), in consultation with Elsevier’s Research Integrity & Publishing Ethics Center of Expertise, will consider retracting an article where:

  • They have clear evidence that the findings are unreliable, either as a result of major error (e.g., miscalculation or experimental error), or as a result of fabrication (e.g., of data) or falsification (e.g., image manipulation).

  • It constitutes plagiarism.

  • The findings have previously been published elsewhere and the authors have failed to provide proper attribution to previous sources or disclosure to the editor, permission to republish, or justification (i.e. redundant publication).

  • It contains material or data that the authors were not authorised to publish.

  • Copyright has been infringed or there is some other serious legal issue (e.g., libel, breach of privacy).

  • It reports unethical research and/or breaches Elsevier’s publishing ethics policies regarding the conduct of research involving human participants and/or animals.

  • There is evidence of compromised peer-review or systematic manipulation of the editorial process.

  • There is evidence or material concerns of authorship being sold.

  • There is evidence of citation manipulation.

  • The author(s) failed to disclose a major competing interest (a conflict of interest) that, in the view of the editor, would have materially affected interpretations of the work or recommendations by editors and/or peer reviewers.

  • There is evidence of any other breach of the journal's publishing policies and the editor has therefore lost confidence in the validity or integrity of the article.

Standards for retracting articles have been developed by a number of library and scholarly bodies, and the following best practice is used by Elsevier:

  • A retraction notice titled “Retraction: [article title]” signed by the editor and, if appropriate, by the authors is published in a subsequent issue of the journal, is paginated and is listed in the table of contents.

  • In the electronic version, a link is made between the retraction notice and the original article.

  • The online article is preceded by a screen containing the retraction note. It is to this screen that the link resolves; the reader can then proceed to the article itself.

  • The original article is retained unchanged except for a watermark on the .pdf indicating on each page that it is “retracted.”

  • The HTML version of the article is removed.

Article removal: legal limitations

In an extremely limited number of cases, it may be necessary to remove an article from the online archive of the journal where it was published. Given the importance of maintaining the scholarly record as a permanent and – as far as possible – unaltered record of the transactions of scholarship, removal of an article is rare and will only occur where it is determined that:

  • The article is defamatory, or infringes others’ legal rights, and retraction is not a sufficient remedy.

  • The article is, or Elsevier has good reason to expect it will be, the subject of a court order.

  • The article, if acted upon, might pose a serious health risk.

In these circumstances, while the metadata (Title and Authors) will be retained, the text of the article will be replaced with a screen indicating the article has been removed for legal reasons.

Article replacement

In cases where the article, if acted upon, might pose a serious health risk, the authors of the original article may wish to retract the original and replace it with a corrected version. In these circumstances the procedures for retraction will be followed with the difference that the database retraction notice will publish a link to the corrected re-published article and a history of the document.

Official archives

Elsevier’s official archives at the National Library of the Netherlands will retain all article versions, including retracted or otherwise removed articles.