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Corrections and Retractions Policy

Last updated: 2022-04-30

Process for Handling Cases Requiring Corrections, Retractions, and Editorial Expressions of Concern

While performing responsible research and reporting accurate content in the publishing of medical information, the author's due diligence and academic honesty play an important factor.
It is presumed that manuscripts provide honest and accurate documentation of honest observations.

There are 3 types of post-publication notice published:

  • Corrections,
  • Expressions of Concern (EOCs),
  • Retraction Notices

To address:

  • Errors that impact an article’s interpretation or indexing,
  • Concerns about compliance with journal standards and policies
  • Concerns that have implications for the integrity, reliability, and/or validity of published articles

In addressing issues raised about the publications, STM upholds the journals’ policies, publication criteria, and editorial standards, and follows ICMJE and COPE guidelines, where applicable.

Post-publication editorial decisions (e.g. corrections, Expressions of Concern, retractions) are issued only after STM carefully considers the issues raised, and how the case details align with COPE guidance and the policies and publication criteria. Under COPE guidance, STM attempt to discuss concerns with the article’s corresponding author before coming to an editorial decision.

After a post-publication editorial decision has been communicated to the authors, the decision is held during a brief commenting period in which authors can respond to the decision or notice the text. After the commenting period’s end date, which is specified in the decision notification letter, the decision will proceed.


The Journal takes every effort in printing a final “product” that is error-free and asks authors to commit to the same. It is expected that the final version of a manuscript can be relied upon as accurate and complete. Authors are always provided with a set of page proofs that must be checked carefully for content and correct layout.
STM publishes corrections to address errors in the articles if, per the editorial assessment, all of the following criteria have been met:

  • The errors impact the main contents or understanding of the article.
  • The article's overall results and conclusions are upheld.
  • There are no concerns about the integrity or reliability of the reported work.
  • To address an error or omission that affects key aspects of the publication’s metadata (e.g. an author's name, or the competing interests, funding, or data availability statement),
  • To provide an underlying dataset or additional information that the editors deem necessary for the article to meet the journal’s research reporting standards.

Manuscripts will not be published without having received the authors’ approval or corrections. Occasionally, an error in a published paper may be discovered which requires the publication of a correction in the form of an erratum. Cases in which an erratum would be insufficient to address an error will be dealt with on a case-by-case basis by the Editor-in-Chief.

When an article is republished, STM generally publishes an accompanying correction or notice of republication, that is linked to the article and documents the changes. For example, STM republishes without accompanying notices (aka “silent corrections”) when updating author lists to reflect name changes for transgender or non-binary authors.

Correction policy refers to the guidelines and procedures that a publisher or journal follows to allow authors to make corrections to their manuscript after it has gone through peer review and has been accepted for publication. The purpose of a correction policy is to ensure that published work is accurate and reflects the latest information available.

Publisher or journal generally allows authors to make minor corrections to their manuscript after it has been through peer review and accepted for publication before it is copyedited and typeset. These corrections may include typographical errorsminor data corrections, and formatting changes. Authors are typically allowed to make these corrections without any additional rounds of peer review.  In major revisions or changes in the content, the manuscript may require additional rounds of peer review. In such cases, the manuscript will be sent back to the reviewers to assess the revised manuscript. The reviewers may suggest additional revisions, or they may recommend acceptance of the revised manuscript.

Publishers or journals often have strict timelines for post-peer review corrections. Authors are typically given a specific amount of time to make corrections and resubmit their manuscripts. Failure to meet the deadline may result in delays in publication or withdrawal of the manuscript.  The publisher or journal does not charge authors for making minor corrections. However, if major revisions are required and the manuscript needs to undergo another round of peer review, there is a fee associated with this process. The fee amount may vary depending on the journal and the extent of the revisions required.  Authors should always read the publisher's guidelines and policies before submitting their manuscripts.

Expressions of Concerns and Retractions
Expressions of Concerns

Expressions of Concern (EOCs) are notices published at editors’ discretion to alert readers of serious concerns about published work or an article’s compliance with the policies (e.g. Data Availability). Where substantial doubt arises as to the honesty or integrity of a submitted or published article, it is the Editor-in-Chief's responsibility to ensure that the matter is adequately addressed, usually by the authors' sponsoring institution. It is not normally the Editor-in-Chief's responsibility to carry out the investigation or decision. The Editor-in-Chief should be promptly informed of the decision of the sponsoring institution and a retraction printed should it be determined that a fraudulent paper was published. Alternatively, the Editor-in-Chief may choose to publish an expression of concern over aspects of the conduct or integrity of the work.


According to the Retraction Guidelines of COPE, retracting an article is a way to correct the literature and inform readers about major concerns regarding the article's integrity, validity, or reliability. Retractions are published on a specific page and include the original article's citation.

When an article is retracted, STM will publish a retraction notice that explains the reasons for the retraction. This notice will be posted at the top of the affected article's webpage and linked to the article's publication record. Depending on the case, STM may work with the authors to prepare the notice and give them the option to be listed as authors of the retraction notice.

STM will attempt to notify all authors about the retraction decision and provide them with the notice text before finalizing the retraction.

Purpose of Retraction

Retraction is a mechanism used to correct the scientific literature when there are concerns about the integrity, validity, or reliability of a published article. The purpose of retraction is to alert readers, researchers, and the wider scientific community about issues with an article that may impact the validity of its findings and conclusions.

Retractions are typically issued when there is evidence of misconduct, such as data fabrication, falsification, or plagiarism. Retraction may also be necessary if there are significant errors or flaws in the study design or methodology that invalidate the results.

Retraction serves several important purposes. Firstly, it helps to maintain the integrity of the scientific literature by removing articles that are known to be inaccurate or unreliable. This is crucial for maintaining public trust in scientific research and ensuring that scientific findings are used to inform important decisions in areas such as public health, policy-making, and clinical practice.

Secondly, retraction ensures that other researchers are aware of the issues with the article and do not continue to rely on its findings. This is particularly important in cases where the article may have been widely cited or used as the basis for further research.

Finally, retraction provides a means for authors to take responsibility for errors or misconduct and demonstrate their commitment to scientific integrity. By acknowledging and correcting mistakes, authors can help to rebuild trust and maintain their credibility within the scientific community.

What form should a retraction take?

When an article needs to be retracted, it is important that the retraction notice provides clear and concise information about the reasons for the retraction. The form that a retraction takes can vary depending on the specific circumstances of the case, but there are some common elements that should be included in all retraction notices.

Firstly, the retraction notice should clearly state that the article is being retracted and provide the article's citation details, including the title, authors, and journal name. It should also indicate the reason for the retraction, such as misconduct or errors in the study design or methodology.

The notice should provide a brief summary of the issues with the article, without going into excessive detail. This helps readers and researchers understand the nature of the concerns without being overwhelmed by technical or complex information.

In some cases, it may be appropriate for the retraction notice to include additional information, such as a description of the corrective action taken, a statement of apology, or an explanation of how the issues were discovered. However, this will depend on the specific circumstances of the case and the publisher's policies.

It is important that the retraction notice is prominently displayed and easily accessible, such as by being posted at the top of the affected article's webpage and linked to the article's publication record. The notice should also be clearly labeled as a retraction to avoid confusion.

Finally, the publisher should make efforts to notify all authors of the retraction decision and provide them with the opportunity to review and comment on the retraction notice before it is published.

Which publications should be retracted?

Publications that should be retracted are those that contain significant errors or flaws that impact the validity or reliability of the article's findings. Retraction may also be necessary when there is evidence of misconduct, such as data fabrication, falsification, or plagiarism.

In general, any article that threatens the integrity of the scientific literature should be considered for retraction. This includes articles that:

  • Contain fraudulent or manipulated data
  • Have serious methodological flaws that invalidate the results
  • Are based on research that was not conducted ethically or in accordance with established guidelines
  • Contain significant errors or omissions that undermine the conclusions
  • Use previously published material without appropriate attribution or permission
  • Are found to have been published without proper editorial oversight, such as through a breakdown in the peer review process

Retraction is not a decision that should be taken lightly, as it can have significant implications for the authors, the journal, and the wider scientific community. It is important that publishers and editors carefully evaluate the evidence and consult with experts in the field before making a decision to retract an article.

In some cases, it may be appropriate to issue a correction or an expression of concern rather than a retraction. Corrections are typically used for minor errors that do not undermine the overall conclusions of the article, while expressions of concern may be used when there are concerns about the integrity of the data or methods but more investigation is needed before a decision on retraction can be made.

When should a publication be retracted?

A publication should be retracted when there are significant concerns about the validity, reliability, or integrity of the article's findings. Retraction is a serious decision that should not be taken lightly, but it is necessary to correct the scientific record and ensure the integrity of the literature.

There are several situations in which a publication may need to be retracted:

  1. Misconduct: If there is evidence of misconduct, such as data fabrication, falsification, or plagiarism, the publication should be retracted. Misconduct undermines the integrity of the research and the scientific process, and it is important to remove such articles from the literature.

  2. Errors or flaws: If there are significant errors or flaws in the article that undermine the validity or reliability of the findings, the publication should be retracted. This may include issues such as flawed methodology, inaccurate data, or incorrect analysis.

  3. Ethical concerns: If the research was not conducted in accordance with established ethical guidelines, such as the use of human or animal subjects without appropriate consent or oversight, the publication may need to be retracted.

  4. Duplicate publication: If an article has been published in more than one journal without appropriate attribution or permission, the publication should be retracted to avoid redundancy and potential confusion.

  5. Editorial oversight: If an article was published without appropriate editorial oversight, such as through a breakdown in the peer review process, the publication may need to be retracted to ensure the integrity of the literature.

It is important to note that not all errors or flaws in an article will necessarily warrant retraction. Minor errors or issues may be addressed through corrections or expressions of concern, while more serious concerns may require retraction.

In general, a decision to retract a publication should be based on careful evaluation of the evidence and consultation with experts in the field. The retraction notice should clearly state the reason for the retraction and provide sufficient information for readers to understand the concerns with the article.

Appeals of Post-Publication Decisions

STM will only consider appeals of Retraction or Expression of Concern decisions if both of the following criteria are met:

  • new information and/or data are provided that directly address the issue(s) underlying the decision (e.g. original raw data for cases involving image or data concerns, documentation of an investigation outcome from an institutional official), and
  • the appeal is received before the specified commenting deadline.

Appeals are considered by the STM Management team, and may be discussed with the journal’s Editor(s)-in-Chief, Executive Editor, or Section Editor, and/or with external scientific advisors or members of the journal’s Editorial Board.
Decisions on retraction and Expression of Concern appeals are final. We will not consider further rounds of appeal.