Correction and retraction policies
Corrections to published work
Honest errors are a part of science and publishing and require publication of a correction when they are detected. We expect authors to inform the journal’s Production Editor (details on the Contact Us section of the journal website) of any errors of fact they have noticed (or have been informed of) in their article once published. Corrections are made at the journal’s discretion.
As Publishers, we have a duty to maintain the integrity of the scientific record. For this reason, minor corrections that do not affect the scientific understanding of the paper (for example formatting or typographical errors or preference of wording) may be rejected if submitted post-publication in order to prevent discrepancies downstream.
The correction procedure depends on the publication stage of the article, but in all circumstances a correction notice is published as soon as possible:
Online First publication
The Online First (or ‘published ahead of print’) version is considered the version of record, and not an opportunity to make changes prior to print publication. BMJ will consider replacing this version with an updated version which corrects the error and notes the changes that have been made and the date(s) on which the changes were made (in a correction notice at the end of the article). Previous electronic versions prominently note that there are more recent versions of the article. The correction notice will be retained in the print version for record.
Publication in an issue
If the article has already appeared in an issue, a correction notice will be printed in the next available print issue. The online version of the article will link to the correction notice, and vice versa.
Continuous publication journals
For journals without print issues, articles aren’t published Online First but are continually published online only. A correction notice will be published online and linked to the article.
For errors in articles published in issues or continuous publication journals, BMJ may consider correcting the actual article online (XML and PDF), at the editor’s discretion. We will add a correction notice at the end to say what has been changed since it was first published and publish an erratum.
Correction notices are indexed and linked to the original records in Medline and Web of Science.
Retractions are considered by journal editors in cases of evidence of unreliable data or findings, plagiarism, duplicate publication, and unethical research. We may consider an expression of concern notice if an article is under investigation. All retraction notices explain why the article was retracted. The retraction procedure depends on the publication stage of the article:
Online First publication
A new version of the article will be posted containing just the metadata, with a retraction note replacing the original text. A retraction notice will also be published in the next available print issue. The original text will remain accessible.
Publication in an issue or a continuous publication journal
A replacement version of the article will be posted containing just the metadata, with a retraction note replacing the original text. The PDF will be replaced with a version watermarked with “Retracted” but the original text will remain accessible. A retraction notice will also be published in the next available print issue.
In rare cases, we may have to remove the original content for legal reasons. In such cases we will leave the metadata (title and authors) and replace the text with a note saying the article has been removed for legal reasons. A retraction notice will also be published online and/or in print.
Retraction notices are indexed and linked to the original records in Medline and Web of Science.
Author name change requests
As an inclusive publisher, BMJ wishes to ensure a smooth process and experience to facilitate author name changes after publication.
Authors may change their name for many reasons, including marriage, divorce, change in religion, change in gender identity, and other personal reasons.
As part of our author name change policy, BMJ will seek to uphold the following principles.
- As changing one’s name is a deeply personal decision, BMJ acknowledges that an individual might not wish to disclose the change to a large audience. Authors have the option to update their name with or without indication that a change has been made. The changes will be made directly on the article(s). Unless explicitly requested, BMJ will not include a notice of correction in any format.
- BMJ respects your right to privacy and will not inquire as to the reasons for the name change or request evidence documenting a “legal” name change. However, authors must confirm that they are requesting the change on behalf of themselves.
- BMJ will not request the approval of any co-authors on the paper to update the name. Researchers may wish to inform their co-authors of the change, for example, so that they use an updated offline copy or change the way they cite the publication. Alternatively, BMJ will notify the corresponding author alone as standard practice. Authors may instruct BMJ to wait until a particular date to enact the name change to allow time to communicate with co-authors if desired.
- As part of any author name change request, BMJ will endeavour to make any necessary changes to all references to the author’s identity, for example, email address, pronouns, images, authorship byline or any other occurrence within the body of their paper.
- BMJ recommends using an ORCID iD to authors who change their name and want to ensure that all of their prior publications are discoverable in one place.
- BMJ will update the PDF and HTML versions of the paper on our website and will alert downstream indexes and databases such as PubMed and Web of Science through supplying updated metadata. BMJ cannot control whether or when author name changes are made to non-BMJ sites. If an author wishes their work to be fully discoverable in all indexing and archiving sites under both prior and current names, authors may need to contact the indexes and databases directly.
- Unfortunately, BMJ does not have the ability to update citations in other publications for BMJ papers in which a name change has been made.
- BMJ will retain an original copy of the article to ensure that changes have been made accurately and to be able to demonstrate what versions of the article have been published at any given point, should that be required (e.g., for legal purposes). The original version will not be made publicly available.
- In addition to correcting past publications, our staff will work with authors to ensure that name changes are reflected in all BMJ Journals’ systems, upon request.
To request an author name change, please contact the journal’s editorial office, details can be found on the individual journal’s contact us page.
Last updated: July 2021