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.