Misconduct, Manipulation, Correction, and Retraction Policies
According to Nature (444, 2006), during the peer-review process, basic mistakes and errors of judgment are frequently identified, minimizing the number that makes it through into often much-improved final publications. Erroneous results that do slip through the peer-review net may be promptly identified; if sufficiently serious, they are corrected or even withdrawn.
Under Nature (444, 2006) view, when an important error has been made in a published piece of work, yet the central claim or result still stands, the publication of a corrigendum is the most sensible way forward; others are thereby alerted to any inaccuracies in the paper, which may have an impact on their own research. Yet, If the errors that have been made undermine the principal message of the paper, then a retraction is in order â€” the paper may still contain valid scientific information, but the original publication has now lost its core motivation.
Corrections to a published paper
Honest errors are a part of science and publishing and require publication of a correction when they are detected. RAC expects authors to inform the RACâ€™s EIC of any errors of fact they have noticed (or have been informed of) in their article once published. Corrections are made at the RACâ€™s discretion. A correction notice will be published in the next available online issue. The online version of the article will link to the correction notice, and vice versa. Besides, correction notices will be indexed and linked to the original records in Scielo.
Retractions are considered by RACâ€™s 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 All retraction notices explain why the article was retracted. When the paper is included in an issue we replace the version of the article that will be posted containing just the metadata, with a retraction note replacing the original text. The *.pdf document will be replaced with a version watermarked with â€śRetracted Versionâ€ť. Yet, the original text will remain accessible. 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. Retraction notices will be always indexed and linked to the original records in Scielo.
Referee misconduct can range from minor issues, such as rude or unconstructive reviews, to major issues, such as the appropriation of an author's ideas or data. RAC entrusts reviewers with a high level of responsibility and keeps a very clear complaint policy. RAC knows reviewers, when performing their tasks, have access to privileged information (i.e. unpublished research) and their recommendations can sway the publication outcome. Unfortunately, there are rare occasions when that trust can be misplaced. Minor problems are relatively easy to respond to. Delete rude comments, and don't invite reviewers again if they supply poor quality, late, or unconstructive reviews. There may be other instances where RACâ€™s editors receive complaints from authors about reviewer misconduct:
A possible complaint of reviewer misconduct concerns the alleged appropriation of the manuscript during the review process. An author may raise a complaint if they discover their ideas/manuscript are used in a published paper. They may conclude that these can only have been appropriated during the review process. These issues can be complicated because there is likely to be some time lag between the review process conducted at RAC and the publication of the appropriated material. Because complaints may involve another journal and another editorial team, it's best to make sure you keep them informed. We recommend following the steps outlined in the COPE Flowcharts., which RAC is a member of, and subscribes to the principles of COPE.
Following the rejection of a paper, the author may appeal to the RACâ€™s EIC. RAC keeps a clear appeals policy stating under what circumstances an appeal will be considered, and how the appeal process will be handled. See item â€śComplaints proceduresâ€ť here.
Conflicts of Interest
One issue authors might raise during an appeal for reviewer misconduct is bias due to conflict of interests. Since RAC operates double-blind peer review, accusations of bias are likely to be suppositional rather than substantiated, but should still be given careful consideration. Appeals can often be resolved by getting a second opinion. Engaging a new reviewer will eliminate the potential alleged bias. It is difficult in these cases to evidence malicious intent on behalf of a reviewer.
According to Fong and Wilhite (2017), journal rankings matter to editors, editorial boards, and publishers because rankings affect subscriptions and prestige. And, based on this, there are risks related to citation manipulation, i.e. basically when editors direct authors to add citations even if those citations are irrelevant. In order to meet COPE advice, and to keep ethical standards, RAC adopts the following procedure: authors whose submitted manuscripts are found to include citations whose primary purpose is to increase the number of citations to a given authorâ€™s work, or to articles published in a particular journal, may incur sanctions (i.e.: (a) rejection of the manuscript and any other manuscripts submitted by the author(s); (b) not allowing submission for 1â€“3 years; (c) prohibition from acting as an editor or reviewer. RAC may also apply additional sanctions for severe ethical violations.). Besides, editors and reviewers must not ask authors to include references merely to increase citations to their own or an associateâ€™s work, to the journal, or to another journal they are associated with.