Science and Engineering Ethics

, Volume 19, Issue 1, pp 1–11 | Cite as

Exploring Why and How Journal Editors Retract Articles: Findings From a Qualitative Study

  • Peter WilliamsEmail author
  • Elizabeth Wager
Original Paper


Editors have a responsibility to retract seriously flawed articles from their journals. However, there appears to be little consistency in journals’ policies or procedures for this. In a qualitative study, we therefore interviewed editors of science journals using semi-structured interviews to investigate their experience of retracting articles. We identified potential barriers to retraction, difficulties in the process and also sources of support and encouragement. Our findings have been used as the basis for guidelines developed by the Committee on Publication Ethics.


Retractions Reasons Medical research 



This project was funded by COPE (the Committee on Publication Ethics). We thank the editors who agreed to be interviewed and gave so generously of their time and their insights.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University College LondonLondonUK
  2. 2.Princes RisboroughUK

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