Correcting Error in Academic Publishing: An Ethical Responsibility
The 1988 publication of the report of the Cartwright Inquiry and acceptance of its recommendations by the New Zealand Government initiated comprehensive and internationally important reform of bioethics and patients’ rights. However, recent writing about the legacy of the inquiry has challenged the legitimacy of the inquiry and contributed to a climate questioning the value of the ethical reforms initiated by it. This article describes unsuccessful attempts to correct factual errors in one publication criticizing the inquiry. These attempts at correction raise ethical issues about the dissemination of the products of medical research—in particular, about the place of research subjects in post-publication ethical deliberations and the responsibility of universities and publishers in decision-making, especially in relation to the correction of error in academic publications.