Skip to main content

An Error is an Error… is an Erratum: The Ethics of not Correcting Errors in the Science Literature


This essay provides an unpalatable perspective on classifying the reluctance of authors, editors or publishers to correct their erroneous literature as being unethical. Authors who publish papers that carry errors and who take laurels for such publications, but who then fail to correct reported errors at a post-publication stage should be classified as unethical, and their act or irresponsibility as misconduct. Similarly, editors and publishers who fail to revise erroneous literature when claims are factually correct, independent of the volume of claims, are also in violation of their codes of conduct and professional responsibilities towards the scientific community and society. This essay provides a critical outlook on this issue which has begun to plague the post-publication movement in science, and which deserves urgent attention and focus.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.


  1. 1.

    Bohannon J. Who’s downloading pirated papers? Everyone. 2016;. doi:

  2. 2.

    Council of Science Editors (CSE). 2.1 Editor roles and responsibilities. (2016). Last Accessed 22 June 2016.

  3. 3.

    Kamoun S, Zipfel C. Scientific record: class uncorrected errors as misconduct. Nature. 2016;. doi:

  4. 4.

    Kleinert S, Wager E. Responsible research publication: international standards for editors. In: Mayer T, Steneck N, editors. Promoting research integrity in a global environment. Singapore: Imperial College Press/World Scientific Publishing; 2011. p. 317–28.

    Google Scholar 

  5. 5.

    Shamoo A, Resnik D. Responsible conduct of research. 3rd ed. New York: Oxford University Press, cited by Resnik D. (2015). Last Accessed 22 June 2016.

  6. 6.

    Teixeira da Silva JA. Responsibilities and rights of authors, peer reviewers, editors and publishers: a status quo inquiry and assessment. Asian Aust J Plant Sci Biotechnol. 2013;7(Special Issue 1):6–15.

    Google Scholar 

  7. 7.

    Teixeira da Silva JA. A call for greater editorial responsibilities. Sci Ed. 2015;2(2):89–91. doi:

    Article  Google Scholar 

  8. 8.

    Teixeira da Silva JA. A PPPR road-map for the plant sciences: cementing a road-worthy action plan. J Educ Soc Res. 2015;5(2):15–21. doi:

    Google Scholar 

  9. 9.

    Teixeira da Silva JA. Reproducibility: does it really matter? Winnower. 2016;. doi:

  10. 10.

    Teixeira da Silva JA, Dobránszki J. Problems with traditional science publishing and finding a wider niche for post-publication peer review. Account Res Policies Qual Assur. 2015;22(1):22–40. doi:

    Google Scholar 

  11. 11.

    Teixeira da Silva JA, Dobránszki J. The authorship of deceased scientists and their posthumous responsibilities. Sci Ed (CSE). 2015;38(3/4):98–100.

    Google Scholar 

  12. 12.

    Teixeira da Silva JA, Dobránszki J. Notices and policies for retractions, expressions of concern, errata and corrigenda: their importance, content, and context. Sci Eng Ethics. 2016;. doi:

Download references


The author thanks the feedback and suggestions provided by Dr. Aceil Al-Khatib (Faculty of Dentistry, Jordan University of Science and Technology, Jordan) and Dr. JuditDobránszki (Research Institute of Nyíregyháza, University of Debrecen, Hungary).

Author information



Corresponding author

Correspondence to Jaime A. Teixeira da Silva.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Teixeira da Silva, J.A. An Error is an Error… is an Erratum: The Ethics of not Correcting Errors in the Science Literature. Pub Res Q 32, 220–226 (2016).

Download citation


  • Editorial responsibility
  • Open access
  • Post-publication peer review
  • Unethical