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Letter to the editor
DOI: 10.1016/j.gaceta.2018.06.013
Open Access
Some proposals on tracking scientific misconduct
Algunas propuestas para seguir las malas prácticas científicas
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Alberto Ruano-Ravinaa,b,c,
Autor para correspondencia
alberto.ruano@usc.es

Corresponding author.
, Isabel Campos-Varelad,e
a Department of Preventive Medicine & Public Health, University of Santiago de Compostela, Santiago de Compostela, A Coruña, Spain
b Consortium for Biomedical Research in Epidemiology & Public Health (CIBER en Epidemiología y Salud Pública - CIBERESP), Spain
c Preventive Medicine and Public Health Unit, Monforte de Lemos Local Hospital, Monforte de Lemos (Lugo), Spain
d CLINURSID, University of Santiago de Compostela, Santiago de Compostela (A Coruña), Spain
e Department of Internal Medicine, Hospital of Santiago de Compostela, Santiago de Compostela (A Coruña), Spain
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Dear Editor:
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We acknowledge the comments by Joob and Wiwaanitkitf regarding our research paper,1 and we do agree with most of them. In our opinion, time has come for scientific journals and digital databases of scientific information (i.e. Medline) to provide readers with more information regarding retraction characteristics. It is important that these databases identify not only retracted papers, but also the causes for such retraction and at least classify them as “not related with ethic issues” or “breaching ethics retractions”. While the first category should not compromise authors’ or journals’ credibility, since it might also include retractions due to mistakes attributed to a particular journal, the second would be linked mostly to cheating researchers and therefore classified as misconduct. Editors have the duty, and readers would like to know, who are those researchers committing misconduct. Having a tag in Medline classifying misconduct in detail should also serve as a tool for editors in order to track if an author or group of authors submitting a paper have a history of such retractions.

We think that a clearer link and visibility for retractions due to misconduct should be provided in international databases. As the International Committee of Medical Journals Editors state, besides showing clearly the retracted paper in the affected journal, “retracted articles should remain in the public domain and be clearly labelled as retracted”.2 We do not see any reason for not providing to the general public a more detailed reason of retraction, including full details on authorship.

The Committee of Publication Ethics (COPE: https://publicationethics.org) gives us interesting reflections on misconduct management within editors in chief.3 It is clear that before communicating misconduct in databases such as PubMed or in the affected journal, misconduct has to be clearly proved in order to avoid unfounded discredit or even defamation to authors. Nevertheless, once misconduct has been demonstrated we do not see reasons to clearly highlight the affected research and researchers in electronic databases.

References
[1]
I. Campos-Varela,A. Ruano-Raviña
Misconduct as the main cause for retraction. A descriptive study of retracted publications and their authors
pii: S0213-9111(18)30072-4.
[2]
International Committee of Medical Journal Editors. Scientific misconduct, expressions of concern, and retraction. (Accessed 01/06/2018.) Available at: http://www.icmje.org/recommendations/browse/publishing-and-editorial-issues/scientific-misconduct-expressions-of-concern-and-retraction.html
[3]
Committee on Publication Ethics. Yentis S. Sharing of information among editors-in-chief regarding possible misconduct. (Accessed 01/06/2018.) Available at: https://publicationethics.org/files/Sharing%20_of_Information_Among_EiCs_guidelines_web_version_0.pdf

Letter by Joob and Wiwaanitkit.

Copyright © 2018. SESPAS
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