Correcting the Literature

Rebecca S Benner Editor, Science Editor
Rebecca S Benner
Editor, Science Editor

In this month’s issue, we’re focusing on correcting the scientific literature. Corrections come in many forms—errata, retractions, and expressions of concern. They can also be complicated, involving many players. The cover art was chosen with that idea in mind. When I saw the photograph, the tangled mess of thread symbolized what we all may face when confronting an ethical issue or an editing mistake that requires some sort of action. Pulling on the thread to get to the root of the problem can either untangle the mess or reveal more “knots”.

Publishing errata in a digital environment is covered by Lauren Fischer (p 3), who raises questions about best practices. I had a chance to conduct a written interview with Ivan Oransky and Adam Marcus, founders of the compelling new blog Retraction Watch (; p 7), and they provide some useful advice for CSE members. Finally, the retraction guidelines published by the Committee on Publication Ethics are reprinted on page 9.

In this issue, we’ve launched two new columns; the first is “The Ethical Editor”, written in coordination with CSE’s Editorial Policy Committee, chaired by Kristi Overgaard. This month, Heather Goodell reviews “expressions of concern” and their appropriate application (p 18).

This issue also features an article about editing English manuscripts as a non– native-English-speaking editor, a meeting update from the International Society of Managing and Technical Editors, an introduction to two new Science Editor Editorial Board members, and a summary of sessions and short courses offered at the upcoming annual meeting in Baltimore, Maryland (29 April–3 May). The meeting’s timely theme is “making science matter.” I hope you will be able to join us in Baltimore.

Finally, the second of our new columns—“Updates in e-Publishing”—features a discussion by Tim Cross of QR codes and 2D tags (p 20). You’ve probably seen these codes more and more in magazine advertisements. They’re even present in the Washington, DC, Metro system on billboards. We’ve included a QR code in the table of contents of this issue, which will take you to the Science Editor Web site on your smartphone. I encourage you to try out this technology and think about how it might be applied in your workplace.