The following preprint (not peer-reviewed) was recently shared on bioXriv on behalf of a COPE [Committee on Publication Ethics] working group.
COPE and QUT
First Posted: Mar. 20, 2017
Objective: Academic publishing is evolving. It is no longer the case that once published, articles remain unchanged for ever. Our current system of correcting research post-publication is failing, both ideologically and practically. It does not encourage researchers to engage in consistent post-publication changes. Worse yet, post-publication updates are misconstrued as punishments or admissions of guilt. We propose a different model that publishers of research can apply to the content they publish which ensures that any post-publication amendments are seamless, transparent and propagated to all the countless places online where descriptions of research appear.
Design: We lay out the current best practice for current amendments (predominantly corrections and retractions) in the academic literature and discuss the problems that are encountered. We discuss possibilities offered by current and emerging technologies that could be employed to improve this process both technically and conceptually.
Results: We propose the neutral term amendment to describe all forms of post-publication change to an article. Amendments would contain the following information: declaration; person(s) issuing the notice and whether any of this group dissents from the notice; scale of amendment; link to publication being amended and links to associated resources; date; associated narrative and associated DOI. We categorise amendments into one of three types: insubstantial, substantial, and complete. The process of the amendment is straightforward and consistent for all types of change. Publishers issue the notice, assign a new DOI to it and register it with Crossref, linked to the target publication. The process includes all forms of the publication from the original version to the addition of amendments, and subsequent versions of the paper.
Direct to Full Text Article (13 pages; PDF)