Select Committee on Science and Technology Written Evidence



  From our online Guide to Authors:


  If authors of a published paper subsequently become aware of a significant error in it, they should send a paragraph of correction to Communications Arising by using our online submissions system (see, with the corresponding author's name, publication date and "correction" in the subject line, and including the Nature paper citation in the Manuscript Comment box and "Communications Arising (correction)" in the Manuscript Type box. The correction paragraph should be sent as an attachment in Word format and also as a PDF attachment containing all the authors' signatures. Corrections cannot be considered if all authors have not signed, unless there is a particular reason, in which case the corresponding author should explain this in the message accompanying the correction. In cases of disagreement, Nature reserves the right to impose a published correction in the interests of accuracy and transparency of the published record, but in this event will note in the published correction the dissent among coauthors.

  If the mistake is judged significant enough to warrant a published correction, the correction will be made after the end of the Letters section, as an "erratum" if the fault is Nature's; "correction" if the fault is the author's; "addendum" if the authors inadvertently made a significant omission from the paper which, after further peer-review, requires addition; and "retraction" if the main conclusion of the paper no longer holds or is seriously undermined as a result of subsequent information coming to light of which the authors were not aware at the time of publication. Further general enquiries about Nature's corrections policy can be directed in the first instance to


  The Nature journals (Nature, Nature Biotechnology, Nature Cell Biology, Nature Genetics, Nature Immunology', Nature Materials, Nature Medicine, Nature Neuroscience, Nature Structural and Molecular Biology, and Nature Reviews Cancer, Nature Reviews Drug Discovery, Nature Reviews Genetics, Nature Reviews Immunology, Nature Reviews Microbiology, Nature Reviews Molecular and Cell Biology, Nature Reviews Neuroscience) operate the following policy for making corrections to the print and online versions of their content.

  Publishable amendments are represented by a formal printed notice in the journal because they affect the publication record and/or the scientific accuracy of published information. Where these amendments concern peer-reviewed material, they fall into one of four categories: erratum, corrigendum, retraction or addendum.

  Erratum. Notification of an important error made by the journal that affects the publication record or the scientific integrity of the paper, or the reputation of the authors or the journal. Corrigendum. Notification of an important error made by the authors that affects the publication record or the scientific integrity of the paper, or the reputation of the authors or the journal. All authors must sign corrigenda submitted for publication. In cases where coauthors disagree, the editors will take advice and impose the type of amendment that seems most appropriate, noting the dissenting author(s) in the text of the published version.

  Retraction. Notification of invalid results. All coauthors must sign a retraction specifying the error and stating briefly how the conclusions are affected, and submit it for publication. In cases where coauthors disagree, the editors will take advice and impose the type of amendment that seems most appropriate, noting the dissenting author(s) in the text of the published version.

  Addendum. Notification of a peer-reviewed addition of information to a paper, usually in response to readers' request for clarification. Addenda are published only rarely and only when the editors decide that the addendum is crucial to the reader's understanding of a significant part of the published contribution.


  Decisions about types of correction are made by the editors of the journal that published the paper, sometimes with referees' advice. This process involves consultation with the authors of the paper, but the editor makes the final decision about the category in which the amendment is published. Each Nature journal states the details of its procedure in the guide to authors on its own website. When an amendment is published, it is linked hi-directionally to and from the article being corrected. If the correction is significant, for example if a new figure is published, a PDF version of the correction is appended to the last page of the original article PDF so that the original article PDF will remain a facsimile of the printed page and readers downloading the PDF will receive the original article plus amendment.

  Authors sometimes request a correction to their published contribution that does not affect the contribution in a significant way or impair the reader's understanding of the contribution. (A spelling mistake or grammatical error, for example.) Nature journals do not publish such corrections, in print or online. The online and print versions of the article are both part of the published record and hence their original published version is preserved. Nature journals do, however, correct the online version of a contribution if the wording in the html version does not make sense when compared with the PDF version ("see left" for a figure which is an appropriate phrase for the PDF but not for the html version, for example). In these cases, the fact that a correction has been made is stated in a footnote so that readers are aware that the originally published text has been amended.


  The policy of the Nature journals is that corrections are not made to Advance Online Publication (AOP) articles before they appear in the print version of the journal. Rather, corrections appear at or after publication of the printed version of the paper. AOP constitutes the definitive publication and is not subject to informal changes.

  If a very significant error is discovered after publication of an AOP article but before the print version has gone to press, the editors will decide whether to amend the AOP article. If a correction is made to the online version, a footnote is added to state that (a) there was an error in the AOP version of the article; (b) the error has since been corrected in the HTML and PDF versions; and (c) the article will appear correctly in a forthcoming print issue. When the article is printed, it will carry a publication date in the following style: Published online: 9 January 2002; corrected 10 January 2002 (details online); doi:10.1038/nature709.


  Corrections are published if the publication record is seriously affected, for example with regard to the scientific accuracy of published information, or the reputation of the authors, or the reputation of the journal. These amendments are classified as an Erratum, Corrigendum, Addendum or Retraction (in the case of peer-reviewed material) or as "corrections" (in the case of non-peer-reviewed material). All such amendments are as concise as possible, containing only material strictly relevant to the contribution being corrected.


  concern the amendment of mistakes introduced by the journal in editing or production, including errors of omission such as failure to make factual proof corrections requested by authors within the deadline provided by the journal and within journal policy. Errata are generally not published for simple, obvious typing errors, but are published when an apparently simple error is significant (for example a greek mu for an "m" in a unit, or a typing error in the corresponding author's email address).

  If there is an error in the lettering on a figure, the usual procedure is to publish a sentence of rectification. A significant error in the figure itself is corrected by publication of a new corrected figure as an erratum. The figure is republished only if the editor considers it necessary. If the colours of histogram bars were wrongly designated in the figure legend, for example, a sentence of correction would be published as an erratum; the entire figure would not be reproduced.


  are judged on their relevance to readers and their importance for the published record. Corrigenda are published after discussion among the editors (typically including the editors who handled the published contribution), often with the help of reviewers. All coauthors must sign an agreed wording. Corrigenda submitted by the original authors are published if the scientific accuracy or reproducibility of the original paper is compromised; occasionally, on investigation by the editors, these may be published as retractions. In cases where some coauthors decline to sign a corrigendum or retraction, the editors reserve the right to publish it with the dissenting author(s) identified. Nature journals publish corrigenda if there is an error in the published author list, but not for overlooked acknowledgements. Readers wishing to draw the journal's attention to a significant published error should submit a Communications Arising (in the case of Nature) or, in the case of the other Nature journals, follow procedure on the journal website. Nature's Communications Arising procedure is a mechanism for investigating readers' comments and does not imply that the comment would be published as a Communication Arising. In cases where a significant error is confined after taking the advice of referees, such comments will be published in one of the categories of amendment described here.


  are judged on the significance of the addition to the interpretation of the original publication. Addenda do not contradict the original publication, but if the authors inadvertently omitted significant information available to them at the time, this material will be published as an addendum after peer-review and after discussion among the editors.


  are judged according to whether the main conclusion of the paper no longer holds or is seriously undermined as a result of subsequent information coming to light of which the authors were not aware at the time of publication. In the case of experimental papers, this can include further experiments by the authors or by others which do not confirm the main experimental conclusion of the original publication. Readers wishing to draw the editors' attention to published work requiring retraction should first contact the authors of the original paper and then write to the journal, including copies of the correspondence with the authors (whether or not the correspondence has been answered). The editors will seek advice from reviewers if they judge that the information is likely to draw into question the main conclusions of the published paper.


  When a Nature journal has agreed to publish a correction and if the author is ordering reprints of the article, the author should immediately contact the reprint department. Reprints can be altered to provide the corrected version of the paper if notification is received in time.


  Authors' corrections to supplementary information (SI) are made only in exceptional circumstances (for example major errors that compromise the conclusion of the study) and are accompanied by a printed Corrigendum. Authors may not update SI because new data have become available or interpretations have changed, as the SI is part of the original paper and hence the published record.

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