Journals can issue correction and errata notices to notify readers of errors and, as necessary, revise text and data in publications. Yet these processes can take time. Authors sometimes encounter obstacles to publishing corrections. Some authors use PubMed Commons to alert readers to issues or to refine language and interpretations. Correcting the record via journal notices is important, and it’s great to see authors add speed and transparency with post-publication updates.
Earlier this year, Garret Stuber commented on a publication on hormonal control in social reward. In the days after it appeared in press, some errors came to his attention, which he was working to address through a formal correction notice. Stuber told Retraction Watch that, in the meantime, he commented “in an effort for immediate notice and transparency to what occurred.”
Sometimes an error may significantly change the results of a study. Stefan Hofmann commented on a meta-analysis he co-authored, examining the effects of oxytocin on an array of psychiatric symptoms. However, readers raised some points, prompting another look at the data. Errors were made in specifying the direction of outcomes investigated. Hofmann reported the re-calculated effect sizes and indicated that the article is being retracted.
Here are some more authors setting this great example:
- Ahmet Selçuk Can, on behalf of authors, posted a correction for text and a table where a journal is no longer active.
- Wichor Bramer clarified a step in de-duplicating database search results for systematic reviews in reference management software.
- Michael Hoffman noted a minor typographical error in the online methods section for his first-authored publication on pattern discovery in human chromatin structure.
- Jonathan Eisen highlighted a “sentence in the paper that could be worded more carefully” concerning the draft genome of an actinobacteria.
- Following widespread misinterpretation of his findings about false-positive rates in function magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), Thomas Nichols posted a revised significance statement. (You can read more about discussion surrounding that publication and comment here.)
- Kevin Hall linked to and posted a published correction for a co-authored publication on metabolic adaptation.
- Alexander Tsai corrected values reported in the abstract for his systematic review and meta-analysis of depression assessment among persons with HIV in sub-Saharan Africa.
- Edward Berry noted an incorrect metal assignment in protein crystal structure, pointing readers to a source for additional information.
- John Denning posted a correction concerning cutoffs used in a test of memory malingering, which was later published in the journal.
Journal corrections revise the version of record for a publication, and PubMed Commons does not replace that. But it does offer another way for authors to provide clarifications, point to interim and published corrections, and alert readers to errors quickly. And it’s good to see authors taking advantage of PubMed Commons to pass that information along to the community.