Flickr, Hey PaulAfter a graduate student and his advisor unknowingly submitted and published the same manuscript in two journals in 2009, they sought a retraction from one of the journals, the American Journal of Engineering and Applied Sciences, published by Science Publications, who told the researchers it will gladly pull the paper—for a fee. The publisher charged the authors a $650 “processing” fee for the retraction, provoking dismay from researchers and publication ethicists.
“Scholarly publishers have an obligation to maintain the integrity of the academic record and should immediately retract an article that is to be excluded from that record, without charge to anyone,” University of Colorado librarian Jeffrey Beall, who first reported the publication duplication and produces a list of predatory publishers, wrote in a blog post. Calling the fee unethical, Beall also cautioned that “this policy of charging disincentivises paper retractions—which are sometimes necessary.”
Ginny Barbour, chair of the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE), echoed the sentiment in an interview with Retraction Watch, saying: “. . . you don’t want to put any financial barrier in the way of correcting the literature.” She added that she has never heard of such a billing policy before.
Though it’s unclear how the senior author Tharapong Vitidsant, of Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok, and lead author Pit Pruksathorn, then a PhD student, didn’t notice that they had submitted the paper twice, Pruksathorn told the second journal, the Korean Journal of Chemical Engineering, that he contacted Science Publications about the retraction in January 2011. Science Publications has yet to retract the paper and, according to Retraction Watch, has not commented on the matter.