Journal Editors Owe Readers Timely Action On Retractions

It is a truism that we live in a litigious age. More than ever before, it seems, neighbor is inclined to sue neighbor - and at the drop of a hat. As I know all too well, proprietors and managers in business spend inordinate time with lawyers. Frequently, business people must appear in court to deal with what can only be described as nuisance suits. Physicians, too, have been forced into a defensive posture. Many are ordering more diagnostic tests than their patients really need to avoid malpra

Eugene Garfield
Feb 5, 1989

It is a truism that we live in a litigious age. More than ever before, it seems, neighbor is inclined to sue neighbor - and at the drop of a hat. As I know all too well, proprietors and managers in business spend inordinate time with lawyers. Frequently, business people must appear in court to deal with what can only be described as nuisance suits. Physicians, too, have been forced into a defensive posture. Many are ordering more diagnostic tests than their patients really need to avoid malpractice or negligence suits.

Should we be surprised, then, that such fears have seeped into the world of science?

In particular, many journal editors have exhibited a reluctance to print retractions to articles that have appeared in their publications because they fear defamation suits by an author or coauthor. Unfortunately, in several cases, the editor's obligation to correct the scientific record has been...