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Elsevier revised policy on article removal

Dear Readers,

Based on discussions with the library community and listening to comments
on this list and others, Elsevier has decided to revise its policy of
article removal from online products including ScienceDirect.  The revised
policy is included below.  Please excuse the cross posting.

As always, we look forward to your comments and opinions.

Kind regards,
Daviess Menefee
Library Relations


Elsevier Policy on Article Withdrawal

It is a general principle of scholarly communication that the Editor of a
learned journal is solely and independently responsible for deciding which
of the articles submitted to the journal shall be published. In making
this decision the Editor is guided by the policies of the journal's
editorial board and constrained by such legal requirements as shall then
be in force regarding libel, copyright infringement and plagiarism.

An outcome of this principle is the importance of the scholarly archive as
a permanent, historic record of the transactions of scholarship. Articles
that have been published shall remain extant, exact and unaltered as far
as is possible. However, very occasionally circumstances may arise where
an article is published that must later be retracted or even removed. Such
actions must not be undertaken lightly and can only occur under
exceptional circumstances, such as:

* infringements of professional ethical codes, such as multiple
submission, bogus claims of authorship, plagiarism, fraudulent use of
data, or the like.  (See Article retraction)

* legal limitations upon the publisher, copyright holder or author(s) (See
Article removal)

* the identification of false or inaccurate data that, if acted upon,
would pose a serious health risk (See Article removal or replacement).

Each of these instances together with the Elsevier procedures is detailed

Article Retraction by the Scholarly Community

The retraction of an article by its authors or the editor under the advice
of members of the scholarly community has long been an occasional feature
of the learned world. Standards for dealing with retractions have been
developed by a number of library and scholarly bodies and this best
practice is adopted for article retraction by Elsevier:

* A retraction note titled "Retraction: [article title]" signed by the
authors and/or the editor is published in the paginated part of a
subsequent issue of the journal and listed in the contents list.

* In the electronic version, a link is made to the original article.

* The online article is preceded by a screen containing the retraction
note and it is to this screen that the link resolves; the reader can then
proceed to the article itself.

* The original article is retained unchanged save for a watermark on the
pdf indicating on each page that it is "retracted".

* The html version of the document is removed.

Article Removal

In an extremely limited number of cases, it may unfortunately be necessary
to remove an article from the online database. This will only occur where
the article is clearly defamatory, or infringes others' legal rights, or
where the article is, or we have good reason to expect it will be, the
subject of a court order, or where the article, if acted upon, might pose
a serious health risk.

In these circumstances, while the metadata (title and authors) will be
retained, the text will be replaced with a screen indicating that the
article has been removed for legal reasons.

Article Replacement

In cases where the article, if acted upon, might pose a serious health
risk, the authors of the original article may wish to retract the flawed
original and replace it with a correct version. In these circumstances the
procedures for retraction will be followed with the difference that the
database retraction notice will publish a link to the corrected
re-published article and a history of the document.

In all cases, our official archives at the National Library of the
Netherlands will retain all article versions, including retracted or
otherwise removed articles.

Elsevier recognises the importance of the integrity and completeness of
the scholarly record to researchers and librarians and attaches the
highest importance to maintaining trust in the authority of its electronic
archive. This policy has been designed to address these concerns and to
take into account the current best practice in the scholarly and library

As standards evolve and change we shall revisit this issue and welcome the
input of the scholarly and library communities. We believe that these
issues require international standards and we will be active in lobbying
the information bodies to establish international standards and best
practices which the publishing and information industries can adopt.