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Korean J Anesthesiol > Volume 76(1); 2023 > Article
Sethuraman: Citation of retracted articles: prevention is better than a cure
I read with immense interest the editorial in the Korean Journal of Anesthesiology (KJA) [1] that elaborated on the editorial/peer review process regarding the inclusion of a retracted article in a systematic review and meta-analysis (SRMA) published recently in the KJA [2]. I greatly appreciate the vigilance of the production team of the KJA for identifying this during the proof check and the efforts of the Editorial Board of the KJA for making a balanced decision after analyzing this grave issue from various angles during the review process. I also greatly respect the views expressed in the editorial and wish to emphasize the importance of preventing this perennial menace in this letter.
While I fully agree that the inclusion of the retracted article happened at an “ambiguous time” on this particular occasion, I feel that this problem must be further analyzed to prevent it from happening in the future. Although the authors of the editorial [1] stated that the date of retraction of the article was September 9, 2021, the first notification occurred on June 1, 2021 [3]. While Jo et al. [2] completed their search of the literature in May 2021, they submitted their SRMA on July 26, 2021. Here, I would like to suggest that all journals require authors to acknowledge that they have not cited any retracted article in their manuscript during the submission process itself, as this precautionary measure might have prevented this problem. While submitting a manuscript as an author about a year ago, I noted that one of the journals in the field of anesthesiology namely “Anaesthesia” was following this practice, and I believe that it could contribute more to preventing the citation of retracted articles.
I also strongly value the suggestion made in the editorial that, as a part of the peer-review process, it should be confirmed that no retracted articles are included in the references. However, I feel that the primary responsibility lies with the authors to cross-check the current status of all their references during submission and periodically until their article is published. Also, the reference cited (reference #7 of the editorial [1], reference #4 here) did not match for that sentence. Grey et al. [4] suggested that the integrity of publications be determined through a special checklist “REAPPRAISED” to prevent the delay in retracting the articles and its impact on science.
The unique feature of this particular instance is that it happened at an “ambiguous time” especially for an article of the SRMA type. It would have been relatively easier for authors of any other type of article to make corrections at this juncture. Fortunately, it was identified in the nick of time and the Editorial Board of the KJA went to great lengths to make the review process credible. I hope my suggestion in this letter will assist the KJA in eradicating this problem in the future.




Conflicts of Interest

No potential conflict of interest relevant to this article was reported.


1. Choi GJ, Kang H. On the road to make KJA’s review process robust, transparent, and credible: retracted study in systematic review. Korean J Anesthesiol 2022; 75: 197-9.
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2. Jo Y, Park S, Oh C, Pak Y, Jeong K, Yun S, et al. Regional analgesia techniques for video-assisted thoracic surgery: a frequentist network meta-analysis. Korean J Anesthesiol 2022; 75: 231-44.
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3. Cheng XQ, Zhang MY, Fang Q, Shi DW, Huang XC, Liu XS, et al. Opioid-sparing effect of modified intercostal nerve block during single-port thoracoscopic lobectomy: Retraction: A randomised controlled trial. Eur J Anaesthesiol 2021. Advance Access published on Sep 9, 2021. doi: 10.1097/EJA.0000000000001394. Retraction in: Eur J Anaesthesiol 2021; 38: 677.
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4. Grey A, Bolland MJ, Avenell A, Klein AA, Gunsalus CK. Check for publication integrity before misconduct. Nature 2020; 577: 167-9.
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