Minor, substantial or wholesale amendments: it’s time to rethink changes to published articles and avoid unnecessary stigma

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The present system of labelling changes made to published articles is confusing, inconsistently applied, and out of step with digital publishing. It carries negative connotations for authors, editors, and publishers. Is there a way to efficiently and neutrally flag a change to a published article in a way that says what happened that is separated from why it happened? Virginia Barbour, Theodora Bloom, Jennifer Lin and Elizabeth Moylan propose a new system for dealing with post-publication changes that focuses on moving away from the current, confusing, stigmatising terms, differentiating the scale of changes, and differentiating versions of articles. While some hold the view that post-publication corrections must be tied to punishment of “offenders”, the role of journals is to be neutral, to maintain the integrity of the literature and not to punish researchers.

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