ACM Publications Policy on the Withdrawal, Correction, Retraction, and Removal of Works from ACM Publications and ACM DL
Approved by ACM Publications Board 15 November 2018
Minor update 5 January 2021*
ACM has an obligation to preserve the accuracy, integrity, and completeness of the scholarly record. Therefore, any corrections to Works published in ACM Publications and the ACM Digital Library must be governed by a policy that requires clear communication of all changes made to ACM published Works, and the reason for those changes. Additionally, that policy should describe how ACM preserves and makes accessible to users of the ACM Digital Library both the changes made as well as the original, unchanged versions of those Works, as first published in the ACM Digital Library, if appropriate.
As a leading scholarly publisher for an international scientific community, ACM is committed to developing publication policies based on generally accepted international guidelines and best practices. In the development of this policy, ACM has, to the best of its ability, remained consistent with the principles and best practices for retracting a publication established by the Committee on Publication Ethics (see https://publicationethics.org), guidelines for the Preservation of the Objective Record of Science by the International Association of Scientific, Technical & Medical Publishers (see https://www.stm-assoc.org/2006_04_19_Preservation_of_the_Objective_Record_of_Science.pdf), the ACM Code of Ethics (see http://www.acm.org/code-of-ethics), general ACM Publication Policies (see http://www.acm.org/publications/policies/toc), and the general policies and practices of ACM’s various conferences and Special Interest Groups (SIGS). This policy replaces and supersedes all similar ACM policies relating to the withdrawal, correction, retraction, and removal of Works from ACM Publications and the ACM Digital Library.
Consistent with the above and as a general policy, ACM sets an extremely high threshold for removal of any items from ACM Publications and the ACM Digital Library. Removal of Works from the Digital Library is reserved for only the most serious of circumstances, including when such removal is required to comply with the law or court orders directing ACM to remove such Works in their entirety from Publication. Even in such circumstances, Work citation pages are retained in the ACM Digital Library to provide a historical record that such Works did exist and were published in the ACM Digital Library; a “dark archive” copy of the Work will be retained.* There are four principal types of actions that can be taken to Works submitted to ACM Publications for review and/or published in the ACM Digital Library. They are:
This policy defines:
- the circumstances and conditions under which each of the above actions can be taken
- who provides input and makes the final determination regarding each possible action
- the process followed by ACM to determine if such actions are warranted, including the possibility of an appeals process
- what specific actions are taken by ACM after a final determination has been made
Terms used in this document are defined as follows:
- "Work" refers to reviewed (and published) materials, editorials, or "Works for hire" where ACM is either the owner or the owner/author has granted ACM an exclusive license or permission to publish the Work. The Work may include a Work and its associated artifacts; artifacts include, but are not limited to, code, data, images, and videos.
- "Dark archive" is a permanent store of items only accessible by ACM staff who investigate and provide court testimony on legal issues such as copyright infringement claims, or by other duly authorized personnel. Items in this archive are not available in the ACM Digital Library or other publicly-accessible collections.
- "Editor" encompasses Editor(s), or Program Chair(s), or other individuals with the authority to accept papers on behalf of the publication.
* Note: Retained articles will only be available to ACM staff who investigate and provide court testimony on legal issues such as copyright infringement claims, or as otherwise directed by legal authorities. These items will not be available in the ACM Digital Library.
Work Withdrawal (Before Publication)
Authors may request that ACM withdraw a Work at any time before it is published in an ACM publication. Certain conditions must be met before the decision can be made to withdraw an unpublished Work from the submission, review, and publication process. They are:
- A formal, written request must be made by the author(s) providing reasonable justification for the withdrawal request:
- For all non-conference submissions, the request must be made to the ACM Director of Publications, who will make the decision on the request.
- For conference submissions, the request must be made to the Editor of the related conference. If the Editor is unable or unwilling to decide on the request, the decision will be made by the General Chair(s) of the related conference, optionally in consultation with the ACM Director of Publications.
- The requesting authors have the legal authority to request withdrawal of the Work.
- All co-authors of the Work have given their consent to the withdrawal of the Work without being coerced in any way by their co-authors.
- The Editor must give consent to the proposed withdrawal.
Unless there are extenuating circumstances, ACM will grant valid requests but may track and limit "prior to decision" withdrawals to three requests per author within a five-year period across all ACM publications. After that limit has been reached, consideration of further manuscript submissions is left to the discretion of the Editor.
ACM Conference Editors have the option to mandate withdrawal of one or more Works accepted and present in their conference proceedings prior to publication of those proceedings if the authors of the Works violate the conference registration/attendance policy, as described in the published Call-for-Papers. The ACM Director of Publications may optionally be consulted in this process, and must be informed of the final decision.
Assuming the appropriate criteria described above have been met, the ACM Director of Publications or Editors will issue a formal withdrawal statement (typically by email) to all co- authors listed on the submitted Work with a copy to the journal EIC or Conference Committee Chair(s), as appropriate. ACM will:
- Retain any associated eRights form but indicate on the form that the Work was withdrawn.
- ACM will retain a copy of withdrawn Works in a dark archive.
- Release all publishing rights back to the author.
Requests for corrections must be made by the authors and be sent to the current Editor of the publication. In cases where a title has ceased publication, requests for correction may be sent to the ACM Director of Publications.
There are two main types of Corrections, neither of which would result in replacing the published Version of Record. They are:
- Errata are typically issued alongside the published Work (ACM will place this on the citation page for the Work) when a production-related error or omission by the Publisher has occurred inside the Work during the publication process. There is typically a brief explanation of why the Errata is being issued alongside the new text. Again, this would not replace the Version of Record in the DL (either PDF or HTML version).
Errata are typically issued when the errors are relatively minor and do not substantively change the conclusions of the Work. It is generally up to the Publisher’s discretion on the appropriateness of issuing an errata notice.
- Corrigenda are similar to errata and are typically issued alongside the published Work (ACM will place this on the citation page for the Work) when an author has made a mistake or error and notifies the Publisher. Corrigenda for items with multiple authors must be approved by all authors of the Work, without coercion by the other authors. Corrigenda are otherwise handled in the same manner as errata.
Corrigenda are typically issued when the authors’ errors or mistakes are relatively minor and do not substantively change the conclusions of the Work, as determined by the Editor or ACM Director of Publications. An example would when an author cited an incorrect version of a reference or failed to correctly cite a funding source. The issuing of a corrigenda notice is at the Publisher’s discretion.
Changes to author listings including affiliations, acknowledgments, funding information, and licensing information will result in either an Erratum or Corrigendum being issued (examples may be seen at https://dl.acm.org/citation.cfm?id=3195633 & https://dl.acm.org/citation.cfm?id=3232774). In cases where an Errata or Corrigenda appears in the next printed journal or magazine issue, ACM will link the ACM Digital Library Errata or Corrigenda citation page to/from the original ACM Digital Library Work citation page.
A Retraction can only be issued for a Work published in the ACM Digital Library. The purpose of a Retraction is to correct the literature and notify readers that the publication contains significant flaws and/or errors that could impact the findings or conclusions reached in the Work, such that the findings or conclusions of the Work should not be relied upon. Retractions may be warranted as the result of either honest errors, or some form of research misconduct or violation.
The decision to Retract a Work is a decision to Retract a Work in its entirety. There shall be no partial Retractions. Where it is deemed that flaws or errors in a Work are minor or insignificant, it is more appropriate to issue a form of Correction, as above.
Retractions may be issued in the event of one or more of the following:
- Duplicate or redundant publication
- Prior publication without proper citation or attribution
- Failure to disclose a major conflict of interest during the submission and publication process
- Disputed authorship
- Clear evidence that findings are unreliable as the result of either errors or misconduct
Decisions to Retract a Work shall be made by either ACM's Director of Publications or the Publications Board Committee on Ethics and Plagiarism Committee, depending on the nature of the retraction being considered*. If the Director of Publications is not available to make such a decision, the Co-Chairs of the ACM Publications Board shall be empowered to render a decision. When such a determination has been made, the following actions will be taken:
- Under no circumstances shall the published Work be removed from the ACM Digital Library. Instead, a "Notice of Retraction" shall be created and added to the published Work’s citation page in the ACM Digital Library, which shall include the title of the Work, all named authors of the retracted Work, and the reason for the retraction of the Work.
- The PDF version of the published Work shall be replaced on the Work citation page with an identical version of the Work with the word "Retracted" added to every page of the published Work as a Watermark. Any HTML version of the Work shall be removed from the citation page of the Work, so that only the Retracted PDF of the Work remains on the Work citation page.
- Metadata related to impact and use of the Work (e.g., counts of number of downloads, number of citations) will not be displayed on the Digital Library entry for the retracted Work. Furthermore, the Work will not be used in any ACM-published count of author citations or publications.
A Removal should only be issued in rare cases where the following are proven to have taken place:
- A violation of the rights of a research subject, including a violation of generally accepted standards and laws surrounding human subject research
- Publication of unethical research
- Research conducted or published in violation of law, including copyright law
- Egregious errors in the published Work or unintended consequences as a result of the published Work, either of which could result in the endangerment of the general public
- Defamatory comments made about others or their Works appear in the published Work
- A court order has been issued to remove the Work from the ACM Digital Library
If a Removal decision is made by either the ACM Director of Publications or the Publications Board Committee on Ethics and Plagiarism Committee, all versions of the Work shall be completely deleted from the publicly-accessible portions of the ACM Digital Library.†* However, the citation page for the Work shall remain and a "Notice of Removal" shall be added to the Work citation page, including the title of the Work, named authors of the Work, original publication date, and reason(s) for the Removal decision. Metadata related to impact and use of the Work (e.g., counts of the number of downloads, number of citations) will not be displayed on the Digital Library entry for the retracted Work. Furthermore, the Work will not be used in any ACM-published count of author citations or publications.
Claims that would lead to Removal of a Work are handled by the ACM Director of Publications in consultation with The Publications Board Committee on Ethics & Plagiarism and must follow the procedures set forth in relevant ACM Policies.
A decision to Remove any Work that has ACM members as listed authors may be referred to the ACM Committee on Professional Ethics (COPE) for their possible additional consideration.
† ACM will keep a copy of the article in its dark archive, as described above.
Questions, Reporting, and Appeals
The ACM Director of Publications should be contacted for any
- Questions about the interpretation of this policy
- Reporting of egregious behavior related to this policy
- Appeals to a decision on the violation of this policy
- Suggestions for changes to this policy
ACM Director of Publications
Attn: Publication Policy Claim
Association for Computing Machinery
New York, NY 10019-7434
Or via email:
RE: Publication Withdrawal, Correction, Retraction, or Removal
Appeals of any decisions made under this policy may be made with 30 days of the decision. Such appeals must be made in writing, with supporting documentation, to the ACM President with copy to the ACM Director of Publications.
If you believe one or more of ACM’s Publications Policies have been violated and you have credible evidence of such violation(s), you may report a potential violation as a claimant. Before you report a potential violation, please read ACM’s Publications Policies carefully.