An expression of concern (EoC) alerts readers to new considerations or concerns about a paper, usually at the post-publication stage. Authors and readers are left in a state of uncertainty as they await a resolution. This uncertainty might create a state of stress or anxiety for some authors. The paper's findings may be either validated and confirmed, resolving the EoC, or the paper's validity or loss of integrity is confirmed, leading to an erratum or retraction. Academics wanting to cite a paper to which an EoC is associated might decide not to cite it. If an EoC is reversed, i.e., if the post-publication findings annul the initial concerns, then the authors and journal may suffer a “loss” of citations. Conversely, if concerns are confirmed post-publication, and the EoC develops into a retraction, then any citations that were rewarded while the paper was in a state of uncertainty were rewarded unfairly. In such a case, both author- and journal-based metrics should be adjusted. Using the Retraction Watch database until April 20, 2021, we assessed 20 cases of EoCs in the neuroscience literature to appreciate how EoCs have been processed. After excluding one author-issued EoC, from 19 editor-issued EoCs, 10 were resolved in an average of 220 days while nine remain unresolved. In this article, we suggest the need to make the processes associated with an EoC more visible and transparent to the academic community, allowing editors to make the correct decisions regarding its resolution.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Psychology (miscellaneous)
- Behavioral Neuroscience