Mediterranean Editors and Translators Meeting 2007 – METM 07
Building Bridges, Constructing Networks

Real Jardín Botánico/CSIC, Plaza de Murillo 2, 28014 Madrid, Spain

25-26 October 2007:
Pre-METM Workshops and General Assembly
27 October 2007:
28 October 2007:
Post-METM Excursion

Poster: Accountability: editor, guest editor, reviewer, scientific association, publisher. The Human Immunology Arnaiz-Villena retraction, 2001-2003

A research paper in a subspecialty medical journal was retracted on the advice of the publisher within one month of publication in September 2001, in response to complaints by readers and members of the journal's editorial board that it contained inappropriate political statements. The controversy triggered by this decision centered on appropriate language and content for scientific articles, and on editorial "due process" for retraction in the absence of fraud or serious error.

The main author was dismissed from his clinical post and became the subject of an official investigation by his health service and university employers (who denied any connection between the retraction and their investigations). Several members of the journal's editorial board resigned to protest the article's "inappropriate" content. The journal later revised its policies on special issues and guest editors, and the publisher subsequently revised its policies on retractions.

The purpose of this poster is to synthesize deficiencies in the language editing, peer review and journal production processes that resulted in failure to satisfy expectations for quality and professional conduct. The case illustrates the potentially damaging consequences of inadequate editorial concern for international readers' expectations. It holds lessons for editors, guest editors, language editors, translators and authors, especially for those whose first language is not English.

Karen Shashok is a translator and editorial consultant in Granada, Spain (

Mary Ellen Kerans was an instructor of English for specific purposes in the health sciences, Universitat Internacional de Catalunya, Barcelona, Spain at the time this poster was created.