A group of French researchers examined retractions published in 2008 to determine how transparent the notices were, and whether most of them adhered to the Committee on Publication Ethics standards that came out the following year. As they report in BMC Research Notes, researchers led by corresponding author Evelyne Decullier from the University of Lyon sifted through 244 retractions published in Medline. The most common reason cited for a retraction in the notices was a mistake, followed by plagiarism, fraud, and overlap.
Decullier and her colleagues note, though, that "journals insufficiently followed the retraction good practices formalized by the 2009 COPE guidelines." Namely, they say it was often difficult to track down the formal retraction notices and that many notices were not freely available, as COPE guidelines recommend.
"It would be useful to use a standard retraction form with for example a check list of major reason, which would then leave the editor free to provide the reader with any further information," Decullier and her colleagues add. "Original articles should remain available with a clear mention of the retraction, and not only a mention on the journal website or in notes at the beginning or end of the article."
At Retraction Watch, Ivan Oransky notes that it would also be interesting to see whether journal practices have changed since the implementation of the COPE guidelines.