Errata for trial publications are not uncommon, are frequently not trivial, and can be challenging to access: a retrospective review
Keywords:Errata, Systematic Reviews, Information Retrieval, Publications
Objective: The research sought to determine the prevalence of errata for drug trial publications that are included in systematic reviews, their potential value to reviews, and their accessibility via standard information retrieval methods.
Methods: The authors conducted a retrospective review of included studies from forty systematic reviews of drugs evaluated by the Canadian Agency for Drugs and Technologies in Health (CADTH) Common Drug Review (CDR) in 2015. For each article that was included in the systematic reviews, we conducted searches for associated errata using the CDR review report, PubMed, and the journal publishers’ websites. The severity of errors described in errata was evaluated using a three-category scale: trivial, minor, or major. The accessibility of errata was determined by examining inclusion in bibliographic databases, costs of obtaining errata, time lag between article and erratum publication, and correction of online articles.
Results: The 40 systematic reviews included 127 articles in total, for which 26 errata were identified. These errata described 38 errors. When classified by severity, 6 errors were major; 20 errors were minor; and 12 errors were trivial. No one database contained all the errata. On average, errata were published 211 days after the original article (range: 15–1,036 days). All were freely available. Over one-third (9/24) of online articles were uncorrected after errata publication.Conclusion: Errata frequently described non-trivial errors that would either impact the interpretation of data in the article or, in fewer cases, impact the conclusions of the study. As such, it seems useful for reviewers to identify errata associated with included studies. However, publication time lag and inconsistent database indexing impair errata accessibility.
National Library of Medicine. Fact sheet: errata, retractions, and other linked citations in PubMed [Internet]. Bethesda, MD: The Library; 2018 Mar [cited 9 May 2018]. <https://www.nlm.nih.gov/pubs/factsheets/errata.html>.
Castillo M, Northam M, Halm KE. Postpublication errors in imaging-related journals. Am J Neuroradiol. 2012 Sep;33(8):1447–8. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3174/ajnr.A3026.
Molckovsky A, Vickers MM, Tang PA. Characterization of published errors in high-impact oncology journals. Curr Oncol. 2011 Jan;18(1):26–32. [cited 31 Oct 2018]. <http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3031354>.
Hauptman PJ, Armbrecht ES, Chibnall JT, Guild C, Timm JP, Rich MW. Errata in medical publications. Am J Med. 2014 Aug;127(8):779–85. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.amjmed.2014.03.012.
Royle P, Waugh N. Should systematic reviews include searches for published errata? Health Inf Libr J. 2004 Mar;21(1):14–20. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1471-1842.2004.00459.x.
Lefebvre C, Manheimer E, Glanville J, on behalf of the Cochrane Information Retrieval Methods Group. Chapter 6: Searching for studies. In: Higgins JPT, Green S, eds. Cochrane handbook for systematic reviews of interventions [Internet]. Version 5.1.0. London, England, UK: The Cochrane Collaboration; 2011 Mar [cited 9 May 2018]. <http://handbook-5-1.cochrane.org/>.
National Library of Medicine. New errata citation policy. NLM Technical Bulletin [Internet]. May 2015 [cited 2018 Nov 14];(404):b5. <https://www.nlm.nih.gov/pubs/techbull/mj15/brief/mj15_new_errata_citation_policy.html>.