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Close to home: notes on the post-publication withdrawal of a Spanish research paper

Author(s): Mary Ellen Kerans

Journal: Ibérica
ISSN 1139-7241

Volume: 4;
Start page: 39;
Date: 2002;
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Keywords: Writing | second language genres | research article | editing | hedging | discourse analysis

The rapid withdrawal from publication of a research article by a Spanish immunogeneticist and eight colleagues from Spain and Palestine was called "unprecedented" by one publishing ethics expert and was widely discussed during the winter of 2001 and 2002. The present paper analyzes the text of the retracted article, focusing on features that are often examined in English for specific purposes classes in an effort to discover how such features could have guided revision. The aspects named for study were the location and number of problematic wording decisions that drew fire for reasons unrelated to science, anomalous rhetorical patterns and the use of hedging. The paper was also compared to three others by the same first author. Finally, a paragraph from the Introduction was edited, in order to check the adequacy of the analysis of wording, moves and hedging for guiding revision. The results suggested that wording, thematic development, and clearly marked introductory and concluding moves, rather than hedging, would be relevant features to target for revision. The analysis includes discussion of how articles come to be published with language and rhetorical shortcomings and how a local author's editor, equipped with knowledge of the target genre, can guide author revision.

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