Scholarly books serve as important and authoritative collections or curations of established doctrines and accepted scientific theories. They primarily serve as authoritative general references or academic course materials and the content is generally used for long-term reference. Although books and book chapters are important historical markers, they are different from articles in journals or proceedings which disseminate novel research findings and serve as a permanent, historic record of the transactions of scholarship. While articles published in journals or proceedings shall remain extant, exact and unaltered as much as possible in order to preserve the 'blockchain' of historical scholarship (refer to our Article Retraction and Withdrawal policy), published books and book chapters do not always follow suit. Occasionally, circumstances may arise where a book chapter is published that must later be removed. Such actions must not be taken lightly and can only occur under exceptional circumstances outlined below.
Contrary to the roles and responsibilities of scholarly journal editors, Editors and Authors of scholarly books usually do not bear the sole or independent responsibility for deciding which chapters submitted as part of a larger book manuscript shall be published. Most commonly, this responsibility is shared between the book Editor/Author and the Publisher, as laid out in common industry-standard language in Editor or Author contracts. Publishers rely on the scientific expertise of Editors and Authors to guide decision-making regarding the scientific or scholarly quality, clarity and currency of information in the text, data, illustrations and bibliography. However, Editors, Authors and Publishers commonly make collective decisions when ethical concerns arise. In this collective decision-making process, book Editors, Authors and Publishers are guided by general ethical policies set by the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE), the Association of American Publishers (AAP) and the individual Publisher, and are constrained by the legal requirements in force regarding libel, copyright infringement and plagiarism (as laid out in book contracts). As standards evolve and change over time, we will revisit these policies and welcome the input of scholarly and library communities to update them.