I am an undergraduate student. My friends and I found interesting results while applying game theory to biology. However, we have used only one datset and being undergrads can't get access to do experiments to get our own data. should we preprint anyway .Will retracting a paper from biorxiv hurt our future publication chances?

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    It's really really helpful when you are new at research to have someone advising you. Academia.SE can't really substitute for an academic advisor, because when you are a novice you don't even know which questions to ask. I think this one is a good example, I don't know why you'd even ask about retraction in this circumstance. I'd suggest finding a professor (you could start with people you've taking courses with) to help or to refer you to another professor or one of their post docs or senior grad students.
    – Bryan Krause
    Feb 1 '19 at 16:36
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    Yes I ended up doing just this. And am grateful for it.
    – Ananya Jha
    Feb 2 '19 at 17:02

The other answers (and comments) raise some good points, let me put them all together "for the record."

First, your best bet is to get some faculty supervision. As written in the comments, "when you are a novice you don't even know which questions to ask." In this particular advice, it looks like you followed the advice to find a mentor "and are grateful for it," so that's great.

Second, bioRxiv technically doesn't allow you to retract you paper. As it says on this FAQ:

As disclosed in the preprint/open peer-review settings when authors submit their paper, preprints cannot be "unpublished". "Publication" means to "make public", and once something is public on the Internet, we cannot go back in time and undo the publication. Preprints (including submitted manuscripts) will remain on JMIR Preprints in perpetuity....

Because preprints do not "count" as formal publication, there is no formal "withdrawal" process. In exceptional cases (e.g. clearly wrong information that constitute a public health concern) we can add a new cover page to a preprint PDF that contains an explanation from the authors explaining why the preprint was withdrawn (explaining substantial errors that would render the preprint unpublishable). The originally submitted preprint will still be part of the PDF, but the withdrawal explanation will be on the first page.

Finally, there is a huge difference between a preprint server and a peer-reviewed journal. Certainly, you do not want garbage associated with your name in either; however, technical problems -- such as results that do not generalize to other datasets -- are not really a problem in the former as they would be in the latter. It is expected that a fraction of promising early results (which might make it to arXiv/bioRxiv) die on the vine before the study is completed and published in a peer-reviewed journal.


No, many submit and have to rewrite or withdraw for many reasons. Do you really need to withdraw - this may be an interesting result for people to see even if it was on limited data...

  • Thankyou so much. Actually we haven't submitted yet. This is our first time time. And frankly we are being over cautious, trying to find out what pre prints and publications are, and what happens if we missed something. Though we are pretty sure we are right, and will probably put it up within a few days.
    – Ananya Jha
    Jan 31 '19 at 9:22
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    Have you any information about a paper retracted from biorxiv? Their system says that once a paper is published, it cannot be unpublished
    – Scientist
    Jul 4 '19 at 15:16

No. I would not expect any backlash from having a manuscript retracted at Biorxiv as it is not peer-reviewed in principle, anyway, and given you're not exposed for blatant fraud or other glaring questionable behaviour in the platform. Which would be so foolish nobody has done this yet. Furthermore, I do not think there are any mechanisms for retracting a paper from Biorxiv after publication. And this is important to bear in mind.


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