I was a participant in research/“quality improvement” without informed consent that was life threatening. There has been an IRB investigation going on since June. And an investigation by a publisher of a journal where two articles were published with me as a participant.

I am very unfamiliar with preprints. But on December 20, a preprint platform I made a complaint to said they are withdrawing the article and putting a notice on the preprint of patient harm from the protocol.

It says, “20 December, 2023 Research Square has withdrawn this preprint after receiving a notification of patient harm that stemmed from this protocol/study.”

I understand that articles that come from withdrawn preprints, in these circumstances, are usually retracted. But does anyone know if this impacts articles written prior to the preprint, using the same participants and intervention?

Will this possibly help the publisher of the first two articles move forward with retraction quicker? I've heard it can take years for retractions to be issued.

Do preprint platforms like Research Square communicate somehow with PubMed and Research Gate so that a notice is on their site for that preprint doi? The article is on Research Gate without the notice. But links to Research Square where the notice appears. Should there be a notice on Research Gate? There is notice already on Europe PMC.

2 Answers 2


You may want to get in touch with https://retractionwatch.com/.

They are experts in all things retraction. I think they would care about your case and they also have the experience to support you in pushing for the papers to get retracted.

  • Yes, I recently learned about them last month and contacted them. They wrote back quickly but they are backlogged. So I have to wait a little bit for response to everything I said to them so far. And are already familiar with one of the researchers. I really look forward to chatting with them! I've been reading their blog non-stop since finding them! And perusing their database. Jan 2 at 23:55

Withdrawal is a human process, performed by humans. Humans can be influenced by many things; yeah, I'd expect an editor to be somewhat influenced by knowing that other venues have retracted work for the same reason they're considering a retraction, it's difficult for a human not to be influenced by that sort of thing. But I doubt there is any direct pipeline for it, and journals may want to preserve some level of "independence".

Ultimately, it sounds like what would lead to journal article withdrawals here is a failure to adhere to protections for human research subjects. If you are trying to seek retractions of particular articles, I would focus on that specific reason. Information about other retractions is background information at most. I would not assume that any article will be retracted solely because a preprint of the same paper was retracted, I would expect the journal to have their own process.

Good for you for going after researchers abusing the "quality improvement" loophole.

  • what is the quality improvement loophole? Dec 29, 2023 at 10:30
  • 2
    @JonasSchwarz "Quality improvement" is not research and doesn't come with the same protections for human subjects, but may involve data collection to monitor the effect of a change. That's fine when the only goal is improved patient care. It becomes sketchy when it's used to label what is actually a research project with research goals. hhs.gov/ohrp/regulations-and-policy/guidance/faq/…
    – Bryan Krause
    Dec 29, 2023 at 10:52

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