Please contact our Operations Manager, Natalie Ridgeway, or our Administrator, Linda Gough, for any general queries about COPE.
We hope non-members will find the resources available on this website helpful but we cannot provide specific advice unless you are a member or have a complaint against a member.
Complaints and concerns about our members
We only consider complaints or concerns against our member editors, journals or publishers, and only when they relate to specific items in the Codes of Conduct. COPE‘s role is to be a neutral third party, with the intention that airing of these concerns will lead to an improvement in the understanding and practice of publication ethics more widely. We do not undertake investigations, and we cannot consider cases that are the subject of ongoing legal procedures.
Please see the document below for more information.
How COPE handles submitted concerns about its members (updated 18 August 2014)
COPE reviewed the process by which it handles complaints and concerns about its members in August 2014, in the light of a larger strategic review of COPE’s aims. The process was discussed and approved by Council.
COPE is a membership organization; it is not a statutory body and does not have regulatory authority. COPE’s aims are the education of its members and the promotion of a better understanding of publication ethics overall. While COPE may not always be able to resolve differences in opinion about specific cases, we take steps to raise the profile of publication ethics matters, and to make editors aware of best practice and help them adhere to those standards. COPE’s new process to handle concerns will be in line with these goals and its aims will be to educate editors and to support publishers or owners so that they can deal with concerns raised against their journals, with COPE acting in an advisory role.
The process aims to adhere to the following principles:
- All COPE members are expected to be familiar with and abide by the COPE Codes of Conduct.
- We accept that authors and others on occasion will have concerns about member editors, journals or publishers. We aim to provide a process by which genuine concerns can be heard by COPE as a neutral third party, with the overall aim that airing of these concerns will lead to an improvement in the understanding and practice of publication ethics more widely.
- We only consider concerns against member editors, journals or publishers, and only when they relate to specific items in the Codes of Conduct. Any concerns should have been raised to the attention of the journal and publisher; if concerns remain after this process has been exhausted, COPE will evaluate the concerns to establish what advice it can provide.
- COPE’s role will be primarily as a facilitator of a dialogue between the different parties, ensuring all issues are aired, even if they cannot be resolved to the satisfaction of both parties.
- In addition, COPE’s role is to point out best practices and to advise on how issues should be handled, in the same way that we advise members at COPE forums and in other ways.
- We will not therefore engage in specific investigations, as our role is to provide advice.
- We will review concerns and may decide that they do not fall within the realm of what we can advise on. If so, the complainant will be advised of this.
- To facilitate an open dialogue, we believe that correspondence relating to concerns should be open, and we will copy all parties on correspondence from COPE (unless there are legal or other compelling reasons for confidentiality) and expect that all parties will do the same.
- COPE will aim to respond to concerns in a timely manner, but complainants, journals and publishers should understand that COPE is run by a voluntary council, and complaints are just one of a large number of activities undertaken by the council.
- If a COPE member is not willing to comply with the Code of Conduct, we will aim to discuss that with the member, and will ask them to consider their membership of the organization.
Anyone who submits a complaint will be expected to accept the above principles as well as the specific guidelines, below.
If a reader or an author has concerns about a member editor, journal or publisher which they wish to raise to the attention of COPE, they should email the COPE Membership Assistant and supply the following information:
- A summary of the concerns in 500 words—this will be shared with the editor and/or publisher and thus the summary should be as clear as possible and provided in a polite tone.
- An outline of the points within the COPE Code of Conduct which are relevant to the concerns.
Please note that COPE will only consider the summary of the concerns and the details about the relevant points within the Code of Conduct. We will not consider documentation related to previous correspondence with the journal and/or publisher.
For any queries regarding COPE’s handling of concerns about members or additional information on how to prepare a summary of concerns to be submitted to COPE, please contact the COPE Membership Assistant