News & Opinion

News / Appointment of COPE Ombudsman

COPE is seeking applications for the position of COPE Ombudsman.
This is a voluntary position but COPE will cover travel expenses. The Ombudsman adjudicates:

  • complaints brought against COPE by its members;
  • appeals against COPE rulings or advice relating to complaints against COPE members for not following the COPE codes of conduct for editors and publishers;
  • if two or more members cannot agree on how to handle a complaint involving both their publications.

Although it is impossible to predict future workload, we are happy to note that COPE has only required the Ombudsman to consider 2 cases over the last 6 years (although one case was very protracted). (Earlier reports from the retiring Ombudsman may be viewed here.

The Ombudsman is expected to attend COPE council meetings (four meetings a year in London) but is not a voting member of Council. It may be possible to attend some meetings by phone.

Those who are interested should send a short CV (no more than 4 pages) plus a covering letter stating why they think they would be suitable for the position. We hope to appoint somebody with both insight into publication ethics and the work of COPE, and an understanding or experience of conducting investigations or arbitration.

Further information can be obtained from the COPE Administrator, Linda Gough, to whom applications and nominations can be emailed.

The closing date for applications is Friday 27 January 2012.

News / COPE offers two scholarships to attend COPE's European seminar

COPE member editors from developing countries are invited to apply for one of two scholarships to attend COPE’s European seminar and annual general meeting, to be held in London on March 16th, 2012. 

This will cover two nights’ hotel accommodation in London and round-trip (economy class) airfare. Interested editors should send a short CV (no more than 4 pages) and letter of application explaining why they would benefit from attending this meeting to the COPE Administrator here . The deadline for applications is Friday 13 January 2012.

News / Ethical Editing – Winter 2011 issue

Download the Winter issue of Ethical Editing, the newsletter from COPE.
This issue's theme is ''Ethics around the globe''. We would very much welcome any feedback or comments you may have. Please contact us via the website.

News / Global standards for authors and editors tackle thorny issues such as research bias and misleading publicity

During the 2nd World Conference on Research Integrity in Singapore in 2010, COPE helped develop two position statements setting out international standards for responsible research publication for editors and authors. They have been published as part of the conference proceedings under a Creative Commons licence* (details of the proceedings are available from the publisher, here).  COPE Chair, Liz Wager, writes: “COPE already helps editors from many of the world’s major publishers to deal with publication misconduct and the standards for editors complement the COPE Code of Conduct followed by our members.  We also welcomed the chance to get involved in the first universal global guidelines for authors from all areas of scholarly publishing, including research scientists, university academics and clinicians.”

To view the press release, an introduction to the statements, as well as the statements themselves, click here.  

News / COPE Forum agenda for 6 December 2011 meeting

Download the agenda and materials for the COPE Forum meeting 6 December 2011 here  (PDF, 167kb).

Opinion / Plagiarism and fake authorship in engineering

Retraction Watch reports a case in which an engineering researcher was plagiarized but the journal editor could not determine who was responsible, or report the problem to the author's institution, because the plagiarist apparently used a false name (and/or false affiliation). 

Opinion / Psychology of fraud

Social psychologist Jennifer Crocker has written a commentary on the Stapel case focusing on the 'first tiny step' that may lead to somebody commiting research fraud. It is published in this week's Nature.

Opinion / Misconduct in social psychology investigated

Nature reports the outcome of university investigations into misconduct by a Dutch researcher. While the misconduct is serious and therefore troubling, this appears to be a good example of a thorough, prompt, and transparent investigation carried out by the institution. The full report (in Dutch) is available here. The news item in Nature is available here. It was also covered by Retraction Watch.

Opinion / Study shows prevalence of guest and ghost authors


A study published in the BMJ [see here] found that 21% of papers published in 2008 in 6 major medical journals had guest or ghost authors.  This is a slight decrease since a similar study in 1996 found 29% but still a cause for concern. Guest authorship appears to be a particular problem in research articles.

Opinion / COPE cases show problems at institutions

COPE Chair, Liz Wager, has used COPE cases to show the problems editors sometimes face when they try to work with institutions on cases of suspected misconduct. The report has been published online in the BMJ this week. It is available to BMJ subscribers here and on the COPE website here.