News & Opinion

News / Appointment of new COPE Ombudsman

COPE is very pleased to announce the appointment of the new COPE Ombudsman, Suzanne Morris. Suzanne Morris is the Postgraduate Coordinator at the Sustainable Minerals Institute, University of Queensland, Australia. Suzanne also holds the role of Research Integrity Officer at the University of Queensland. Suzanne is passionate about research integrity and developing skills in research higher degree students and early career researchers to help them negotiate the path to achieving successful research careers. Suzanne is also a well known speaker on the subject of negotiating for authorship and author order.

The COPE Ombudsman is a voluntary position. 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; or if two or more members cannot agree on how to handle a complaint involving both their publications.

News / Election of COPE council members May 2012

Voting for the 5 vacancies on COPE council is now open and will remain open until Wednesday 23 May 2012. All Full and Associate Members are entitled to vote. Please note: there is only one vote per journal title, even for  journals with multiple editors. The vote should be cast by the Member editor, who is usually the Editor-in-Chief, or otherwise by the nominated contact for the journal. See here for more details and to cast your vote.

Opinion / Nature Editorial on Publishing Risky Research

There has been much discussion recently on how journals handle risky or "dual use" research - ie research that has the potential to be used for harm. A Nature Editorial ( now discusses where things stand with regard to a pair of papers submitted to Science and Nature of papers reporting mammalian transmissibility of avian flu as a result of artificial genetic manipulation. One paper is now published in Nature (

Opinion / New declaration on Publication Ethics in China

Recent articles in the Scientist and Nature discuss publication ethics in China and point to a recent declaration by editors of the China Association for Science and Technology (CAST) to follow guidelines issued by CAST in 2009. This declaration is one part of increasing awareness of the importance of publication ethics and the need for journals within China to address the issue.

Opinion / New York Times reports on the sharp rise in retractions

The NYT discusses how the sharp rise in retractions is prompting calls for reform.  Read the full article here.

News / Revised and updated flowchart

How COPE manages complaints against member journals has been revised and updated and is now available via the website here.  Note: this revision has not yet been incorporated into the translated versions of the flowcharts.  These will be available shortly. 

Opinion / Anesthesia and Analgesia publish editorial re: Fujii Statement of Concern

Anesthesia & Analgesia have published an editorial which discusses the retraction of eight manuscripts by Dr. Yoshitaka Fujii published under the auspices of Toho University, as well as his dismissal from the university.  The editorial continues by discussing the journal's concern over papers published by Dr Fujii in Anesthesia & Analegesia - concerns which were fist highlighted to the Editors in a Letter to the Editor by Kranke, Apfel, and Roewer alleging research fraud by Dr. Fujii back in April 2000.  In his editorial, the Editor-in-Chief, Steven Schafer, apologises to the readers as "the Journal’s response to the allegations of research fraud in the 2000 Letter to the Editor by Kranke and colleagues was inadequate".  The editorial goes on to list 24 papers by Dr Fujii published in Anesthesia & Analegesia which may represent fraudulent research and are now the subject of a statement of concern.

Schafer highlights that the journal has a responsibility to pursue allegations of misconduct no matter how old they are - a policy COPE supports as outlined in the Code of Conduct and Best Practice Guidelines for Journal Editors (clause 11).  The full editorial by Schafer can be read here.


News / Ethical Editing – Spring 2012 issue

Download the Spring issue of Ethical Editing, the newsletter from COPE.
This issue's theme is ''15 Years of COPE!''. We would very much welcome any feedback or comments you may have. Please contact us via the website.

News / Announcement of COPE Council elections

Due to vacancies on Council, we are seeking nominations for five new candidates.

These are voluntary positions. Council is responsible for COPE’s policy and management. Council members are expected to attend four meetings a year (in London) as well as take part in subcommittees and other COPE related tasks. It may be possible to attend some meetings by phone. There are also occasional strategy meetings and annual seminars in the UK and North America which we hope Council Members will attend one of. Council members are also trustees of COPE as a charity.

In accordance with COPE’s constitution, the candidate, or the organisation they represent, must have been a member of COPE for at least 1 year.

Ordinary Council Members shall be elected by the Full and Associate Members with voting rights or (if the candidates are unopposed) by the approval of the Council.

We are particularly seeking applications from journal editors with expertise in areas other than biomedicine, specifically humanities, law and ethics. Publishers and non-native English speakers are also particularly welcome.

Further details, including a job description, can be found below.

Those who are interested should send a short CV (no more than 4 pages) plus a covering letter stating what they can contribute to COPE Council. A Candidate for Council membership should be nominated by two other current members of COPE, at least one of whom must not be employed by the same organisation as the nominee.

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 6 April 2012.

COPE council member: role description

Purpose of role

  • To be responsible, together with other council members, for the policy and management of the Committee on Publication Ethics.

Appointment and length of tenure

  • Council members will be appointed by COPE Council for three years, with the possibility of an additional three years.
  • A candidate for Council membership must be nominated by two other current COPE members. If the candidate is the nominated representative of a member, at least one of the nominees for Council membership must not be employed by the same organisation as the nominee.
  • The candidate, or the organisation they represent, must have been a member of COPE for at least one year.

Key responsibilities

  • Act as a Trustee for COPE, as a UK charity
  • Attend and take a full part in quarterly meetings of Council
  • Attend and contribute to quarterly Forum meetings (Council and Forum meetings are held on the same day)
  • Take part in additional policy discussions (usually by email) and approve annual budget
  • Monitor expenditure and supervise the administration of COPE
  • Make appointments to Council and other positions
  • Take part in sub-committees and other tasks as agreed by Council
  • Represent COPE externally when required to do so by Council

Person specification

  • Good understanding and judgment of business matters
  •  Experience of academic publishing (in particular, gained as the editor or publisher of a peer-reviewed publication)
  •  Experience of committee work or involvement with charitable organizations
  •  Understanding of ethical issues in academic publishing (eg, having published on such matters)
  •  Expertise that will benefit COPE, such as writing, editing, publishing, training, law, accountancy, charity administration, public relations, human resources, fundraising, etc.
  • Sufficient time to commit to COPE activities, including attending meetings and contributing to the work of Council as required

News / New guidelines on cooperation between journals and institutions

After extensive consultation with institutions and editors around the world, COPE has issued guidelines about how universities and journals should cooperate on cases of suspected research misconduct. The new guidelines are available here and the press release announcing the guidelines is here.