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Patrick Franzen

Council Title: 
Elected Council Member

Washington, USA

Term of office as Elected Council member

2021-2024 First Term

Patrick Franzen is Director, Publications and Platform at SPIE, the international society of optics and photonics. Pat is responsible for all of SPIE’s publications activities including proceedings and conference content, journals, and books, and oversees all editorial, policy, production, and sales and marketing operations. He sits on SPIE’s publications ethics committee and is a staff liaison on SPIE’s board-appointed committee on ethics and revocation. Prior to joining SPIE, Pat was the Senior Director, Professional Publishing for Lumina Datamatics, a global content, technology, and commerce company based in Plymouth, Massachusetts and Chennai, India. He received both his B.A. and M.A. in U.S. History from Providence College in Providence, RI where he was a four-year member of the men’s varsity swimming and diving team.

Competing interests statement: 

2022 competing interest statement for Patrick Franzen (PDF, 66 KB)

Getting to know you

An interview with Patrick

What is your current professional position?

I am currently the Director, Publications and Platform for SPIE. SPIE, the international society for optics and photonics, is a not-for-profit educational society focused on advancing light-based technologies. In my current role I oversee SPIE’s publishing activities including our 12 peer-reviewed journals, conference proceedings, and SPIE Press as well as additional publishing services that we offer to external partners. It is a diverse portfolio that includes both traditional publication types as well as a growing multimedia presence.

What kinds of work, studies or research have you been involved in that has led you up to your position on COPE Council?

As Director, Publications and Platform at SPIE, I am active in all publication ethics issues of significance—those that fall outside of clear instances of plagiarism or duplicate submission and/or publication—and work closely with our staff and Editors in Chief to arrive at appropriate decisions. I am also a staff liaison on both our Publications Ethics Committee and a board-appointed ad-hoc Committee of Ethics and Revocation.

What are the most common publishing ethics issues you and your colleagues have faced?

Plagiarism is far and away the most common issue we deal with. We also see a fair number of duplicate submissions and duplicate publications. Less common, but far more time consuming, are author disputes especially when it comes to intellectual property issues.

What do you think is/are the most urgent ethical concerns which need addressing? – for authors, editors, reviewers, or publishers.

It is not so much an ethical concern, but I think that the continued standardisation of ethics policies needs to remain an industry focus. Different policies across publishers creates confusion for everyone especially authors. In terms of actual ethics issues, I believe that data integrity, image manipulation, and other nefarious, predatory behaviours are major ethical concerns.

What has been the most complicated, or difficult to resolve, ethical issue that you have been involved in?

Author disputes and intellectual property issues are generally the most time consuming. They often involve personal and/or professional resentments which complicates the ethical investigation and requires significant communication and documentation. Plagiarism complaints that involve non-English publications can be complicated and time consuming as well.

Are there any ethics issues which are unique or more common in your field, or country? Anything you have experienced that seems more of an issue in a particular demographic?

Because of the applied nature of our content and high patent citation activity, I imagine that intellectual property issues are more common for SPIE than most scholarly publishers. These issues can be quite difficult to resolve as they tend to surface years after the content has been published.

Are there any areas or aspects of your work, or academic publishing in general, that you feel are missing guidelines or standards that you think would be useful?

In my opinion, most of the current guidelines and standards have been drafted with journals in mind. There are many other “types” of academic publications that lack formal guidelines. These include traditional publications such as books and conference proceedings as well as new formats including video recordings, datasets, code, etc. I believe that guidance in these areas would be a great benefit to the community and help future proof against potential ethical concerns.

What are you hoping to get your teeth into at COPE?  Are there any projects in particular you would like to get involved in, or any initiatives you have in mind?

SPIE is a major publisher of conference proceedings and conference material, and the current ethical guidelines for conference content are minimal. COPE has identified conference publications as a potential focus area, and I am excited to participate in the development of these very important guidelines. It will be a huge benefit to the scholarly publishing community.