Guidelines on Good Publication Practice in 1999
COPE's first guidelines were developed by Philip Fulford, Michael Doherty, Jane Smith, Richard Smith, Fiona Godlee, Peter Wilmshurst, Richard Horton and Michael Farthing, after discussion at the COPE meeting in April 1999. These were published as Guidelines on Good Publication Practice (PDF, 112 KB) in the Annual Report of 1999.
Original Code of Conduct in 2004
In 2004, Richard Smith, then Chair of COPE and Editor of the BMJ, with Pritpal Tamber and Jeremy Theobald, drafted a Code of Conduct for Editors. The Code of Conduct built on the Guidelines on Good Publication Practice and underwent wide consultation with COPE Council and with editors and publishers. It was published on the first COPE website in November 2004, with an Editorial in the BMJ. The original Code of Conduct (PDF, 212 KB) is linked here for reference but is now retired.
A checklist for the Code of Conduct in 2005, and the first flowcharts in 2006
The Code of Conduct set out standards of good editorial conduct. It called on editors to take all reasonable steps to ensure that allegations of research misconduct were properly investigated. It also established a mechanism for dealing with complaints against COPE member editors that could not be resolved by the journal’s own complaints procedure. A checklist for the Code of Conduct was developed, and members surveyed for their journals' adherence. The results of this were presented by Fiona Godlee at the 2005 Annual Seminar and published in that years Annual Report. To help editors implement COPE's advice and deal with common areas of misconduct, the Guidelines on Good Practice were replaced in 2006 by a series of flowcharts.
A revised Code of Conduct in 2007
The Code of Conduct was reorganised and updated by COPE Council in September 2007 and a further 'gold standard' of best practice was developed. The Code of Conduct was designed to provide a set of minimum standards to which all COPE members were expected to adhere. The Best Practice Guidelines were more aspirational, and were developed in response to requests from editors for guidance about a wide range of increasingly complex ethical issues. Liz Wager prepared the first draft of the Best Practice Guidelines. They were developed following discussion with COPE Council, presented for discussion at the COPE Seminar in March 2008, and published in October 2008.
COPE Core Practices in 2017
In 2017, the Code of Conduct and Best Practice guidelines were retired and replaced by COPE's Core Practices.