Not everything we do will be useful to you, but...

To some extent, I’m bound to advocate becoming a member of COPE, seeing as I'm on its Council, but without COPE I could never have transformed the editorial and publishing processes that have existed within the companies I have worked for. It’s partly about better understanding what should be done, but also about getting guidance on how to go about it. COPE did not proactively do the latter, but just being part of a network of editors enabled me to ask the right people the right questions.

That’s not to say that all that COPE suggests is useful. Much of the advice I received in the early days was from people in well-staffed journals, seemingly with unlimited resources, able to fund entire members of staff to investigate each and every transgression of good publication practices. I found advice from such people slightly ridiculous and completely un-implementable within my small-journal environment. However, I learned to find the low-hanging fruit, and then, step-by-step, improve each and every aspect of the editorial processes I oversaw.

I still turn to COPE, now as a publisher rather than as an editor, and I still have the same love–hate relationship; some of what I am advised is completely unworkable, but there is still the fruit within reach, the small bits of practical advice, that when implemented carefully can make all the difference to what you do.

I have come to see ‘the literature’ as something bigger and more important than the publication I work for, or the role I have. In essence, it is a nebulous being, ever-growing, sitting out there, hard to define and grasp, and yet pivotal to how we formulate and debate what we think we know. It needs to be protected and given space to grow, and COPE helps me to understand that, and understand why every little improvement I can make to my editorial processes serves the ‘greater good’.