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Misunderstood requirements for authorship


Dr X submitted a paper to a journal that was assigned by a rather hung-over editorial assistant to an associate editor who was a co-author on the paper. Realising the mistake, she emailed the associate editor to reassign the paper. He expressed surprise as he did not know Dr X, had not seen the paper before submission, and knew of no reason why he should be a co-author.


Consent and ethics approval questioned after acceptance


In a paper detailing a physiological study of healthy human volunteers the authors stated that ethics committee approval had been granted and that the participants had given informed consent. After peer review the paper was revised and accepted.


Ethical approval and fabrication of results


A group of authors, based in private practice, submitted three manuscripts to Journal A and one to Journal B. All the manuscripts described the application and effectiveness of a spinal manipulation technique.


Using annual reviews to massage the impact factor


The editor in chief of Journal A is also on the editorial board of Journal B. Journal B publishes “annual reviews” that purport to describe recent advances in the field, but only do this by discussing and citing their own content. The editor in chief of Journal A now wants to have “annual reviews” in his journal to help increase the impact factor.


Massaging the impact factor


The editor in chief of a journal started insisting that authors include references from the journal in their articles. S/he provided examples of acceptance letters from several other journals in the field, which insist that their authors do this, as evidence that it is standard and acceptable practice. The authors do not agree and think this is an unethical attempt to massage the impact factor. But they are struggling to convince the editor-in-chief.


Competing interest


An editorial board member of a journal submitted an unsolicited review article on a drug. The editor said the journal would consider the article, but suspected that the article had been commissioned or even written by a drugs company. S/he stipulated that the author must provide a financial disclosure statement before the article could be accepted. The journal published the review article, which had been refereed by two independent reviewers.


Russian scientific misconduct


A letter was sent to an editor, claiming that scientific misconduct had taken place in Russia. The editor did not want to ignore the issue, which was not related to submitted papers and could not be published as a letter. But s/he was unsure what action to take.


Whose responsibility is duplicate submission?


Ten days after receiving an article for consideration, a group of editors received an email from the publisher informing them that the particular author in question had recently submitted nine articles to their journals, eight of which had been submitted in the previous seven weeks. Based on the similarity of the titles, the publisher had concerns about possible duplicate submission and had written to the author to request clarification.


Interactive case report of a patient with ongoing health problems


The case of a patient with unresolved upper abdominal pain and weight loss was written up and submitted by her family doctor to a journal that publishes interactive case reports. The intention was to present it as an unfolding story in three parts over five weeks. Responses would be invited on the journal’s website from readers to questions about diagnosis and management, and about what to say to the patient.


Redundant publication


A complaint of redundant publication was made by a reader, who claimed that a second paper had been published in the journal, after the first had already been published elsewhere. No permission letter was obtained by the author of the second paper and the first paper had not been cited.