Our company publishes clinical pathways. They were initially authored by local experts, but have since been retrofitted with evidence, if possible. This was done by expert “evidologists”, not clinical experts; they were acknowledged solely by their company name (it was “out-sourced”). If the evidence did not fit, the pathway was discarded.
We undertake to review all of the pathways annually. However, the annual review process is often the first time a clinical expert is reviewing the pathway. As a result, their “suggested revisions” are extensive. We would like to make such people authors (if they agree), partly so we can collect and display their competing interests and partly so that they can get “credit” for their work. This means that each year there could be new authors (reviewers with useful comments).
My questions are: • Should we make all reviewers authors, even if their report is pants? • I suspect not, but can you think of a useful threshold as to when a reviewer has done enough to be an author? • Year on year, we would have to check the “original” reviewers (ie, the first years') are still happy with the revised pathway, right? • But what if there are authorship disputes? We would have to mediate them, right?
Does this approach to authorship make any sense at all?
The Forum advised against getting too bogged down with the terms “author” and “authorship”. These terms can be redundant in some forms of publication. Terms such as reviewer or contributor can be used and are just as valid. The Forum emphasised the importance of transparency about who writes what and when. Hence the Forum advised identifying an updated version of the pathways, with a list of those who contributed to it. This could be linked to previous versions, with a similar list of contributors, whether or not they are the same. Another suggestion was to ask the reviewers and the people who use the pathways what they want – do they want to be acknowledged? Do they want to see who has contributed what to each pathway?
We are grateful to the participants of the recent COPE Forum for helping us to understand how “authorship” can be dealt with in a non-traditional editorial model. Our thoughts continue to evolve on how we will handle this, but we are likely to list “authors” as a group, assuming that they have all participated under the aegis of one body or leader. Others who participate will be listed, and we will operate no minimum threshold for their involvement, although we will probably reserve the right to reject the offerings of those who have been pants. All “authors” will be called “contributors”, if we need a name for them at all, so as to avoid any conflict with the definition of authorship provided by the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE). Taking such an approach will ensure that we are not only collecting the names of those who provide valuable contributions, but also ensure that we can make public any and all potential conflicts of interest so that the reader is fully aware of potential biases.
The terms author A and author B will be used to refer to the corresponding and non-corresponding authors, respectively, of the paper in question. The term Editor will be used for Editor A of our journal and Editor B of the other journal involved. The term Editorial Assistant will be used to refer to the person who is in charge of correspondence for our journal.
Author A presented a paper to a conference and submitted the paper to the conference proceedings. After the conference and before the papers were selected for consideration for the conference special issue, Author A submitted a paper to Editor A for review. The only comment Author A made regarding the status of the paper is ‘Finally, this paper is our original work and has not been submitted to any other journal for reviews.’ No mention was made that the paper was in a conference proceedings or is under consideration for possible inclusion in other journals.
Editor A decided to handle the review process himself and assigned reviewers to review the submission. Later, Author A sent a letter to the Editorial Assistant indicating that he/she was requesting that the submission be withdrawn from review. Author A’s note is shown below:
“I have a problem with this paper. I presented an earlier version of it at the xxxx conference in xxxx this xxxx. Each year the Editor B’s Journal xxxx runs a special edition based on xxx and our paper has been short listed from the papers presented at this year’s conference. So unfortunately I am going to have to withdraw it from your journal. However, this is part of an ongoing research project and hopefully we will have some more interesting results to submit to your journal within the next few months. Thank you for the time spent on this paper and apologies for any inconvenience caused.”
Editor A called Editor B and inquired about Author A’s paper. Editor B indicated that he was unaware that the paper was under review when he solicited it. Editor B stated that it was not his intent to solicit papers under review. Editor B indicated that he believed that Author A accepted his offer for special issue consideration after Author A sent a withdrawal letter to Editor A. Editor B agreed that Author A’s paper was under review at the time that the letter from Editor B was sent.
Editor A delayed taking action as he was to meet with the publisher in the near future and wanted to verify with them that his intended action—a ban for double submission—was suitable. On returning from meeting with the publishers, Editor A discovered that the paper had never been withdrawn from consideration and the review process was now complete (entire review process 28 days). The reviewer comments warranted rejection. Editor A sent a rejection letter to Authors A and B advising them that the paper was rejected, it was double submitted and comments were being forwarded as the paper was never actually withdrawn and that a submission ban was being placed on them for the journal for 5 years.
Author A and Author B attempted to correspond with Editor A. However, Editor A never received notification of these attempts as the Editorial Assistant did not bother to read Author A’s or B’s or any other emails for a long period of time. (The Editorial Assistant was replaced for performance reasons shortly afterwards.) Editor A received a telephone call from Author A, since Author A did not receive a reply. Editor A responded by email to Author A’s voice message advising that the decision taken was not open to discussion.
Author A contacted the publisher stating that if a retraction of the statement of double submission and journal ban is not made, he may take legal action.
Editor A’s position is that double submission occurred because Authors A and B demonstrated their intent to have their paper considered by both journals simultaneously by withdrawing their paper as soon as Editor B expressed an interest in it. If either Author A or Author B asked Editor A’s opinion on what to do, Editor A would have stated you are banned from the journal for double submission unless you allow the review process to complete. This opinion is not only held by Editor A, but is typical in the field. Editor A has many letters from authors who participated in a recent conference asking if their papers have been selected for a special issue, so they know whether they need to wait for a decision or should go ahead and submit their paper to an alternative outlet.
Editor A is willing to retract the use of the term double submission as he can see that the authors can reasonably argue that if the paper submitted to Editor B was given to Editor B after the rejection note was sent by Editor A one can make an interpretation that the paper was not physically under consideration at two places at once.
However, Editor A is not willing to retract the 5 year ban because Author A and Author B have abused the review process. They have wasted the time of two reviewers. Editor A typically waits for a year prior to asking reviewers who are not on the editorial board to consider another paper.
If a 5 year ban is retracted, Editor A fears that Authors A and B will continue to abuse the review process at his journal and that other authors will do the same. As the number of submissions has increased by almost 300% over the past 3 years, Editor A believes that anonymous reviewers warrant as much respect and consideration that can be offered.
In summary, Editor A feels that the intent to have a paper considered at two places simultaneously is unethical and is accurately described by the term double submission. Editor A is willing to retract the term double submission. Editor A will retract a 5 year submission ban, under extreme protest, if told that Author A and Author B have acted in an ethical manner.
The advice from the Forum was that ideally both editors should stand together and reject the paper but the Forum was told that editor B is unwilling to do this. The Forum noted that although the authors are responsible for wasting the time and editorial resources of the journal, authors are entitled to withdraw their papers. The proper course of action would have been for the authors to have rejected the offer from Journal B saying that their paper was under consideration elsewhere. However, the authors did request that their paper be withdrawn from Journal A but there seems to be some confusion regarding the withdrawal process (the editor informed the Forum that an administrator in Journal A’s office had been inefficient).
The Forum questioned whether or not the authors then believed the paper had been withdrawn and so they were free to submit it elsewhere. As it is unclear if or when the paper was actually withdrawn, the Forum agreed that a 5 year ban was too harsh. Also, COPE reiterated its views on sanctions. COPE believes that sanctions should be imposed only if misconduct has been proved after a proper formal process has taken place, involving an independent panel where the author is allowed to present his case. Otherwise sanctions can be seen to be unfair and could provoke litigation.
All agreed that the best sanction is to decline publication of the paper. If the editor feels he would like to take it further, then he could contact the author’s institution and request an investigation.
I informed the authors involved in the incident that this issue was taken to the COPE Forum and that the suggestion was that the recommended manner for dealing with situations in which there is a question of academic dishonesty was that the paper be rejected and that information regarding the incident be forwarded to the host university(s) so they can conduct an investigation and act as they see fit. I then indicated that we have adopted this recommended procedure to address future cases and as this case entered prior to the onset of this policy, the original submission ban is lifted and we will not be submitting the information to the universities.
Our journal has recently been the subject of an attack of attempted plagiarism by an author from a military hospital in another country. The first evidence of this was alerted to us by one of our reviewers who identified an almost word-for-word copy of a paper previously published in which the disease being treated was changed slightly and a few numbers but everything else, including the reference list, was almost identical. The case was forwarded to me to deal with and after some consideration I adopted the following course. Firstly, I contacted the authors of the allegedly plagiarised paper to assure myself that it was submitted long before our correspondent’s effort. Secondly, I wrote to the submitter, sent him a copy of the paper and suggested to him that he withdraw his paper. He expressed surprise and affront but agreed to withdraw it. (Incidentally, another of our reviewers identified that the author in question had retracted a paper from another journal last year).
I then looked at Manuscript Central and discovered that he had two other case reports in our pipeline, one of them in a second revision. It was not hard (a simple Google search of the titles) to find the papers from which each of these had been slightly altered as well.
I rejected both of those papers from the Editor-in-Chief desk with a stern email and a request for him to be sure that he did not submit material that had been published previously again. At our editorial board meeting in November, I am to bring this up to discuss strategies to prevent this but in the meantime, I have asked my specialty editors to be vigilant about this form of intellectual property theft and to do whatever is possible to prevent being a party to it. I will explore whether there is any usable free software or online solution available to deal with this problem easily but in the meantime I have found Google really easy to use.
While I have submitted this anonymised, I feel that serial offenders such as this should be “outed” to the international medical publishing community by name. I have available copies of his submissions and the papers from which I believe he has copied. I would question the ethics of not making this information widely known and am prepared to share them with the Forum or any individual editor.
I have asked myself whether or not I should write to the other of his colleagues or local funding agencies in his home country but am still unsure of what to more to do.
The advice from the Forum was for the editor to follow the COPE flowchart on what to do if you suspect plagiarism in a submitted manuscript. The editor should contact the author’s institution or employer and ask them to carry out an investigation. In doing so the editor might need to contact the insititution concerned to find out who is responsible for research integrity as this can vary from country to country. What is important is to make the institution realise the seriousness of this form of misconduct, to take the matter seriously and to persuade them to carry out an investigation.
A letter was sent to the administration of the hospital but no response (nor additional submissions) have been received.
I am a trainer and author of books on medical writing. It was brought to my attention that a chapter in a German-language book published in Switzerland was based almost entirely on my teaching. The first author is director of a privately funded research institution and the second author a member of staff. The second author attended one of my courses. There is a general statement at the beginning of the chapter where the authors ‘refer to’ me (with a reference to one book and my website) and one other specific reference when they talk about macro and micro editing. However, there is one diagram copied from a course overhead and some original research published without reference, including a table reproduced directly from one of my books without acknowledging the source. Descriptions of several other specific concepts from my work (eg, storyboarding, 2-7-7-6) that appear in the chapter to be theirs, not mine. At one stage they write ‘We recommend’ giving a clear implication that it is theirs to recommend.
The authors did not seek permission from me or the publisher of my book. Their publisher has been contacted, and says that the work is not a piece of plagiarism but a homage, that the two references are sufficient, and that the author’s only mistake is leaving off an acknowledgment on one of the tables, which they will remedy at the next printing.
(1) Have the authors acted unethically? (2) Do I have an ethical duty to take this further, or should I just continue to enjoy my retirement?
The Forum unanimously agreed that the authors’ actions were unethical. Failure to ask permission is a form of misconduct. Some argued that it would be reasonable to sue for breach of copyright and that the author should contact his publisher and international distributor. The Forum agreed that this is a form of plagiarism but that there are degrees of plagiarism so the question arises as to how much harm has been done. The Forum reasoned that whether or not the complainant takes this matter forward by informing the plagiarists’ employers depends very much on how much he cares about protecting his intellectual property.
The publishers have now written an erratum in German that will be inserted in all remaining copies of the book. The statement says that the publisher and authors “thoroughly regret not having made it clear” that the chapter in question largely consists of a summary of book and course material. “We did in no way intend to question [the author’s] copyright and apologise to him for not having obtained the required permissions.” The author's institution has not been formally informed in the light of COPE's view that it would not be necessary to do so.
A paper was accepted and published in journal A which dealt with a cohort of patients with an unusual respiratory pathogen. A similar paper had been published in a US journal B a few months before. It dealt with more or less the same patients (a few more had been added) and provided some extra secondary outcome data but with the same conclusions.
The editor of journal A considered this to be duplication but the authors deny this on the grounds that there are further data.
This is a difficult issue as the editor considers it a case of duplicate publication but the authors disagree. Some journals ask authors to send related papers when submitting their articles for publication. The Forum agreed that journals should have some form of declaration in the instructions to authors or the submission information must be very clear on the rules of duplicate publication. Some argued that a rule of thumb is that if the “extra” data do not stand alone, then it is probably duplicate publication.
In this difficult area, the decision really needs to be left to the judgement of the editor and a correction published in both journals if duplicate publication is believed to have occurred. Software can sometimes help as it can give (in percentages) the amount of overlap between two papers and then editors can judge what amount is acceptable. However, if undetected, all agreed that this is a serious problem as the data may be counted twice in meta-analyses.
The editor indicated to the author that this was a case of duplicate publication and the paper was withdrawn from the website. A notice of duplicate publication was published in the editor’s journal.
A review article was submitted to the journal and sent for peer review. One of the reviewers brought to the editor’s attention that a substantial number of sentences and sections of the paper had directly, verbatim, been copied from chapter books and a monograph he had written in the past. The editor asked the reviewer to provide the texts in question. The editor carefully compared the submitted manuscript with the publications provided by the reviewer and concluded that the submission presents a severe case of plagiarism with multiple copy-and-paste examples throughout the entire manuscript.
The editor contacted the corresponding author by email and requested an explanation within a week. The corresponding author replied within the deadline but the editor did not find the explanation satisfactory.
He then contacted the heads of the corresponding author’s institution by email but has not heard from them as yet, even though he has sent them several reminder mails.
In the meantime, the editor has made the decision to reject the submission because of plagiarism. In his letter of rejection, the editor has informed the corresponding author that he has taken action and contacted the heads of the author’s institution.
What shall we do if the university hospital management does not respond?
The Forum were informed by the editor that having received no responses to his emails, he had mailed a letter to the institution but had still received no response. The Forum questioned whether or not he had evidence that the institution had in fact received the complaint. Was it sent by courier? Was it signed for? The Forum noted that there are limited options available to an editor as the paper is not published (ie, he could retract the paper if it had been published). The advice was to write to the institution every 3 months until a response is received. Other advice was to contact the Grant or Funding Body or to write to the rector of the university explaining the case. All discouraged the editor from publishing details of the case in his journal until the results of an investigation are available as he could be in breach of confidentiality.
The Institution Commission, comprising the Dean and vice Dean of the Faculty of Medicine and Surgery and the Dean of Curricula Studiorum, agreed that a substantial part of the article contained evident plagiarism.
At the Institutional hearing, the author declared that during the preparation of the manuscript the contributions of several authors were collated by himself, assembled by himself and that he failed to recognise that part of the manuscript which had been prepared by other participating coauthors were taken from another article published in 2006. These parts of the manuscript had been sent to the author only as a starting point for discussion and were not intended as part of the content of the final paper. There was, however, a misunderstanding.
As a consequence, the Institution Commission proposed the following sanctions:
• All data from each individual experiment and the raw data from the database as well as abstracts and all drafts and final manuscripts prepared for publication by the author MUST be fully reviewed by the Institution Commission for a period of 2 years.
• The author has also been informed that should the Institution Committee note any discrepancy between the raw data and the final manuscript, he will be forbidden from presenting data at all national and international meetings.
• Furthermore, he will also be banned from presenting at the University Scientific Meetings.
The editor was satisfied with the investigation and now considers the case closed.
It has been drawn to our attention that a paper published in a high-impact journal in the field of biological sciences (Journal A) draws very heavily on research published in the lower-impact factor journal for which we work (Journal B), as well as on work published in other journals. One of the authors of the paper in Journal B has contacted the editor of Journal A to register his/her concerns, as have several other high profile scientists in the field, including some whose work has also been appropriated. These scientists have each asked Journal A to investigate the peer review process for the paper in question. The author of the paper in Journal B has also asked the editor of Journal A if s/he might write a piece, to be published in Journal A, to ‘set the record straight’. This request was denied. Journal A, instead, suggested the author post a comment about the paper online on Journal A’s website, which would be of lower visibility than the article of concern itself.
·Should Journal A accede to the request to publish a response by the author of the paper in Journal B? Such a response would place the article of concern in the context of previously published data and hypotheses, and engage readers in the debate about the provenance of the published theories. If this is not published as a mini-review, as requested by the author, then would it be appropriate for it to appear in another form in the published journal that is equal in profile to the paper in question?
·Should Journal A have offered to conduct an investigation into how the paper in question was peer reviewed to allay the concerns of the scientists who have contacted them to request this?
This case prompted much debate among the Forum with several different views being proposed. However, all agreed that the peer review process is notoriously bad at detecting fraud or most forms of misconduct and is not really the issue here. Moreover, it is not open to complainants to demand an editor review their journal’s peer review system. The focus should be more on defending the reputation of the authors. In the absence of an ombudsman for Journal A and the fact that it does not appear to have a printed letters section, most of the Forum agreed that the authors should accept Journal A’s offert to post a comment on their website. Once the issue is in the public domain, it can be discussed and debated.
However, others argued that it was not sufficient for the authors to post a comment on the website because it is not citable, does not have a doi and so would not be linked to the original article. The authors should complain to the editor and ask him or her again to publish their response; but it was pointed out that you cannot force an editor to publish.
COPE’s code of conduct states that editors have a duty to “encourage debate” and that “cogent criticisms of published work should be published unless Editors have convincing reasons why they cannot be”. Hence if the editor refuses to publish the complaint then the author could call into question their compliance with COPE’s Code of Conduct. However, in his or her defence, the editor would probably note that posting the authors’ comments on the website constitutes publication, given that there is no correspondence section in the paper journal. This then led to a debate on the definition of “published”. Is something published if it appears on the website or does it have to be citable?
There was a general feeling that the authors should do something, and if nothing else is available, they should be encouraged to post a comment on the website, which might at least spark some debate. Having done so, if the authors continue to believe the editor has treated them unfairly, then they could complain to a higher authority, perhaps to the publisher or society, if it is a society owned journal.
COPE also agreed to look again at its Code of Conduct with a view to clarifying what is meant by “published”.
One of our journals has published several articles describing use of a particular cell line X, which belongs to company Y. The authors included employees of company Y. A reader at a university, Dr Z, wished to gain access to cell line X, and requested it from company Y. He was informed by the director of science of company Y that ‘...it is Y’s intention to keep control of the integrity of the X materials as much as possible, thereby taking care of our licensees’ interests. Hence, Y does not widely disseminate the X material to academic institutions.’
The researcher complained to the editor-in-chief of the journal that this violated the general principle that materials described should be made available for further work, and for independent testing of the reproducibility of the published results.
The journal requires authors to accept that “By publishing in [the journal], authors agree that any viruses, plasmids and living materials, such as cell lines or bacterial strains, that are newly described [my italics] within the article are available without unnecessary delay and at a reasonable cost to members of the scientific community for non-commercial purposes”. As cell line X was not first described in our journal, the authors have clearly not broken the letter of the undertaking, but there is a more generic principle to ask the committee to discuss.
A search on Google Scholar yields over 800 articles that describe cell line X, in a number of different journals. Some of these have less qualified author undertakings, stating that reasonable access to reagents should be available for non-commercial work. However, examination of a sample of the 800 papers showed that all had authors from commercial companies—presumably licensees of the X cell technology—and that none were from purely academic institutions. This was confirmed by a further letter from the director of science of company Y, in which he states that “Licensees and potential licensees have to meet a number of requirements that can guarantee the correct use of the X cell technology from a technical as well as a legal perspective. Based on this consideration one of the policies company Y applies in licensing out the X cell technology is that we exclude academic institutions”. In response to the researcher’s point that the technology is therefore not accessible to independent scientific validation, the director of research of company Y wrote “In view of the fact that our X cell technology is fully approved by the FDA and that the technology is in use for preclinical and clinical research by a substantial number of licensees, we are confident that independent scientific validation is not an argument to share our X cell line with Dr Z”.
The editor-in-chief may wish to consider his response the next time a paper using cell line X is submitted to the journal.
The Forum were unanimous in their conclusion that this was clearly unacceptable behaviour on the part of the authors. If a journal has a condition of publication that reagents should be available for further work, then the journal has every right to see this implemented. The editor in this case told the Forum that his journal’s instructions to authors state only that “newly described” cell lines or bacterial strains should be available to the scientific community. The Forum suggested changing the instructions to authors to be more specific. The Forum also suggested rejecting future papers from these authors. The advice was to encourage the complainant to write a letter which the editor should publish in the journal, along with an accompanying editorial on this issue. Other advice was to consider contacting some of the other 800 titles informing them of the situation.
We recently published article A by author group X on our website ahead of print publication and subsequently received a formal complaint from author group Y alleging that the paper constitutes a breach of their intellectual property rights.
Group Y state that the described work is based on a jointly developed concept, initially resulting in a joint report (published 2004). In their view, article A therefore contains their intellectual property, which is documented by frequent email exchanges, delivery of all relevant reagents and two visits by the senior author in group X to group Y's laboratory.
Group Y further state that there has been a previous unauthorised publication of a report that also contained their unacknowledged input (intellectual input and reagents), resulting in group Y prohibiting any further publication on the same topic by group X without their authorisation (!?).
In article A, the authors state that they used commercial reagents, although group Y allege that their reagents were available to group X at this time. Group Y are seeking what they perceive to be correct acknowledgement for their contribution, and there is an ongoing legal dispute, which they are threatening to expand to include article A unless a suitable solution is found.
We approached group Y to clarify if they thought they should be acknowledged on the paper, or even included as authors, but they did not answer, as they believe that group X should be asked to clarify their position.
We approached group X for their response to these allegations. Group X maintain that their collaboration with group Y was their idea, as an obvious extension to their previous clinical publications. Group Y are chemists and had not published on any clinical topic prior to the collaboration with group X. Group X state that the collaboration came to an end in 2006 when the senior collaborator in group Y demanded that either s/he should be named as the last author or one of the junior members of group Y named as first author on any manuscript resulting from the collaboration. Group X considered this to be unreasonable and continued their studies using commercial reagents.
The editors of the journal in question believe group X's response to be appropriate and complete, and find no grounds for taking group Y's complaint any further. The editors would like to proceed with print publication of article A.
Is proceeding with publication at this stage appropriate? The editors are concerned about the threat of legal proceedings, so should they therefore be more cautious in accepting one version of events above another—do they need to request “proof” and, if so, what would this proof consist of? The Forum’s advice on the next steps that they should take would be appreciated.
The Forum agreed that the paper should be considered published. It is irrelevant whether this is online or in print. Although one suggestion was to let group Y have their say, perhaps in a letter to the editor, others cautioned against this approach in the light of unresolved legal issues. If legal proceedings are threatened, the editor should withdraw from the dispute and not investigate the matter further. The response from group X could be shared with group Y only after explicit consent from group X. The advice of the Forum was to go ahead with the print publication of the paper but the editor should not get involved in correspondence between the two groups and should seek legal advice.
The Editor took COPE’s advice and no further action resulted. The editor considers the case now closed.
A was a researcher in C’s lab for 1 year, during which time they published a joint research paper in a third party journal (journal S). After leaving C’s institute (henceforth called institute X), A published in the journal (journal T as a sole author). The affiliation provided by A on the paper was institute X. All of the data reported in this paper were obtained while A was still employed at institute X, of which C is a senior faculty member and in whose laboratory A was a research associate.
C contacted journal T with several allegations regarding A’s paper in journal T. These were: (1) A submitted the paper after having left institute X (2) A never discussed with C his intention to publish these data from C’s laboratory (3) Material published in journal T is “fully based” on data they had previously published together (4) A did not have approval to use material published in journal T (5) Questions two of A’s methods/techniques and the data that resulted (6) A never acknowledged a funding body
An editor on journal T reviewed these allegations and believes that A’s paper was a follow-up paper, and that it appears to take further the research A and C had previously published in journal S. The paper had undergone peer review on journal T by one specialist referee, who provided a full and penetrating report.
A admits to claims: (1) The work was conducted at institute X (6) A admits to a mistake here
A disputes points: (2) A claims to have raised publication multiple times with C, C’s role in generating the “results were almost non-existent” but indicates that C claimed the data were C’s for C to decide (3) The paper is a follow-up to their previously published work (4) A personally analysed the material with the material produced by a technician (5) A claims that the materials are different images of different samples
Journal T submitted relevant correspondence to the dean at institute X and asked them to investigate. Institute X’s dean responded 4 working days later endorsing C’s position on the basis that A had duplicated material, had misrepresented its novelty and did so both without permission or agreement from C.
The investigation by institute X failed to communicate with A or ask for A’s response to the matter. When the findings were presented to A by journal T, A strongly refuted its key points.
Journal T’s position has been to ask institute X to investigate fully the above allegations (including communicating with A) and to make an official statement linked to the case.
However, we seek COPE’s recommendation whether this should be our position or whether they would advise a different approach.
The Forum acknowledged that the institute failed to handle this case correctly and that their investigation is of little value. However, there is little that the editor can do about the institutional failing other than reporting it to someone more senior than the Dean of the institute. The Forum believed that there was a case for asking institute X to carry out an unbiased independent investigation. In the absence of an independent review, the editor could publish a “notice of dispute”, informing readers of the situation and explaining that it is not for the editor to decide the rights and wrongs of the case. All agreed that the editor had handled the case very well and agreed with his course of action.
The editor requested an independent investigation from the institute. It is the editor’s belief that once he asked for an independent investigation, one that is truly independent and would have taken some effort on their part, that the institute decided it was not worth the trouble. The editor suspects that he will not hear from them again.