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Confidentiality and consent in case reports


We would appreciate COPE Forum’s advice with regard to consent and confidentiality in the publication of case histories.

Our journal is published three times a year and has a relatively small circulation but also goes to some postgraduate medical libraries, so is potentially available to a much wider audience.


Author did not see reviews or revisions to the manuscript and did not give approval for publication


Approximately 1 year after publication of an article, we received a letter from one of the authors saying that they had not seen the reviews of the paper, the revisions of the paper or approved the final manuscript for publication.


Plagiarism in a case report


I received a phone call from the first Author (A) of a case report published in our journal in 2005, who informed us that he had received a letter from an Author (B) of a research letter which had been published in another journal in 2000, stating that 12–15 sentences from the research letter had been copied in the case report.


Simultaneous publication


About a month after our journal (Journal A) published a paper (Paper X), the journal received emails from readers that Paper X was very similar to a paper (Paper Y) that had just been published by another journal (Journal B). Some of these emails were sent to both journal offices. Paper X was submitted to Journal A a few days before Paper Y was submitted to Journal B and Paper X was published in Journal A about 3 weeks before Paper Y.


Duplicate submission


An author anxious about a competing paper contacted journals A and B (and perhaps others) about possible fast-track consideration of his study. Journal A said it would be as fast as possible; journal B actually had the competing study under consideration so agreed to look at this study very fast.


Anonymous peer review – author requesting manuscript file


Two manuscripts were submitted, reviewed as sister manuscripts by the journal, and rejected on the basis of negative reviews.

The author took issue with one particularly negative review and appealed our decision. We sought the advice of an editorial board member who reviewed the manuscripts and the reports and agreed that the correct editorial decision was made.


Publication of papers from industry sponsored symposium


Our scientific/medical Society added a Special Symposium to its Annual Meeting Program. The symposium organiser, who is an academic member of the Society, invited seven speakers, all from academic institutions, in addition to himself to speak at the symposium.


How many “mistakes” are too many?


We published a randomised trial by six authors. Some years later, we received a letter from a researcher who had been looking into the trial in the context of a meta-analysis.


Dispute among authors


Our journal has received a paper describing a study that originated as more than one trial in more than one country, with collaboration by researchers in another country. The DSMB considered and agreed a proposal to combine the trials. It took many months to finally submit the manuscript to the journal after the end of trial.


Personal remarks within a post-publication literature forum


We publish an online service in which faculty members (well reputed clinicians and researchers) select, rate and evaluate influential articles of their choice. Members of the faculty can submit “dissents” to evaluations: dissents are to the fact that an article is selected, as opposed to any specific faculty member’s evaluation. The original faculty members who wrote the evaluation are then allowed to respond with a “follow-up”.