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Falsification of certificates of deposit of new bacterial species in culture collections


The process of naming and describing novel species of bacteria is governed by the Bacteriological Code.


Publisher and stakeholder with misaligned conflict of interest policies


We have recently developed and begun to put into practice a policy on collection and declaration of conflicts of interest statements from any individual involved in contributing to or reviewing our pathways. This policy includes members of our editorial team, and contributor and reviewer members from our stakeholder groups.


Ethics committee waives consent for case report, editor disagrees


The authors wish to publish a case report that aims to characterise complex chromosomal abnormalities in a rare congenital syndrome. It describes, in detail, the clinical features of two newborn infants. When asked about consent to publish, the authors said they did not obtain it because the data were reported from existing clinical diagnostic test results and therefore did not constitute a systematic investigation and that no identifiable information was included in the manuscript.


Homeoprophylactic treatment of a zoonotic disease


This research article investigated the effect of the widespread administration of a homeoprophylactic preparation against a bacterial zoonotic disease in a developing country after a period of particularly heavy rainfall. The authors claim to have given this oral preparation to all members of the population over 1 year of age, in three provinces of the country where this disease is prevalent (over 2 million people).


Plagiarism, double submission and reviewer ethicality


This is a complicated case which involves possible plagiarism, double submission and reviewer misconduct. The timeline is as follows: 


Scientist reads published paper by former collaborators and claims co-authorship


The case concerns a paper we published, ahead of print, on the journal’s website on 5 October 2009. A week later we received a letter from Dr A who claimed that the authors had a major conflict of interest and implied that she should have been listed as an author. The paper we published is based on an idea which was tested in 2002 in Country P, and in 2004 in Countries Q and R.


Deception in submitting manuscript for publication


A manuscript was submitted to my journal. The author, on his own accord, submitted the manuscript for review to several reviewers under the guise that this was sent by me. The author sent the following explanation:


Self plagiarism


On initial assessment of a submitted review paper with a single author, the editor checked some of the references to the author’s own work that were cited in the paper. The author mentioned in the covering letter that he had written extensively on some of the specific themes of the paper, as the references made clear, but he claimed that the paper was an original synthesis of the material.


Is it a breach of confidentiality to send letters to the editor to criticised authors for comment?


(presented by Liz Wager on behalf of an author)
(NB: COPE doesn’t normally discuss cases from non-members but as this raised some interesting general points, we thought it would be interesting to hear Forum’s views)


Sections of plagiarised text in an e-publication


An article was published online (e-pub), and a reader notified the editor about a section of the abstract that was taken from a review article published in another journal by different authors. Subsequent analysis of the e-pub manuscript found sections plagiarised from additional articles, often with citations but not quotation marks. Some sections were from manuscripts previously published by the authors in question.