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Lack of acknowledgement of contributor


Our case relates to a paper (by author’s A and B) that was retracted because of lack of acknowledgement of the contribution of another author (C). The retraction statement noted: “While the A/B paper is largely the work of A and B, it includes some sentences and ideas that previously appeared in an unpublished paper and/or Power Point presentation only with A and C listed as authors.


A claim of stolen data and a demand for retractions


The publishers received an email from author B about a recently published paper, which passed peer review and had been available online for about a month. In this email, author B claimed that he and another colleague C had determined the peptide sequence in question and had not published it yet, nor given permission for it to be published. He claimed that author A had access to his unpublished results as a subcontractor on one of his grants.


Retract, correct, or both?


Like many journals, we do not collect actual signatures of each co-author, asking the corresponding author to declare on a form that, among other things, he/she has the authority to submit on behalf of the others


Suspect author


Author A has published approximately 150 original articles since ~1994, with ~100 on one particular topic. Since some of these events were up to 16 years ago, and there are no formal records from then relating to these studies, the only information we have is the memory of the editors of the affected journals in post at the time.


Plagiarism of published paper


My subeditor handling this case told me he had found similarities with the protocol of a paper published elsewhere. The subeditor decided to send the paper for review to one of the authors of this published paper. The reviewer reported that the manuscript had the same figures and conclusions as a second paper he had published. All figures and the conclusions of the manuscript were the same as the second published paper.


Is it unethical to reject unregistered (or late-registered) trials?


We would like other editors’ opinions as to whether adhering to the journal’s policy on trial registration may contribute towards the non-publication of trial results (and thus bias in the literature).


Suspicion of breach of proper peer reviewer behaviour


An author submitted a paper for peer review with journal X on a topic that refers to a very recently published paper (ie, highly timely). The peer review was rather protracted because of long response times, reviewer substitution and the need to re-review the manuscript after a major revision.


The ethics of drug/medication use evaluation audit cycles and publication of the results


We are seeking guidance on the ethical issues surrounding drug/medicine use evaluation (DUE or MUE) audit cycles, particularly with respect to the publication of findings but also perhaps with regard to the conduct of these audits in general.


Author non-disclosure by editor in chief


Please note, this case is being submitted by the Publishing Director of the journal based on the advice of a senior COPE member because it relates to the conduct of the editor in chief of the journal. The editor in chief of the journal is aware that the case is being submitted.


Inadequate reporting of a trial, despite earlier rejection from a different journal


We have been contacted by a reviewer after he spotted a paper he had reviewed for us (journal 1) now published in a second journal (journal 2). Both journals are members of COPE. The reviewer had advised we reject the paper when it was sent to him to review in September 2008. This was based on his assessment of the paper and also the supplementary material he was sent by us: protocol, CONSORT statement and trial registration details.