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COPE Digest: Publication Ethics in Practice. March 2014 (Vol. 2, Issue 3)

Letter from the Chair

I’m writing the week after the first European Seminar that COPE has held outside of the UK which was hosted in the tremendous setting of the Representation of the State of Hessen to the European Union in Brussels (more detail on the seminar in the next issue). We were really pleased to have participants from across Europe, with speakers from Belgium, Croatia and Germany with topics ranging from a review of country wide policies on ethics, the challenges faced by journals from a small country such as Croatia, insights into academic publishing in Germany, and an overview of plagiarism. It was really tremendous to hear such a wide range of perspectives, both from the speakers and the audience and reaffirmed, I felt, the importance of COPE continuing to evolve to become a more globally representative organization. COPE now has more than 9000 members from 75 countries across all areas of scholarly publishing and we have 20 council members from 11 countries.

The seminar follows a forum that we conducted by webinar, which had more than 50 participants from around the world. Although the debate was very informed, we appreciate that speaking up on a virtual webinar can be daunting. We are very keen to hear from a range of views at these forums; please feel free to contact us in advance if you would like to but are unsure of how to participate.

The round up of links in this month’s newsletter is a further reminder of how global the issues are that affect publishing ethics and how interconnected they can be, but we understand that the news can be dominated by US and European items especially; if you would like to contribute items or have other suggestions, as always, please get in touch (contact us here).


COPE eLearning course

Reviewers are an important and precious resource for journal editors; they can also be a source of misconduct during the review process. The eLearning module on Reviewer Misconduct provides guidance on finding and preventing reviewer misconduct and includes two case studies to help learners apply the content. A new and important resource within this module is the COPE Ethical Guidelines for Peer Reviewers (PDF) released in 2013. Although the eLearning module is only available to journal staff, the COPE Ethical Guidelines for Peer Reviewers (PDF) is freely available to anyone and can be a helpful tool in educating all reviewers. 

In the news

From Retraction Watch

"Protracted and unresolved authors dispute” and “striking similarities” lead to two retractions in the Pan African Medical Journal

COPE resources:
Retraction Guidelines

Fate of articles that warranted retraction due to ethical concerns

A descriptive cross-sectional study published in PLoS One 2014 Jan 22;9(1):e85846. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0085846. eCollection 2014.

COPE resources:
Retraction Guidelines

SCOAP3 Open Access

Started on 1 January 2014, working with leading publishers, SCOAP3 (Sponsoring Consortium for Open Access Publishing in Particle Physics) is converting key journals in the field of High-Energy Physics to Open Access at no cost for authors.

Investigation of Acid-bath stem-cell study starting with post-publication image discussion on PubPeer

Doubt on methodology may lead to retraction 

COPE resources:
Retraction Guidelines

Publish or perish: fake papers for conferences

Retraction of nonsense fake papers generated by the SCIgen computer program by Springer  and IEEE

Fake publications: detection and retraction

COPE resources:
Retraction Guidelines

Invitations for fake conferences from This Week in Evolution

Researchers and ‘random’ invitations to conferences

Editorial offices at the frontline in confronting all manner of unethical behaviour

Jason Roberts discusses in this blog post

Cultivating an ethos of openness through research integrity in the social sciences 

Andrew C. Rawnsley discusses the moral substance of claims about openness and how research integrity could ground these discussions

Nuffield Council on Bioethics project on the culture of scientific research 

A new project examining the culture of scientific research in the UK. The project will gather views on the pressures and challenges currently experienced by researchers, how this affects the behaviour of researchers and the research they produce, and debate what might be needed to maintain an ethical culture for scientific research in the future.

Best Practice Guidelines on Publishing Ethics: A Publisher's Perspective. Second Edition

Wiley has launched the second edition of its Best Practice Guidelines on Publishing Ethics: A Publisher’s Perspective. In the new edition, guidance has been added about whistleblowers, animal research and clinical research, particularly around clinical trial registration. The press release can be read in full here and the guidelines can be found here:


What's been happening at COPE

COPE North American seminar 2014

COPE is pleased to announce our North American seminar, which will be held in collaboration with ISMTE (International Society of Managing & Technical Editors), on Wednesday 13 August 2014 at the Hyatt Regency Philadelphia at Penn's Landing, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA. The full programme and registration for COPE members will be available very shortly. The theme of the COPE seminar will be centred around 'new technologies and behaviours for identifying publication ethics issues'. 

COPE members can attend the COPE seminar free of charge as part of their member benefit. ISMTE have kindly arranged for COPE members to attend the ISMTE 2-day conference at the ISMTE member rate of $325 USD (early registration/$400 USD after July 1). If you wish to attend the ISMTE conference as a COPE member, contact us here for the code. The ISMTE programme can be seen here.

A special rate of $159 USD per night (until 17 July 2014) for attendees to stay at the Hyatt Regency Philadelphia at Penn's Landing has also been secured. To book your reservation online click here or call +1 215 928 1234 and reference ISMTE. The rate includes complimentary in-room wireless internet. 

CSE Annual Meeting 2014

Registration is now open for the CSE (Council of Science Editors) annual meeting being held in San Antonio, Texas, USA, 2-5 May 2014. COPE Council member, Charon Pierson, with a panel of experts, will talk on 'Misconduct investigations - collaboration and confidentiality collide'. This will include a discussion on the ethical and legal implications of collaboration among editors who become involved in large multinational and multi-journal cases. Questions have surfaced about the legal and ethical implications of breeching confidentiality when the case involves submitted versus published papers, contacting institutional review boards, and publishing retractions across multiple journals. Significant time for audience discussion will be included. For more information click here:

COPE Australian seminar 2014

Advance notice that the COPE Australian seminar will take place the week commencing 23 June 2014 in Melbourne, Australia. More details and confirmation of the date will be announced very soon. 

Google Translate

Google translate has been added to the COPE website. This automatically detects when a member is from another country and places a bar at the top of the screen asking them to translate the page to the appropriate language. If your language preference is not set correctly, you can also manually select a language in the footer of the webpage, found below the social media links. 

Google translate doesn't translate perfectly, but we have decided to use this as it gives readers from different countries a chance to read our website in their own language. We hope you find it useful. 

Case of the month

Every month we will be highlighting a publication ethics case that has been brought to COPE by one of its members. Cases will be highlighted for a number of reasons - they may be of broad interest, introduce an important new issue that members may not be aware of, or reflect a topic that COPE is increasingly being asked for advice about. We welcome comments and further discussion about the cases and will provide summaries in future issues.

Identifying patient information published in a figure (case #13-19)

The name of a patient was visible in a figure in a published letter to the editor. The letter was published online for 3 months and had just appeared in print. The journal’s author instructions already stated that no identifying patient information should be included but at all stages following submission, the patient’s name was not noticed by the editorial office.The publisher replaced the figure but decided not to issue an erratum so as not to draw attention to the matter. Was this the correct decision?
Click here to find out what the Forum advised. 
Feedback can be provided here