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COPE Digest: Publication Ethics in Practice. November 2014 (Vol. 2, Issue 11)

Letter from the Editor

This month’s news is varied, with not only cases regarding data fabrication but also issues of content marketing. Initiatives about authorship of clinical trial publications seek to create a more standardised and transparent approach. Authorship is also the theme of the case of the month, concerning an author who wanted to change their name after publication. So a wide range of interesting issues.

If you would like to contribute items or have other suggestions, as always, please get in touch (contact us here).


Another COPE resource—video presentations

Report from the COPE Education Committee

COPE has its own YouTube Channel ( where you can find videos from presentations at COPE seminars and other meetings. Most videos are 12 to 15 minutes long and feature a wide variety of speakers. It is also possible to subscribe to the COPE channel to obtain notices of new postings when they occur. Members can also find links to the videos in the seminar page but the YouTube page link takes you to the entire listing of videos where you can see which videos are most popular, most recent, or most relevant to your questions. The topics related to retractions seem to be among the most viewed.

In the news

A taxonomy of motives to cite

Four main descriptive categories: argumentation, social alignment, mercantile alignment, and data. It might be misleading to treat all citations as equal in quantitative citation analysis

Papers with a video abstract are downloaded three times more than those without

And a press released article will see downloads for it jump from an average of 40 to around 7000

Researcher files lawsuit over anonymous PubPeer comments and subpoenaes the website’s operators in a bid to obtain identities

Watch this space

Eleven words from the world of higher education that should exist but don’t

From the Times Higher Education: thesaurophile and 10 others

Misconduct in scientific publishing

A special issue of Publications

Retraction for ethical concerns of clinical trial: improved treatment of asthma by using natural sources of antioxidants

No evidence of ethical approval or consent, and scientific advisor in UK institution unaware of the study

Hidden leopard skin G-string exposed 

Hidden jokes by authors: another challenge for editors and reviewers

The fate of prospective spine studies registered on

Publication rate of 38.9% no worse than other studies in orthopaedics

Another retraction notice in Anesthesia and Analgesia about a Joachim Boldt paper 

Not only lack of IRB approval but also data fabrication

To some a citation is worth $3 per year 

Thoughts on university global rankings and their manipulation

Study published in BMC Medicine calls for new approaches for determining authorship for clinical trial publications 

The study, published by the collaborative group MPIP, seeks to create a more standardised and transparent approach when determining authorship

Former researcher has been granted bail after appearing in Brisbane's Magistrates Court on fraud charges

University of Queensland found no evidence  that a study had ever been conducted and several papers were retracted

What's been happening at COPE

Second International Congress on Publication Ethics, Shiraz, Iran, 4–5 December 2014

The Second International Congress on Publication Ethics will be held in Shiraz, Iran, on 4–5 December 2014. This is a scientific partnership between COPE and Shiraz University of Medical Sciences. All individuals working in the field of scientific medical publications as well as those interested in ethical approaches to scientific publications are welcome to attend.

For more details and to register, please visit the website:

What constitutes authorship? New COPE discussion document

A new discussion document looking at some of the issues around authorship has been published by COPE. 'What constitutes authorship' ( examines existing guidelines on authorship, puts together some basic principles to help prevent common problems, and sets out some of the more thorny issues that have come to light in previous discussions, many of which are discipline-specific and which require more nuanced consideration.

This document aims to stimulate discussion around the most common authorship issues faced by COPE members and we welcome feedback from members (and non-members). We encourage journal editors and publishers to comment, and also welcome comments from researchers/authors and academic institutions. Please email all comments to Natalie Ridgeway, COPE Operations Manager here

COPE Mini UK Seminar

Report from COPE council member Zoe Mullan

On Monday October 13, COPE hosted a half-day Mini-Seminar ahead of the International Society of Managing and Technical Editors (ISMTE) European Conference. The event was free for COPE and ISMTE members and attracted 64 delegates to a rainy corner of London, UK, for an afternoon of talks and discussion. COPE Treasurer Chris Graf kicked off the event with an introduction to the ways in which COPE is evolving to keep pace with the fast-moving world of publishing and publication ethics. He highlighted COPE's growing membership (>9000) and its rich web-based resources and improved ways of interacting with its membership (eg, through webinars and one-to-one telephone consultations).

Next up, ORCID EU's Communications Manager, Josh Brown, introduced the multifaceted nature of ORCID - the unique author identifier initiative. Delegates will have been impressed to hear just how much more than a number the initiative is and how publishers and editors can use the concept to prevent several commonly encountered authorship problems.

Finally, attendees split into groups for guided discussion of three ethical issues taken from COPE’s archive of cases discussed at its quarterly Forums. Delegate interaction was enthusiastic and constructive, and many subject-specific and culture-specific insights were shared.

Feedback so far has been positive, with regrets extending merely to the short nature of the event and the disagreeability of the weather. COPE hopes to run a similar event next year.

Chris Graf, COPE treasurer, opening the COPE Mini UK Seminar.

ORCID EU's Communications Manager, Josh Brown.


Case of the month

Every month we will be highlighting a publication ethics case that has been brought to the COPE Forum or the Ask COPE session by one of our 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 about. We welcome comments and further discussion about the cases and will provide summaries in future issues.

Change in author’s name after publication (case # 13-02)

An original work was published in a journal. The article had five authors. Five years later the third author requested an alteration in his/her name. The original name published was SFHS and the request was to change the name to SFH. The last name is the cast and now he/she wants to remove the cast name.

The COPE Forum was divided on whether or not the editor should allow the author to change their name. Read the discussion here: