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COPE Digest: Publication Ethics in Practice. February 2015 (Vol. 3, Issue 2)

Letter from the Editor

February has the usual collection of retractions and concerns about plagiarism. The case of the month illustrates the concerns editors have when they receive a manuscript without evidence of ethical approval—read what the Forum advised. In the news has two items about avoiding predatory journals and identifying legitimate open access journals. The statistics for COPE Digest make interesting reading, and not surprisingly, items on authorship and retraction are the hottest.

If you have any items for the March issue of COPE Digest, would like to contribute items or have other suggestions, as always, please get in touch (contact us here), and please do forward COPE Digest to your colleagues.

Case of the month

Every month we will be highlighting a publication ethics case that has been brought to the COPE Forum, Ask COPE session or a query posted to COPE council 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.

Institutional review board approval required? (case #14-09)

Is research publishable in the absence of IRB approval? This was an issue raised by an editor at the COPE Forum. When asked to provide a reference or further information regarding why they thought the research was exempt, the authors quoted US federal regulations. Read the discussion and advice here:


A glance at the stats for COPE Digest in 2014

Report from the COPE Education Committee

We recently queried the COPE database for information about which issues and articles generated the most readers. The results were not very surprising. The USA and the UK account for approximately 60–65% of the total readership, as measured by where the email version is accessed from. This is understandable given the large number of publishers and editors concentrated in both of these countries. What is surprising is the appearance of China, South Korea and India in the numbers of page views for all of the issues in 2014. This is encouraging news because of the increasing importance of these countries in scholarly publishing.

A glance at some of the “hot topics” that received the most “clicks” reveals that articles related to authorship and retraction consistently attract readers. This is no surprise because issues raised at the quarterly COPE Forum reflect that authorship and retraction of the literature continue to be among the most vexing problems for journal editors. Another popular feature appears to be the “case of the month.” These cases are selected from recent cases heard at the COPE Forum or presented to COPE Council; a summary of the main issues of a case can be a valuable learning tool for readers. Consistently among the top viewed articles is the Letter from the Chair or Editor of COPE Digest. These short pieces are a quick overview of the contents of the issue and serve as a way to preview the topics for each month.

Of course, we hope to use these data to provide our members with the information they need to work in the field. But more than that, we aim to focus our priorities as an organization to fill in the gaps and lead the debate on publication ethics. 

In the news

NIH’s dual use research of concern (DURC) expectations for institutions

US institutions have until September 24, 2015, to establish the necessary infrastructure to come into compliance with the federal Policy on Dual Use Research of Concern, including establishing a standing Institutional Review Entity (IRE).

A death knell for research?

Only 15% of  doctoral scientists at Imperial College London want to continue academic careers

Ask the chefs: what do you think will have the biggest impact on scholarly publishing in 2015?

Scholarly kitchen looks at mergers, acquisition, open access and more

Retraction of article “Georgia State planning renovation for new media production center”

Due to fake quotes by reporter

Retraction and republication

ST-segment elevation myocardial infarction in China from 2001 to 2011 (the China PEACE-Retrospective Acute Myocardial Infarction Study): a retrospective analysis of hospital data.
Good and clear retraction notice with republication to maintain the integrity of the scientific record.

More retractions due to plagiarism

Neohelicon retracts 13 papers by Richard Lawrence Etienne Barnett due to serial plagiarism

More misconduct reports from the Office of Research Integrity (ORI)

Fabrication and falsification in publications and grant applications

Updated research framework by UK Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC)

Updating guidance for social science research

Identifying legitimate open access journals: some suggestions from a publisher

Important reading for authors

How to avoid predatory journals—a five point plan

A useful practical guide

Oath market

Quality control in science journals is evolving, with a code of ethics for reviewers in hot pursuit

Ghost authors

Confessions of academic ghost authors

What's been happening at COPE

COPE European Seminar 2015

The COPE European Seminar 2015 will once again be held in Brussels, Belgium, on 16-17 April 2015.

The theme of this year's European seminar is “Weighed and measured: how metrics shape publication (mis)behaviour”. Editors, publishers, authors and all those interested in publication ethics are welcome to attend. The full programme will be available shortly. In addition to the all day seminar on Friday 17 April, COPE is holding a half-day Workshop on Thursday 16 April (2.30-4.30pm) with discussion of ethical cases.The full programme will be available shortly.

The seminar will include invited talks, a panel discussion and interactive workshops.

The seminar is free for COPE members and £300 for non-members. Numbers are limited and early booking is advisable. For more information and to register, see the COPE website

Second International Congress on Publication Ethics, Shiraz, Iran

Shiraz University of Medical Sciences (SUMS) in partnership with COPE, organized the two day Second International Congress on Publication Ethics at Shiraz, 4-5 December 2014. It was held in collaboration with Iranian Medical Journals Commission, Iranian Society of Medical Editors and National Committee for Ethics in Medical Research. A full report on the meeting has been published in the Pakistan Journal of Medical Sciences.

New COPE members

We welcome three new publishers to COPE: The Optical Society (OSA), Editorial Univestitar Politècnica de València and the Association for Cancer Research. The journal, Science, has also signed up to COPE.