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COPE Digest: Publication Ethics in Practice. May 2016 (Vol. 4, Issue 5)

Case of the month: Who qualifies for authorship?

Case #16-01

Every month we highlight a publication ethics case that has been brought to the COPE Forum, or a query posted to COPE council by one of our members.

A paper was submitted to a journal and the authorship list included an employee of the company that produces and sells the preparation discussed in the article. The authors stated that they were responsible for all of the content and editorial decisions. On the revised version of the manuscript the author of all the changes was identified by the word processor tracking as someone whose name appeared neither in the author list nor in the acknowledgements. The company’s website lists this individual as a ‘scientific communications manager’. The editor asked the Forum if this person’s contribution is simply copy editing or does it justify authorship?

Discussion and advice from the Forum


Letter from this month's editor

Geri Pearson, COPE co-Vice-chairThis month’s Digest highlights a number of interesting activities, including the upcoming EASE conference in Strasbourg, France, and the North American Conference in association with ISMTE in Philadelphia, PA, USA. The case of the month identifies an issue we are hearing about frequently: disclosure and transparency issues in authorship. It also reflects the complexity of all cases submitted to COPE and the ongoing need for our resources throughout the world.

We had a very successful COPE Forum on 6 May 2016; for the first time, we held two forums on the same day, at different times, at 8am and 4pm (British Summer Time). The goal was to make the Forum as convenient as possible for all wishing to participate. Also for the first time, we opened the Forum with an AMA (ask me anything) session. Questions were submitted prior to the Forum, and the discussion and answers will form the basis of a new, fully searchable, FAQs section on the COPE website. A full report on the cases and AMA will appear in the next issue of Digest.

Our strategy meeting will occur in mid June and presents an exciting opportunity for Council members and Trustees to meet and plan for the coming year and for the long term goals of COPE as it moves forward in the world of publication ethics.

Finally, following our call for applications for seven new Council members, we will presenting the shortlisted applicants to the membership for voting shortly. So look out for the election soon. We strongly encourage all of you to participate in this important process.

Geri Pearson, COPE Co-Vice Chair

So, you’re new to COPE. . .

Report from the COPE Education Committee

Advice and guidance for your role

The acronym COPE seems to be well known and any internet search on the term publication ethics will bring up the COPE website. For those who are not members but who think there might be useful information for them on our site, there is one place you could go directly to start: COPE Guide. The COPE Guide is under our About COPE and Resources tabs as an effort to make navigation on our site more user friendly. We have posted links on the Guide to particularly useful information for journal editors, publishers, authors and journalists. For example, a link on the authors section leads one to an article by Tim Albert and Liz Wager titled How to handle authorship disputes: a guide for new researchers. Although written in 2003, the advice remains timely and useful, with suggestions for good practices to avoid or resolve authorship problems. The suggestions for a journalist include news, cases, information on COPE and the retraction guidelines, as well as a link to contact COPE about a specific story. We have received requests for contacts when journalists cannot find answers to their questions; we try to respond to those queries promptly because we recognize that journalists are often on tight deadlines. There is a lot of useful information on the COPE website, so we hope you will take the time to search for answers to your questions about publication ethics.

In the news

Sensationalism or legitimate worries? Examining the cottage industry of journal criticism and science alarmism

Science and journal bashing?
The industry of journal criticism

Due process and retractions—thoughts from Marcia McNutt

Should there be a statute of limitations? After many decades authors may not be alive and records incomplete
Due process and retractions

Correction on disclosures of potential conflicts of interest on diabetic sensory and motor neuropathy paper

In the New England Journal of Medicine
Correction of potential conflicts of interest

Fiona Godlee on corruption in science

"Medicine and science are run by human beings, so there will always be crooks,"
Corruption in science

Innovations in scholarly communication

Twitter is the most commonly used tool to communicate to an audience outside academia
Twitter and scholarly communication

How genetic editing became a national security threat

Could be considered as dual use research
Genetic editing

Embedding research ethics and integrity into undergraduate practical classes

Useful paper from Office for Research Ethics and Integrity, University of Melbourne
Ethics for undergraduates

UK universities with most unresolved student complaints revealed

63 out of 136 institutions had more than 10 unresolved complaints per 1000 students between 2012 and 2014
UK student complaints

Highly novel research proposals ‘being systematically rejected’

Bias against novelty in science compromises innovation
Novel research rejected

Problematic images found in 4% of biomedical papers

Journal should routinely check images in submitted and then accepted papers before they publish them
Problems with images in biomedical papers

How can the journal Research Integrity and Peer Review advance research and publication? The Editors’ wish list

Daniel Shanahan asked the Editors-in-Chief for their thoughts on what the challenges are, what needs to be changed and what they'd like to see achieved in the field
Editors’ wish list for new journal

Registration open for North American seminar

Register now! COPE North American Seminar, 'Ethics in peer review', 10 August

Registration is now open for COPE's 7th North American Seminar, which will be held in collaboration with ISMTE (International Society of Managing and Technical Editors), on Wednesday August 10, 2016, at the Hilton Philadelphia City Avenue, Philadelphia, PA USA.

The theme of this year's seminar is “Ethics in peer review”. Editors, publishers, authors and all those interested in publication ethics are welcome to attend.

The seminar will include invited talks, in addition to workshop sessions in the afternoon.

Register now

Report from PAME 2016 meeting

Report from COPE council member Muhammad Irfan

The Third National Conference of the Pakistan Association of Medical Editors (PAME) was held on 1–2 April 2016 at the University of Health Sciences, Lahore. The theme of the conference was “Professionalism and medical journal editors”. There was a pre-conference workshop on ‘Publication ethics’ on 31 March 2016; COPE council member Muhammad Irfan was one of the facilitators of the workshop. There were three other workshops on ‘Editorship’, ‘Use of information technology in medical journalism’ and ‘Peer review’ during the conference.

The conference opened with ‘What PAME and EMAME (Eastern Mediterranean Association of Medical Editors) can do for the medical journal editors’ and the ‘Role of regulatory bodies in promoting medical journalism’. The scientific programme also included a panel discussion on ‘Research integrity/misconduct in medical journal editing’ and ‘Practical issues in medical journal editing’. There was an open session titled ‘Problems faced by National Medical Journals’ in which editors of various journals published by medical institutions and organizations highlighted their specific problems.

The conference was attended by editors and editorial staff of biomedical journals published in Pakistan, as well as authors and researches from all over the country. Foreign delegates included Professor MB Rokni (Editor of Iranian Journal of Public Health and Iranian  Journal of  Parasitology), Professor Peush Sahni (Former President of World Association of Medical Editors (WAME), current President of Indian Association of Medical Journal Editors and Editor of National Medical Journal of India) and Dr Tikaram Adhikari (editor of Bhutan Health Journal).

Delegates attending PAME 2016

COPE council member Muhammad Irfan at the workship on 'Publication ethics'

COPE is recruiting

COPE Ombudsman

COPE is looking to appoint a new Ombudsman to ensure that COPE carries out its stated mission in a fair, expedient, and transparent manner, and that its Council and Trustees are acting in the best interests of the organisation and its members. Applicants should not be a member of COPE.

Application for COPE Ombudsman