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COPE Digest: Publication Ethics in Practice. November 2016 (Vol. 4, Issue 11)

Case of the month: Low risk study with no ethics committee approval

Case #16-06

A manuscript describing a social media advocacy campaign run by an international NGO eliciting public support for a new law was submitted. Some of the data were survey data collected from people who signed an online petition. The nature of the data reported in the manuscript was not of a sensitive nature but the study had not been reviewed or approved by a human research ethics committee. The editor asked if retrospective research ethics committee review be appropriate in this situation?

Discussion and advice from the Forum


Letter from the co-Vice-Chair

What do you do when you make a mistake in your research?

The Times Higher Education journalist Holly Else is writing a piece on exactly that, and is polling right now. So please do make time to answer Holly’s four questions about what you do when you make honest mistakes in your research. It’s completely anonymous. Please, add your thoughts to Holly's short poll.

In other news, this month’s digest shares two seminar reports. COPE council member Vivienne Bachelet reports briefly from the “Ethical challenges in good editorial practices of scientific journals”  meeting in Chile earlier in November. And we share thoughts about 'Becoming more open' from October’s ISMTE meeting in Brussels. Check out #istme2016 for the Tweets including Elaine Devine's poster expectation vs reality:

You’ll be interested to read our news roundup. This month, for you to digest, we have: adverse event reporting in clinical trial publications, investigations at the Institute of Molecular and Cellular Biosciences, Todai Research Institution University of Tokyo, Irene Hames on “creating a culture of research integrity”, and much more. Dive in.

Last, we share announcements about our Beijing Seminar in March 2017, the new Best Practice Journal Research Network and a discount for COPE members who wish to attend ISMPP’s European meeting in January 2017. As always, we welcome comment and feedback. Contact us here.
Chris Graf, COPE Co-Vice Chair

Becoming more open: Round-up

Report from the COPE Education Committee

(International Society of Managing and Technical Editors)  hosted a European conference in Brussels, 31 October to 1 November, on ‘Becoming More Open’. Themes included open access, open data from a clinical perspective, open peer review and open communication. There were also practical workshops for a variety of needs on editorial office research, writing emails, copyright reform, data mining and publication standards.

Although people came from different backgrounds and subject areas, there was real engagement in the discussions on open peer review and what we mean by that. People shared their own insights (positive and negative) into ‘opening up’ particular aspects of the review process. Interestingly, there are parallel discussions happening at OpenAIRE too (see their recent report).

From COPE’s perspective, we are seeing an increase in peer review cases brought to forum year on year. The process of peer review is also evolving rapidly, with new innovations and initiatives. This too is reflected in the complexity of cases brought to COPE by members.

We are aware that COPE guidelines need to change to move with the times: information needs updating and new guidance needs creating. The Education Committee are conducting an audit of all our education resources and updating (and translating) COPE flowcharts. We are also currently revising the COPE Ethical Guidelines for Peer Reviewers and have produced a discussion document on Who "owns" peer reviews?.

In future, we will be assigning DOIs to all COPE’s resources so they are persistently identifiable and fully citable. And if you think there is anything else we should be doing, we’d be very happy to hear from you! 

In the news

Tyranny of the Weak - history book on North Korea and winner of the John K Fairbank Prize in East Asian History in 2014, criticized

Author accused of citing irrelevant or non-existing sources
references don't support material

Recommendations to improve adverse event reporting in clinical trial publications: a joint pharmaceutical industry/journal editor perspective

Aim to improve transparency and communication with patients
improve adverse event reporting

Research integrity in an increasingly competitive and complex world

Creating a culture of research integrity, by Irene Hames
incidence of research misconduct

Suspicions raised over research at the University of Tokyo, Todai Research Institution

Full-fledged investigation into six professors at its medical school and the Institute of Molecular and Cellular Biosciences
biomedical research fraud

Mega-journals: the future, a stepping stone to it or a leap into the abyss?

Quantity, quality, peer review, rejection rates, cash cows and more....
long term future of mega-journals unclear

Predatory conference?

Nonsense paper written by iOS autocomplete accepted for conference
nonsensical academic paper accepted

UK Research Excellence Framework blamed for dodgy research

System encourages novelty but offers no incentive for essential replication of studies to check validity of results
Research Excellence Framework discourages replication

The US Office of Research Integrity awards research integrity grants

Projects include questionable research practices, identifying data fabrication and image manipulation
research grants available

Iran’s scientific community shouldn’t be put in the shade

International editors and scholars don’t judge Iran’s large scientific community by the actions of a small “shady” minority
Iran's good research practice

Bullied out of research

‘PhD advisers wield the power to create or destroy research careers, and students typically have few—if any—ways to protect themselves from advisers who misuse this responsibility’
misuse of power

The rise and rise of fake news

Journalists need training on how to properly verify stories and spot fakes
fake news escalates

COPE China Seminar 2017: Register now

COPE is delighted to announce its 1st China Seminar, held in collaboration with ISMTE (International Society of Managing and Technical Editors), on Sunday 26 March 2017 in Beijing, China.

The theme of this year's seminar is “The pillars of publication ethics”, with plenary talks covering the topics authorship, peer review and plagiarism. Editors, publishers, authors and all those interested in publication ethics are welcome to attend.

The seminar will include invited talks from local and international speakers, as well as an interactive cases workshop, and will be conducted primarily in English. Chinese translations of associated guidelines/materials will be available.

The full programme will be available shortly.

More information and to register

Increasing the evidence base in journalology: Invitation to journals

Invite from the Best Practice Journal Research Network

Biomedical journals are an important conduit for disseminating biomedical knowledge. As such they need to operate with sufficient evidence to drive their practice, similar to clinical medicine where evidence is key. The poor quality of reporting of peer reviewed and editor approved clinical and preclinical research significantly reduces the confidence researchers and clinicians have in using best evidence to inform best practice. The development of an international Best Practice Journal Research Network will promote evidence-based practice and address the need to increase the amount and quality of research by journals. David Moher (Centre for Journalology, Clinical Epidemiology Program, Ottawa Hospital Research Institute; School of Epidemiology, Public Health and Preventive Medicine, University of Ottawa) and Philippe Ravaud (METHODS Team, Epidemiology and Statistics Sorbonne Paris Cité, Research Center INSERM UMR 1153, Paris Descartes University, France) conceived the idea of an international Best Practice Journal Research Network

The primary remit of the journal research network is to substantially increase the amount of research conducted by journals in journalology and address relevant questions in publication science. Journals’ participation is fundamental (register here) as research conducted across multiple journals can provide more generalizable answers to some of the research questions that remain unanswered.

Journals are invited to join the network.
Read more about the network

ISMPP European Meeting: COPE member discount

The International Society for Medical Publication Professionals’ (ISMPP) 2017 European Meeting, ‘The evolving role of publication professionals in a multi-stakeholder environment’, will be held on 17–18 January, in London. The meeting will have various networking opportunities and informative sessions, including a panel discussion on ‘Sharing patient-level data: What are the Implications?’ focusing on the recent ICMJE proposal—speakers include Fiona Godlee, BMJ, Stuart Spencer, Lancet andMarie-Claire Pickaert, EFPIA; a plenary session on ‘The reach of publications’, providing critical appraisals of new formats available for extended reach and best novel metrics to measure deliverables; and a parallel session on ‘Transfer of value’, sharing information about specific policies and possible varying interpretations.

ISMPP is offering a 10% discount on the meeting registration for COPE members. Members should enter the code EU17COPE10 in the ‘discount code’ field box on the payment screen on the registration page. COPE members will receive a 10% discount off the early bird fee if you register online by 14 December 2016, or a 10% discount off the standard fee if you register online by 4 January 2017. This discount is for online registration only and will expire after 4 January 2017, at 11:59 pm ET.

For more information and to register

Ethical challenges in good editorial practices of scientific journals: Seminar report

Report from COPE Council member Vivienne Bachelet

COPE was invited to present on publication ethics in a seminar organized by Revista Chilena de Derecho and Revista de Ingeniería de Construcción, at the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile. The university owns both journals. The seminar took place on 7 November.

The seminar was entitled Desafíos Éticos en Buenas Prácticas Editoriales en Revistas Científicas (Ethical challenges in good editorial practices of scientific journals) and brought together editors and editorial staff, and librarians and academics from the university. This is the first time that a COPE representative has spoken in Chile. Vivienne Bachelet spoke on behalf of COPE. Other speakers were Andrea Leisewitz of the Research Ethics and Safety Unit, and Miguel Nussbaum, editor of Computers and Education Journal, both from the host university. Patricia Muñoz spoke on behalf of CONICYT (Comisión Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnología) and ScieLO Chile.

The audience was very interested in hearing about COPE, both about its structure, the services it provides and the types of ethical issues it deals with. The university will explore the possibility of having its journals join COPE.

Contacts were made to hold a broader COPE sponsored seminar in the future, reaching out to all of Latin America.

COPE Digest editors

Editor-in-Chief: Dr Virginia Barbour

Editor: Professor Margaret Rees, MA, DPhil, FRCOG, Reader Emeritus in Reproductive Medicine, University of Oxford; Visiting Professor, Faculty of Medicine, University of Glasgow; Adjunct Associate Professor, Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, Rutgers University; Editor-in-Chief of Maturitas