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COPE Digest: Publication Ethics in Practice. October 2016 (Vol. 4, Issue 10)

Case of the month: Requesting authorship after publication

Case #15-17

A journal was contacted by an individual who had recently seen a published article and was surprised that he was not listed as an author because it utilised samples from a database that he established. He stated that the cohort had spawned many projects, but he was not involved in the “specialist area” in this article. However, he believed he should have been listed as an author because the article would not have been possible without his database. The editor asked if the Forum thought that a formal erratum denoting an acknowledgment or authorship was appropriate.
Discussion and advice from the Forum

Letter from this month's editor

The world of publication ethics continues to intrigue and challenge all of us at COPE. COPE Council continues to plan various future activities, including the China Seminar in March 2017, in Bejing, China. Registration will open shortly, so do watch out for it!

There are two COPE Forums scheduled for Tuesday 8 November 2016, at 8 am and 4 pm (GMT), to accommodate different time zones and make the forum available to an international audience. The COPE Forum occurs virtually, and participants must sign up when they receive an invitation to participate. Led by COPE Council members, the Forum allows members to submit cases for review and discussion. All of the cases are brought by members to the Forum and are discussed between all the participants of the Forum. The cases are published on the COPE website after the Forum, and the advice reflects the discussion that took place. The advice from the Forum participants is provided back to the member who brought the specific case to the Forum for the member to consider when handling the case further. The final decision on handling any specific case lies with the member editor and/or publisher who brought the case for discussion. The deadline for submission of a case to the next Forum is Tuesday 25 October.

We will be starting the virtual Forum with an AMA (ask me anything) on 8 November. In this session, COPE members have the chance to ask general questions about publication ethics or suggest topics that might form the basis of future discussion documents or seminar topics. All questions must be submitted by 4 November.

COPE continues to work on revising the purpose and remit of the complaints subcommittee and hopes to have an improved process in place shortly. I would also like to draw your attention to a new discussion document: Who “owns” peer reviews? Comments are welcome. Increasingly, peer review is being recognized for the role it has in producing a high quality, scholarly journal. Ownership of this process has been a point of discussion for some time.

I invite you to respond to the various invitations that are given in this Digest. As always, we welcome comment and feedback. Contact us here.
Geri Pearson, COPE Co-Vice Chair

Presentations on peer review and publication ethics

Report from the COPE Education Committee

If you were unable to attend the North American Seminar in Philadelphia in August, COPE resources’ seminar page has a quick overview for you.  We were able to record three presentations on “Ethics in peer review” and post them as YouTube videos on our site. Along with the actual presentations, viewers can download the PDF of the presentation slides for all three presenters: Alison McCook of Retraction Watch on fake reviews; Kristen Overstreet of Origin Editorial on reviewing the reviewers; and Elizabeth Moylan of BioMed Central and COPE Council presenting for Jigisha Patel on peer review manipulation.

In 2016 we also presented a COPE seminar in Oxford in May on a more general survey of publication ethics. Although there are no video recordings of that seminar, there are PDF presentations of the slides used by various speakers. Chris Graf, co-Vice-Chair of COPE, presented a very comprehensive overview of the landscape of publication ethics and COPE’s role in that space. Maria Kowalczuk from the Research Integrity Group at BioMed Central presented a very clear exploration of plagiarism and its associated consequences. Legal questions always arise in relation to publication ethics and Tasmin Harwood, Associate Legal Counsel at John Wiley & Sons, provided very clear definitions and implications of legal issues arising in the publishing world. And finally, Zoë Mullen, COPE Council, gave an overview of authorship issues in the editorial office.

For the many editors and staff in publishing houses that are unable to attend COPE’s live seminars, this resource page can be a great help in providing everyone in your offices with current information. Information and presentations from as far back as 2003 are posted on this seminars page, although the more detailed presentations go back as far as 2010. We encourage all of our members to use our resources. We try to make as much information available as possible. You are free to use this information under the CC-BY-NC-ND license we hold on all of our educational products.

In the news

US Congress investigating misconduct at Colorado geochem lab

The misconduct occurred in two separate cases, taking place between 1998 and 2014
Misconduct at Colorado geochem lab

Lack of IRB approval leads to retraction

Approval for research involving human subjects prior to conducting their study and consent from research participants not obtained
Lack of consent

The natural selection of bad science

“Selection for high output leads to poorer methods and increasingly high false discovery rates”
Bad science

PLOS ONE: How many is too many? On the relationship between research productivity and impact

An assessment of publish or perish
Publish or perish

Scientists published climate research under fake names—then they were caught

Authors gave false names in submission and paper in Advances in Space Research withdrawn. Retraction notice reads “This article has been withdrawn upon common agreement between the authors and the editors and not related to the scientific merit of the study”.
Fake names on paper
Withdrawn article: Emergent model for predicting the average surface temperature...

Government to appoint new members of Karolinska Institute board

Following Paolo Macchiarini scientific misconduct investigation
Members of Karolinska Institute replaced

Genome editing needs urgent scrutiny says UK ethics group

Nuffield Council on Bioethics launches a review of the potential use of CRISPR-Cas9 in human reproduction and livestock
Genome editing ethics review

US Federal Trade Commission takes an interest in predatory publishers

US FTC hones in on OMICS group
Predatory publishers under scrutiny

Two COPE Forums 8 November 2016

COPE will host two Forum in one day–at 8am and 4pm (GMT)–on Tuesday 8 November, so that the Forum is available at a convenient time for as many as our members as possible. The COPE Forum will be held virtually by webinar. An invitation to join the webinar will be sent nearer the time.

If you wish to submit a case, please do so via the COPE website (go to Cases - Submit a case). You must be logged in as a member to do this. Cases must be anonymised. We do like those presenting a case to take part in the meeting (you can decide which time is more suitable for you).

Submit a case by 25 October 2016

AMA (ask me anything)

COPE will be opening the Forum with an AMA (ask me anything) session. COPE members will have the opportunity to ask general questions about publication ethics or raise issues that they feel should be discussed. The questions should not relate to specific cases. The aim of the AMA is to inform a FAQs (frequently asked questions) section on our website, which we plan to develop. Please submit any questions in advance.

Submit an AMA question by 4 November 2016

Call for comments: Who "owns" peer reviews?

—Who "owns" peer reviews?

COPE has published a new discussion document on ‘Who "owns" peer reviews?'. This guidance has been drafted following a COPE Discussion Forum (9 September 2015) and a panel discussion at the COPE North American Seminar (August 2016). A podcast with Pete Binfield, cofounder with Jason Hoyt of PeerJ and Elizabeth Moylan, BioMed Central and COPE council member highlights some of the issues.

While there is increasing acceptance of the need to give recognition to the work peer reviewers do there are a number of issues at stake for all parties involved - authors, reviewers, editors, journals and other stakeholders.

This document aims to stimulate discussion about the issue to help inform the debate and provide guidance where that is needed. We encourage journal editors, reviewers, researchers, institutions, funders, and third party services to comment (whether or not they are COPE members). 

Email your comments to us by 31 October


—Ethical Guidelines for Peer Reviewers

COPE would like to update our Ethical Guidelines for Peer Reviewers with your feedback. Last updated in 2013, have a look at our Ethical Guidelines for Peer Reviewers and help us bring the guidelines in line with the current landscape.

The COPE guidelines give peer reviewers the basic principles and standards required. They can be applied to all disciplines. We encourage journal editors, reviewers, researchers, institutions, funders, and third party services to comment (whether or not they are COPE members). 

Email your feedback to us by 31 October

Polish version of COPE flowcharts

A Polish version of the COPE flowcharts is now available here, or can be download from the COPE flowcharts page. These were produced in collaboration with EASE (European Association of Science Editors) and we specifically thank Ewa Rozkosz and Sylwia Ufnalska for their time and effort in producing these translations.