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COPE Digest: Publication Ethics in Practice. February 2017 (Vol. 5, Issue 2)

Case of the month: Withdrawal of accepted manuscript from predatory journal

Case #16-22

A journal was contacted by an author who wanted to submit a review article. The author had responded to a request for an invited review from another journal without realizing it was a predatory journal. The author submitted the article only to receive an unexpected invoice and clear evidence of no peer review. The author would like to have the manuscript published in a legitimate journal. The editor asked what advice he could give to the author about submitting the manuscript to a legitimate journal without the author being guilty of duplicate publication?
Discussion and advice from the Forum

Letter from the COPE co-Vice-Chair

This month’s COPE Digest reflects the large amount of useful information COPE is trying to disseminate as it furthers its mission of providing specific guidance to editors, publishers and others interested in publication ethics. Topics include updates on COPE flowcharts, the COPE membership survey report, the programme for the 2017 China seminar and the 2017 European Seminar. COPE is making many efforts to expand its education and support, specifically within Asia, but more widely too.

At this years event we plan to look at how publication ethics has changed over the past 20 years and the impact of new technologies and new models on scholarly publication.  We will be introducing a global perspective to the programme as the 'globalisation' of scholarly publishing plays an ever greater part in some of the issues facing our members. Another keynote speaker will offer an institutional perspective, offering more support on how to collaborate better with institutions; our members have repeatedly asked for advice in this area and we hope that this will offer some insight.  Registration is now open and we look forward to seeing you in May.

The case of the month details advice given to an author attempting to withdraw an accepted manuscript from a predatory journal. Notable for the readers of this Digest is the link to Think.Check.Submit, a resource for authors planning a scholarly submission. It is painful, as an editor or publisher, to receive the call from a novice author that they have submitted their work to a less than reputable journal with predictably adverse results. Beginning with the Think.Check.Submit checklist could prevent some of this distress. Given that all cases are categorised into classifications and keywords, the website offers a valuable resource for past similar cases offering advice.

The keyword at COPE is collaboration at all levels. The report from the membership survey we undertook in late 2015 is one example of this, as we seek to understand what our members would like from COPE, as well as the issues they face and their main concerns. This piece of research was invaluable to us; it fed into our strategic report, and we also refer to it constantly when reviewing or undertaking new activities. We constantly strive to improve services while staying true to the mission of COPE and meeting the priorities of our membership.

Please feel free to offer suggestions and feedback around ways to improve the Digest. This monthly communication tool is aimed at helping you keep up with COPE activities and with the world of publication ethics. 

Geri Pearson, COPE Co-Vice Chair

COPE flowcharts

Diagrama de flujo, dijagram toka, Organigramme, フローチャート, 순서도, struktūrinė schema, نمودار گردشی, Schemat blokowy, Akış şeması, 流程图

Report from the COPE Education Committee

There are lots of challenges in producing scholarly journals and at times this results in lost sleep, chewed nails and general stress. COPE has produced a number of guidelines, case series and other resources to help us find our way during these times.

Recently, I was faced with a paper for which the author list had changed between submission and revision. I found that the flowchart on this topic was particularly useful. The flowcharts are similar to an infographic to help editors follow the Code of Conduct easily. The list of available flowcharts follows:

  • How to respond to whistle blowers
  • What to do if you suspect and ethical problem
  • What to do if you suspect fabricated data
  • What to do if you suspect a reviewer has appropriated an author’s idea or data
  • What to do if you suspect plagiarism
  • What to do if you suspect redundant or duplicate publication
  • Changes in authorship
  • Conflict of interest

It is possible to download them individually in English and complete sets are available in several languages.

Currently, the flowcharts are translated and posted on the websites in French, Persian, Spanish, Chinese, Italian, Polish and Croatian. The Spanish and French versions are in the process of being updated and new Turkish and Korean versions are being proofread and will be available shortly.

In addition, translations to several other languages are in the queue: Brazilian Portuguese, Japanese, Lithuanian, German and Catalan.

Log on to the COPE website to look these over—hopefully in your primary language!

Update: As we publish this issue of Digest the updated Chinese flowcharts are appearing on our website. Download them from the COPE flowcharts page.

In the news

Factors that influence unethical authorship practices

A US study tests whether students are more willing to add an undeserved coauthor if they are a faculty member

Read the full article

Role of professional medical writers  

The American Medical Writers Association (AMWA), European Medical Writers Association (EMWA) and International Society for Medical Publication Professionals (ISMP) have released a joint statement on the role of professional medical writers

Science and education have no borders

Wiley share their determination to protect global interconnectedness and diversity in all its forms
Values have no borders

US 'Common Rule' updated

The rule is intended to safeguard individuals who participate in research
US Common Rule

Controversial patient consent proposal left out of research ethics reforms

Omission in the updated Common Rule of a planned requirement that would have required consent from people donating biological samples before using them in later research is being met with criticism
Critique of Common Rule

Interdisciplinary research may lead to increased visibility but also depresses scholarly productivity

It’s doing interdisciplinary research, and not the review process, that dampens published scholarly work rates
Interdisciplinary work rate

The hi-tech war on science fraud

Statcheck is an error detection project that has checked the math behind the statistical analysis of about 50,000 psychology papers resulting in an open retroactive evaluation of the scientific literature—and a lot of controversy!
Psychology papers math check

Science, lies and video taped experiments

To lessen concerns about scientific misconduct, this investigator video tapes his experiments in experimental biology—and recommends that journals mandate visual or audio evidence to support the paper
Audiovisual evidence recommendation

Tackle ‘reporting bias’ in pedagogy research

Research in pedagogy may be particularly prone to positive reporting bias due to desire by funders and faculty to innovate and to avoid negative results about their own institution 
Funders and faculty avoid negative results

Cash for publications is ‘common practice'

Belgium professor was offered a contract for £35,000 as a visiting professor to a Chinese university if he published three indexed journal articles with the Chinese university listed as an affiliated institution  
Institution pays for articles

‘You never said my peer review was confidential’ — scientist challenges

Difficult to find terms and conditions for reviewers regarding how their reviews can be used—an intriguing discussion around “who owns peer review” 
Who owns peer review

Consultation on the second Research Excellence Framework (deadline 17 March 2017)

Proposals of the four UK higher education funding bodies for the second Research Excellence Framework (REF) for the assessment of research in UK higher education institutions
Comment on Research Excellence Framework proposals

How likely are academics to confess to errors in research?       

After publication, this author found that his analysis was incomplete, and describes the process that led him to request a full retraction and the issue of authors failing to do the right thing when errors occur.
Self-confession of errors

Membership survey report

In late 2015, an independent market research consultancy interviewed a sample group of members and sent an online survey to all COPE members. We have used this research to help produce our strategic plan. A report is now available which summarises the key issues members raised, with details of how COPE is responding, to improve the experience of members and all who are involved in publication ethics issues.

Membership survey report

Registration open! COPE European seminar 2017

COPE's European Seminar 2017 will be on Thursday, 25 May 2017, in London - 20 Cavendish Square, RCN, London W1G 0RN. Join us to celebrate 20 years of COPE, with a special programme reflecting on changing times in publication ethics.

The programme will be posted shortly. Save the date! 

Register now

China Seminar 2017: Programme

Free for COPE members

The programme for COPE's 1st China Seminar can be downloaded from the COPE website. A Chinese version is also available. The seminar is being 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.

Registration is now closed as we have reached our maximum attendance numbers. If you would like to be added to our waiting list, please contact the COPE administrator here.

Programme and more information

US and Cuban editors meet in Havana

Report by Charon Pierson, COPE Secretary

For nearly two years, the International Academy of Nurse Editors (INANE) has been planning a “people-to-people” educational exchange with academics and editors in Havana Cuba. Since 1997, MEDICC (Medical Education Cooperation with Cuba), a non-profit organization founded “to enhance cooperation among the US, Cuban and global health communities”, has been promoting greater health cooperation with Cuba and arranging education trips to Cuba for educators, clinicians, policy makers and now editors. MEDICC is also a publisher, publishing a peer-reviewed, open access journal, MEDICC Review, since 1999. So, we, the five nurse editors on the weeklong trip in January 2017, were excited to meet editors from Cuba and explore healthcare and medical publishing in this island nation.

US and Cuban editors meet in Havana.

Cuba currently has 82 journals registered with 52 of those certified as scientific, open access journals indexed in SciELO (Scientific Electronic Library Open). We had the opportunity to talk with six editors of journals in Cuba (see photo) and share our editorial and publishing experiences. The Chief of the Department of Medical Journals, Msc José Enrique Alfonso Manzanet, related some of the difficulties editors have in Cuba, particularly related to the decades-long embargo imposed by the US. This commercial, economic and financial embargo creates major problems for Cuban journals, creating financial restrictions on transferring money to pay for registration of DOIs for published articles or to join COPE. Despite this, Cuban journals follow COPE guidelines and use the free resources available to manage publication ethics issues. A check of several journals on the InfoMED portal shows careful attention to disclosures of competing interests, version history of articles and evidence of rigorous peer review. Indexing in SciELO is also evidence of reliable and rigorous publishing practices.

In addition to the exciting opportunities we had to talk with our Cuban counterparts, we nurse editors came away from this trip with a deep appreciation of the work that Cuba has done to improve the health of its people, work that has been hampered by embargoes, financial crises and military interventions. With an emphasis on health promotion and disease prevention at the individual and community levels, Cuba has managed to achieve impressive national health statistics: life expectancy is 78 years; infant mortality is 4.3/1000 live births; 19.4% of the total population is aged 60 years or older; and the country has the lowest HIV rate in the Americas at 0.3% in those aged 15-49 years. To achieve their goals, Cuba has a doctor–patient ratio of 127 inhabitants per physician (total population of the nation is 11,238,661); the country supports 151 hospitals, 451 community polyclinics and 12,883 neighbourhood family doctor and-nurse offices (Anuario Estadística de Salud, 2015).

The announcement in October 2016 of the Obama Administration’s amendments to the Cuba embargo are a hopeful step in increasing collaboration between US and Cuban scientists in the future. We look forward to meeting our Cuban colleagues at future events related to scholarly publishing and we are gratified that COPE’s resources are available and useful to our colleagues. 

COPE in Japan & USA

COPE Workshop at ACEID2017

Kobe, Japan
March 26-29 2017

COPE council member, Adrian Ziderman, is leading a workshop on “Ethical issues and dilemmas in academic publishing” at the Asian Conference on Education & International Development 2017, Kobe, Japan 26–29 March 2017. Adrian will be joined by COPE council members Trevor Lane and Muhammad Irfan. Details of the workshop can be found here. Adrian will also be giving a keynote address at the conference.


Reproducibility of research: issues and proposed remedies

Washington DC, USA
8 March 2017

COPE Chair, Ginny Barbour, is speaking at the National Academy of Sciences colloquium on 8 March. Ginny is on the panel of the session 'Improving Research Reproducibility'.
Reproducibility of research conference

Chinese guidelines for peer reviewers

COPE's Ethical Guidelines for Peer Reviewers have now been translated into Chinese. The Chinese guidelines can be found here, or downloaded from the COPE Guidelines page. 

Comments please: Patient consent, anonymisation and registries

The International Rhuematology Editors' Group would like to receive comments from wider specialty communities on their 'Framework for editors when requesting patient consent for publication in small cohort studies'. Comments and suggestions from all participating editors are invited to bring unique views of this topic from their own national experiences. ISMTE (International Society of Managing and Technical Editors) are also discussing this at their next workshop on 16 March.  
Find out more and leave your comments

COPE Digest editors

Editor-in-Chief: Dr Virginia Barbour

Editors: Deborah Kahn, Publishing Director, Taylor & Francis

             Nancy C Chescheir, MD, Editor-in-Chief, Obstetrics and Gynecology