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COPE Digest: Publication Ethics in Practice. July 2017 (Vol. 5, Issue 7)

Case of the month: Submission of an already published case report

Case #17-07

A case report was received with a covering letter stating that the work had not been published elsewhere. The editor found an exact match for the manuscript, including identical images, in an internet only pay per publish journal. The editor contacted the corresponding author to inform him that the journal was rejecting the article as it had already been published. The editor asked the Forum if the journal had handled the case correctly.
Discussion and advice from the Forum

Letter from the COPE co-Chairs

Changing complexity

The discussion topic for the next COPE Forum involves preprints and working papers. We all know that these documents have been posted and shared for a long time. The increasing numbers of preprints, coupled with increasing awareness of publication ethics issues, means that ethics issues which were previously viewed as relatively simple need discussion and exploration in this context. Application of publication ethics practices to preprints reflects this, and we welcome your comments and participation in the Forum. The Forum takes place on Monday 24 July 2017, led by COPE Council members. The Forum is open to members of COPE, and you need to register to take part. Please consider taking the COPE poll around online forums and ways that we can improve this process. As always, your suggestions are valuble to us.

The case of the month in this issue of Digest highlights a case report that had been previously published in a pay per publish journal. The ensuing discussion will be of interest to COPE members, and the predominant message is that publication in an internet, pay per publish journal constitutes publication, and the paper cannot be re-published in another journal. 

This is the very last reminder to vote for new COPE Council members. The Nominations Committee carefully and thoroughly reviewed all applications and produced a shortlist of 7 candidates to put forward for election. Each indvidual on the list can potentially bring increased depth and knowledge to COPE. Please make your choices.

COPE co-chairs Geri Pearson and Chris Graf

In the news

Misconduct in its many forms continues to be discussed widely

A blog by Patrick Dunleavy looks at citation practices in the humanities and social sciences, and discusses what might be done to improve them
citation practice differences

A recent study published in the journal Anesthesia suggests that data fabrication is rampant in the medical literature
data fabrication study

and is discussed here in The Guardian
data fabrication editorial

However, this Medpage video (with accompanying transcript) suggests that the conclusions reached in the paper may be unsustainable, although the method used is a useful tool
data fabrication counter argument

Meanwhile, the phenomenon of fake reviewers is still causing much consternation in China
China crackdown

call for integrity

And a new interpretation of China’s criminal code has stringent penalties for the faking of clinical trial data, with long prison terms for drugs which cause health problems, and even the death penalty in the case of severe or fatal consequences

penalties for fake data

death penalty for fraud

On the other side of the world, a US court has granted Elsevier US$15 million in damages for copyright infringement by Sci-Hub, the Library of Genesis (LibGen) project and related sites

copyright infringement

dodging payment for papers

For some reflections on what leads researchers to commit misconduct in the first place
road to misconduct

And some resources to avoid misconduct through teaching early career researchers about research integrity and peer review
workshops & guides
academic integrity strategies

Data challenges and solutions

The number of initiatives around data in the humanities and social sciences is increasing, for example
domain data for arts & humanities
big data approaches

And for an interesting read on how digital methods are changing history, this blog gives a round up of the Mile End Institute’s conference on Contemporary Political History in the Digital Age
born digital data in political history

A new report by the Royal Society and the British Academy calls for a new framework for governing the management and use of data
data governance report

Nature calls for funders, researchers and journals to take steps to improve the infrastructure for data accessibility

commit to data sharing

On a related note, UCSD's SciCrunch is encouraging authors to improve reproducibility by providing a Research Resource Identifier (RRID) for each resource (antibody, organism, tool, etc.) used in a journal article

Resource Identification Portal

And for some reflections on what influences whether research evidence makes it into policy, or not
understanding policymaking

Education: Standards in Authorship webinar summary

COPE made history on 29 June 2017 with the first COPE educational webinar on the topic of "Standards in authorship", which focused on issues that arise with authorship in academic publishing.

Trevor Lane (COPE Council Member and Education Director Edanz Group) introduced and moderated the webinar, reflecting on the importance of authorship in shaping academic careers and the factors that impinge on authorship across cultures and disciplines.

Deborah Poff (COPE Vice-Chair and Editor-in-Chief, Journal of Academic Ethics) discussed distinguishing between the humanities and the social sciences on the topic of authorship. The publication ethics issues in the humanities are not really about authorship per se; rather, they involve other issues such as self-citation, plagiarism and redundant publication. In contrast, traditions in the social sciences resemble those seen in the sciences more generally. Most authorship disputes tend to arise from not clearly stipulating authorship roles prior to engaging in the research or because of disagreements between members of the group.

48% of attendees discuss authorship before a project begins

26% never discuss authorship

26% always raising it

Kelly Cobey (Senior Clinical Research Associate, Ottawa Hospital Research Institute) explained why institutions care about authorship: authorship confers credit and highlights academic productivity. However, to avoid potential authorship disputes, institutions need internal authorship policies and training. The challenge for institutions is how best to provide that guidance and disseminate it. Can more be done to support Research Integrity Officers proactively, perhaps with assistance from designated Publications Officers?

Liz Allen (Director of Strategic Initiatives, F1000 and Co-Chair of Project CRediT [Contributor Roles Taxonomy]) highlighted the fact that the use of authorship position on a paper to imply the role played in the research is now recognised as outdated (and frankly bizarre). Many journals are facilitating transparency by requiring authors to specify authorship contributions in the article. CRediT is a CASRAI (Consortia Advancing Standards in Research Administration Information) initiative that consolidates this drive further with a 14-term taxonomy of ‘contributorship roles’ for those involved in research. The CRediT project encourages feedback here.

58% of attendees were familiar with CRediT

44% had not used it but would try it in future

12% had already used CRediT

Authorship issues remain one of the most common concerns for COPE members, and COPE has created dedicated resources to help: a guide for new researchers, COPE discussion document on authorship, eLearning module (members only) and specific flowcharts to support editors handling authorship issues.

In reflecting on the perspectives of the speakers and the questions from the audience, there’s a clear need to involve all stakeholders—funders, institutions, researchers and publishers—in discussions. While we probably cannot standardise authorship across every discipline and culture, initiatives like ORCID and CRediT are a step forward in ensuring transparency and accountability. We will be revising the COPE discussion on authorship based on the webinar and discussion. If you have any suggestions for further revisions, we would welcome your feedback by email by Friday 21 July 2017.

Speaker presentations are now available on the COPE website.

This is an edited version of the webinar summary

Read full summary

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COPE Forum 24 July: Register today!

The COPE Forum on Monday 24 July at 4pm (British Summer Time) will be held by webinar and is open to COPE members. Taking part in the Forum allows members to contribute to, as well as learn from, the cases being discussed. Register now as the Forum is limited to 100 attendees. 

Deadline to register: Friday 21 July


Forum discussion topic - Preprints: what are the issues?

Preprints and working papers have been posted and shared for many years. They report research results that have not undergone peer review, although in many cases the authors also submit to a journal (before, after or at the same time as making a preprint available). In the past 5 years, the number of preprint servers and preprints has expanded and new disciplines, notably biology and life sciences, have seen rapid growth in the number of preprints. To date there have been few public discussions around the ethics of making unverified research available in this way and there are a number of issues that arise.

This will be discussed at the start of the next COPE Forum on on Monday 24 July 2017. You can leave comments whether or not you're planning on joining the meeting.

Comment on Preprints: what are the issues?

Register for the Forum

Forum poll

Our research tells us that the COPE online Forum is important to members. We'd like to make it more accessible; please help by taking this short poll.

Last chance to vote! COPE council elections

With a shortlist of 7 candidates and 2 vacancies on Council, your vote is important! Voting for the 2 vacancies on COPE council will close on Wednesday 19 July.

Following our recent call for nominations, we are delighted to have received so much interest from members. The Nominations Subcommittee has carefully and thoroughly reviewed all the applications against the criteria in our call, and has produced a shortlist of 7 candidates to put forward for election.

More information and vote

International congress on peer review and scientific publication

We're delighted to announce that two abstracts, contributed to by COPE Council members, will be included at the International Congress on Peer Review and Scientific Publication, 10-12 September 2017.

An Analysis of Peer Review Cases Brought to the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) From 1997-2016

Elizabeth Moylan, Virginia Barbour, Linda Gough, Charon Pierson, Deborah Poff, Natalie Ridgeway, Michael Wise, and Adrian Ziderman (Australia, Canada, Israel, United Kingdom, United States)

Data Sharing Policies in Scholarly Publications: Interdisciplinary Comparisons

Michal Tal-Socher and Adrian Ziderman (Israel)

The three day congress begins on Saturday September 10, Chicago USA.

More information & register

Scopus meeting report

On 1 June, Council member Zoë Mullan gave a talk to Scopus's Content Selection and Advisory Board. She outlined COPE's membership application appraisal process and highlighted some of the key themes of the previous week's European Seminar on the changing landscape of publication ethics. These included the rise of fake peer review and substandard ("predatory") journals, and the increased research output from emerging economies. Commonalities between COPE's and Scopus's application evaluation processes were discussed and potential collaboration proposed.