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Case

COPE Members bring specific (anonymised) publication ethics issues to the COPE Forum for discussion and advice. The advice from the COPE Forum meetings is specific to the particular case under consideration and may not necessarily be applicable to similar cases either past or future. The advice is given by the Forum participants (COPE Council and COPE Members from across all regions and disciplines).

COPE Members may submit a case for consideration.

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Showing 1–20 of 639 results
  • Case

    Possible peer review manipulation

    A journal received a complaint by one of the co-authors of an article submitted by a research team, stating that one of the reviewers suggested by the corresponding author sent an email to corresponding author asking them to tell them what comments they should insert in their review. In response, the corresponding author asked the co-authors to propose comments to be sent to the reviewer. One o…
  • Case

    Is there a time limit for submitting a critique of a published article?

    A letter to the editor was submitted to a journal with a comment referring to a study published a year previously. The reader raised concerns about the study and interpretation of the results. The editors of the journal examined the peer review comments of the manuscript and found that the aspects in question were missed out. The journal sought expert advice from an independent reviewer who com…
  • Case

    Removing a retracted article from a third party site

    Journal A published a case report. Following publication, the publisher of journal A was contacted by a representative of the individual depicted in the article stating that, contrary to what the authors stated in the article, consent was not given for the publication. The article was retracted and removed to protect the identity of the individual and all indexing sites were updated. The origin…
  • Case
    On-going

    Suspicious responses to authorship change requests

    A journal received a request for multiple changes to the authorship list after the manuscript was accepted. Originally, there were five co-authors. After acceptance, the journal received the following requests from author A, the corresponding author and co-first author: remove one of the co-authors (author D), add a new co-author (author E), reorder the list of authors, and change the designate…
  • Case
    On-going

    Change of corresponding author after manuscript published online

    On submission of a manuscript to a journal, one of the authors was indicated as the corresponding author. During the submission, review, and revision process, and also through copyediting and proofreading, the corresponding author responded to all emails, signed the publishing agreements, and was generally available. At this time, the authors of the manuscript did not mention a possible change…
  • Case
    On-going

    Authorship dispute involving a commercial institution

    A paper was published in a journal. After publication, an associate editor of the journal said that they and other colleagues should have been authors on the paper. They cited a patent they helped write that overlapped with the article as proof that they should be authors on the paper. The authors of the paper refuse to add the associate editor and colleagues as authors.   Unfortuna…
  • Case
    On-going

    Request to remove an author post-publication

    A paper was submitted to a journal by authors A and B. The paper was accepted and then published in the journal. Several months after final publication, author A contacted the journal asking for their name and their biography to be removed from the article. Author A stated that they wished to distance themselves from the research.   Author B also contacted the journal separately to…
  • Case
    On-going

    Deceased author and author delaying publication

    The journal accepted a manuscript for publication with two authors. One of the authors died before signing the copyright. This manuscript is now ready for galley proof approval from the surviving author. Proofs were sent to the surviving author and the author who died as normal because the production editor assigned to this manuscript did not know that one of the authors had died. After…
  • Case
    On-going

    Authorship of a commentary

    An associate editor invited a commentary to be written by one of the peer reviewers. When the commentary was submitted, the associate editor was a co-author. There could be the appearance of a conflict in the decision to accept the article on which the commentary was based if the associate editor is an author on the commentary. Question for the Forum
  • Case
    On-going

    Institutions paying authors to be named on papers

    Some academic institutions are paying authors for the name of the institution to be included in the manuscript so that the institution has an increased number of publications in a given year. The institution gives the author payment and the author terms it as ‘funding’ or ‘grant’, which is not the case. The author publishes the research article in a journal with two affiliations and explains in…
  • Case
    On-going

    Duplicate submission and request for withdrawal

    A paper was submitted to journal A and received a ‘revision’ decision. At some point following this decision, the authors emailed the journal to request withdrawal, citing inconsistencies in their data and subsequent conclusions. A search of the literature showed that the same paper (with the same authors) was published in journal B the day before the withdrawal request. Clearly, the authors wa…
  • Case
    Case Closed

    Manuscript submitted based on retracted paper

    A paper was published in a journal. After publication, the author contacted the journal to ask for withdrawal of the paper because of some mistakes. After careful and considered review of the content of this paper by a duly constituted expert committee, the paper was found to be incomplete due to the dependent variable used in the analysis and the literature review used. The paper was re…
  • Case
    Case Closed

    Can two DOIs be assigned to the same manuscript?

    A preprint server owned by a commercial publishing company posted a paper and assigned a DOI to the preprint. The manuscript was then submitted to peer reviewed journal X, owned by a different publisher. Assuming acceptance at the journal, can the article be published under a different DOI belonging to journal X? At journal X, Crossref registration is automatic. However, can two differen…
  • Case
    On-going

    Unresponsive authors delaying publication

    The journal received a submission which proceeded through peer review and was recommended for publication. The authors responded to the revision letter, providing a detailed itemised list of changes and revised their manuscript accordingly. The revised manuscript was subsequently accepted for publication.  The normal process for articles in this journal is that when papers are accepted a…
  • Case
    On-going

    Ethics approval and consent

    A complainant raised six articles to the attention of the editor-in-chief, with concerns about ethical approval and possible conflicts of interest regarding the way that approval was granted. The studies all involved minority populations.  Ethics approval had been granted by the institutions for all of the manuscripts involved, along with written informed consent and corresponding ethics…
  • Case
    On-going

    Author alleges discrimination by institutional report

    In 2020, the corresponding author of an article published online three years previously notified the journal of an authorship conflict and explained that the institution was requesting retraction. Because authorship conflict does not typically warrant retraction, the publisher requested further details from the author and the author's institution about the conflict. The author provided two diff…
  • Case
    On-going

    Author anonymity at the final proofreading stages

    A newly relaunched open access, peer reviewed journal operates a double blind peer-review system. At all stages of the review, until the decision to accept has been taken, neither the author nor the reviewer can identify the other. The journal always uses at least two reviewers, who are also unaware of the identity of each other. After the author has been told that the article is accepte…
  • Case
    On-going

    Preprint plagiarism

    Author group A deposited a preprint onto a preprint server and simultaneously submitted the manuscript to journal A. Peer review in journal A took some considerable time, but the paper (paper A) was eventually published. During the long peer review of paper A, author group A noticed that another set of authors, author group B, had published paper B in journal B. While paper B was submitted seve…
  • Case
    Case Closed

    Paper published without permission or acknowledgement from institution

    An author affiliated with a research institution R published two papers as a single author, one of them in a journal of publisher A.  After publication, publisher A was contacted by the research integrity officer of institution R with a letter of concern. The letter stated that the research institution has conducted a formal investigation and concluded that the author failed to acknowled…
  • Case
    Case Closed

    Reviewer's identity revealed

    The journal operates a double blind peer review system. Because the journal is small, it does not use a platform for reviews, so reviewers are sent a Word document containing the manuscript and an evaluation form to complete, in which they can leave their comments. However, some reviewers choose to comment directly on the Word document. Most of these comments are anonymised by appearing as user…

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