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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 153 results
  • Case
    On-going

    Academic freedom

    A final year student, and two other researchers in law, all from the same university, undertook research into a recent court judgment on the rules in relation to civil servants making public comments. Based on this research, a manuscript was drafted to be submitted to a double anonymised peer reviewed journal. The manuscript is highly critical of the judgment’s reasoning and impact. All three a…
  • Case
    Case Closed

    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
    Case Closed

    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

    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
    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
    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

    Unable to contact authors

    A manuscript was submitted to a journal and after the review and revision process, the submitted manuscript was accepted for publication. During the manuscript revision process, the corresponding author was in contact with the journal: answered all of the emails, performed revisions of the manuscript, prepared answers to the comments of the reviewers, etc. When the manuscript was accepte…
  • Case
    Case Closed

    Authors requesting withdrawal of articles from similarity check database in order to re-publish

    An author's institution requires that authors publish a set amount of times per year in journals that are indexed by Scopus in order to retain their tenure. The author submits to an open access journal and their paper is published after processing charges are paid. After publication the journal is dropped from the Scopus index. The author asks for the paper to be withdrawn by the journal so tha…
  • Case
    Case Closed

    Author displays bullying behaviour towards handling editor

    A handling editor rejected a paper without review, after consulting with a senior editor. The corresponding author sent an appeal about 2 weeks later where he requested that the paper be given a second chance and be sent for peer review. He added that, in case of a new decision to reject without review, the editor should provide a detailed response to a number of questions and comments raised i…
  • Case
    Case Closed

    Author admits failure to credit other authors

    An author submitted a manuscript and stated that he was the sole author. The manuscript received a favourable peer review and eventually was accepted. Some time after the article was published, a co-author told the author to contact the journal to correct the author list. The author of record (AOR) did this and supplied co-author names to the journal.   The editor worked with the author…
  • Case
    Case Closed

    Authorship dispute during the review process

    During the review process for a manuscript submitted to our journal, one of the reviewers alerted us that the manuscript appeared to be the work of a collaborator (Dr X) who was not listed as an author on the paper. It became clear that the manuscript’s corresponding author (Dr Y, affiliation A) was a postdoctoral researcher supervised by Dr X (previously at affiliation A, recently moved to aff…
  • Case
    Case Closed

    Removal of an author

    A paper was submitted to a journal with authors A, B, C, D and E. The paper was peer reviewed. Before acceptance, the corresponding author asked for a new author, author F, to be added, and an existing author, author C, to be removed. The editorial office asked all of the authors (authors A, B, C, D, E and F) to complete a change of authorship request form and for the corresponding autho…
  • Case
    On-going

    Authorship issue related to misleading action of one author

    Our journal received a manuscript which was a report of an evaluation and enhancement of an online clinical decision support system (CDS) for a specific population at risk of a disease. The online CDS had been developed by a national agency with a mission to support health promotion and disease prevention activities. Evaluation of the CDS was supported through contracts and sub-contracts. The f…
  • Case
    Case Closed

    Deceased author

    After a manuscript was accepted, an author passed away before they could complete the conflict of interest statement and copyright transfer documents. The publishing company requires that all authors complete these documents prior to publishing. The other authors do not want to remove the deceased author from the manuscript. Question(s) for the COPE Forum Who…
  • Case
    On-going

    Duplicate submission and authorship dispute

    A case report was submitted to our journal (journal X) in February and accepted for publication in September that same year. In late September, the first author on the manuscript contacted us to inform us that this exact case report had just been published in another journal (journal Y) by some of his colleagues, including some of the authors of our manuscript. In the initial submission to our…
  • Case
    Case Closed

    Victim of article theft wants correction to list their name, not retraction

    Author A contacted us claiming that an article published in the journal recently by author B was stolen from an article author A had earlier submitted to two different publishers, publisher A in 2016 and publisher B in 2017. Author A provided the PDFs of the manuscripts they had submitted to those other publishers. The version submitted to us 2018 by author B was very similar to that submitted…

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