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  • 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
    On-going

    Author requesting removal of verbatim text from published paper

    Author A contacted author B. Author B had published a paper several years ago that contained verbatim text of author A’s previously published work. The verbatim work was cited but presented to the readers as paraphrased from the original. Similarity checking software showed that the paraphrased text was too close to the original text; in fact, it was quoted verbatim. Author A is demandin…
  • Case
    Case Closed

    Dual submission and editor’s failure to take action

    An article was submitted to our journal (journal A) in March. According to the journal’s working policy, the article was initially reviewed inhouse and comments were sent to the author. The authors replied to the comments but did not agree to the suggestion to convert the article to a short report. A rather impolite letter was sent by the author criticising the policies of the journal. We sent…
  • Case
    Case Closed

    Suspected plagiarism

    A single author submitted a paper to our journal. A similarity check revealed 48% similarity with another published paper. The published paper was by different authors—5 in total. The similarities between the papers were in the introduction, methods and discussion sections. The submitting author did not reference the published article. We queried the corresponding author but have not rec…
  • Case
    Case Closed

    Possible plagiarism

    We received an email from a whistleblower notifying us about possible plagiarism in two chapters published by us, both authored by the same two authors. The whistleblower accused the authors of substantial plagiarism. In both chapters there were, indeed, certain unattributed parts of the text, although the majority was properly attributed. Some of the unattributed parts were authored by…
  • Case
    Case Closed

    Are copyrighted conference audiotapes considered "prior publication"?

    An editor received a query from an author: “Your guidelines are clear that presenting data at a society meeting does not preclude publication. But what if the society records the presentation, retains copyright of that recording, and posts it online? Is asking presenters to turn over copyright of a recording of data presented at a prepublication stage and disseminating the recording as they see…
  • Case
    On-going

    Licence for a published scale

    We have received a number of manuscripts involving a published scale where the scale’s developer is known to comb the literature and ask those who used the scale for research to pay for a retroactive license, sometimes asking for very large sums of money. We have started asking authors on all submissions where the scale is used to provide a copy of the license agreement with the scale’s…
  • Case
    Case Closed

    Withdrawal request by an author

    We received a request by an author who states not to have contributed to an article published in 2015. The author claims that his name was used without his knowledge and that the corresponding author has been retired for several years and can no longer be reached. At the time of submission, we received a copyright transfer signed with the author’s name (we request all authors to sign the form).…
  • Case
    Case Closed

    Authorship dispute unsatisfactorily resolved by institution

    The journal was contacted with a claim to first authorship of a paper currently published online ahead of print. Print publication was put on hold pending the result of the investigation. The claim to first authorship was based on the claimant stating that they had obtained most results published in the paper during their PhD studies under the supervision of the corresponding author, and contri…
  • Case
    Case Closed

    Is it plagiarism to use text verbatim from a manuscript review?

    A commentary was reviewed by journal A and rejected. The paper was then submitted and accepted at journal B. Journal B published the commentary. After publication, a reviewer from journal A wrote to journal B with a complaint of plagiarism. Text from his/her review was used in the commentary published in journal B Question(s) for the COPE Forum• How should the editor of jo…
  • Case
    Case Closed

    Withdrawal of accepted manuscript from predatory journal

    Our journal has been contacted by an author who would like to submit a review article. The author responded to a request for an invited review from a predatory 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 investigated the journal and then realized the predatory nature…
  • Case
    Case Closed

    Suspected unattributed text in a published article

    An article was published in July. In October, a corrigendum was published to correct large sections of unattributed text. Two weeks later the journal and publisher received a complaint from a reader who accused the author of the published article of using text from an unpublished collaborative manuscript on which the published author was participating. This participation on the collaborative wo…
  • Case
    Case Closed

    Case histories and post publication debate

    A letter to the editor from reader A was received by our journal concerning a published case history from author B.  Reader A questioned the choice of treatment and author B's conclusion regarding the reason why the patient died. We believe this case raises at least two interesting questions. Firstly, the patient, or in this case the patient's relatives, could possibly suffer an addition…
  • Case
    Case Closed

    What extent of plagiarism demands a retraction versus correction?

    A short research article described a new method and tested the method, showing proof-of-concept that the method worked; the idea for the method is presented as the authors’ own. On publication, the paper receives an overwhelmingly positive response from the community. Shortly after publication, the editorial team is contacted by a PhD student and their supervisor who had published the id…
  • Case
    On-going

    Paper B plagiarised paper A: what to do if a journal does not respond?

    The author X of a paper published by journal A complained to the editor-in-chief of journal A that his/her paper has been plagiarised by a paper that has been published later by journal B. Moreover, the authors of the paper in journal B allegedly did not respond to letters sent by author X asking for an explanation about the apparent plagiarism. The editor-in-chief of journal A compared…
  • Case
    Case Closed

    Parental consent for participants

    As editor of a psychology journal, I received a manuscript from a group of scholars. The authors describe a qualitative online study with adolescent girls, aged 15–18 years, who met in person with a stranger they first ‘met’ online. The girls describe their reasoning about the risks, the safety measures they used and reactions to discomfort they experienced in the meetings. The authors n…
  • Case
    Case Closed

    Data anonymity

    A paper was submitted to our journal. The managing editor was concerned about patient information in the paper and queried the authors. The authors responded that the data were collected from routine samples and so consent was never obtained. The patients were lost to follow-up, and there was no ethics committee approval as it involved the study of existing data, but they did discuss with the i…
  • Case
    On-going

    Multiple redundant submissions from the same author

    An author submitted a redundant publication to one of our journals. After reviewing the report from the anti-plagiarism software, we followed the COPE flowchart up to and including contacting the author's institution. We have not received a response from the author or the author's institution. Shortly afterwards, the same author submitted a (different) redundant publication to one of our other…
  • Case
    Case Closed

    Publication of a manuscript on an external website after acceptance but prior to journal publication

    Our journal recently approved a commentary article for publication, after the manuscript had been substantially revised during the editorial process. In the course of preparing the text for the article proof, the copy editor discovered that the authors had published the revised manuscript on an external public website, just prior to receiving notification from our system of our formal acceptanc…
  • Case
    On-going

    Profusion of copied text passages

    Recently, our journal has introduced systematic analysis of all submitted manuscripts for plagiarised text, using anti-plagiarism software. We had noticed increased incidences of recycling of existing text which is why we introduced the systematic check. It turns out that a large proportion of the submitted manuscripts (an estimated 30–50%) yield positive results, with copy values of somewhere…

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