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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 21–40 of 50 results
  • Case
    Case Closed

    Self-plagiarism and suspected salami publishing

    Journal A accepted a manuscript with six authors in June 2017, which was published in January 2018. Several months later, the editors of journal A found that journal B had published paper B, which shared striking similarities to paper A. Journal B accepted paper B in November 2017 and published it in February 2018. The first author of paper B was different but the remaining four authors were fr…
  • Case
    Case Closed

    A pre-submission inquiry with a bribe

    We recently received a pre-submission inquiry from an author, who identified as being fairly inexperienced with writing papers. At first glance it was a fairly standard pre-submission inquiry. The author mentioned the titles of two papers they allegedly had wrote and wondered whether we might be potentially interested in them. The author added that they had a colleague who would also be potenti…
  • 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

    Editor manipulation of impact factor

    An editor in chief of a major medical journal in a specialty field is also an author. The editor submits a manuscript to a competing journal in the same field. The manuscript receives moderately favourable reviews and the authors are invited to respond to the reviewer input and submit a revised manuscript. In the communication from that journal's editor in chief, the authors are asked to cite a…
  • Case
    Case Closed

    Scientific misconduct claim from a whistleblower where the institution will not investigate

    A journal received an allegation of scientific misconduct from an anonymous individual stating they were from the group that had written the paper (Institution-1, there are two institutions involved in this research). The email stated that the scientific bases of the article were unreliable. The paper was currently with the authors who were revising the paper after the first round of review, an…
  • Case
    Case Closed

    Editor and reviewers requiring authors to cite their own work

    A staff member in our editorial office noticed a decision letter where a handling editor instructed an author to cite an article published by the handling editor. The staff member wondered if this had happened before and reviewed recent decision letters by that editor. This revealed a concerning pattern of behaviour—the handling editor’s decision letters (including reviewers’ comments) asked au…
  • Case
    Case Closed

    Consequence for dual submission

    An author submitted work to our journal (journal A) which, after two rounds of peer review, was accepted and published. One week after it was published, the editors of journal B contacted our journal stating that this work, with the exact same title, authors and content, had been submitted to journal B and, after receiving an acceptance letter, the author withdrew the paper, informing them that…
  • Case
    Case Closed

    Unethical withdrawal after acceptance to maximize the 'impact factor'?

    We are a publisher with a portfolio of about 25 journals, with journal X being the flagship journal. Journal X has a high impact factor. We also publish a range of other, newer journals,  some of which are ranked highly but most have no impact factor. An author submitted a manuscript to journal Y where it underwent peer review and was accepted after revisions. After acceptance, the autho…
  • Case
    Case Closed

    Institutional investigation of authorship dispute

    We received a claim that several authors were removed from an article published in one of our journals before the article was submitted. None of those said to have been removed were acknowledged. The claimant requested retraction. They said the article was previously submitted to other journals, listing them as an author. They provided what they said was an earlier version of the article…
  • Case
    Case Closed

    Author accused of stealing research and publishing under their name

    We received a letter from a third party, accusing author A of putting his/her name against an article, published in our journal, when the research itself belongs to author A's student. Our journal is a fully English language publication and the accusing third party and author A are from a non-English speaking country, as is the student (assumedly). The accusing third party forwarded the…
  • Case
    Case Closed

    Possible omission of information essential for conclusions in a research paper

    In 2013, our journal published a paper describing an observational study comparing two drugs (A and B) for the management of a chronic disease over a period of 10 years. The conclusion in the paper was that mortality was higher in group A (97 deaths) compared with the other group B (52 deaths) (hazard ratio 1.76, 1.22 to 2.53; P=0.003). This analysis was done after adjustment for a large number…
  • Case
    Case Closed

    Duplicate publication allegation

    Our journal (journal A) received a complaint from a 'Clare Francis' alerting us to a case of duplicate publication involving our journal and another (journal B). The article in journal A was published first, but submitted after the article in journal B. Clare Francis requested that the article in journal A should be withdrawn as it is duplicate publication. However, the article in journal B was…
  • Case
    Closed: author misconduct

    Duplicate publication and alleged image manipulation

    The editorial office of journal A was contacted anonymously by an individual who made allegations against two papers, both published by the same author. Paper 1 was alleged to be a duplicate publication, with the paper previously having been published in journal B. The editorial office of journal A, in accordance with the COPE flowcharts, contacted the author informing them of the allegations a…
  • Case
    Case Closed

    Mislabelling/duplicate images

    We were contacted by a reader who told us that he had spotted a number of cases of image duplication and mislabelling of fluorescent tags that had occurred over the past 4 years. These involved two papers published in our journal, and two other papers published in two different journals. The two papers in our journal were both reviews, and the one that had the most occurrences involved a poster…
  • Case
    Case Closed

    Retractions of primary literature papers: how should a review journal react?

    In a recent and very prominent case of publication misconduct resulting in the retraction of 12 research papers (to date), many journals have been included in ‘round-mails’ from the whistleblower and other scientists. Our journal (a reviews and features journal) has published a review from the main author associated with the misconduct, which contains reference to six of the retracted papers.
  • Case
    Case Closed

    Author of rejected letter blames global bias against his message and undisclosed conflicts of interest

    The editor in chief received a letter to the editor criticising a paper published earlier in the journal. The editor first told the author of the letter that he would publish the commentary after he had given the authors of the criticised paper a chance to respond. When asked by the author of the letter, he later added that he would also publish the letter if the authors failed to respond.…
  • Case

    Ethics and consent in research

    A letter was sent to the chief editor of our journal in response to a recently published article in our journal. The author had serious concerns about the ethics and consent obtained as a result of this study and the follow-up by the researchers. The author explained that he was the physician of two of the “volunteers” who participated in this study and was concerned about informed conse…
  • Case

    Retraction of article from 1994

    Professor A and professor B has been in a dispute over a certain type of treatment for over 15 years. Professor A has accused professor B of killing a patient while he was (in professor A’s view) doing research on the patient without consent. Professor B has accused professor A of research and publication misconduct because he published a paper in journal X in 1994 that included a selected grou…
  • Case

    Duplicate publication?

    The editors of this journal check all articles against Medline for possible redundant publications. Two very similar articles from an author were retrieved when the name of the author was searched. The titles were very similar, except for the name of the disease. The abstracts had almost 50% identical wording. The two articles were not related to the article submitted to the editors, but as the…
  • Case

    Problem with figures

    (1) An article was published after peer review. Shortly after online publication we received a message from a reader (an academic who works in the same field as the authors) notifying us of a major concern with one of the figures in the article. “I am writing with regard of manuscript XXX recently published in XXX. These studies raise significant expectations in XXX patients, because the…

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