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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 133 results
  • Case
    Case Closed

    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
    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…
  • Case
    Case Closed

    Duplicate publication and removal of article

    The editor of journal A was alerted to the fact that an article published in journal A had been previously published in journal B and constituted a duplicate publication. The editor contacted the authors who explained that they had tried to withdraw the article from journal B but their request was ignored and the article was published against their wishes. The authors contacted journal B…
  • Case
    Case Closed

    Suspected image manipulation involving four journals

    Editorial office staff at journal A noticed possible image manipulation in two figures of a new paper submitted by author X. These suspected manipulations involved images of gels which appeared to contain multiple duplicated bands. This prompted editorial staff to look at the submission history of author X to journal A in more detail. It was found that author X had previously submitted t…
  • Case
    Case Closed

    Author impersonating corresponding author without knowledge of coauthors

    We received an article which was accepted and published after an uneventful peer review process. The article was apparently written by seven authors from two universities. As part of our routine processes, all co-authors were alerted to a submission via the email addresses provided by the submitting author. Some time after the article had been published, we received an email from the cor…
  • Case
    Case Closed

    Handling self-admissions of fraud

    In November 2014, the first author of a decade old paper in our journal and a 15-year-old paper from another journal informed us that he faked the data in two figure panels in the paper in our journal and one figure panel in the paper in the other journal. The main gist of the manipulation was loading unequal amounts or delayed loading of gel lanes. Self-admission of data falsification i…
  • Case
    Case Closed

    Reviewer requests to be added as an author after publication

    A paper was submitted to our journal. The associate editor assigned to the paper immediately assigned a reviewer who he knew was well qualified to give a good review, as they had worked with the authors before. The editor did think it odd that the reviewer was not an author on this particular paper, given the close collaboration. However, when invited, the reviewer (R1), did not flag up any con…
  • Case
    Case Closed

    Author disagreement blocks submission

    A paper was submitted to a medical journal reporting original research on human subjects. Two corresponding authors, author A (first in authors’ list) and author B (last in the list) were listed. The paper was sent to external referees but while it was under review, the editor received an email from author A stating that s/he had not read the paper, was not aware of the submission and did not a…
  • Case
    Case Closed

    Institution alleges that paper includes fabricated data

    In 2014 we received a communication from the Research Integrity Officer of an academic institution informing us that a paper, published in our journal in 2013, included falsified or fabricated data. We were informed that, following an investigation, they had determined that scientific misconduct had occurred. Within a few days we received a communication from one of the authors of the pa…
  • Case
    Case Closed

    Possible breach of reviewer confidentiality

    Soon after rejecting a paper—after it underwent peer review but before discussion at the manuscript meeting—the author wrote to tell me that he was asked questions “about the manuscript” at a presentation at a national meeting. The author stated: “A member of the audience addressed questions to me from a copy of the manuscript, and not from the talk I gave. I had to ask him to say nothing furth…
  • Case
    On-going

    A case with no independent institution to investigate

    We were contacted by a lawyer acting on behalf of the last author (author A) of two research articles published in our journals. Both articles are co-authored by one other author (author B), who was the corresponding author. Author A claims not to have been aware of the submission and also raises concerns that the timelines and dates of the before and after photos reported in the articles are i…
  • Case
    Case Closed

    Online posting of confidential draft by peer reviewer

    Shortly before publication, I received an email from the authors of a systematic review telling me that a version of the paper as first submitted to the journal for peer review had appeared on the website of a campaign group based in the USA. It was clear that the version of the document posted on the website was the same as the version supplied to the journal's peer reviewers. Further investig…
  • Case
    On-going

    A case of salami slicing

    A reviewer of our journal noticed similarity between a published paper (P1) and a manuscript under review (P2). At the same time, a member of the editorial team noticed similarity between another accepted manuscript for publication (P3) and both paper P1 and manuscript P2. All three papers were submitted by the same authors based on the same trial, reporting three different endpoints measuring…
  • Case
    On-going

    Ethical concerns and the validity of documentation supplied by the authors

    We became concerned that not all of the co-authors were aware of a research paper submitted to our journal due to the difficulty receiving responses from the email addresses that had been supplied and their nature, given that the authors all worked in a hospital/academic institution. Despite repeated requests and attempts we remained dissatisfied with the responses and did not feel certain that…
  • Case
    Case Closed

    Confidentiality breach by an associate editor

    The authors of a manuscript sent an official complaint to our journal regarding a breach of confidentiality by an associate editor (AE). The authors had been informed by the supervisor of a reviewer of a manuscript. After submission of the review, the reviewer received a confidential email from AE asking whether the favourable recommendation made by the reviewer would have been different if the…
  • Case
    On-going

    Retraction of the first article in the case of duplicate publication

    Earlier this year it came to our attention that a published article in our journal (journal A) had also been published in another journal (journal B). The article in journal A was published later than the article in journal B, so following COPE guidelines on duplicate publication, we contacted the authors for an explanation. Their response was to blame the editor of journal B for publishing the…
  • Case
    On-going

    Reprimanded author plagiarizes again

    A reviewer, R1, brought to our attention several suspected cases of plagiarism in paper A1, submitted by authors A. The main concerns were:— large parts of paper A1 resembled paper B submitted by a different group of authors B, with one of the most major changes being a change in the observation day;— large parts of a section were taken from paper C by author C, including an…
  • Case
    Case Closed

    Compromised peer review (unpublished)

    A manuscript was flagged to editor X as having received reviewers’ reports indicating very high interest. At that point the manuscript had been through one round of review, revision and re-review, and all three reviewers were advising that the manuscript be accepted without further revision. On checking the credentials of the three reviewers, editor X was unable to find the publication r…
  • Case
    On-going

    Compromised peer review system in published papers

    On noticing a high volume of submissions from corresponding author A, editor X flagged up concerns with the preferred reviewers being suggested and their comments. Author A had in most cases suggested the same preferred reviewers for each submission, preferred reviewer accounts had non-attributable email addresses, comments were being returned very quickly (within 24 hours) and were often brief…
  • Case
    Case Closed

    More than a breach of confidentiality?

    A journal received two manuscripts on the same topic in short succession.Manuscript A was rejected after peer review; manuscript B, submitted a few months later, was accepted after peer review. When manuscript B was published, author X contacted the journal to express concern about similarities between both papers and the fact that the first had been rejected and the second accepted. The…

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