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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 21–40 of 69 results
  • Case

    Deception in submitting manuscript for publication

    A manuscript was submitted to my journal. The author, on his own accord, submitted the manuscript for review to several reviewers under the guise that this was sent by me. The author sent the following explanation: “In some of our previous encounters, you have indicated that finding sufficient cooperative reviewers has been a problem for you. In order to provide you with some help in thi…
  • Case

    Alleged unauthorized use of data and possible dual publication

    During review of a manuscript submitted to our journal, a dispute arose over some of the data used in the database that was described in the submitted paper. The authors listed several preferred reviewers and also one non-preferred reviewer (without giving reasons). The journal’s submission site states that the editors will consider the authors’ preferred suggestions but are under no obl…
  • Case

    Provenance of a correction: undisclosed court case involvement

    The first author of a paper published in 2004 has submitted a “letter to the editor” (LTTE) offering some corrections, and reaffirming some conclusions. The letter has not been published. A pharma company (whose drug is linked by the paper to a negative side effect) has followed this up claiming that between authoring the original article and the letter, the author has become a paid expert witn…
  • 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

    Authors bearing gifts …

    The editor of an international journal is bothered: he has received a gift that looks expensive, though it might not be. The sender is an author of a paper submitted to the journal; he has just received a “major revisions necessary” decision. In previous emails, the author has suggested hosting the editor in “his native beautiful city”, an invitation the editor has acknowledged, saying h…
  • Case

    Reviewer misconduct?

    We have received threats of legal action from the authors of a manuscript rejected by our journal, henceforth referred to as journal A. These “aggrieved” authors claim that their manuscript was unfairly reviewed by a close competitor, who then used some of their findings in a paper subsequently published in journal B, without either attribution or citation. The “accused” scientist had in…
  • Case

    The ethics of using privileged information

    A paper published in one of our journals (paper A) provoked the submission of a correspondence article claiming that a minor conclusion of the paper was a misinterpretation and erroneous. The point in contention was a question of zoomorphology and our paper’s conclusions were based on analysis using a non-invasive technique while the rebuttal relied on more traditional techniques. We are bringi…
  • Case

    Concern about reporting of a trial and also its DSMB

    We received a paper reporting a trial. There has only been one previous trial of this intervention in this condition that we know of (which was also done by these investigators). There were substantial issues with the reporting of that trial but the end result, as reported by them, favoured the intervention. The trial we received, presumably approved after that result had come out, had…
  • Case

    Advice regarding a weird type of content and its authorship

    Our company publishes clinical pathways. They were initially authored by local experts, but have since been retrofitted with evidence, if possible. This was done by expert “evidologists”, not clinical experts; they were acknowledged solely by their company name (it was “out-sourced”). If the evidence did not fit, the pathway was discarded. We undertake to review all of the pathways…
  • Case

    Author did not see reviews or revisions to the manuscript and did not give approval for publication

    Approximately 1 year after publication of an article, we received a letter from one of the authors saying that they had not seen the reviews of the paper, the revisions of the paper or approved the final manuscript for publication. This was subsequently confirmed by the other authors who said that contact with the complainant had “broken down” and that the corresponding author had indicated tha…
  • Case

    A member of an author group listed on a paper denies authorship

    We publish “mini-reviews” of published articles. Our faculty of eminent researchers and clinicians write these evaluations. One of the conditions we insist on from our faculty is that they may not evaluate work on which they are an author. We received a review of a paper, the authorship of which was listed as: Name A, Name B, Name C; study group X As the reviewer was a member of “…
  • Case

    Multiple failure to declare a relevant conflict of interest

    During peer review of a manuscript submitted to journal Y, one of the referees indicated a belief that at least one of the authors had not declared a relevant conflict of interest (CoI). The article indicated that the authors had no relevant CoIs. The referee provided a URL to a press release that supported the allegation. It appears that one of the authors is the discoverer of a series of comp…
  • Case

    Declaration of contributorship

    An online post-publication literature evaluation service, aiming to highlight the best articles in medicine, received an evaluation of an article whose authors were based at the same institution as the evaluator. The editor asked the contributor if he/she had any involvement in the study and received the following response: “I am based at the university but did not participate in the design of…
  • Case

    Competing interest issue

    An online post-publication literature evaluation service, aiming to highlight the best articles in medicine, received an evaluation of an article on which the evaluator was listed as an author on PubMed. The editor queried the evaluation and the evaluator replied explaining s/he had no involvement with the study but had commented on it. When the editor looked at the full text HTML version on th…
  • Case

    Editorial misconduct

    An associate editor received a letter claiming harassment (from an author from another country) by the editor. The author submitted a manuscript which was repeatedly sent back for changes in format but not rejected. Eventually, the author withdrew the article and submitted it to another international peer reviewed journal with a good impact factor where it was accepted immediately with high pri…
  • Case

    Competing interests question

    An online post-publication literature evaluation service aiming to highlight the best papers in medicine, received an evaluation of a basic science study funded by an NIHM grant. The evaluator declared in his/her competing interests that he/she is the director of a project that included the evaluated study as one of its components. The overall project was funded by an NIHM grant and paid the sa…
  • Case

    Literature evaluation service and supplements

    An online post-publication literature evaluation service aiming to highlight the best articles in medicine has received evaluation of articles published in supplement issues of journals. Given that many supplements are funded by pharmaceutical companies, should we have a different policy on how to handle such evaluations? If so, what suggestions do you have? … The committee felt that it is…
  • Case

    Conflict of interest

    After peer-review, a general medical journal published a household survey of violence following a coup against the country’s elected President. The survey revealed high levels of violence and human rights abuses, only a small minority of which were attributed to supporters of the deposed regime. The manuscript stated that none of the interviewers had political affiliations and the authors decla…
  • Case

    Post-publication evaluation and manufacturer information

    An online post-publication literature evaluation service, aiming to highlight the best papers in medicine, received an evaluation of a cost effectiveness study assessing a new therapy. The evaluator quoted estimated amounts of cost saved when using the new therapy compared with other therapies, naming the manufacturer of the new therapy. The evaluator declared in his/her competing interests tha…
  • Case

    Misuse of post-publication literature evaluation service

    An online post-publication literature evaluation service that publishes only positive reviews, aiming to highlight the best papers in medicine, received an evaluation of a paper that had been published in a journal for which the evaluator of the paper acts as editor in chief. The evaluator did not declare any competing interests but the editor dealing with the evaluation knew about his/her role…

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