You are here

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.

Filter by topic

Showing 21–40 of 79 results
  • 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
    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

    Two reviewer reports contain a significant amount of verbatim textual overlap

    Two of four reviewer reports received by the editor-in-chief of a journal contained a significant amount of verbatim textual overlap. Although of the same native (not English) language, the two reviewers are affiliated to institutions in different countries. The reports were submitted to the journal within 5 days of each other. Both reviewers suggested rejection of the submission. Separa…
  • Case
    Case Closed

    Ethical obligation to find reviewers

    An associate editor handling a paper for this journal reported to the editor-in-chief that he had not yet been able to recruit a single reviewer—all those who have been contacted had declined or not responded. The paper is in scope for the journal, it seems of reasonably quality from a brief read and the associate editor is appropriate; but this is a small and specialised field, and finding exp…
  • Case
    Case Closed

    Department notification regarding sensitive topic

    An essay was submitted to a specialty medical journal. In the essay, the author described an ethical dilemma—involving patient care—encountered while in medical school. The manuscript received favourable reviews, although the reviewers expressed concern about the author’s career if the essay was published. The editor called the author to discuss the ramifications of publication, and then the au…
  • Case
    Case Closed

    Complaint regarding letters to the editor

    Our journal routinely sends letters commenting on published articles to the authors of those articles. This gives the authors an opportunity to respond to any criticisms. The letters and the responses are then considered together and we make a decision on which ones to publish. If a letter is not selected for publication, our usual practice is to send the author's response to the person…
  • Case
    Case Closed

    Anonymity versus author transparency

    An editor invited an author to submit a paper to his journal. Colleagues of the author suggested “unsubmission” because it could be damaging to the author’s career. The editor contacted the publisher and requested that the paper be withdrawn. The editor then contacted the author asking if he would consider publishing the paper anonymously (ie, with no identifying names). The editor did not cons…
  • 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

    Meta-analysis: submission of unreliable findings

    A meta-analysis was conducted of about 1000 patients included in a number of small trials of a drug for emergency management administered by route X compared with route Y. The report concluded that administration by route X improves short term survival. Chronology  The paper was submitted to our journal in September 2011 and after peer review was return…
  • 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…
  • Case
    Case Closed

    Review of a book written by an editor of a journal

    Two scholars and professional colleagues, A and B, serve as co-editors of a peer-reviewed international journal. Editor A, who recently had a book published, has requested that editor B solicit a review of the book from a scholar in the field. Editor A would like this review to be published in the journal that they edit together. Editor B is concerned that this situation would put him in a situ…
  • Case
    Case Closed

    Reviewer asks trainee to review manuscript

    A known expert in a certain content area was asked to review a manuscript. He asked if one of his trainees (not a content expert) could review the manuscript instead, with some oversight and as a training exercise. He stated that he would provide the trainee with a full explanation of confidentiality. The section editor replied that it was the particular expertise of the invited reviewer that w…
  • Case
    Case Closed

    Author creates bogus email accounts for proposed reviewers

    Recently, as co-editor of my journal, I received a manuscript submitted for publication. The author had recommended two reviewers along with their Gmail accounts and affiliations. I was curious about the affiliation of one of the reviewers. I looked this person up and discovered they had a different email address than that provided by the author. So I usedthe email address that I found to…
  • Case
    Case Closed

    Transparency of peer review to co-authors

    An associate editor of one of our journals has asked whether we can configure our online peer review system to restrict access to reviewer correspondence to corresponding authors. His concern is that some of the review materials (eg, a harsh critique) might be embarrassing for the principal investigator if accessed by a co-author who was a junior investigator or laboratory technician. Similarly…
  • Case
    Closed: author misconduct

    Case of figure duplication and manipulation involving two journals

    The editors in chief of journal A and journal B, both owned by society C, received a letter from the last ‘senior’ author, also the corresponding author on one of the papers (author D), concerning separate papers published in both journals (paper E published in journal A and paper F published in journal B), informing them that one of the co-authors on both papers is under investigation for scie…
  • Case
    Case Closed

    An enquiry about arbitrating reviewers

    Under certain circumstances, the editors of journal A use ‘arbitrating’ reviewers. These reviewers advise an editor where, for example, an editor has split reviewer reports or a rebuttal to a decision that was based on split reviewer reports. This reviewer has sight of the other reviewers’ reports as he/she both evaluates the manuscript and assists the editor, through their advice, to arrive at…
  • Case
    Case Closed

    Lack of trial registration leads to new concerns about study conduct and ethical review/approval

    Following publication of an article, the editors noticed that the paper reported results of a clinical trial, but no details of trial registration were included in the article. (The journal does have careful checks on trial registration by staff at submission but this paper was not well written and it took careful reading to work out that it did in fact report on a clinical trial). We co…
  • Case
    Case Closed

    WAME case

    This case was posted on the WAME (World Association of Medical Editors) list-serv and the editor (from India) asked whether COPE could provide guidance. An author (who happens to also be a journal editor) submitted a manuscript to a journal listed in one of the major medical databases. Having heard nothing for several months he tried to contact the editor to discover what was happening.…
  • 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.…

Pages