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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 153 results
  • Case
    Case Closed

    Peer reviewer contacted by author

    In a single blind peer review process, a reviewer gave an author detailed suggestions about improvements in the statistical analysis. The author was asked to revise and resubmit the paper to address these and other reviewers' suggestions. The author, unaware of the reviewer’s identity, subsequently approached the reviewer as a respected colleague at a professional meeting to discuss the manuscr…
  • Case
    Case Closed

    Authorship conflict

    Author A contacted our journal following publication of a manuscript claiming that he was the rightful author. We asked the author for proof and he said that he had all of the data concerning the patient because he received the operative specimen and made the diagnosis. Author A said he also collaborated in writing the article with author B and hence was surprised that neither his name nor his…
  • Case
    On-going

    Inconclusive institutional investigation into authorship dispute

    After publication of an article, Author A contacted the journal asking to correct their surname. Author A’s name consists of two parts, but only one was included in the publication. The editor accepted this request but asked all authors to agree to publication of an erratum. Author B (the corresponding author) immediately replied, disagreeing with publication of such an erratum. Author A inform…
  • Case
    Case Closed

    Dispute between two authors

    A manuscript was submitted by author A to our journal. The content of the paper was controversial. We sent this manuscript for peer review by two clinical reviewers. We wrote back to author A requesting major revisions to address the concerns and issues raised by the reviewers. A revised paper was submitted and accepted for publication. Because the article was controversial, mini-comment…
  • Case
    On-going

    Stolen article

    At acceptance but before publication, we found article A submitted to journal A was highly similar to article B, published 5 months earlier in conference proceedings in journal B by another publisher. The abstracts were nearly identical, but the author lists and affiliations did not overlap. We asked the authors to explain this and they said article A is their own work, but it was inadvertently…
  • Case
    Case Closed

    Authorship issues from disbanded consortium

    A manuscript was submitted to one of our journals in a special issue. The initial submission included 15 authors with 9 affiliations. The authors were part of a consortium which has now been disbanded. The manuscript was provisionally accepted for publication. At this point, three of the authors requested to be removed from the author list, citing irreconcilable differences with the corr…
  • 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

    Withdrawing from authorship

    A journal published a paper that is now under investigation by the host institution for misconduct. All authors signed that they agreed authorship and took responsibility for the content of the paper. After the investigations started, an author asked to be removed from authorship. Questions for the COPE Forum• What should the journal do in this situation? • Should th…
  • Case
    On-going

    Authorship dispute regarding author order

    A paper was accepted in 2012 but there was a lengthy disagreement between the four authors regarding the order of authorship. The authors were advised that the paper would not be published unless all authors could sign a written agreement on the order of authorship and copyright form. An agreement was received in 2015 that specified the order of authorship and named one of the authors as…
  • Case
    On-going

    Would the loss of a clinical licence in one country impact on the ability to do clinical work in another?

    The associate editor of journal X identified author Y on a submission paper as someone who had lost their license to practice due to malpractice. As part of the settlement, author Y had agreed to refrain from providing services to patients. Author Y now resides on a different continent, and the study presented in the submission was apparently carried out in in this continent. There is no mentio…
  • Case
    Case Closed

    The role of the lead author

    An author on a "perspective/consensus" type paper continues to provide new editorial as well as substantial content comments on consecutive versions of a paper, and currently disagrees with the content of the final version of the paper. The other eight authors have approved the final version of the paper prepared and circulated by the lead author. At this stage, the lead author sees no rational…
  • Case
    Case Closed

    Publication of post-doctoral work

    In 2012, Dr X started her post-doctoral training under a fellowship. She worked on the project until 2014, when the fellowship ended. She did all the work herself, and gave two seminars showing her results and progress, with positive feedback. When needed, she consulted with the supervisor or with a senior scientist in the laboratory (who has since resigned). By the time she finished, she had w…
  • 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
    On-going

    Authorship dispute and possible unreported protocol amendment

    Our journal accepted a randomised controlled trial for publication which has not yet been published online. In the submitted paper, the randomised controlled trial is described as commencing in 2004 with completion in 2011. We have received an email and telephone call from an individual not listed as an author or reviewer of the paper with the following alleged disputes:• He was an invest…
  • Case
    Case Closed

    Disclosure and transparency issue

    A paper was submitted to a medical journal, reporting the beneficial effects of a treatment with an expensive biological preparation. The author list included one employee of the company that produces and sells the preparation. Specific employees of the company were also thanked for medical input, epidemiological advice, programming support and copy editing; several authors declared having rece…
  • Case
    Case Closed

    Requesting authorship after publication

    Our journal was contacted by an individual, Dr H, who had recently seen a published article and was surprised that he was not listed as an author because it utilised samples from a database that he established. (The article was published online in November 2014 and in print in February 2015.) He stated that the cohort has spawned many projects, but he was not involved in the “specialist area” i…
  • 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

    Inability to contact an author to obtain permission to publish

    Author A was an overseas PhD student who successfully completed the PhD, and then returned home to a country with considerable political and civil unrest. It had been intended to submit a paper before author A left but time ran out. Subsequently, authors B, C, D and E, who were all involved in the work in one form or another (experimental design, performing preliminary experiments, data interpr…
  • 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…

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