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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 41–60 of 133 results
  • Case
    Case Closed

    Alleged misuse of confidential information

    In early 2012, author A submitted a paper reporting on the gene mutated in a rare syndrome seen in a specific population. The paper was citing an earlier (2006) report by author B that had mapped the disease locus to a narrow chromosomal location but had stopped short of actually identifying the gene (which would have been laborious by the technology available at the time). Author A’s su…
  • Case
    Case Closed

    Submissions from institutions where misconduct has previously been suspected

    A scientific paper was submitted in January 2011. After initial assessment by the journal’s editor-in chief, it was allocated to one of the co-editors. By chance, the co-editor had reviewed the manuscript for another journal only a few weeks before. The manuscript had been rejected by the previous journal for a number of methodological flaws. The resubmitted manuscript contained signific…
  • 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

    Request to withdraw as an author of an accepted but unpublished paper

    Last March we accepted a paper written by a post-doctoral fellow (PD) and an assistant professor (AP). The work was done by PD in AP's laboratory; PD has now moved on (to another country, in fact). Soon after the manuscript was sent to production, AP sent an email asking to delay production of the manuscript because AP was worried that there may be an ‘error’ in the manuscript that might requir…
  • 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

    Lack of ethical approval and not reporting experimental evidence

    In May 2011 a letter from the Vice-Rector for Personnel of a reputable university was sent to the editor mentioning that two articles published in the journal contained two statements not supported by documented evidence. The two statements related to: (1) approval of the local ethics committee and (2) representation of the experimental evidence. With regard to point (1), the authors sta…
  • Case
    On-going

    Inappropriate authorship on students paper

    A cross-sectional, questionnaire-based study which was a final year student's project was submitted as an original article to our journal on 30 April 2011. On initial review it was obvious that it was conducted by students and written by them, but the list of authors had the supervisor as the first author, followed by 13 students. The supervisor, who was also the corresponding author, wa…
  • Case
    Closed: author misconduct

    Possible overlapping publications/data

    As editor-in-chief of a journal (journal A), I was contacted by an individual (N) who indicated the following: authors of an article published in journal A were questioned as to the similarity of a figure and a table appearing in both journal A and in another journal (journal B). N noted that reanalysis of the data of the published work by the authors suggested errors and inconsistencies of the…
  • Case
    Closed: author misconduct

    Duplicate publication in possibly four papers

    This case involves four manuscripts. Three of the manuscripts were originally published in another language and then published in our English language journal. There is overlap in the authors who were involved in all four manuscripts. The first and second manuscripts were duplicated publications from another journal. The evidence is very clear. The papers were published in another countr…
  • Case
    Closed: author misconduct

    Retraction or correction?

    A reader contacted us with evidence that a number of western blots in a manuscript published by us in 2007 had been duplicated from other published papers; in one case, the same gel was duplicated in the paper itself. I compared the original papers and agreed with the reader. Some of the blots had also been duplicated in other papers but all had been published previous to being published in our…
  • 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
    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

    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
    On-going

    Data fabrication, lack of ethical approval, withdrawal of paper and publication in another journal

    This query refers to a clinical trial comparing two forms of treatment which has since been published in another journal. I originally received this manuscript in 2009. One of the referees alerted me to the fact that the data looked strange. Furthermore, the test and controls groups were perfectly distributed, which is almost impossible. Along with the usual requests for modifications, I…
  • Case
    Case Closed

    Duplicated gel images

    A few months we were contacted by a dean of an  institution  who informed us about misconduct of one of the senior scientists in that institution. An investigation launched by the institution showed that author A and coauthors reused the same images to show controls in many figures in their different publications. This problem was found in three publications in our journal. We decided to…
  • Case
    Case Closed

    Nuisance author

    …You can listen to the podcast of this case from the menu on the right An author submitted a paper which went through the review process and was rejected. He is now sending abusive emails to me, the editor, and spamming an enormous number of people in his research area and the government (he even tried to contact the royal office) as a protest. He continues to submit his paper (over 20…
  • Case

    Breach of peer review confidentiality

    This case concerns a submitted review article that proposes a new theory in a field of research where there are two polarised positions. The original manuscript (R0) underwent peer review and was returned with reports indicating a major revision, which took several months. On submission of the revision, one of the reviewers from the previous round was asked to re-review. That reviewer (r…
  • Case
    Closed: author misconduct

    Falsified references

    An article was submitted to my journal and was sent for peer review. An editorial board member realised that a number of the references were incorrect: publication dates had been changed to make them more current. The author was contacted by email and telephone who said he/she had a number of students working for him (who were not listed as authors or in the acknowledgment) and they must…
  • Case

    Lack of acknowledgement of contributor

    Our case relates to a paper (by author’s A and B) that was retracted because of lack of acknowledgement of the contribution of another author (C). The retraction statement noted: “While the A/B paper is largely the work of A and B, it includes some sentences and ideas that previously appeared in an unpublished paper and/or Power Point presentation only with A and C listed as authors. We regret…

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