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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 41–60 of 69 results
  • Case

    Author’s name removed from submitted article

    A week after receiving a paper on a study for consideration for publication, the Editor received an email from person X claiming to have been the principal investigator of the study for the previous five years, up until he recently parted company in acrimonious circumstances from the hospital Trust in receipt of the NHS R&D funding for the study. Person X sent supporting evidence of his inv…
  • Case

    Accusation of theft of a model

    During refereeing of an article, one of the referees made an accusation of theft regarding a model described in the article. The referee and the authors had been collaborating on a review article previously, but had fallen out. The journal requested evidence from the parties. This involved several rounds of requests to the accuser, as the journal felt that the accuser was not providing anything…
  • Case

    Ethics, institutional review and studies from private practice

    A manuscript was submitted to our journal regarding a chart review of a novel treatment of a musculoskeletal disease, done at a private clinic in a western country. The patients had given informed consent for the novel treatment, but there was no ethical approval. We contacted the authors, who have replied that ethics approval could not be obtained, and indeed was not needed, because the…
  • Case

    Editor as author in own journal

    This journal specialises in one form of treatment. It is the only Medline listed journal that is widely accessed in Europe by people who use this form of treatment. No international journals provide a suitable alternative. In the USA, the one journal most similar to this is much less specialised and hardly ever accessed in Europe.  The journal editor is a leading researcher in this form…
  • Case

    Duplicate publication

    In 2003 a paper was published in a specialist surgical journal following proper peer review.  The paper summarised the experience of a group of clinicians concerned in treating malignancy in the Head and Neck using a novel method of therapy - and was a case series of 25 patients.  The paper was not considered to be one of high priority but was published because of the paucity of information con…
  • Case

    Legal advice

    We have just had a paper submitted as an ethical debate in which the author details ethical concerns about a study previously published in another journal. The study involved complementary/alternative therapy for an infectious disease in children. The author alleges that the study gave insufficient protection to vulnerable subjects, who were exposed to unwarranted risks and discomfort; and that…
  • Case

    Plagiarism

    A review article by an expert group plagiarised an article from another journal. It was largely a direct translation, involving large slabs of the text. Some of the authors are on the editorial board of the journal where the paper was published. There was no declaration that this was a translation of another article. … The editor is potentially in a very difficult situatio…
  • Case

    Sanitising a misleading statement

    Author A published a paper in Journal X, which presented evidence of failure by another research group to declare a serious conflict of interest in a paper that had been published some years before in Journal Y. This conflict of interest centred around the undeclared involvement of a third party with a vested interest. Evidence for this was presented in the form of correspondence from the third…
  • Case

    Ethical approval and fabrication of results

    A group of authors, based in private practice, submitted three manuscripts to Journal A and one to Journal B. All the manuscripts described the application and effectiveness of a spinal manipulation technique. The first manuscript in Journal A was a case series of 21 patients. After publication, a member of the journal’s editorial board pointed out several flaws in the study design, incl…
  • Case

    Competing interest

    An editorial board member of a journal submitted an unsolicited review article on a drug. The editor said the journal would consider the article, but suspected that the article had been commissioned or even written by a drugs company. S/he stipulated that the author must provide a financial disclosure statement before the article could be accepted. The journal published the review article, whic…
  • Case

    Potentially unethical publication

    A new Editor was appointed to a society journal in a minority medical specialty. An officer of the society immediately handed him an anonymous letter from a reader of the journal complaining that an article recently published was unethical. The Editor is a personal friend both of the previous editor who accepted the paper, and the author of the paper. The paper is by a single author who gives n…
  • Case

    Undeclared competing interests

    A journal published an animal study on the use of drug X for the treatment of clinical condition A. The authors did not declare any competing interests. A few months after publication, a journalist contacted the editors to say that the corresponding author had several patents on drug X, was listed as an inventor of the drug, and that the public charity of which he is the director recently annou…
  • Case

    Undeclared conflict of interest

    Several years after a case series was published, a journalist with serious allegations of research misconduct contacted the editor. These allegations were that: - Ethics approval had not been obtained, contrary to a statement in the paper; and that the reported study was completed under the cover of ethics approval granted to a different study - Contrary to a statement in the paper that the par…
  • Case

    The disappearing authors

    Some time after a single authored research article was published a journal received a letter pointing out that the same article had been rejected by another journal because of unresolved authorship and acknowledgement issues. At that time the paper had 12 authors. The correspondent said that the single author had a patent application related to the topic of the paper. This was declared as a com…
  • Case

    Authorship dispute

    A paper submitted to an international medical journal was reviewed externally and the authors were subsequently invited to submit a revised version. The initial submission included authors from two different research institutions and one author from a corporate sponsor. The initial submission was accompanied by an appropriate description of the individual authors’ contributions, a negative conf…
  • Case

    Undeclared conflict of interest

    A published study reviewed the use of particular devices for performing a clinical manoeuvre. One of the authors worked for a consultancy, but declared that he had no conflict of interest. Subsequently, the journal received a letter pointing out that the consultancy had been set up explicitly to persuade governments and their regulatory organisations of the virtues of new drugs and technologies…
  • Case

    An author thinks that a journal’s decision not to publish is ethically incorrect

    A submitted paper reported on the investigation and management of an outbreak of a disease in a work environment (Company A). The authors acknowledged the referring physician from the workplace—who had declined on legal advice to be listed as an author—and also declared that the lead author had provided medical advice for remuneration to Company A during legal proceedings related to the outbrea…
  • Case

    Referee with a conflict of interest

    A paper was received by Journal A in August and sent to Dr X for comment. Dr X advised that the paper was not original in the light of a publication by his own research group earlier in the year in another journal, and that furthermore, this study contained over twice as many patients as the paper the journal had sent to him to referee. The journal decided to reject the paper on the strength of…
  • Case

    Allegation of reviewer malpractice

    A member of the editorial board of Journal A was approached by an overseas colleague with a strange tale. An epidemiological study had been conducted in the community around an industrial facility, funded by a group of plaintiffs’ lawyers. The study concluded that health effects in the community were related to exposures emanating from the facility. A paper based on the study was submitted to J…
  • Case

    Submission of a paper by a reviewer

    An editor sent out a paper to three reviewers. One of them, who gave the paper a favourable review, enclosed a research letter on the same topic, with, in his view, a better study design. He told the editor that the author of the paper had encouraged him to submit it during a meeting they both attended. He added that he thought its inclusion would make a good complementary pair of papers. The e…

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