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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 191 results
  • 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

    No ethics committee approval of a study

    Our journal received a manuscript describing a comparison of two different techniques for patients in the intensive care unit. There was no information on ethics committee approval and so we asked the authors if approval was obtained. They replied that they had not applied for ethics committee approval “as it was a clinical comparison of two existing methods, none of them experimental. All pati…
  • Case
    On-going

    Suspect author

    Author A has published approximately 150 original articles since ~1994, with ~100 on one particular topic. Since some of these events were up to 16 years ago, and there are no formal records from then relating to these studies, the only information we have is the memory of the editors of the affected journals in post at the time. According to their accounts, suspicions were aroused over the val…
  • Case

    Plagiarism of published paper

    My subeditor handling this case told me he had found similarities with the protocol of a paper published elsewhere. The subeditor decided to send the paper for review to one of the authors of this published paper. The reviewer reported that the manuscript had the same figures and conclusions as a second paper he had published. All figures and the conclusions of the manuscript were the same as t…
  • Case

    The ethics of drug/medication use evaluation audit cycles and publication of the results

    We are seeking guidance on the ethical issues surrounding drug/medicine use evaluation (DUE or MUE) audit cycles, particularly with respect to the publication of findings but also perhaps with regard to the conduct of these audits in general. DUE is a quality improvement activity that involves data collection and evaluation (usually by audit), followed by ‘action’ or intervention and a r…
  • Case
    Case Closed

    Inadequate reporting of a trial, despite earlier rejection from a different journal

    We have been contacted by a reviewer after he spotted a paper he had reviewed for us (journal 1) now published in a second journal (journal 2). Both journals are members of COPE. The reviewer had advised we reject the paper when it was sent to him to review in September 2008. This was based on his assessment of the paper and also the supplementary material he was sent by us: protocol, CONSORT s…
  • Case
    On-going

    Conflicting claims of intellectual property?

    Dr R, of University 1, has written an ‘official complain’ to Editor E alleging that a paper he was invited to review employs without permission a method that is the ‘background intellectual property’ (BIP) of University 1. He believes the paper should not be published. Dr R asserts that he created the BIP prior to its use in several research projects at University 1, and notes that Dr A,…
  • Case

    Author dispute over data presented in paper

    A manuscript was submitted to our Journal in 2008. The six authors signed the author form for the Journal which accompanies all submitted manuscripts. The author form gives information on the role each author played in the study and states that each author has read and approved the paper for submission to the Journal. Following peer-review the paper was accepted for publication. It was p…
  • Case

    A case of child abuse

    Child abuse is a common but underdiagnosed problem in our country. The abuse ranges from minor injury to severe head trauma. The true incidence of intentional head injury in children remains uncertain. We published a case of child abuse with blunt head trauma with intracranial haemorrhage presenting as loss of consciousness simulating a diabetic ketoacidosis. We received a complaint from…
  • Case

    Falsification of certificates of deposit of new bacterial species in culture collections

    The process of naming and describing novel species of bacteria is governed by the Bacteriological Code. As part of this process, authors are required to deposit the type strain of the novel species in at least two culture collections located in different countries, and they are also required to provide documentary evidence that the strains have been so deposited and that the deposited strains a…
  • Case

    Ethics committee waives consent for case report, editor disagrees

    The authors wish to publish a case report that aims to characterise complex chromosomal abnormalities in a rare congenital syndrome. It describes, in detail, the clinical features of two newborn infants. When asked about consent to publish, the authors said they did not obtain it because the data were reported from existing clinical diagnostic test results and therefore did not constitute a sys…
  • Case

    Homeoprophylactic treatment of a zoonotic disease

    This research article investigated the effect of the widespread administration of a homeoprophylactic preparation against a bacterial zoonotic disease in a developing country after a period of particularly heavy rainfall. The authors claim to have given this oral preparation to all members of the population over 1 year of age, in three provinces of the country where this disease is prevalent (o…
  • Case

    Pedigree descriptions: genotyping results for family members

    We received a paper which describes genotyping results from a large number of individuals (>50) from five unrelated families, in which family members had various blood and liver conditions. On submission we noted that the paper included specific details regarding the clinical histories of individuals in each family. Some individuals were described in substantial detail, others only briefly.…
  • 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

    Possible plagiarism

    A review paper (paper 1) was published in journal A. A review paper on the same subject (paper 2) by a different author was published in my journal (journal B) later in the same year. The authors of paper 1 and the editor of journal A informed me that paper 2 had in part been plagiarised from paper 1. I as editor of journal B looked to the COPE flowchart for guidance and I wrote to the…
  • Case

    HIV homeopathy

    The authors carried out a study. A homeopathic treatment was given to people with HIV/AIDs. The outcome was quality of life, as measured by a questionnaire after 1 month and 18 months of treatment. Participants were selected for inclusion if they had a HIV seropositive status at the time of study and were not taking any other kind of HIV/AIDs treatment. The participants were stratified i…
  • 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

    Has formal ethical approval been granted that satisfies publication criteria?

    The issue here is whether formal ethics approval has been granted in order to satisfy publication criteria. By way of some background information, a lot of screening data are collected on many athletes in many sports, both nationally and internationally. Historically, clubs and associations have disclaimers whereby athletes sign consent for their data to be used for audit purposes on the provis…
  • Case

    Possible serial misconduct in relation to coauthors and other activities

    I am the editor of an international clinical journal and am facing a very unusual problem that does not fit readily into COPE flowcharts. Through a reviewer, I was informed that an author had submitted a paper without the approval of at least one of the other authors. This appeared to be confirmed by two other authors. In response to my bringing this possibility to the first author’s at…

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