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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 79 results
  • Case
    Case Closed

    Submissions from members of the editorial board

    …You can listen to the podcast of this case from the menu on the right Our journal has decided that members of the editorial board are allowed to submit manuscripts which will undergo peer-review directed by the present or former editor-in-chief. It can be difficult, and I would like to present one example. A group of authors (including one member of the editorial board) submitte…
  • 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

    Is it unethical to reject unregistered (or late-registered) trials?

    We would like other editors’ opinions as to whether adhering to the journal’s policy on trial registration may contribute towards the non-publication of trial results (and thus bias in the literature). All of our journals have the same policy on trial registration—for studies started before July 2005, we permit retrospective registration (providing it was done before submission) but for…
  • Case

    Suspicion of breach of proper peer reviewer behaviour

    An author submitted a paper for peer review with journal X on a topic that refers to a very recently published paper (ie, highly timely). The peer review was rather protracted because of long response times, reviewer substitution and the need to re-review the manuscript after a major revision. Just before the second decision was rendered, the author contacted the editor-in-chief with a s…
  • 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

    Publisher and stakeholder with misaligned conflict of interest policies

    We have recently developed and begun to put into practice a policy on collection and declaration of conflicts of interest statements from any individual involved in contributing to or reviewing our pathways. This policy includes members of our editorial team, and contributor and reviewer members from our stakeholder groups. We have devised a standard form to collect these statements in a unifor…
  • Case

    Deception in submitting manuscript for publication

    A manuscript was submitted to my journal. The author, on his own accord, submitted the manuscript for review to several reviewers under the guise that this was sent by me. The author sent the following explanation: “In some of our previous encounters, you have indicated that finding sufficient cooperative reviewers has been a problem for you. In order to provide you with some help in thi…
  • Case

    Is it a breach of confidentiality to send letters to the editor to criticised authors for comment?

    (presented by Liz Wager on behalf of an author)(NB: COPE doesn’t normally discuss cases from non-members but as this raised some interesting general points, we thought it would be interesting to hear Forum’s views) According to the COPE guidelines, editors should “ensure the quality of published material… publish cogent criticisms from readers… [and] ensur…
  • Case

    Advice regarding a weird type of content and its authorship

    Our company publishes clinical pathways. They were initially authored by local experts, but have since been retrofitted with evidence, if possible. This was done by expert “evidologists”, not clinical experts; they were acknowledged solely by their company name (it was “out-sourced”). If the evidence did not fit, the pathway was discarded. We undertake to review all of the pathways…
  • Case

    An article in a high profile journal that potentially misappropriates research published in lower impact journals

     It has been drawn to our attention that a paper published in a high-impact journal in the field of biological sciences (Journal A) draws very heavily on research published in the lower-impact factor journal for which we work (Journal B), as well as on work published in other journals. One of the authors of the paper in Journal B has contacted the editor of Journal A to register his/her concern…
  • Case

    Anonymous peer review – author requesting manuscript file

    Two manuscripts were submitted, reviewed as sister manuscripts by the journal, and rejected on the basis of negative reviews. The author took issue with one particularly negative review and appealed our decision. We sought the advice of an editorial board member who reviewed the manuscripts and the reports and agreed that the correct editorial decision was made.…
  • Case

    Personal remarks within a post-publication literature forum

    We publish an online service in which faculty members (well reputed clinicians and researchers) select, rate and evaluate influential articles of their choice. Members of the faculty can submit “dissents” to evaluations: dissents are to the fact that an article is selected, as opposed to any specific faculty member’s evaluation. The original faculty members who wrote the evaluation…
  • Case

    A member of an author group listed on a paper denies authorship

    We publish “mini-reviews” of published articles. Our faculty of eminent researchers and clinicians write these evaluations. One of the conditions we insist on from our faculty is that they may not evaluate work on which they are an author. We received a review of a paper, the authorship of which was listed as: Name A, Name B, Name C; study group X As the reviewer was a member of “…
  • Case

    Ethical dilemma involving religious beliefs

    The editor and co-editors of a book have a query concerning an ethical dilemma involving possible authors for a book chapter. The book concerns certain diseases in pregnancy and the authors have been approached to contribute a chapter. Both authors are apparently deeply religious and have expressed a strong concern about contributing to a book in which views may be expressed that are aga…
  • Case

    A breach of confidentiality?

    We ask our contributors to send us short mini-reviews of interesting articles they have come across in their regular reading. Most of our members also act as peer-reviewers and come across interesting articles as part of the peer-review process, before they are published . If they sent us one of those mini-reviews of an article they have peer-reviewed, and we kept the submission on file…
  • Case

    The judgement of Solomon: a case of two strikingly similar papers

    In February 2007, author A and a colleague submitted a paper (paper A) to our journal, which uses double-blinded peer review. We sent paper A for external review. Four weeks later, group B submitted a paper (paper B). The editorial office sent paper B to external reviewers, one of whom was author A. Both groups of authors are known to us and well regarded within our discipline. The revie…
  • Case

    Editorial misconduct

    An associate editor received a letter claiming harassment (from an author from another country) by the editor. The author submitted a manuscript which was repeatedly sent back for changes in format but not rejected. Eventually, the author withdrew the article and submitted it to another international peer reviewed journal with a good impact factor where it was accepted immediately with high pri…
  • Case

    Consideration of publishing raw data

    Our journal has received a submission regarding clinical trial results. The authors wish to include the “raw data” as an appendix to the manuscript. The study was completed several years ago and was controversial at the time. The authors wish to publish the raw data to allow the public to view the findings and make their own decisions about the trial. We do not know the best way to handle this…
  • Case

    Ethics approval for audit 3

    In this case, an international organisation wished to study the use of various regimens for medical termination of pregnancy in a developing world setting where termination of pregnancy is not supported by the state. They have performed an audit and have obtained data which will be of considerable value in other similar settings around the world. However, they are not willing to state the ident…
  • Case

    Patient consent

    The journal received a case report for a patient presenting with a particular syndrome in which patients give approximate answers to simple questions. This syndrome has been considered as a dissociative condition but others have argued that it reflects simulation of psychiatric symptoms. The case report was an individual who had crashed his car and, following that, developed complaints of memor…

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