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  • Case

    A first report, not followed by a second

    In 1984, journal X published a brief report of a randomised trial as a letter to the editor. No full publication of this trial followed, despite calls for this from colleagues in the field. It took the intervention of a regional research ethics committee and a dean to persuade the investigators to write a final manuscript.This paper has still not been submitted for publication, although some of…
  • Case

    Redundant publication and change of authors

    A paper was submitted to journal A with a covering letter stating that it was entirely original. However, when the editor looked at the references he found considerable overlap with a paper already published in journal B about the same infection outbreak, but with a completely different set of authors bar one. A comparison of the papers showed that there was considerable overlap. When challenge…
  • Case

    Publication of misleading information and publication

    I analysed the results of a randomised controlled trial that had just been completed by some of my colleagues. The trial compared an oxygen radical scavenger with a placebo in patients with acute myocardial infarction. One of the major outcome measures included infarct size,as measured by nuclear imaging. My analysis showed that there was no significant difference between groups for either of t…
  • Case

    Yet another case of duplicate publication

    A paper published in journal A in 1990 was published almost verbatim in journal B the following year, and yet again in journal C in 1993. None of these publications made any reference to the others. The case emerged in the process of one of the authors applying for a professorship. The authors conceded their error when tackled on the issue. One editor agreed to publish notice of duplicate publi…
  • Case

    Ethical status of authors’ actions?

    A consultant in public health and a consultant clinical biochemist employed by a health authority submitted a paper. It sought to address the question of benzodiazepine abuse and re-sale on the black market. The authors identified the practices with the highest prescribing rates for benzodiazepines, and asked GPs to agree to request urine samples from patients with a benzodiazepine prescription…
  • Case

    What happens when there is no local ethics committee?

    A paper from Taiwan was reviewed and accepted for publication. However, one of the reviewers raised the question of ethics committee approval. When the editors checked with the authors, they responded that there is no ethics committee at their university and they were therefore not able to seek ethical approval. What is COPE’s view on this? The study was fairly straightforward involving a quest…
  • Case

    Plagiarism

    A paper by Turkish authors was submitted to journal A. The paper was virtually the same as one published in the equivalent US journal B of the same specialty,but with different authors. The paper submitted to journal A seems to have been plagiarised from the paper published in journal B. The editor has written to the deans of the faculties of medicine to which the authors are attached. What mor…
  • Case

    The manipulated contributor list

    A paper was published for which the authors’contributions were as follows: A and B had the original idea and planned the study. A was also responsible for collecting the samples and patient data. C established the database and participated in planning the clinical trial. D developed the enzyme linked immunoabsorbent assay and analysed all the samples. E and F were responsible for the statistica…
  • Case

    A lost author and a new hypothesis

    A paper was published in January 1998,and seven authors were credited. B was thanked for his contribution in the acknowledgements section. One year later B wrote to the editor, outlining two alleged incidents related to this paper. First, the cohort reported in the January 1998 paper was one that B had been working on since the early 1990s. In 1992–3 he sought collaboration with another researc…
  • Case

    “Inadvertent” duplicate publication

    A paper submitted for consideration in March 1997 was peer reviewed, successfully modified, and accepted for publication in June 1997. In January 1998 the paper was prepared for publication, and a commentary sought from an expert in the same field, scheduled for publication in the same issue. The expert drew the editor’s attention to the fact that a similar paper (albeit in shortened form) had…
  • Case

    The author who wasn’t an author

    A paper was submitted crediting three authors. The paper was sent to one of the journal’s regular statistical reviewers without noticing that she happened to be the second author.  She wrote back to say that she had not been involved in writing the manuscript, nor had she seen this paper before. She did say, however, that she had supervised the computer input of the questionnaire data and that…
  • Case

    Redundant publication by an editorial board member

    A specialist journal received a paper for review. An editorial board member was one of the authors. The paper was sent out for review and one reviewer replied quite favourably. A few days later the reviewer sent the editor a copy of a paper seen in another journal that was very similar to the one under consideration, and by the same authors. It was the same population and the same study, just a…
  • Case

    Retrospective ethical approval?

    A paper reported a questionnaire study of patients’ views on their preferences between minimal access and open access surgery. The questionnaires had been given to patients attending two types of clinic. The paper made no mention of ethical approval and the author was asked to clarify. He responded that he had not obtained ethical approval but that he had spoken to the chairman of the hospital…
  • Case

    A falling out

    A research letter was submitted from a team of investigators,A, B, C, and D. In their covering letter they reported that: A was involved in planning the study, collecting patient samples, and in writing the manuscript; B measured IL-10 polymorphisms and analysed the results; C was involved in supervising the measurement of polymorphisms and in writing the manuscript; D was involved in planning…
  • Case

    Overseas editor dismissed from university for fraud

    An international specialist medical journal has editors in the UK and abroad who function independently. An issue of a scientific journal in 1998 reported that the overseas editor had been dismissed from a university professorship because of scientific fraud. This had been documented in three published research papers.The report highlighted a particular paper, in which 27 references cited indic…
  • Case

    Redundant publication

    A paper was submitted to journal A which was published as a rapid communication. It was subsequently discovered that the major US journal in this specialty had published other findings from the same set of patients, and that the paper had been considered by them at the same time. The messages of the two papers are closely related but different, but either one could have been amalgamated into th…
  • Case

    Attempted dual publication

    A study by Japanese authors was submitted to specialist journal A. The manuscript was sent to three reviewers, including expert X. After two weeks, expert X contacted the editorial office to say that an identical manuscript had been sent by the competing specialist journal B to expert Y in the same unit as expert X. Expert X and expert Y had compared and discussed both manuscripts. Expert X sai…
  • Case

    Partial disclosure of redundancy?

    A reviewer detected that a paper received for review was almost identical to a paper published by the same group three years earlier in a journal of a different specialty. The paper concerned clinical and investigative aspects of a disease that crossed two specialties. Although the authors had included their previous paper in the reference list, the title of the paper had been changed from that…
  • Case

    Surprising results and a new area of research

    A paper described an unusual approach to disease modulation in an experimental animal model. The apparently clear cut findings were somewhat surprising. The authors also seem to have used high and low power photomicrographs of the same tissue sections to illustrate completely different experiments within the study. This occurred twice in the paper. Furthermore, this particular area of study was…
  • Case

    Duplication, revision and resubmission?

    A manuscript was submitted which described the effect of a drug on cell turnover and apoptosis in a deletion mouse model of a common cancer. One of the reviewers noted that a very similar paper by the same authors had been published in another journal in the same specialty,and went to the trouble of underlining blocks of text that were identical in both papers. In one paper the authors had repo…

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