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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 61–79 of 79 results
  • 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

    Ownership of an idea

    A paper was submitted describing a novel technique for preparing tissue, which was noted immediately by a referee to be a modification of a method used by another researcher. The other researcher is thanked but is not included in the author list. The referee asks for advice as he feels that he is in a grey area of ownership of an idea and the degree of novelty needed to make it a “new” idea.  T…
  • Case

    Salami publication

    A paper submitted to Journal A was rejected after critical peer review. Although the data and methods were sound, the data in the paper were not new and had been described, at least in part, in previous publications. The authors could also have combined the outcomes in the current paper with previous papers, thereby avoiding salami publication. The methods section was opaque, making it very dif…
  • Case

    Palestinian refugee conditions

    A journal received a simple, cross-sectional survey of Palestinian refugees. The author was a Palestinian, employed by a charity and undertaking research based at a university overseas. The study contained new data and within the constraints of a cross-sectional survey seemed methodologically sound. The paper was sent to two peer reviewers with expertise in the area, experience in international…
  • Case

    Multiple submissions of a paper

    A paper suggested that a cluster of symptoms, signs, and tests could be combined to diagnose pneumonia in general practice. The paper was rejected after being read by two editors, because it was preliminary and had not been validated in an independent population. The authors submitted a new manuscript the following year, describing the same patients and focusing on the accuracy of individual sy…
  • Case

    The disgraced author

    An editorial was commissioned from a distinguished doctor who was subsequently found guilty of research misconduct overseas. There was a lack of consensus in the journal’s country as to whether this judgment was correct. The author continues to work, but is awaiting a judgment from his regulatory body. - Should the editorial be published? - Should the editorial be published with a footnote refe…
  • Case

    A highly critical obituary

    A journal published a highly critical obituary, which provoked uproar and prompted the deceased’s family to complain to the national body responsible for regulating the media. The journal believed that the basis of the criticisms were accurate and acknowledged that it had not cited sufficient evidence in the obituary. The journal was considering whether to publish the evidence in full. The jour…
  • Case

    A problematic obituary

    A short obituary for a recently deceased doctor was received. Just before the issue went to print, one of the editors recognised the deceased as having been at the centre of disciplinary proceedings for having had a sexual relationship with a patient. As a result, he had been removed from the medical register for professional misconduct around two years before his death. This was not mentioned…
  • Case

    An accusation of racism

    An article on the community based diagnosis of a common disease was submitted. The journal had never received a paper from this particular country before. The diagnostic test used in the study is known to have a low sensitivity and is not the accepted gold standard. The editors felt that as the author was a senior academic, it was likely that his/her institution would be one of the few in the c…
  • 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

    Contacting Research Ethics Committees with concerns over studies

    A paper was submitted, detailing a small overseas trial of a drug treatment of a politically controversial disease. The treatment was moderately toxic. The paper was seen by two referees (A and B), who had considerable criticisms of the methodology used. Comments were also received from C, who was invited to review but refused, because s/he did not want his/her name known to the authors under t…
  • Case

    Alleged plagiarism

    Journal A published a review paper. About a year later, the author of a paper published in 1997 in Journal B wrote to say that he had come across the paper in Journal A during a literature search. He pointed out that parts of this paper were virtually identical with his paper in Journal B. Although the author of the article in Journal A had made one reference to his article, this was only to on…
  • Case

    Authorship dispute

    Two manuscripts were received by Journal X, from author A. Both were accepted and sent to the publisher. On receipt of the galley proofs, the corresponding author removed the name of the last author from both manuscripts. Shortly before the page proofs arrived, the journal editors received a request that author A be allowed to remove author B from the authors’ list and instead make a suitable a…
  • Case

    Retrospective correction: how far back do we go?

    In 1990 a case report was published in which it was alleged that the use of a particular endotracheal tube had led to tracheal damage, requiring the child to have a tracheostomy and a tracheal reconstruction. This paper was from a specialist surgical unit, and a letter was subsequently received from the paediatricians who had cared for the baby at the referring hospital before and after the tra…
  • Case

    Editorial compliance with duplicate publication

    An editorial that was very close to a paper that had already been published in another journal was submitted for publication. The authors did not make clear that the editorial was essentially the same as the one already published, but this was discovered during the peer review process. Nevertheless, the journal went ahead and published the editorial without disclosing that it was very similar t…
  • Case

    Publication bias arising from an editor’s activities

    The committee’s attention has been drawn to alleged publication bias in Journal X.  It is alleged that an editor on X had invited a young trainee in radiology to author some 14 commentaries over the past 5 years.  His most recent commentary draws attention to one important study from France but otherwise covers the same territory as his previous commentaries without mention of relevant contrary…
  • Case

    Who ensures the integrity of the editor?

    An editor came across a letter from the editor-in-chief of his journal to a reviewer that asserted he had recommended the acceptance of a manuscript. He had in fact recommended the opposite, both verbally and in writing. The paper in question was a guideline on the therapeutic choices for a relatively common medical condition. The authors had claimed their conclusions and therapeutic recommenda…
  • Case

    The reviewer writes comments that he doesn’t want the author to see

    A reviewer has written to complain that a review he sent to us on which he wrote “In confidence—not for transmission to author” was transmitted in part to the author. He had made some rather derogatory remarks which had been edited out by the editor before he had sent back the comments to the author. The review that remained was critical but unremarkable. (1) Is it acceptable for review…
  • Case

    Should we have had author consent for a randomised controlled trial of a peer review?

    A medical journal conducted a randomised controlled trial of papers submitted to it without getting consent from the authors concerned. An author found out and objected. Should the journal have sought consent from its authors? … Maybe this is taking matters too far and it is simply barmy to seek author consent. Should notice of this trial been given in advance and the authors been given t…