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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 141–153 of 153 results
  • Case

    Should editors get involved in authorship disputes?

    A paper from Finland in a controversial area of vaccine research was peer reviewed and provisionally accepted. At the revision stage, the journal received a letter from a researcher based at an immunotherapy company in the United States, raising serious doubts over the analysis of the Finnish data. This author claimed to have been involved in the research, and proposed an alternative interpreta…
  • Case

    The discontented and abandoned contributor

    A paper was rejected after peer review. Some time later a researcher wrote to say that he had been involved at the beginning of the study, but had withdrawn his name because he felt the study was defective. He had heard that the study had been submitted for publication, and thought it better that the editors were made aware of his doubts before publication rather than afterwards. As the paper h…
  • 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

    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

    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

    Duplicate publication and now fraud?

    Two articles were published in two different journals. The articles had been submitted within days of each other, and were subsequently peer reviewed, revised, and published within a month of each other. The authors failed to reference the closely related article as submitted or in press, and the editors of the two journals were unaware of the other article. After publication the editor…
  • Case

    The missing author

    In March 1996, journal A published a case report about an eye condition with two authors credited, Drs X and Y, both radiologists. Exactly two years later, one of their former colleagues (Dr Z) wrote to the editor claiming that she had been responsible for the patient’s care; she was the ophthalmologist on call the night the patient was admitted. She argued that, as the clinician responsible f…
  • Case

    Questions of authorship, duplicate publication and copyright

    In 1995 a group of nine authors published a paper in a leading general medical journal. Copyright was granted by all authors to the journal. In 1998 the senior author received a complimentary copy of a recently published book. One of the chapters was essentially a reprint of the original paper. It was attributed to the sixth, first and second authors. Neither the first nor second author (the gu…
  • Case

    An author plagiarising the work of the reviewer?

    An author submitted part of his PhD thesis as a paper. The section editor of the journal asked the PhD supervisor to review the paper. This induced a very heated response from the reviewer who made various claims regarding the paper: The author does not credit one of the tests he uses in his work There is no proper acknowledgement of co-workers who perhaps should have been co-author…
  • Case

    Disputed authorship

    Last year, a paper was published with four named authors. The journal concerned then received a letter from another person claiming that they should also have been credited with authorship. That person (Dr M) had been the second author on an abstract with a similar title presented at a conference, on which the authors of the published paper were also named authors. The journal wrote to the firs…
  • Case

    The fraudulent letter

    A journal published a letter from a student only to discover that it was not written by him. The editor has written to him and his dean apologising, and the journal is publishing a piece saying that the letter was not written by the student. It seems most likely that the piece was written by one of his fellow students. Should we encourage the dean to hold a full investigation? … Letters t…
  • Case

    Can a scientific paper be published anonymously?

    Two authors wrote to me to ask if they could publish a scientific paper anonymously. The authors work in a general practice that had switched its cervical cytology contract from one laboratory to another. Some time after the switch they noticed that the rate of abnormal smears had almost doubled. This has profound implications for the practice and particularly for the women whose smears were po…