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Letter from the COPE Chair: January 2020

Dear Digest Readers,

2020 Greetings from COPE and welcome to the January newsletter. The new year promises to be a busy one for COPE and our sister organisations with many events in the coming months. First, we would draw your attention to our new discussion paper on Predatory Publishing. As we always note with respect to COPE discussion documents, these are living and evolving discussions and we look forward to your comments and suggestions on the challenging set of issues which predatory publishing raises. 

As we moved forward in creating this document, we did so with an understanding of the concerns that a number of legitimate journals have been previously misidentified as predatory by different organisations and that there are sensitivities of various sorts on this topic. What we attempted to accomplish in the discussion included addressing questions such as:

  • What is predatory publishing?

  • What are the commonly occurring features of predatory publishing?

  • How can we educate and raise the problems of predatory publishing for unknowing scholars and authors?

  • What are the important distinctions between the moral and legal issues with predatory publishing?

We also draw your attention to a recent commentary in Nature that was the outcome document from a 2019 summit on predatory publishing, hosted by the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute of the University of Ottawa Predatory journals: no definition, no defence.

We will be hosting  our next COPE Forum  for our members on 6 March 2020, with cases sent in by members for advice on next steps.  In addition, we have our a topic for discussion ‘Editing of reviewer comments’. This is an important topic that doesn’t receive as much attention as it requires and deserves. Opinions clearly differ among Editors in Chief about if and what should be edited from reviewers’ comments before sending them to authors. This is a significant topic and we hope you join us and share your beliefs and ideas.

Former COPE member, Helena Wang, recently published an update on the status of research integrity  in China which is included in this issue. Also, ICMJE has recently posted a very helpful set of “recommendations for the conduct, reporting, editing and publication of scholarly work in medical journals” Also, for our North American colleagues, we want to let you know that this year’s North American seminar will be held in Columbus, Ohio, 15 June 2020. Mark your calendars. Details will be forthcoming soon. 

It is going to be an exciting first year of the new decade and we look forward to working with you to make it a great year for publication ethics.

Best regards,

COPE Chair Deborah Poff




In COPE's January Digest we launch the predatory publishing discussion document, hear from Helena Wang on research integrity in China and share a roundup of news on publication ethics. Upcoming events in 2020 include a March COPE workshop in Melbourne, held in conjunction with ISTME, and our March Forum with advice on new cases submitted by members and a topic discussion, editing of reviewer comments.

Read January Digest: Predatory Publishing