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Letter from the COPE Chair: July 2021

Here we are, just past the halfway point of the year and the pandemic persists. We have seen great progress holding off COVID-19 in some regions of the world while others slide back as new strains appear. The UK is gearing up to remove COVID-19 based restrictions this month in an attempt to return to normal. But what is the new normal? Flexible work arrangements are becoming the norm and some companies have simply shifted away from centralised offices. And yet, COPE’s work continues.

I am pleased to announce that this year’s COPE Seminar will take place virtually from September 27 to October 1. The theme is “Together shaping the future of publication ethics”. Timely topics such as paper mills, data sharing, diversity, equity, and inclusion, authorship, and ethics in book publishing will be tackled in a mix of webinars and workshops throughout the week. This is not to be missed and the content will be useful for everyone. Registration for the individual sessions will open soon. 

COPE has been very busy as our volunteers continue to update and produce new guidance and resources. This month, the updated flowchart Undisclosed conflict of interest in a published article is published. We will soon  see guidance on “Editing of peer reviews”. “Editing of peer reviews” is a companion to the discussion document Who ‘owns’ peer review? and reinforces the understanding that reviews should be the result of cooperative work between the editor and reviewer. New guidance on “Editorial board participation” will be published in August. As new journals continue to be introduced, demands on researchers to sit on editorial boards increases steadily. This guidance should help journals to better understand the possible conflicts of interests that could exist and the appropriate questions to ask before deciding if it is appropriate for any individual to be a member of more than one editorial board at the same time.

We last heard from Cary Moskovitz in March when he updated us on the progress on the Text Recycling Research Project. This month the group has released new guidelines for researchers recycling their own text to “help people better understand the scope of text recycling and build consensus on when it can be done ethically.” These guidelines will help researchers recycle their text ethically and appropriately, legally, and transparently.

Before I sign off this month, I would be remiss if I did not once again wholeheartedly thank the staff and volunteers for their sustained efforts on behalf of COPE. Under what has been trying circumstances for over a year and a half, COPE continues to function and take the lead in promoting integrity in scholarly publications. Have a wonderful and safe month.

COPE Chair, Dan Kulp