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Letter from the COPE Chair: May 2021

The year seems to be progressing so quickly. Here we are, it’s May already and my three-year term as Chair now begins. It is truly an honor to follow in the footsteps of, the now Past Chair, Deborah Poff, and to lead COPE forward toward its next stage. Deborah has been a wonderful mentor and guide. Under Deborah’s leadership, we have developed a new strategic plan, begun the process of COPE membership for universities, initiated guidance on best practices around identity and name changes, and so much more. I look forward to completing the many projects begun during her term and starting a few of my own as we continue to expand our membership, reach out to editors and publishers across the globe, and create new guidance to further  support ethical practices in publishing.

This month we share a case discussion on gift authorship, an issue as relevant now as it was when the lead case in the discussion was presented to the COPE Forum in 2007. Gift authorship is where authorship is attributed to a person who has made no substantial contribution to the research or paper but their name is added for reasons of perceived duty, respect, or friendship. The cases illustrate situations you might come across as an editor, with guidance and suggestions for both editors and authors in dealing with this type of unethical behaviour.

COPE’s authorship discussion document, last reviewed in 2019, is being updated to reflect authorship issues in a broad range of subject disciplines, particularly the arts, humanities and the social sciences. More information on its release is coming soon.

Coming up on 28 May, our webinar for COPE members is around diversity, equity and inclusion. With COPE presenters and a guest speaker, the webinar will look at the impact of discriminatory practices in peer review and editorial decision making, best practices around identity and name changes, and dealing with historical offensive content. It promises to be an engaging discussion with time for questions and comments from attendees.

Paper mills was the discussion topic at our September Forum which looked at helping journals and publishers to detect paper mills early in the process. We will discuss a related issue at our June Forum: when and how to involve multiple journals and publishers in dealing with complaints from whistleblowers.

COPE was invited to speak at two sessions at the CSE Annual Meeting in May: three members of COPE's author name change working group joined a panel titled 'Inclusive Author Name Change Policies.' Topics discussed included why antiquated name change policy is harmful, how one publisher's policy developed, and what COPE's forthcoming guidance will address. The session concluded with a lively Q&A. Council Member Trevor Lane was part of the ethics clinic on data sharing

Before I close this short letter, I want to offer my support to our friends and colleagues around the world that may be facing new challenges in the shadow of the pandemic. My hope is that we can soon reverse the trends and beat down COVID. I look forward to the day when we can once again meet face-to-face and enjoy each other's company.

COPE Chair, Dan Kulp



Read May 2021 Digest: gift authorship case discussion; upcoming diversity, equity and inclusion webinar; Forum discussion on ethical considerations around book publishing; and our regular news and events roundup.