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Letter from the COPE Chair: October 2020

Dear Readers,

I begin this month’s letter to you with the sad news that COPE Council Member, Dr Tracey Bretag, passed away this month. We refer you to our testimony about Tracey in this edition of Digest.

We also say farewell to two of our Council Members as they step down from their positions; Seth Leopold after three years and Adrian Ziderman after seven. Adrian has represented COPE over many years, speaking at conferences on our behalf, and was most recently involved in COPE's drive to understand more about the publication ethics needs of the arts, humanities and social science communities. Seth has contributed to many discussions of cases sent to COPE Council and was committed to facilitating the resolution of disputes. My sincere thanks to both for their commitment and support of COPE over the years.

In my July letter I mentioned that COPE became a signatory to the Coalition for Diversity and Inclusion in Scholarly Publishing (C4DISC). The Coalition recently launched officially, and have updated their website with a range of ways for organisations and individuals to participate. COPE fully supports the goals of the Coalition.. We recognise that experiences of scholarly publishing vary across the world and also appreciate that much may be gained by creating a fully inclusive environment and culture. The first Toolkits from the Coalition will be developed to support antiracism programmes for organisations, and support career paths for Black, Indigenous, and people of colour. We will be looking to see how COPE can support these initiatives,to raise awareness and wider adoption of the statement of principles.

In our last Forum, with guest speaker Elisabeth Bik, we discussed the topic Systematic manipulation of the publishing process via 'paper mills'. A fascinating but troubling operation, which seems to be increasing in frequency, or at least the frequency in which papers are detected, of mass produced research papers, which may involve fabricated data and selling authorship on the papers. The Forum discussed ways in which it is possible to detect these papers, and how to deal with them on individual and wider scales. Sabina Alam, from Taylor and Francis, with a group of COPE member publishers, have written a publisher perspective that describes collective actions required to help address these issues.

Finally, my congratulations to Michal Tal-Socher and Adrian Ziderman, authors of a paper funded by a COPE research grant. Their paper, Data sharing policies in scholarly publications: interdisciplinary comparisons, has been published in the journal Prometheus, and gives an insightful assessment of current preferences for data sharing processes and platform solutions across different disciplines.

COPE Chair Deborah Poff, CM, PhD



Read October Digest: Paper mills and new publication ethics cases