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Letter from the COPE Chair: September 2021

Welcome everyone. Happy September. This is a very busy month with lots of activities going on, so without further ado I will jump right in.

In this issue, COPE is launching new guidelines on Editing peer reviews. This new guidance is focused on the issue of whether and under what circumstances it is legitimate for an editor to modify a reviewer’s comments. It also gives guidance on the level of editing and editing procedure which will support consistent, fair, and transparent editing practices.

Peer Review Week, 20–24 September, is upon us once again. This year’s theme is the “multifaceted role of identity in peer review”. I’m sure many of you already have activities and events planned for the week, and you can follow all the activities on Twitter, #IdentityInPeerReview, or on the Peer Review Week website. To support Peer Review Week, COPE will be reproducing its 2018 survey on diversity and inclusion in peer review. This will give us a chance to see if attitudes, policies, or practices in this area have evolved over the past three years.

In the week following Peer Review Week, we are holding our annual COPE Seminar, 27 September – 1 October. Registration for this virtual seminar closes on 20 September, so please register now if you are interested in attending. This year’s theme is “Together shaping the future of publication ethics”. Topics include issues related to diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI), authorship, use of AI in publishing, reducing the spread of retracted science, ethical practices in book publishing, and issues related to research data publication.

The latter topic on research data is especially timely because the FORCE11 Research Data Publishing Ethics Working group, in collaboration with COPE, has released Recommendations for the handling of ethical concerns relating to the publication of research data as the initial resource in ongoing guidance to be developed for standards for datasets and data publication. These recommendations focus on the handling of ethical concerns involving the publication of research data. The next step for these groups is to collaboratively develop easy to follow flowcharts to support a step-by-step approach to handling ethical concerns.

I would also like to point members to STM Recommendations for handling image integrity issues. These best practice recommendations have recently been released by the STM Working Group on Image Alteration and Duplication Detection and outline a systematic approach in applying image integrity screening, pre- or post-publication, across scholarly journals, books, preprint servers, and data repositories. The group is seeking feedback on these draft recommendations until the end of October.

And finally, I would like to welcome Jason Hu back to Council. We are excited to have him rejoining COPE and I am looking forward to introducing more new Council Members in the next Digest. COPE is growing and we continue to welcome a broad diversity of voices as we quickly approach the end of 2021.

Dan Kulp, COPE Chair