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Letter from the COPE Chair: January 2021

As we settle into 2021, COPE is planning a series of virtual interactive workshops, webinars, a virtual seminar, along with our regular quarterly Forums. A cycle of virtual activities will begin with an interactive workshop in February. As we did last year, the workshops will be repeated to accommodate members in different time zones. Stay tuned for our upcoming virtual offerings on various topics of interest to our membership. 

At our COPE Forum in December, we held an exploratory discussion of what COPE and other industry organisations might do to further our individual and collective stance against predatory publishing. Dr Kelly Cobey described an authenticator project for journals, from the Centre for Journalology, Ottawa Hospital Research Institute, University of Ottawa, as a one stop shop for evaluating journals. Two promising ideas that will be further discussed include the development of a multi-stakeholder compact with industry signatories to work for the promotion of publication ethics and against any existence or proliferation of predatory publishing. The other idea is to declare more formally the Principles of Transparency and Best Practice in Scholarly Publishing (perhaps with other similar guidelines) as the standards for publication ethics. Members also suggested that COPE should develop a flowchart to deal with issues related to predatory publishing. Readers can see a summary of the Forum discussion. We welcome your feedback.

There has been increased interest in research data sharing in recent years, and as data sharing in the context of publications becomes more common, this can bring new and complex ethical challenges. COPE is collaborating with a newly launched FORCE11 Research Data Publishing Ethics Working Group to address the need for guidelines and resources that support authors, data curators and editors in the handling of ethics cases related to research data. The working group will develop resources, such as overviews of example cases and flowcharts, for the handling of different types of concerns.

COPE has formed a working group to develop guidance on name changes in publishing, particularly for transgender, non-binary and/or gender diverse authors. In this issue of Digest, Rachel Safer, COPE Council Member and lead of the working group, describes the rationale and purpose of the project. Also in Digest is a guest editorial A vision for a more trans-inclusive publishing world, authored by Theresa Jean Tanenbaum, Irving Rettig, H Michael Schwartz, BM Watson, Teddy G Goetz, Katta Spiel and Mike Hill. This activity is an important aspect of COPE’s commitment to diversity and inclusivity. As always, we welcome your comments.

We previously reported on COPE’s participation in the Sloan Foundation funded research project on retractions, conducted by the University of Illinois. In the next stage of the project, COPE is involved in two working committees on retraction taxonomy and retraction metadata.

We wish you all a safe and healthy beginning to the year, and look forward to engaging with you in 2021.

COPE Chair Deborah Poff, CM,PhD



Read January 2021 Digest: with articles on author name changes in publishing, new publication ethics cases, the Forum discussion on predatory publishing and our regular news and events roundup.