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In the news: January 2019 Digest

Journal management

There has been much discussion of Plan S over the last month, especially since cOAlition S released their implementation guidance on 27th November 

A selection of opinions include Bernard Rentier’s blog “Open Access: is Plan S heaven or hell ? How about giving it a dispassionate look?”

The British Academy have published a paper in response to Plan S looking at some of the issues which need to be addressed for it to work in humanities and social sciences

An article in Nature reported that Chinese officials had pledged support for Plan S, and in official statements appended to this article three major Chinese funding agencies – NSFC, NSL-CAS and NSTL-MOST, detail their positions on OA2020 and Plan S.

In the midst of all this discussion of Plan S, a report has been published on the outcomes of a workshop held in February 2018, by ALLEA (European Federation of Academies of Sciences and Humanities) on the ethical aspects of Open Access.

In other news, a recent article in Science describes the concept of “chaperoned” authors, those who first publish in the top journals as non-senior authors, and how they have a higher chance of being published there later in their careers. 

And now that algorithms are being used manuscript screening, as Frontiers are beginning to do, will this make the previous publication record of the author more or less of a factor for being considered?

Allegations of misconduct

UK universities are testing the potential of software using forensic linguistics and machine learning to detect ghost-written essays as a deterrent to students using these services.

And in China, as part of their social credit system, researchers who commit major scientific misconduct are to be punished with measures such as restrictions on jobs that they can apply for or  being unable to secure a bank loan, as well as being named and shamed on the social credit system’s website.

However, a recent survey by Editage of over 7000 researchers from India, Republic of Korea, Japan, China and Brazil  has found that 25% of respondents were not aware or confused about what constitutes plagiarism and self-plagiarism, duplicate submission or who qualifies for authorship of a paper.

In fact, is it time for a new system for classifying misconduct? In a recent article, Toshio Kuroki — special advisor to the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science and professor emeritus at the University of Tokyo and Gifu University- suggests that it is.

Conflicts of Interest

A joint analysis by the New York Times and ProPublica has reported that the Chief Medical Officer of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, Dr. José Baselga, has failed to follow AACR disclosure rules on payments from corporations, on multiple articles he has published whilst President of the AACR and Editor in Chief of one of their journals.  

An article in Scholarly Kitchen looks more closely at the journals for which Clarivate recently issued an expression of concern, and discusses the importance of the separation of roles and powers around the publication of research journals. 

Ethical Oversight

The ICMJE has updated its guidelines. Changes include more guidance on COIs, a recommendation on reducing the use of the impact factor as a measure of quality, the use of preprint servers and the depositing of data, and reporting of clinical trials.

Post publication discussion and corrections

It is unusual for researchers to point to errors in their own published studies when they lose confidence in their findings, even though it would be beneficial for science for them to do so. This preprint describes a project to look at how this could be rectified and argues the case for changing the cultural norms to allow this.

COPE Council member Deborah Kahn

Read January 2019 COPE Digest newsletter and use the COPE Audit Tool, read a case discussion on citation manipulation, get dates in the diary for COPE events in 2019, and keep abreast of news & events in #PublicationEthics