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In the news: June 2020

Each month COPE Council members gather and share publication ethics news. This month the news includes articles on diversity, open access, COVID-19, and more.

Diversity and Inclusion

This month COPE member Cabells announced new terminology: Journalytics and Predatory Reports instead of whitelists and blacklists, respectively. "We set out to ensure that the changes represent a total departure from the symbolism inextricably tied to the idea of blacklists and whitelists. In support of, and in solidarity with, the fight against systemic racism that our country is facing, Cabells is implementing brand-wide language changes, effective immediately."

Pandemic and Publishing

A high volume of COVID-19 papers have posted on preprint servers, particularly bioRxiv and medRxiv. Their teams are trying to balance the rapid dissemination of research with the need to ensure patient safety, so some have established 2-tier vetting processes: in-house staff plus "volunteer academics or subject specialists who look for non-scientific content or health or biosecurity risks." Some are declining treatment-related papers based on computational modeling or those that might fuel conspiracy theories, contradict public-health advice, or use causal language inappropriately. Nevertheless, some high-profile preprints -- as well as peer-reviewed papers -- related to COVID-19 are being retracted.

Last month, the Company of Biologists, a COPE member publisher, launched a new website highlighting notable preprints related to COVID-19.


The US National Library of Medicine has launched a 12-month NIH Preprint Pilot. The first phase "will focus on increasing the discoverability of preprints with NIH support relating to the SARS-CoV-2 virus and COVID-19."

ASAPbio and the attendees of the #biopreprints2020 workshop are looking to get community feedback on the perceived benefits and concerns around preprints. They are seeking perspectives from a wide range of stakeholders involved in research communication to better understand how preprinting is perceived across stakeholders and research disciplines.

Open Access

cOAlition S recently announced price transparency requirements. Starting July 2022, only publishers who provide data in line with approved frameworks will be eligible to receive Open Access publication funds from cOAlition S members.

The United States Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) appears to have put on hold plans to update their Open Access policy on US-funded research. Responses received to earlier requests for information, as reported in the March Digest, have been posted.  and

Peer Review

IOP Publishing, a COPE member publisher, is piloting co-reviews, pairing early-career researchers with mentors throughout the peer-review process. Both reviewers will now be recognized for their reviews and hopefully the size and diversity of their reviewer pools will also expand.


A cross-publisher group is working to set standards for software to screen images for evidence of alteration, similar to iThenticate checks for plagiarism.

Journal Management

Researchers in the Netherlands recently launched the Platform for Responsible Editorial Policies (PREP). They encourage journal editors to be transparent about their editorial policies, and authors can then search a database with these details when deciding where to submit.


COPE Council Member Rachel Safer

Read COPE's June Digest to read the results of our survey 'Editing of peer reviews', the latest cases discussed at the June COPE Forum and a summary of the Forum discussion on 'What does peer review mean in arts, humanities, and social sciences''.