In the news: March Digest


A recent survey published in PLOS One of 6000 of the top cited authors examined how authorship is assigned, and what input was valued by the authors. The results demonstrate that people value activities beyond writing and analyzing data but the opinions are polarized.

Meanwhile, COPE Council member Vivienne Bachelet and colleagues have published a protocol of a research study to investigate the prevalence or otherwise of the misrepresentation of affiliations by authors. The results will be submitted to the WCRI and will be published in a peer reviewed journal

Humanities research

A report from Humanities Indicators, a project of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, shows that spending on Humanities research in the USA was at a 10-year high in 2017, at just under $500m, a 76.5% increase over 2007 when adjusted for inflation.

Diversity and Inclusion

Anne Powell, from INASP,  talks about the needs of Southern researchers to improve their inclusion in scholarly publishing, with some practical recommendations on how publishers can help.

INASP's describes how, based on the results of a recent study, their approach to ensuring equity in research will be refocused on supporting researchers wherever they are, and supporting research wherever it is. They will particularly focus on increasing awareness and researchers’ skills, increasing availability of a broader range of research and strengthening national information access systems.

Sibusiso Biyela describes the task of telling a science story in a language which does not have the vocabulary for science - in an effort to decolonise science communication.

Data management

The people behind Springer-Nature's data sharing policies explain why understanding the need for data sharing, and implementing data availability statements in journals, is worth the effort involved.

The  American Society of Civil Engineers have introduced Data Availability Statements. Angela Cochran describes the experience.

Meanwhile there is an ongoing debate about reproducibility in the humanities. In this next move in the debate, the authors of this blog defend their position that humanities does need to focus on the problem, and push for some actual replicability studies to be carried out.
Genevera Allen, presenting at the American Association for the Advancement of Science meeting in Washington, has suggested that the machine-learning techniques, which are increasingly used to analyse data, are producing misleading results and are largely  responsible for the reproducibility crisis in science.
And Australia's chief scientist suggests actions that research bodies need to take to create better research practices to tackle the problems of reproducibility and lack of research rigour.

And two organisations concerned with data publication, Niso and NFAIS, have announced a merger, with the new organisation named NISO and headed by Todd Carpenter.

Journal management

The deadline for submissions of responses to the implementation plan for Plan S, resulted in large numbers being published online. A couple are linked to below, but Lisa Hinchcliffe produced a very useful summary:

Allegations of misconduct

Why do authors publish in unethical journals? Some are deceived, but some actively seeke them out. so, at least two different approaches to the problem of authors publishing in predatory journals are required.

A study published in BMJ Open investigating whether papers reporting research on Chinese transplant recipients comply with international professional standards has called for the mass retraction of over 400 papers.

Further comment on this from the Guardian.

A survey of 372 Editors found an average of 2-5% instance of plagiarism in submissions, but that Editors tend to overestimate the problem, with Editors in Asia both experiencing and expecting higher levels of plagiarism. The majority of duplication is caused by misunderstanding of what can be repeated, along with language issues.


Read March 2019 Digest newsletter on the topic of Authorship with a case discussion, news roundup, more details on our Allegations of Misconduct webinar. Get dates in the diary for COPE events in 2019, particularly our North American Seminar and European Seminar, and keep abreast of news & events in #PublicationEthics