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In the news: September 2020

Each month COPE Council members gather and share publication ethics news. This month the news includes articles on peer review, diversity and inclusivity, research integrity, and more.

Peer Review

Sometimes reviews of papers can stray into personal attacks. The author encourages training on how to review manuscripts constructively and actively promote and foster the power of compassion in peer review. 

Diversity & Inclusivity

C4DISC have created an ‘Antiracism Toolkit for Allies’ which provides best practices to address racial disparities in the scholarly publishing community. This is the first in a series of 3 ‘toolkits for equity’. 

The authors describe their experience of an active Employee Resource Group (ERG) in their organisations, to give a “platform for all colleagues regardless of gender to create a workplace that is more gender inclusive and diverse at all levels”. They invite others to join forces and share ideas.

A US books publisher has worked with the British Dyslexia Association to develop a guide for producing texts accessible to people with dyslexia.


The authors share concerns about the violation of some Open Science principles during the pandemic and its impact on the quality of research. They call for a wider adoption of Open Science principles to ensure research is always a rigorous process, reliable and transparent.

Europe PMC is now indexing full-text preprints related to the COVID-19 pandemic as well as the underlying data. The project will make COVID-19 scientific literature available as fast as possible in a single repository, in a format that allows text mining. 


Preliminary results from the #bioPreprints2020 survey show authors are optimistic about the benefits of preprints, though premature coverage in the media is a top concern. 

Predatory Publishing

This article analyses four watchlists and ten safelists reviewing how they address the issue of predatory publishing. While authors in another article analyse the usefulness of the Cabell’s watchlist and suggest improvements to make it a more effective tool. But, is the underlying issue the pressures and incentives for academics that motivate them to publish in predatory journals? 


Authors who have changed their name can now update their name on previous publications with the American Chemical Society (ACS). ACS has published a new policy which allows this without treating it as a formal correction. 

Unwelcome acknowledgments, where someone is listed as author without their consent, can often be used to imply endorsement of a paper. This case study explores the issue and makes recommendations to prevent its occurrence.

Research Integrity

Guidelines on how institutions assess and reward their researchers’ work, the ‘Hong Kong principles’ have been designed to strengthen research integrity.