Chris Graf, COPE co-Chair is giving the keynote speech at this conference on at the University of Kent (UK) on 4 April 2018. The conference will formally launch the Cluster to University of Kent students and academics.
Volunteers from COPE Council often join workshops, where we listen to the challenges faced by members of the communities COPE serves, and where we share insights from COPE and the resources we make available (like our cases, our flowcharts, our guidelines).
Criteria on which membership applications are evaluated.
The first COPE Forum of the year will take place on 26 February from 4-5.30pm (GMT).
We begin with a discussion on Expressions of Concern, followed by an update on existing cases. The cases and discussion document are now available with the Forum agenda. You are invited to make comment on the discussion document whether or not you are attending the Forum.
Agenda and materials
How should journals use expressions of concern? They are “used to raise awareness to a possible problem in an article”. They are a relatively new, rare, and non-standardized type of editorial notice compared to corrections or retractions and “considerable differences in policy and practice remain between journals”.
Journals are grappling with when expressions of concern are appropriate and what happens if the concerns are later found not to be valid.
Two of COPE’s core principles from its mission statement are to “provide leadership in thinking on publication ethics” and to “offer a neutral, professional voice in current debates.” We think it is important in an intellectual climate that is challenged by many
The thread running through this month’s Digest is collaboration. In simple terms, collaborative work is distributed work across many individuals, institutions, or businesses. Collaboration implies individuals or groups sharing their expertise to solve problems, create new solutions, and explore new horizons. COPE embodies the ethos of collaboration to accomplish its mission of promoting integrity in research and its publication.
“In the News” this month focuses primarily on topics related to the February’s theme: Data and Reproducibility. Items related to these topics get a bit more attention at the beginning of this list but other newsworthy items are listed at the end, more as snippets of information!
How open data can help the world better manage coral reefs.
To achieve greater transparency, replicability, and trust in scientific findings, research authors are increasingly expected to enhance textual reporting by providing associated data and materials. This growing expectation has focused attention towards the appropriate handling of research data. Of particular note are the topics highlighted on COPE’s website on Core Practice in Data and Reproducibility:
COPE’s Core Practice #1: data and reproducibility
We continue a closer examination of COPE’s individual core practices this month with a focus on Data and Reproducibility (Core Practice #5)
“Journals should include policies on data availability and encourage the use of reporting guidelines and registration of clinical trials and other study designs according to standard practice in their discipline.”
Humans Run Experiments, a Robot Writes the Paper
The future of automated scientific writing is upon us--and that's a good thing.
Robot writes paper
Fostering Integrity in Research
A consensus study report of The National Academies of Science, Engineering, Medicine.
COPE's Chinese verison of the Ethical Guidelines for Peer Reviewers have now been updated. The update reflects invited input from the publication ethics community and institutions in the COPE membership pilot, and replaces the previous translation.
We are delighted to announce that Hong Kong University is now part of COPE's pilot that will help form a membership package of support and advice for research institutions.
Download pdf of poster
COPE-funded research, presented as an abstract at the Peer Review Congress, 10-12 September 2017, Chicago.
We are follow up this COPE funded research by producing a discussion document on the issues surrounding data sharing policies and this is expected to be ready by early next year.
Elizabeth Moylan, COPE Council member, presented this abstract as a poster at the COPE at the Peer Review Congress, 10-12 September 2017, Chicago.
An analysis of peer review cases brought to COPE from 1997-2016
Download pdf of poster
An the winner is...Irene Hames, advocate and educator of peer review and publication ethics. Congratulations Irene, a well-deserved award for all your work in the field of peer review.
As part of this year's Peer Review Week we're running a webinar: Current Issues in Peer Review. We will be discussing the topical issues in peer review that are faced by COPE members and have three guest speakers who will present their views, given their experience in this area.
Read more & register
Our next COPE Forum, where we discuss cases submitted by members, will be held by webinar on Monday 13 November 2017.
Cases need to be submitted by Monday 30 October.
Submit a case
August Digest out now includes the recording of our first webinar on authorship, a summary of the Forum preprint discussion, developments on peer review guidelines and our monthly news roundup.
Read COPE Digest August issue
The results of our recent Council elections have been confirmed and we are pleased to welcome two new members to Council: Howard Browman and Frits Rosendaal.
Preprints and working papers have been posted and shared for many years. They report research results that have not undergone peer review, although in many cases the authors also submit to a journal (before, after or at the same time as making a preprint available). In the past 5 years, the number of preprint servers and preprints has expanded and new disciplines, notably biology and life sciences, have seen rapid growth in the number of preprints.
Voting for the 2 vacancies on COPE council is now open.
Following our recent call for nominations, we are delighted to have received so much interest from members. The Nominations Subcommittee has carefully and thoroughly reviewed all the applications against the criteria in our call, and has produced a shortlist of 7 candidates to put forward for election.
More information and vote
COPE is updating its discussion document What constitutes authorship?
This document aims to stimulate discussion about the issue to help inform the debate and provide guidance where needed. We encourage journal editors, reviewers, researchers, institutions, funders and third party services to comment (whether or not they are COPE members).
On Thursday 29 June 2-3pm we're holding our first webinar for information, shared discussion and practical advice on common authorship issues faced by COPE members.
Three guest speakers will present their views: Deborah Poff, Editor-in-Chief Journal of Academic Ethics; Kelly Cobey Senior Clinical Research Associate at Ottawa Hospital Research Institute, Ottawa, Canada; Liz Allen, Director of Strategic Initiatives at F1000.
At the beginning of 2017, political activity globally has begun to impinge on academia in ways that are both troubling and novel.
Academic freedom being challenged is, of course, not new. In the USSR the repression of science by the state was routine. In the not too distant past a chilling effect on academic research in the USA was well documented and the current political climate there appears to pose considerable challenges to academic freedom.
Due to three council members coming to the end of their first term on council, we are seeking nominations for three new candidates. We are specially seeking candidates from Mainland Europe, Scandinavia and South America, and from the social sciences/humanities areas.
The closing date for applications is: 28 April 2017
Register for 24 April Forum
Taking part in the Forum allows members to contribute to, as well as learn from, the cases being discussed.
We present the same cases at both forum to allow more of our membership to attend. Register as soon as possible as the webinar is limited to 100 attendees.
Deadline to register: Friday 21 April
Chinese COPE resources
We have new Chinese translations of COPE resources to add to our existing translated material.
eLearning module: Introduction to Publication Ethics
Our new guidance, Best Practices for Ensuring Consent for Publishing Medical Case Reports, is now available. In February 2016 we published a discussion document, inviting members to add their comments. These comments have been used to help develop the guidance document.
The International Rhuematology Editors' Group would like to receive comments from wider specialty communities on their framework below. Please send any comments to Shehnaz Ahmed.
Join us at our European Seminar to celebate 20 years of COPE.
The Seminar is at 20 Cavendish Square, London on 25 May 2017.
The Seminar is free for COPE members, £300 for non-members.
Taking part in the Forum allows members to contribute to, as well as learn from, the cases being discussed. Register now as the Forum is limited to 100 attendees.
Deadline to register: Thursday 2 February
Register 4pm Forum
4 - 5.30pm GMT
The 2nd Peer Review Week will be held from 19th to 25th September 2016. This year’s theme is Recognition for Review, exploring all aspects of how those participating in review activity – in publishing, grant review, conference submissions, promotion and tenure, and more – should be recognized for their contribution.
The topic for discussion at the next Forum (12 February 2016, 3.00pm GMT - more details to follow shortly) is ‘Data sharing’. Data sharing is increasingly viewed as an essential step in improving research transparency and reproducibility. There has been a lot of discussion on the imperative for data sharing in the biomedical arena, particularly of publicly funded research. As a result, there are many disciplines where proposals for data sharing are being discussed.
11/10/2012 2.50pm by
The August issue of European Science Editing can be downloaded here (PDF, 2MB).
5/10/2012 9.49am by
COPE Chair Ginny Barbour, Ivan Oransky from Retraction Watch, and Richard Van Noorden from Nature took part in a discussion on retractions on the BBC Radio 4 programme Material World (audio available).
28/9/2012 3.13pm by
Editor in chief of Anaesthesia and former COPE council member, Steve Yentis, has written three blogs on research misconduct: infamous names in anaesthesia—part one, part two and part three.
20/9/2012 9.50am by
See report in Nature on the anaesthesiology community trying to move on after fraud investigations
31/8/2012 9.49am by
"Credit for scientific research contributions must be clearly and appropriately assigned at the time of publication"......so begins as editorial in Science, calling for an end to honorary authorship. The articles goes on to say that "Research institutions should develop and promulgate clear statements in their research policies about the importance of upholding ethical standards of authorship". Read the full report here.
20/8/2012 3.59pm by
Researchers set up independent review panel after misconduct scandals hit government. See the article in Nature .
10/8/2012 12.45pm by
The European Association of Science Editors (EASE) has issued the 2012 edition of EASE Guidelines, available in 20 languages. The updated edition includes some new material, such as practical tips for junior researchers. Besides, EASE supports the global initiative Healthcare Information For All by 2015 (www.HIFA2015.org) by advising authors to make abstracts of their papers highly informative, reliable, and easily understandable.
2/8/2012 8.03am by
Nature discussues how scientific misconduct is now starting to be taken much more seriously worldwide. The article states how different countries are starting to strengthen their response to scientific misconduct and that research integrity is now very much in the world's spotlight. The UK has a [voluntary] concordat for which universities have agreed to adopt, obliging them to investigate allegations of misconduct. A study in the US, due in 2013, is likely to call for changes in how misconduct is defined and policed by US agencies.
16/7/2012 3.43pm by
Retraction Watch reports on a study by Donald Kornfeld, published last month in Academic Medicine where Kornfeld reviewed 146 US Office of Research integrity (ORI) cases from 1992 to 2003. He found that approximately "1/3 of the accused were support staff, 1/3 postdoctoral fellows and graduate students, and 1/3 faculty. Accusations of fabrication represented 45% of the offenses, falsification 66%, and plagiarism 12%". Read more here.
13/7/2012 11.46am by
Professor Mike Farthing, vice-chair of the UK Research Integrity Office, founding chair of COPE and vice-chancellor of the University of Sussex, has written an article in the Times Higher Education on research misconduct in the UK.
21/5/2012 9.52am by
Last month, Nature News blog reported on an emminent chemist who was investigated for 'self-plagiarism' or duplicate publication. Apparently a number of paragraphs were almost identical in a number of papers he published. The most recent paper, published in Journal of the American Chemical Association, has since been retracted with the statement: "This article was removed by the publisher due to possible copyright concerns.
18/5/2012 3.56pm by
An article in Nature discusses the proposed libel reform law that was included in last week's Queen's Speech. This legislation directly addresses the concerns of researchers and scientific groups. You can read the full article here.
7/5/2012 9.28am by
There has been much discussion recently on how journals handle risky or "dual use" research - ie research that has the potential to be used for harm. A Nature Editorial (http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v485/n7396/full/485005a.html) now discusses where things stand with regard to a pair of papers submitted to Science and Nature of papers reporting mammalian transmissibility of avian flu as a result of artificial genetic manipulation.
1/5/2012 10.07am by
Recent articles in the Scientist and Nature discuss publication ethics in China and point to a recent declaration by editors of the China Association for Science and Technology (CAST) to follow guidelines issued by CAST in 2009. This declaration is one part of increasing awareness of the importance of publication ethics and the need for journals within China to address the issue.
19/4/2012 11.28am by
The NYT discusses how the sharp rise in retractions is prompting calls for reform. Read the full article here.
21/3/2012 4.41pm by
Anesthesia & Analgesia have published an editorial which discusses the retraction of eight manuscripts by Dr. Yoshitaka Fujii published under the auspices of Toho University, as well as his dismissal from the university. The editorial continues by discussing the journal's concern over papers published by Dr Fujii in Anesthesia & Analegesia - concerns which were fist highlighted to the Editors in a Letter to the Editor by Kranke, Apfel, and Roewer alleging research fraud by Dr. Fujii back in April 2000.
1/3/2012 5.09pm by
A new study on retractions shows that the system is effective for alerting the community to invalid work. The Scholarly Kitchen discusses an article ("Governing knowledge in the scientific community: Exploring the role of retractions in biomedicine“ pub in Research Policy, March 2012 by, J Furman, K Jensen, and F Murray) that reports on a study of 677 article retractions identified in MEDLINE between 1972 and 2006.
27/1/2012 9.22am by
According to Science, a whistleblower in Japan has posted a video on YouTube containing allegations of image manipulation.
25/1/2012 4.40pm by
According to a survey from the Centre for the Study of Integrity, people in the UK are less honest than they were 10 years ago and younger people are more tolerant of dishonesty.
21/1/2012 1.31pm by
The US Office of Research Integrity has taken action against a researcher who committed plagiarism and his supervisor who failed to report the problem according to a report in Nature.
16/1/2012 9.18am by
According to Retraction Watch, the co-editor-in-chief of Antioxidants & Redox Signaling has been dismissed from his position after being found guilty of data fabrication and falsification, and having several papers retracted. This is also reported in the journal in an editorial .
9/1/2012 10.16am by
A research group from Croatia has produced a useful paper on their experiences of using various kinds of text-matching software to detect plagiarism. They found 11% of papers submitted to the Croatian Medical Journal from 2009-10 included plagiarised material. Their paper is published in Science and Engineering Ethics.
6/1/2012 9.08am by
Cameron et al observe that most scientists publishing in English-language journals are not native English speakers and discuss the implications for training about plagiarism in an article in Academic Medicine
5/1/2012 9.03am by
The BMJ has published a review of different countries' approaches to handling research misconduct (available here).
4/1/2012 4.57pm by
According to the BBC (see here), Nature is being sued for libel after making allegations that an editor published his own work in his journal and circumvented normal peer review processes.
20/11/2011 2.53pm by
Retraction Watch reports a case in which an engineering researcher was plagiarized but the journal editor could not determine who was responsible, or report the problem to the author's institution, because the plagiarist apparently used a false name (and/or false affiliation).
10/11/2011 8.03am by
Social psychologist Jennifer Crocker has written a commentary on the Stapel case focusing on the 'first tiny step' that may lead to somebody commiting research fraud. It is published in this week's Nature.
7/11/2011 10.27am by
Nature reports the outcome of university investigations into misconduct by a Dutch researcher. While the misconduct is serious and therefore troubling, this appears to be a good example of a thorough, prompt, and transparent investigation carried out by the institution. The full report (in Dutch) is available here. The news item in Nature is available here.
25/10/2011 5.23pm by
A study published in the BMJ [see here] found that 21% of papers published in 2008 in 6 major medical journals had guest or ghost authors. This is a slight decrease since a similar study in 1996 found 29% but still a cause for concern. Guest authorship appears to be a particular problem in research articles.
24/10/2011 10.56am by
COPE Chair, Liz Wager, has used COPE cases to show the problems editors sometimes face when they try to work with institutions on cases of suspected misconduct. The report has been published online in the BMJ this week. It is available to BMJ subscribers here and on the COPE website here.
15/9/2011 5.53pm by
The UK Minister for Science has announced the formation of a working group on research transparency which will examine how UK-funded research findings can be made more accessible, with a particular focus on 'academic publications'. A press release is available here.
15/9/2011 9.29am by
A study published in PLoS One by Alsheikh-Ali and colleagues highlights the diversity of data sharing policies in high impact journals and researchers' failure to adhere to policies when they do exist. Only 9% of the 500 papers included links to full online data sets and nearly 60% of the papers covered by a data availability policies failed to follow them properly.
15/9/2011 9.17am by
According to a report in Nature, scientists and officials in Italy face legal proceedings about how they communicated risk to the public regarding earthquakes following the major quake which killed more than 300 people in L'Aquila in 2009.
9/9/2011 1.29pm by
Ana Marusic and colleagues have published a systematic review on the meaning, ethics and practices across scholarly disciplines showing a high prevalence of authorship problems. It is available from PLos One. This study was funded by a COPE research grant and preliminary results were presented at this year's UK seminar.
9/9/2011 8.58am by
The BMJ recently published an editorial suggesting that authors with ties to industry should not be permitted to publish editorials. This has prompted an interesting debate (via the journal's rapid responses) about how journals should handle conflicts of interest.
5/9/2011 9.08am by
Retraction Watch reports an editorial comment in the Journal of Clinical Microbiology about a plagiarized article which the journal has retracted. The editor explains how his journal uses CrossCheck and why peer review can't be expected to detect plagiarism. This comment, in turn, has attracted comments from Retraction Watch readers which may also be of interest to editors. See here.
31/8/2011 9.06am by
iThenticate (an organization that produces text-matching software) has produced a paper on the ethics of self-plagiarism. It can be found here.
19/8/2011 10.01am by
A report from the Publishing Open Data Working Group discusses various proposals and provides useful links on the question of data sharing. The report can be found here. COPE has submitted evidence to a Royal Society policy inquiry and will be represented at a meeting to discuss this in September.
18/8/2011 11.06am by
A report in Nature concludes that several flawed papers have not been retracted (and mentions the COPE guidelines).
15/8/2011 9.40am by
A group of scientists are proposing an online database of research and publication misconduct to be known as Scientific Red Cards. They are calling on researchers to join the initiative. The website can be found here.
11/8/2011 7.51am by
An article in Nature discusses problems with commercial review boards which may get greater powers in the United States.
8/8/2011 9.19am by
According to Retraction Watch, Kalasalingam University in Tamil Nadu, India, has sacked a professor and revoked the registration of six graduate students in response to evidence from journal editors of data manipulation.
4/8/2011 10.32am by
Simon Stern and Trudo Lemmens (from the Faculty of Law, University of Toronto) discuss legal sanctions which might be taken against guest authors of ghostwritten articles in PLoS Medicine.
4/8/2011 8.16am by
An article in Nature reports on new free-to-access tools from Google and Microsoft which enable researchers to analyse citation metrics. Google Scholar Citations and Microsoft Academic Search allow researchers to create their own citation profile and analyse citations to their work.
4/8/2011 8.09am by
According to a report in Nature, the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) has shelved plans to require institutions to create websites listing researchers' financial sources. Commentators have noted that this will make it harder to identify conflicts of interest.
28/7/2011 9.13am by
A report from the UK House of Commons Select Committee inquiry into peer review recommends, among other things, that all institutions should appoint somebody to take a lead in research integrity. This was one of the recommendations made by COPE to the inquiry. The full report is available here.
27/7/2011 4.36pm by
Scientists in India have called for a body to investigate research misconduct. See the report here
20/7/2011 4.01pm by
A second paper has been published from the retraction research funded by COPE. It used qualitative methods to examine editors' experiences of retracting articles. See Williams P & Wager E. Exploring why and how journal editors retract articles: findings from a qualitative study. Science & Engineering Ethics: doi 10.1007/s11948-011-9292-0. Available here.
14/7/2011 3.04pm by
An interesting study published in Nursing Ethics by Broome et al examined ethical concerns of peer reviewers and discovered that these are not always satisfactorily handled by editors.
13/7/2011 9.33am by
The New York Times (June 25th) reports on the difficulties for editors over whether to retract reports of findings that cannot be replicated and also the problems caused if journals are reluctant to publish confirmatory or negative studies.
11/7/2011 1.51pm by
According to Retraction Watch, an author discovered his work had been plagiarised when he asked students in his class to give a presentation on a recent paper they'd picked from a peer-reviewed journal. The researcher recognised his own work from the student's presentation and, when he checked the article, found it included large plagiarised sections.
11/7/2011 1.33pm by
The New York Times describes how a paper describing a method for determining which treatment cancer patients should get was used as the basis for a clinical trial (therefore putting patients at risk) before being retracted. A fuller description of the case has also been published in Annals of Applied Statistics 2009; 3:1309-1334.
6/7/2011 4.35pm by
The Times Higher Education Supplement reports on current problems with organizations involved with research integrity in the UK (see here).
(Note: COPE is represented on the UKRIO advisory board and donated money to help get UKRIO established)
30/6/2011 10.56am by
The New England Journal of Medicine (29 June) discusses the implications of a recent US court ruling requiring a drug company to make safety data available to shareholders. Although the ruling doesn't relate directly to journals it's interesting in the light of current debates about publishing raw data from clinical trials.See here.
10/6/2011 9.47am by
An article in Reuters Health criticises journal editors for not checking authors' conflicts of interests and claims several dermatology papers do not provide adequate disclosure. The journal (and other editors) explain that they believe this is the authors' responsibility. NOTE: this item is included on the COPE website NOT because we believe the journal in question behaved improperly but because we thought editors should be aware of public perceptions about conflicts of interest.
21/4/2011 1.59pm by
The results of a COPE research grant, awarded to Liz Wager and Peter Williams in December 2007 has now been published. 'Why and how do journal retract articles? An analysis of Medline retractions 1988-2008' appears as an Online First in the Journal of Medical Ethics.
21/1/2011 9.20am by
The American Society for Microbiology, having retracted several papers by a Japanese researcher because of image manipulation, has issued a 10-year ban on the author from publishing in any of its journals, according to Retraction Watch and Science.
5/1/2011 9.48am by
An article in the BMJ considers the role of retractions and questions whether the COPE guidelines are tough enough.
The article is available here and comment from BMJ Editor Fiona Godlee is here
20/10/2010 9.52am by
The UK Research Integrity Office (UKRIO) has developed guidelines for researchers based on COPE's retraction guidelines (and in collaboration with COPE). They are available here.
8/10/2010 2.07pm by
An editorial in JAMA announced that beginning November 1 2010 they will request all authors who submit manuscripts to complete and submit the ICMJE disclosure form on competing interests. This new competing interests form has been developed by the ICMJE and was announced earlier this year. It’s not yet clear how widespread its adoption will be – especially given the need for a new version of Adobe Acrobat that many users do not yet have.
1/10/2010 10.12am by
The Singapore Statement on Research Integrity was released. As the site notes it was the product of the collective effort and insights of the 340 individuals from 51 countries who participated in the 2nd World Conference on Research Integrity. These included researchers, funders, representatives of research institutions (universities and research institutes) and research publishers. Liz Wager and Sabine Kleinert, the chair and vice chair of COPE respectively, participated in this conference.
17/9/2010 1.10pm by
According to a Nature news item the Chinese government, responding to concerns about the low quality of some local Chinese journals, aims to close 'weak' journals. This raises some interesting ethical questions. Should we be concerned about a government controlling academic publishing or pleased that it is seeking to raise standards?
16/9/2010 10.05am by
There's an interesting paper in PLoS One about use of the eTBLAST software to screen for text similarity (and therefore plagiarism and redundancy). See:
Systematic Characterizations of Text Similarity in Full Text Biomedical Publications Zhaohui Sun, Mounir Errami, Tara Long, Chris Renard, Nishant Choradia, Harold Garner http://dx.plos.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0012704
10/9/2010 11.34pm by
There's a debate going on over at the Scientist about the thorny issue of self plagiarism, and when/ if it constitutes poor practice. I used to work for someone who started every paper, research or review, with the same short paragraph and we could all recite it like a mantra - and by general agreement it was felt to be the best, most succinct way to introduce the topic, which noone else has yet bettered.
9/9/2010 10.24pm by
It’s a rather surprising thing, given the amount of research in the UK, that the UK, unlike the US for example, does not have an established body to oversee research integrity, even that funded by the government.
UK Research Integrity Office (UKRIO) currently fulfils some of that function but does not have long-term funding and was established to deal primarily with issues in just health and biomedical sciences.
27/8/2010 9.28pm by
There’s a new post at the Scientist about differing practices among journals on the signing of editorials. The piece only discusses biomedical journals - among those relatively few journals have ones just signed by the journal; more and more are signed directly by the authors and some (like the journal I work at) does something in between. We’d be interested to hear what journals at COPE do, especially those outside of biomedicine – are there differences in tradition according to the journal's speciality?
24/8/2010 9.09am by
The New York Times just posted an interesting story of how a group of scholars in the humanities are experimenting with open peer review. The experiment is happening in the Shakespeare Quarterly in a special issue on, appropriately, Shakespeare and New Media.
20/8/2010 6.52am by
All too often the efforts of editors to expose misconduct in research and publication come to nothing because the authors' institutions either ignore the problem or fail to act on it.
13/8/2010 5.48pm by
The August issue of European Science Editing (the EASE journal) contains an interesting article by Mary Ellen Kerans and Marje de Jager about how manuscript editors can detect plagiarism and help authors avoid it. The article includes helpful definitions of problems such as copy-paste writing and micro-plagiarism.
European Science Editing 36(3):62-5
9/8/2010 9.11am by
COPE Vice-Chair, Sabine Kleinert has reported on the 2nd World Conference on Research Integrity in Singapore and COPE’s involvement in developing international standards for authors and editors in a Lancet commentary.
9/8/2010 8.14am by
Two US journalists have created a blog about retractions (http://retractionwatch.wordpress.com). They argue that retractions are an important mechanism for correcting the research literature but may not be easy to find or well-publicised.
4/8/2010 9.02am by
A paper published in the Annals of Internal Medicine this week looked at associations between the funding sources of 546 registered trials of drugs in 5 commonly prescribed classes and published outcomes, using data from clinicaltrials.gov.
22/6/2010 1.22pm by
There are three articles in the June issue of Bioethics on different aspects of ghostwriting.
The first article, by Tobenna D Anekwe, “Profits and plagiarism: the case of medical ghostwriting” argues that “medical ghostwriting often involves plagiarism and, in those cases, can be treated as an act of research misconduct” and suggests measures to counter ghostwriting.
18/6/2010 1.00pm by
The news story reports that the National Council on Ethics in Human Research (NCEHR), has had its funding withdrawn by Health Canada and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. Apparently this will primarily affect education, but also scotches the possibility that the Council would devolp into a Canadian national accrediting and oversight body for research ethics boards.
15/6/2010 2.03pm by
The story relates to an announcement on June 10 by the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Associations. An exerpt from the IFPMA press release states:
11/6/2010 4.58pm by
We received this report from Behrooz Astaneh, Deputy Editor of the Iranian Journal of Medical Sciences.
Behrooz can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org
The second seminar of Iranian Medical Journal editors- A Report
18/5/2010 8.52am by
Well worth reading. http://www.trialsjournal.com/content/pdf/1745-6215-11-37.pdf
The overall message and the recommendations aren't new, but thus is a succinct and informative review by the German health technology asessement body that's worth citing and using in talks. It includes and goes well beyond the usual suspects (rofecoxib, gabapentin, SSRIs, rosiglitazone, oseltamivir) and gives a really nice overview of all the recent attempts to make people behave better eg through trial registration.
12/4/2010 5.07pm by
A study by Wang et al in the BMJ (340:c1344) found that 21 out of 90 papers (23%) reporting studies on the antidiabetic agent rosiglitazone had incomplete Conflict of Interest information and 3 of the 21 stated that the authors had no competing interests although their other publications indicated that they did.
It's possible that this may, partly, be explained by journals using different thresholds for CoIs, but it suggests that editors may not be requesting or checking CoI statements sufficiently thoroughly.
12/3/2010 3.34pm by
Over at the BMJ blogs, Behrooz Astaneh has written an interesting perspective on the "culture of compliments", which exists in many cultures. He notes that because of this culture "authors feel compelled to put the name of a senior colleague in the byline of their article even though the senior researcher did not contribute to it because they feel it would be rude not to.
12/3/2010 10.29am by
A recent perspective "Serving Two Masters-Conflicts of Interest in Academic Medicine" by Bernard Lo in the New England Journal of Medicine discusses the conflicts that researchers encounter when they have positions both as academics and are on the boards of for profit companies. The perspective highlights the example of Partners Health care in Boston, which has recently begun to set limits on the amount of compensation that its employees can receive from serving on the board of companies.
3/2/2010 9.37pm by
In its January 1st editorial Science laid out ideas for “Promoting Scientific Standards” including dealing with the issue of who takes responsibility for parts of a research project. The editorial states that “Science will require that the senior author for each laboratory or group confirm that he or she has personally reviewed the original data generated by that unit, ascertaining that the data selected for publication in specific figures and tables have been appropriately presented.”
3/2/2010 2.53pm by
Following a hearing by the UK's General Medical Council, the Lancet has retracted the paper by Wakefield et al about the MMR vaccine and autism.
See the COPE guidelines on retraction (on this website) for more details about when and how COPE recommends editors should retract papers.
3/2/2010 12.35pm by
An editorial in the January, 2010 issue of Acta Crystallographica Section E tells the distressing story behind a number of frauds involving papers published in the journal (which is a member of COPE). The fraud is extensive, with apparently at least 70 structures having been shown to be falsified.
2/2/2010 9.59am by
Stem cell researchers have accused journals of biased review and suggested that a remedy for this would be having reviewers' comments published as supplementary material alongside papers (this policy has been adopted by the EMBO journals and has been used for some time at BioMed Central). For more details see
2/2/2010 9.39am by
A news item on the BBC’s Today programme this morning discussed the issue of what can potentially happen when a small group of researchers predominate in a field. Two scientists working in stem cell research suggested that such small groups can tend to dominate the review process of papers and lead to bias and delays in publication of papers from other groups.
16/12/2009 8.39pm by
The UK animal welfare charity, the RSCPCA (Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals), campaigns among other issues on the use of animals in medical research.
27/11/2009 10.08am by
Sense about Science, “an independent charitable trust promoting good science and evidence in public debates” has just published a short briefing paper on Systematic Reviews. The UK charity has the aim of “promoting respect for evidence and by urging scientists to engage actively with a wide range of groups, particularly when debates are controversial or difficult.”
18/11/2009 10.08am by
BioMed Central has developed useful guidelines for authors about exactly what is meant by duplicate (or redundant) publication. They cover not only overlaps with other journal articles but issues such as preprint servers (and they mention the COPE flowchart!). You can find them at
13/11/2009 2.53pm by
This paper, published on Nov 12th, looked at 12 trials where both published reports and internal company documents on off label use of gabapentin (Neurontin) could be examined. The authors found that for "8 of the 12 reported trials, the primary outcome defined in the published report differed from that described in the protocol.", and go on to describe the types of differences found, including that "Of the 21 primary outcomes described in the protocols of the published trials, 6 were not reported at all and 4 were reported as secondary outcomes.
4/11/2009 4.12pm by
The UK's National Research Ethics Service (NRES), which coordinates ethical review of research, is likely to be reorganized. Depending on the outcome, this could have implications for editors who publish research done in the UK and need to understand that it has undergone proper ethical scrutiny. Details will probably appear on http://www.nres.npsa.nhs.uk/ (but there is no information there yet).
21/10/2009 11.48am by
The ICMJE (International Committee of Medical Journal Editors) has announced a new format for Disclosure of Competing Interests. The policy, outlined on the ICMJE website, (which has been updated recently by the way and is worth a look at) also includes a form that has been adopted by the ICMJE member journals, and which the ICMJE is encouraging other journals to consider adopting.
13/10/2009 8.42am by
Sheldon Krimsky & Erin Sweet from Tufts University, Massachusetts, USA have studied the conflict of interest (CoI) policies of over 200 medical and toxicology journals. They found that about 85% of the journals had a written CoI policy but in many cases these lacked specificity or were of limited scope (eg covering only certain types of financial interest).
See Accountability in Research 2009;16:235-53
The article is not Open Access but the abstract is available on Medline.
12/10/2009 8.21am by
Findings of a study on retractions funded by COPE were presented by Liz Wager at the recent Peer Review Congress in Vancouver as a poster and picked up by Nature Medicine. You can read the report in Nature Medicine October 2009;15:1101
16/9/2009 11.23am by
A recent news report in the BMJ highlights an initiative asking doctors to boycott an international medical conference because of the proposed chair. The conference, of the International Academy of Perinatal Medicine, will take place in Croatia in October, chaired by Asim Kurjak of Zagreb University Medical School, who, as the BMJ news report notes, “was found guilty of scientific misconduct by the Croatian government’s Committee for Ethics in Science and Higher Education in May 2007.
5/8/2009 11.26am by
Here's an interesting article in today's New York Times about the pharmaceutical company, Wyeth, which paid ghostwriters to write dozens of scientific papers to promote the use of hormone replacement therapy. These articles, which are said to have highlighted the benefits and downplayed the risks of HRT, were published in 18 medical journals and did not disclose the fact that Wyeth initiated and funded the work for the articles. A Wyeth spokesman said that it was common for pharmaceutical companies to use companies to help draft manuscripts for authors.
13/7/2009 9.19am by
The Scientist carries an interview with 3 scientists who were found guilty of misconduct by the US ORI (Office of Research Integrity). The thrust of the article is the long-lasting effect of such a ruling even after the official time has expired.
The link is http://www.the-scientist.com/2009/07/1/28/1/
9/7/2009 12.21pm by
A new paper published in Trials (currently available as a provisional PDF) asks the question, how many randomised trials published in Chinese journals are actually randomised?
2/7/2009 11.38am by
There are thousands of ways of citing source material. This is confusing for students and tedious for authors and editors (I confess to having a submission sent back to me from a neurosurgery journal last week because I used the incorrect referencing style...yes, I know, I should have checked). Even experienced authors may puzzle over the correct referencing of a blog, an e-book or a podcast. In this week's Times Higher Education, Alec Gill asks if journals should have one standard referencing system. He concludes 'the reform of academic referencing is long overdue'. Is it?
2/7/2009 8.49am by
A doctor is being sued for libel because of comments he wrote in a newspaper about the British Chiropractic Association (in particular their alleged promotion of the use of chiropractic for asthma). Since the case may have far-reaching consequences for journals and publishers, you might like to look at the campaign website which calls for a reform to the British libel laws to ensure they are not used to suppress scientific debate.
11/6/2009 1.06pm by
What do members think of this?
10/6/2009 9.39am by
An editorial on June 8 in the Archives of Internal Medicine discusses the problem of publication bias - that is "negative" papers, especially trials, being less likely to make it into the published record. There are a number of reasons for this, from authors not submitting such papers to journals being less likely to publish them. Everyone now agrees that the consequences for the validity of the scientific record are substantial, though the solution is not simple.
8/6/2009 9.17am by
A story in the New York Times (free, registration required) discusses the retraction of a paper published in 2008 in the Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery - British Volume (Recombinant human bone morphogenetic protein-2 for grade III open segmental tibial fractures from combat injuries in Iraq. J Bone Joint Surg Br.
5/6/2009 3.24pm by
There have been plenty of surveys on this, and now a systematic review and meta-analysis has pulled the best ones together (Fanelli D. How Many Scientists Fabricate and Falsify Research? A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Survey Data. PLoS ONE 4(5): e5738. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0005738 Published: May 29, 2009).
15/5/2009 8.50am by
The UK Research Integrity Office (UKRIO) has made a call for comments on its “Code of Practice for Research: Promoting good practice and prevent misconduct”. UKRIO) is an independent body which offers advice and guidance to universities and other research organisations, and also to individual researchers, about the conduct of research.
13/5/2009 12.16pm by
An editorial in The Scientist (free, but registration required to access) discusses this rather shady practice- ie of failing to cite relevant papers. The writer, Richard Gallagher, raises an interesting point that“the openness gifted us by the Internet is revealing the lax standards that have been in place all the time. “- one that could easily be made of many other dubious publication practices.
11/5/2009 9.16pm by
A news feature in Nature Biotechnology (subscription required for full text) discusses the potential perils of academia and companies getting into bed with each other in these financially straightened times, and the need for especially careful management of competing interests.
9/5/2009 12.20am by
A story that has receive extensive coverage over the past few weeks on the web is of a series of allegedly "fake" journals which were revealed during a court case in Australia concerning marketing of the drug Vioxx.
9/5/2009 12.18am by
A BMJ editorial discusses the recent FDA ruling that clinical trials performed outside the US no longerhave to conform to the Declaration of Helsinki if used to supportapplications for registration of products in the US but that the regulatory standard expected is that of the International Conference on Harmonisation Good Clinical
6/5/2009 3.36pm by
This report apparently focuses on financial conflict of interests, especially where there is a potential for patient harm.
15/4/2009 10.03am by
An editorial in American Journal of Health-System Pharmacy describes the outcome of a legal action against their journal from a manufacturer who claimed that an article (abstract only, full text requires a subscription) published in the 15 March 2007 issue of AJHP defamed the manufacturer "through the criticism and test results published in the article" as the manufacturer's prod
2/4/2009 9.32am by
The full piece, published on March 26th, which describes the operation as being a "congressional sting operation" is here, excerpt:
"The sting, detailed at a House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing Thursday, involved the creation of a fictitious company and a fake medical device, a surgical adhesive gel. The sham firm then applied to three for-profit oversight groups — called institutional review boards, or IRBs — for approval to begin a clinical trial using their adhesive on human subjects."
23/3/2009 5.44pm by
An editorial in JAMA1 describes a case of an author’s undeclared conflict of interest which was reported to the journal by a reader, Jonathan Leo. The reason for the editorial (in addition to a published correction) is that Leo sent a copy of his letter to the New York Times and also posted his concerns in a BMJ Rapid Response2 which appeared before JAMA published its correction in its print issue of March 11.
2/3/2009 3.57pm by
This month's Editorial (DOI: 10.1371/journal.pmed.1000038) in PLoS Medicine discusses how the publication of scientific research can be inappropriately influenced by various forms of bias and the effects of competing interests.
12/2/2009 9.48am by
A report (free to view but registration required) in The Scientist describes the introduction by two US Senators of an amendment to the Economic Stimulus bill currently being debated in Congress which is apparently intended to better protect federally-funded NIH (National Institutes of Health) biomedical research from potential bias.
5/2/2009 3.45pm by
Medical writers from the UK, USA and Australia have developed a checklist that they hope Journal Editors might ask authors to complete to deter unacknowledged or inappropriate writing assistance (or 'ghostwriting'). It has been published in PLoS Medicine (doi: 10.1371/journal.pmed.1000023) with a debate on ghostwriting from editors and researchers.
I should declare my interest, in that I am one of the authors (and definitely not a ghost)!
3/2/2009 6.37pm by
The Journal of Biology (published by BioMedCentral) is changing its peer-review process, apparently in response to reviewers and authors who disliked their previous system of sending revised papers back to reviewers for further comment which one described as 'the re-review nightmare'.
You can get more details from http://jbiol.com/content/8/1/1.
23/1/2009 10.14am by
An Editorial in Blood on the 15th January describes their experience of finding ghost authorship in a spontaneously submitted review article (which was spotted by a diligent reviewer) and the result of subsequent investigations of other papers. They go on to layout their policies on ghost authorship in both review and original research articles, concluding with this call to action:
22/1/2009 2.58pm by
A new report by the Office of Inspector General at the US Department of Health and Human Services suggests that the FDA (the US Food and Drug Administration) is not effectively monitoring conflicts of interests of clinical trial investigators in new drug marketing applications submitted to them. The report, summarised in an article on Medscape, is available here.
Its top findings were:
20/1/2009 3.01pm by
We hope COPE members will find the new audit tool helpful. Journal Editors who were involved with the pilot said it was useful and one said it covered things she'd been meaning to do for ages! Although we're not asking you to share your findings with us (it's an audit not a survey), we would welcome any comments on how we could improve the audit, so I thought I'd start this blog string so you can add your comments or suggestions.
19/1/2009 2.21pm by
A Perspective in the New England Journal of Medicine on 8 January (not freely available, unfortunately) discusses the insights that have come from the documents made available as part of the litigation surrounding the off-label marketing of Neurontin (gabapentin). This is a very long-running story. However, the evidence still has the power to shock — for example, this quote in 1996 of an executive from the company selling gabapentin talking to a new recruit:
7/1/2009 6.23pm by
Publication bias seems like a problem that just won't go away. PLoS Medicine published a paper (doi: 10.1371/journal.pmed.0050217) late last year that indicated that this practice is alive and well in what is probably the most concerning area of all, clinical trials.
21/12/2008 10.05am by
A few days ago, a newly qualified doctor asked informally if he could submit a 'slightly modified' version of a paper he'd just submitted to my journal to the BMJ. I told him about the evils of multiple submission and warned him that some journal Editors, if they discover the subterfuge, may well ban the author from submitting to their journal for a number of years. This, indeed, was the punishment that an Editor-in-Chief — not amused by a recent case of multiple submission to his journal — suggested at a recent COPE forum.
11/12/2008 2.39pm by
We believe the paper with the most authors ever recorded (a massive 2512!) is Aleph et al. Precision electroweak measurements on the Z resonance. Physics Reports 2006, 427:257–454 (available at http://arxiv.org/PS_cache/hep-ex/pdf/0509/0509008v3.pdf ) — unless somebody knows better...?
11/12/2008 2.31pm by
Lutz Bornmann and colleagues have tried to find out how much editors look for signs of research misconduct when assessing manuscripts. They reviewed 46 studies that reported editors’ and reviewers’ criteria for judging papers but found that none of the main criteria listed was related to detecting data falsification or fabrication. The paper is available at Scientometrics 2008, 77:415–32. doi: 10.1007/s11192-007-1950-2
24/11/2008 1.32pm by
Last month the World Association of Medical Editors announced the new version of the Declaration of Helsinki. This document, which was first drawn up in 1964, is essential reading for everyone doing research on human participants. The revision was the result of a huge amount of international consultation, and along with many other organisations, COPE provided input into this document.
8/11/2008 2.32pm by
A while ago, I wrote a piece in the BMJ about gift authorship (doi: 10.1136/bmj.39500.620174.94). I wanted to share a real case with members and seek their opinion: a friend was asked to add the name of a senior surgeon on a submission to a surgical journal, even though the latter hadn’t contributed one jot to the research. I gave him some advice, which after careful consideration he discarded. Still in the early stages of his surgical career, he opted for self-preservation.
23/10/2008 9.54am by
A few weeks ago PLoS Medicine published an editorial on the thorny and confusing issue of non-financial competing interests.
19/10/2008 6.24pm by
To some extent, I’m bound to advocate becoming a member of COPE, seeing as I'm on its Council, but without COPE I could never have transformed the editorial and publishing processes that have existed within the companies I have worked for. It’s partly about better understanding what should be done, but also about getting guidance on how to go about it. COPE did not proactively do the latter, but just being part of a network of editors enabled me to ask the right people the right questions.