I hope that everyone had the opportunity to read the April Digest letter from Geri and Chris, our steadfast COPE co-chairs for the past three years. They have provided leadership with integrity, with hard work and kept a very busy schedule of activities on behalf of COPE. And all on a voluntary basis. Chris and Geri will continue their roles as past Co-Chairs for the coming year.
A single author submitted a paper to a journal. A similarity check revealed 48% similarity with another published paper. The published paper was by different authors—5 in total. The similarities between the papers were in the introduction, methods and discussion sections. The submitting author did not reference the published article.
In a discussion paper posted on SSRN, Diana Simon, a Professor of Law at the University of Arizona, explores whether it is fair or helpful to try to generalise attitudes toward plagiarism across cultures?
We are seeking applications for two vacancies* on the COPE Trustee Board at an exciting time for the organisation as we look to expand into new areas. We have therefore highlighted gaps on the Trustee Board which we are keen to fill.
*On this occasion, we are NOT seeking to elect candidates from North America given our current complement of representation from this region.
In early 2019, COPE, working in partnership with Routledge (Taylor & Francis group), conducted an international survey of academic journal editors in the arts, humanities, and social sciences (AHSS), exploring the publication ethics issues specific to these disciplines.
In May 2019, the current COPE Officers came to the end of their terms. We welcome the new officers and those officers moving to new roles, and look forward to working together for the next three years.
Trevor Lane, COPE Council Member, was invited to represent COPE in two sessions at the 2019 International Workshop for Journal Editors in Denpasar, Bali, Indonesia. Held from 25 to 27 March 2019 and attended by chief editors of about 150 journals, the event was co-organised by the Indonesian Ministry of Research, Technology and Higher Education and the Indonesian Association of Scientific Journal Editors.
We've updated the engine behind the COPE website which will help users find what they're looking for more quickly. This means greatly improved search functionality, more granular filtering, simplified navigation throughout the site and a refreshed design. This will be the first release in a series to improve the browsing experience.
Deborah Poff, COPE Vice-Chair and Chair Elect, recently presented COPE views on a variety of issues and activities related to publication ethics and philosophy. Deborah presented the current commitment of COPE to assess and respond to particular issues for editors and publishers in the humanities and social sciences which includes our current survey.
Early in my academic career I was sent a publication in which my name appeared as a 5th author. The research was legitimate, conducted by a senior colleague, and I had participated in a small part of the research. I had not been involved in the writing of the paper, its final approval, or in signing the copyright agreement.
COPE is in the process of assigning DOIs (digital object identifiers) to its resources, particularly Guidelines and Flowcharts. A digital object identifier (DOI) is like a digital fingerprint and provides a permanent link to our resources on the Internet making them individually discoverable and accessible.
This month’s highlighted case is about following up duplicate submission. In COPE Forum case number 17-20, journal A was informed by journal B that an author had withdrawn an accepted manuscript because it had already been accepted elsewhere. In fact, the manuscript had been published in journal A in the previous week. Records of the two journals revealed dual submission on the same day.
COPE is pleased to welcome journals who became members between October and December 2018. The new members have been assessed against criteria outlined in the Principles of Transparency and signing up to COPE shows that they intend to follow the highest standards of publication ethics and to apply COPE principles of publication ethics outlined in the Core Practices.
In this case, a staff member at a journal noted that a handling editor and her or his favorite reviewers frequently requested authors to cite the editor’s and reviewers’ work in revised submissions. Once this was confirmed, the editor-in-chief consulted the editorial board who agreed that the requested citations were not scientifically necessary.
A survey carried out by Think. Check. Submit. has revealed a strong demand from both researchers and librarians for guidance about where to publish and an appreciation of the services that the initiative offers.
My initial introduction to COPE many years ago occurred when, as an editor of a peer reviewed journal, a reviewer called to my attention, a blatant example of fabrication in a manuscript in which years and volumes of references had been altered to make them more current. I contacted COPE, presented the case at a Forum, and received excellent advice and consultation. This ultimately resulted in numerous retractions of manuscripts published by this researcher, across three journals.
COPE Council member Mirjam Curno is invited to participate in the discussion "Developing an ethical framework for non-medical sciences". This is the first discussion within the framework of the PRO-RES project.
We are pleased to welcome four new members to COPE Council: Laura Wilson, Dr Daoxin Yin, Tim Devinney and Gavin Swanson. We are also delighted that Adrian Ziderman is to continue as Council member for a second term.
Laura Wilson is Head of Rights at Emerald Publishing. Laura is responsible for Emerald’s copyright and publication ethics policies and processes. Laura is based in Bradford, UK.
Now updated to correspond with COPE's Core Practices!
As a COPE Member benefit, the COPE Journal Audit is designed to support and encourage editors to identify areas of their journal's policies and processes that may need to be revised so that they adhere to best practices in scholarly publishing.
The next online COPE Forum, Monday 5 November 2018, 4pm-5.30pm (GMT), follows the usual format where members' cases are presented for discussion and advice from all those participating in the Forum. Register for the Forum (COPE members only)
COPE Council member Jason Hu has spoken at The second International Summit on Medical Research and Publication & the First International Forum on Frontiers in Medicine, which was held in Wuhan China on September 16th 2018.
This month’s topic is “journal management” and on first blush, it isn’t obvious how the concept of “ethics” applies to this topic. I thought of things like selection and implementation of a manuscript manager, paying bills, identifying reviewers, etc. But when I got past my concrete thinking it’s clear journals must be managed based on fundamental ethical principles. These include: Autonomy, Justice, beneficence, non-malfeasance.
COPE was well represented at two very important meetings this September. The first “Seeking Solutions in Research Integrity: A View from All Perspectives” was a day long Research Integrity Summit hosted by Ohio State University.
Not surprisingly, COPE has substantial resources available regarding peer review and peer review processes are one of our 10 core practices. Peer review comes in many shapes and forms, and the process varies widely among different publications. The fundamental principle of transparency is critical given this variety. COPE asserts that the peer review process must be “transparently described and well managed”.
Peer Review Week 2018 offered us an opportunity to consider this year’s theme of Diversity in multiple ways and to reflect on what gaps in our resources might exist. Here is a list of what we reviewed, completed, and revised related to peer review.
Spanish translations of COPE resources: flowcharts, ethical guidelines for peer reviewers, How to Spot Manipulation of the Peer Review Process, What to Consider when asked to Peer Review a Manuscript, What Constitutes Authorship? discussion document and our Principles of Transparency and Best Practice in Scholarly Publishing.
Trevor Lane, COPE Council Member, was invited to deliver two talks at the 2018 Joint Convention of the Asia Pacific Association of Medical Journal Editors (APAME) and Council of Asian Science Editors (CASE) in Bogor, Indonesia.
Think. Check. Submit. helps researchers identify trusted journals for their research. Through a range of tools and practical resources, this international, cross-sector initiative aims to educate researchers, promote integrity, and build trust in credible research and publications.
COPE has cancelled the COPE Chile Seminar on October 2, 2018. It will be rescheduled to a later date.
We will take this chance to organise a sustainable approach to our presence and services in South America, something we recognise as part of our commitment to providing education and resources to editors and publishers globally. COPE has recently completed the translation of our basic materials to Spanish. These materials will be widely disseminated and freely available to all.
Following a 10 month inquiry, the UK House of Commons Science and Technology Committee has issued recommendations to strengthen requirements and improve compliance with the existing 2012 Concordat to Support Research Integrity [full report].
Citation is an essential aspect of scholarly writing. Reference to other literature embeds the current work in the context of existing knowledge, supporting or disputing other works, and establishing the authority of the scholarly assertion. References function for these purposes when they allow the reader to locate the work cited and validate, explore and allow understanding and further research.
We are seeking applications for a position on COPE Council. We have six vacancies. In line with COPE’s strategic goals and our obligations to meet the needs of all our members, we have highlighted gaps on Council which we are keen to fill.
*On this occasion, we are not seeking to elect candidates from North America. In addition, we will not consider applications from candidates whose discipline is primarily medicine, science, technology, engineering or mathematics.
Well it may do (to borrow a lyric from ‘Communication’ by Spandau Ballet), but it doesn’t have to, if communication channels are kept open. That was the take home message following a stimulating afternoon tackling some big questions around authorship with early career researchers of the joint COMPARE (Centre of Membrane Proteins and Receptors) initiative.
The Science and Technology Committee of the UK House of Commons met on May 8, 2018 to discuss research integrity. The transcript and a video of the meeting is available on The Science and Technology Committee.
Preprint platforms have been common in physics and mathematics but the preprint landscape is changing rapidly with new platforms emerging across various disciplines. This raises opportunities for discussion across communities and for all those involved: preprint platforms, journals, authors, funders and institutions.
I once witnessed a heated discussion between a director of research and a clinical director in a community health care clinic. The clinical director was questioning a proposed quality improvement study, investigating employee bias around sensitive patient care information and the influence of employee attitudes on the delivery of health care.
The next COPE Forum will be a face to face meeting at the INANE Conference in Boston on 8 August,1.30-4.30pm. All COPE members are welcome to join this Forum in person, whether or not you are attending INANE. It will follow the usual format where members' cases are presented for advice and a Forum discussion topic.
On 25th May, an update to the 1993 Data Protection Act will come into force. This is known as the GDPR. You have probably heard of it as most of the websites, apps and services that we all use on a day-to-day basis are updating their privacy policies and sending out notices like this one.
COPE Council Member Michael Wise was an invited speaker at the International Society of Managing and Technical Editors 2018 Asian-Pacific Conference, which was held on 27-28 March 2018 at the Novotel Singapore Clarke Quay.
An article in HealthNewsReview.org discusses a paper published in the BMJ which was widely picked up in the news, but where the peer reviewers had close affiliations with the authors, and wonders if there are wider unexamined conflicts of interest in peer review.
COPE’s Core Practice #4 on conflicts of interest / competing interests states: “There must be clear definitions of conflicts of interest and processes for handling conflicts of interest of authors, reviewers, editors, journals and publishers, whether identified before or after publication”.
“Journals should have a clearly described process for handling complaints against the journal, its staff, editorial board or publisher”. This refers to COPE’s Core Practice #3 and it is good advice and might be the only advice you need if all human beings operated solely with agreed upon objective and rational principles and facts.
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).
Included in the news this month are articles related to March's theme of "Authorship and Contributorship", together with conflicts of interest, data and reproducibility, ethical oversight and peer review
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.
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:
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.”
Following on from the success of previous workshops in Singapore and Beijing, COPE is delighted to announce another half day workshop, in collaboration with ISMTE (International Society of Managing and Technical Editors), on Wednesday 28 March 2018, at the Novotel Singapore Clarke Quay.
The theme of the workshop is "Publication ethics". Editors, publishers, authors and all those interested in publication ethics are welcome to attend.
COPE subscribes to and promotes the principles of academic freedom and editorial independence that underpin the pursuit of knowledge inherent in research and academic work.
COPE understands that some countries have made requests or instituted practices that interfere with and restrict the communication and distribution of scientific research results. This conflicts with principles to which COPE subscribes.
COPE’s Core Practice #1: Allegations of misconduct
Following on from our introductory overview of COPE’s Core Practices in the December issue of COPE Digest, this month we focus on the first core practice: Allegations of misconduct. The general statement describing this core practice is that:
A COPE delegation comprising the COPE co-Chair and Vice-Chair, Chris Graf and Deborah Poff, along with China based COPE Council members, Helena Wang and Jason Hu, and Japan based Council member Trevor Lane, me
t with some of China’s leading science and research organisations in Beijing last month.
The COPE complaints process was established in 2010 (revised in 2014) as a means of providing independent guidance on disputed matters of publication ethics for our member editors and publishers.
While the members of the Complaints subcommittee have worked tirelessly to provide advice and to assist in resolving complaints brought to the subcommittee's attention, often those results have been frustrated by issues including:
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.
At COPE's recent AGM in November, Zoë Mullan, Ginny Barbour, Sally Weatherill and Adrian Ziderman stepped down as Trustees of COPE, at the end of their term. It is only possible to do the work of COPE with our hugely committed Trustees and we thank them for all their work.
We'll be discussing "Self-Citation: Where's the Line?" during the COPE Forum on 13 November. You are welcome to add your comments on this topic before the Forum, whether or not you are planning on attending the Forum.
Members and non-members please leave your comments.
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.
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.
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
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 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.
In this Authorship Discussion Document we look at existing guidelines, some basic principles to help prevent common problems and particular issues that need more nuanced consideration. The discussion helps form an answer to the question, what constitutes authorship?
COPE has published a new discussion document ‘COPE guidance on best practice for consent for publishing medical case reports’. This discussion document aims to lay out the principles that a consent form should generally include, and to collect examples of sample forms so that editors can develop a form that suits their purpose.
COPE is delighted to announce its 7th North American Seminar, which will be held in collaboration with ISMTE (International Society of Managing and Technical Editors), on Wednesday August 10, 2016, at the Hilton Philadelphia City Avenue, Philadelphia, PA USA.
The Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) is looking to appoint a new Ombudsman to ensure that COPE carries out its stated mission in a fair, expedient, and transparent manner, and that its Council and Trustees are acting in the best interests of the organisation and its members. Applicants should not be a member of COPE.
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.
The quarterly COPE Forum meetings, where we discuss cases submitted by members, will take place in Februray, May, August and November. The Forums will be by webinar, except for the August Forum, which will be a face to face meeting in London during the INANE conference.
The next COPE Forum meeting is being held on Wednesday 9 December 2015, 12noon–1.30pm (GMT). The COPE Forum will be held virtually via webinar. The agenda and materials can be downloaded here (PDF 478kb).
The invitation to join the webinar is below. We can accommodate up to 100 attendees, so please register quickly if you wish to join in the discussion.
This guidance has been drafted following a COPE Discussion Forum (9 December 2015, http://bit.ly/1NxqEFy). The aim of the document is to further encourage discussion and to capture a record of the issues around competing interests — especially when they arise after publication — to help inform and progress the debate, and to firm up guidance where that is indicated.
COPE came into being to be help editors handle issues in publication ethics, with the underlying aim of ensuring the integrity of the published literature. Thus it has long supported initiatives that lead to better reporting of research, including for example the EQUATOR network.
COPE endorses Good Publication Practice for Communicating Company-Sponsored Medical Research: GPP3.
Authors working in corporate–academic research collaborations must follow appropriate ethical standards. GPP3 describes such standards, and promotes the ethical practices established by organisations like COPE, ICMJE, and WMA.
Like the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) does now, COPE has a rigorous and stringent process for scrutinizing members before they are accepted and we review this process as needed. Frontiers has been a member of COPE since January 2015.
In early 2014, COPE, together with Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ), Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association (OASPA), and World Association of Medical Editors (WAME), published a minimum set of criteria for journals and publishers to be assessed against when they apply for membership at one of our organisations.
COPE will be leading a workshop at the 4th World Conference on Research Integrity in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on publication ethics for editors, members of editorial boards and reviewers on Sunday May 31, 2015. This is an excellent opportunity for participants to discuss current trends in publication ethics, learn about how to handle possible misconduct and improve the quality of their reviews.
The next COPE Forum meeting is being held on Wednesday 10 June 2015, 9am–10.30am (British Summer Time). The COPE Forum will be held virtually via webinar. The agenda and materials can be downloaded here (PDF 712kb).
The invitation to join the webinar is below. We can accommodate up to 100 attendees, so please register quickly if you wish to join in the discussion.
COPE is recruiting for a freelance Membership Administrator to assist the Membership Committee and COPE Administrator with managing new member applications and supporting our existing membership. The full job description and how to apply can be seen here.
The Second International Congress on Publication Ethics will be held in Shiraz, Iran, on 4–5 December 2014. This is a scientific partnership between COPE and Shiraz University of Medical Sciences. All individuals working in the field of scientific medical publications as well as those interested in ethical approaches to scientific publications are welcome to attend.
The next COPE Forum meeting is being held on Tuesday 23 September, 3–5pm (British Summer Time). The COPE Forum will be held virtually via webinar. Download the agenda and materials here (PDF, 805kb). The invitation to join the webinar is below. We can accommodate up to 100 attendees, so please register quickly if you wish to join in the discussion.
A common issue encountered by editors is overlap of text with an author’s own previously published work, particularly with the increasing use of plagiarism detection software. This practice is known as ‘text recycling’ (also sometimes referred to as ‘self-plagiarism’). Opinions on the acceptability of text recycling vary greatly and it can be a challenge for editors to know how to deal with it once it has been identified.
COPE is very pleased to announce the appointment of two new COPE council members, Christopher Leonard and Muhammad Irfan. Following our recent call for nominations, two candidates were short-listed by council following an interview. In accordance with our regulations, where the number of short-listed candidates is equal to the number of vacancies (ie, the candidates are unopposed), the nominees are appointed if approved by a majority of the members of Council.
Register for COPE's 5th North American seminar, which will be held in collaboration with ISMTE (International Society of Managing & Technical Editors), on Wednesday 13 August 2014 at the Hyatt Regency Philadelphia at Penn's Landing, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA. For more details and to register, see here
COPE is delighted to announce its 3rd Australian Seminar, which will take place at the Karstens Melbourne Conference Rooms, 123 Queen Street, Melbourne, Australia, on Monday 23 June 2014. The theme of the seminar is “Publication ethics from student to professional”. For more information and to register, click here.
Due to vacancies on Council, we are seeking nominations for two new candidates. These are voluntary positions. Council is responsible for COPE’s policy and management. Council members are required to attend four meetings a year (two of which will usually be in person in London; the others may be attended by phone or other media). There is also a strategy meeting every 18/24 months which Council Members are expected to attend in person.
Wiley has launched the second edition of its Best Practice Guidelines on Publishing Ethics: A Publisher’s Perspective. In the new edition, guidance has been added about whistle-blowers, animal research and clinical research, particularly around clinical trial registration.
The next COPE Forum meeting is being held on Tuesday 4 March 2014, 3–5pm (GMT). The COPE Forum will be held virtually via webinar. Download the agenda and materials here (PDF, 695kb). The invitation to join the webinar is below. We can accommodate up to 100 attendees, so please register quickly if you wish to join in the discussion.
Voting for the 2 vacancies on COPE council is now open and will remain open until Friday 24 January 2014. All Full and Associate Members are entitled to vote. Please note that there is only one vote per journal title, even for journals with multiple editors. The vote should be cast by the member editor, who is usually the editor-in-chief, or otherwise by the nominated contact for the journal. Editors of more than one journal will have a vote for each journal.
Due to vacancies on Council, we are seeking nominations for two new candidates.These are voluntary positions. Council is responsible for COPE’s policy and management. Council members are expected to attend four meetings a year (at least 2 of which are in London and 2 may be attended by phone or other media). There is also an annual 1 day strategy meeting which Council Members are expected to attend.
At COPE we have followed with intense interest the recent report in Science of a fake paper submitted to multiple journals, some of whom accepted it. There is no doubt that this "sting" raises a number of issues, that academic publishing and those who seek to improve it, need to tackle head on-though I'd argue they are not necessarily the ones that Science thinks are top priorities.
COPE will be running a seminar entitled “Publication ethics in India: Inspiring excellence” on 15 November 2013 at the Annual Conference of the Indian Association of Medical Journal Editors (IAMJE), 16–17 November 2013. There will also be a Workshop on Scientific Writing for Authors on 15–16 November 2013 and a Workshop for Peer Reviewers on 17 November 2013. COPE Vice-Chair, Charlotte Haug, and COPE Alumnus, Trish Groves, will be leading the seminar.
There has been much discussion recently on government, specifically US government, sanctions against Iran, the potential effect on Iranian researchers and some publishers have cautioned editors and reviewers about handling papers from Iran.
23-24 September 2013, Blankenberge, Belgium COPE will be holding an interactive workshop at the joint meeting of the European Association of Science Editors (EASE) and the International Society of Managing and Technical Editors (ISMTE).
Still on the subject of retractions, a recent study published in PLOS ONe by R. Grant Steen, Arturo Casadevall, and Ferric C. Fang asks why are the number of scientific retractions rising? Is it because the number of flawed articles being published are increasing, or that they are being retracted more quickly? Click here to read the article in full.
Liz Wager's recent blog in the BMJ discusss how tricky retractions can be, such as a recent one where the retraction was requested by the company who funded the study and whose employees carried out the research. Although there were some errors in the study, the conclusions were valid.
Ginny Barbour was recently one of two guest speakers for iThenticate's Plagiarism Webcast Series: 5 biggest challenges from the front lines of scholarly publishing, You can listen to Ginny discussing the challenges facing scholarly publishing, or see the transcript, here.
COPE is very pleased to announce the appointment of four new COPE council members, following our recent elections: Mohammad Abdollahi, Deborah Poff, Michael Wise and Adrian Ziderman. Mohammad Abdollahi is editor in chief of DARU Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences, published by Tehran University of Medical Sciences. Mohammad is based in Tehran, Iran. Deborah Poff is editor in chief of the Journal of Academic Ethics. Deborah is based in Brandon, Canada.
The presentations and posters from the 2013 COPE European seminar are now available online. The theme of the seminar was “Publication ethics from student to professional” and includes presentations from Professor Pieter Drenth, Professor Emeritus at VU University of Amsterdam; Dr Irene Hames, COPE council member and former managing editor of The Plant Journal; and Gill Rowell, Academic Advisor at Turnitin.
Voting for the 4 vacancies on COPE council is now open and will remain open until Monday 25 February 2013. All Full and Associate Members are entitled to vote. The vote should be cast by the Member editor, who is usually the Editor-in-Chief, or otherwise by the nominated contact for the journal. See here for more details and to cast your vote.
COPE has received a number of requests from its members on how to respond to anonymous whistle blowers. We have now developed our response in the format of a discussion document which can be seen here.
The videos of the presentations from the COPE North American seminar are now available on the website here. They include presentations from Barbara Jasny, Deputy Editor of Science; Carol Anne Meyer from CrossRef; and Mark Seely, Senior Vice President and General Counsel at Elsevier. The topic is 'Correcting the literature'.
Voting for the 4 vacancies on COPE council is now open and will remain open until Monday 25 February 2013. All Full and Associate Members are entitled to vote. The vote should be cast by the Member editor, who is usually the Editor-in-Chief, or otherwise by the nominated contact for the journal. See here for more details and to cast your vote.
Alltrials.net is a UK group behind a public campaign to call for all trials to be registered and all results reported. COPE has agreed to support this initiative with the following statement: "COPE supports the AllTrials initiative for all trials to be registered and all results reported.
ALPSP are hosting a new course, developed in collaboration with COPE, on 'Publication Ethics: Fraud and Misconduct'. The course will be held on Monday, 4 March 2013, and will be led by ex-COPE Chair, Liz Wager, and Donna Neill, of John Wiley & Sons Ltd and Blackwell Publishing Ltd. Additionally, ALPSP are able to offer all COPE members its discounted ALPSP member rate for the course.
All of the webinars are free to attend and are also listed on the CrossRef webinar page.
Introduction to CrossMark Webinar
CrossMark is a new service from CrossRef, which will enable publishers to communicate changes and updates of their scholarly content on the web. Learn more about this new exciting initiative from CrossRef.
The Esteve Foundation has recently published the latest volume of the Esteve Foundation Notebooks series titled “Competing interests in biomedical publications. Main guidelines and selected articles”, coordinated by Ana Marusic and Harvey Marcovitch. COPE guidelines are referenced in the book. The notebook is available through their website here
The results of part of this research were presented at the CrossRef 2011 Annual Meeting, USA, 15 November 2011 (download the presentation, PDF 745kb). The purpose of this survey was to investigate journal editors’ use of CrossCheck to detect plagiarism, and their attitude to potential plagiarism once discovered.
Due to vacancies on Council, we are seeking nominations for three new candidates.
These are voluntary positions. Council is responsible for COPE’s policy and management. Council members are expected to attend four meetings a year (at least 2 of which are in London and 2 may be attended by phone or other media).
Charon Pierson, COPE council member and editor for the Journal of the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners (JAANP), talks with Jason Chu from Turnitin about medical publication ethics and how editors and researchers can avoid plagiarism.
The video presentations (and slides) from the COPE European Seminar on 'Correcting the Literature' (16 March 2012) are now available online here. The video presentations from the North American Seminar will be available shortly.
The closing date for applications for COPE's research grant is 1 December 2012. Any COPE member can apply for a grant (up to £5000) for a research project into publication ethics. See here for more details and an application form.
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).
Costão do Santinho Resort, Florianópolis, SC, Brazil
COPE is pleased to announce its first seminar in South America, to be held on Monday, November 12 (8:30 am to 5 pm), in Brazil. The meeting will take place during the annual meeting of the Brazilian Association of Scientific Editors (ABEC), at the Costão do Santinho Resort, Florianópolis, 300 miles south of São Paulo.
Download the Autumn issue of Ethical Editing, the newsletter from COPE. This issue's theme is ''Connections''. We would very much welcome any feedback or comments you may have. Please contact us via the website.
The next COPE Forum meeting is being held on Tuesday 11 September 2012, 3-5pm, in the Council Chamber, Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH), 5-11 Theobalds Road, London WC1X 8SH. All COPE members are welcome to attend, whether or not they are presenting a case. Download the agenda and materials here (PDF, 179kb).
"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.
The New England Journal of Medicine is one of 850 new journals who have joined COPE this year. Other new members include Hindawi Publishing Corporation (Egypt and USA), Ubiquity Press (UK), Libertas Academia (New Zealand), ediPUCRS (Brazil), the Royal Society of Chemistry (UK) and the American Institute of Physics (USA).
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.
14 of the 17 COPE flowcharts are now available in Persian. The remaining three (fabricated data in a submitted manuscript, fabricated data in a published manuscript, and how COPE deals with complaints againt member journals) will be available shortly. The Persian flowcharts join the Italian, Spanish, French and Chinese versions already available. Korean, Japanese, Turkish and Croatian will be coming soon.
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.
The final version of the Joint Statement on Research Integrity, has now been released by the II Brazilian Meeting on Research Integrity, Science and Publication Ethics (II BRISPE). The statement has a number of recommendations for institutions to encourage them contribute to fostering research integrity initiatives in Brazil.
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.
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.
Nature Publishing Group has won the libel case brought against them by Mohamed El Naschie, former editor of Chaos, Solitons and Fractals (CSF) regarding an article published in 2008: ‘Self-publishing editor set to retire’. Read more on the judgement here.
The 3rd World Conference on Research Integrity is due to take place in Montréal, Canada between 5 - 8 May 2013.
The conference will focus international attention on research integrity, responsible conduct of research, and publication of research. Attendees will have opportunities to learn the current state of worldwide progress on research integrity, discuss new challenges and emerging topics, and help shape national and international responses.
COPE is pleased to announce its 4th North American Seminar and Forum. The COPE Forum will take place on the afternoon of 18 October (2–5 pm) followed by a whole day Seminar on 19 October. The theme of this year’s Seminar is “Correcting the literature”. More details can be found here.
The next COPE Forum meeting is being held on Monday 18 June 2012, 3-5pm, in the Council Chamber, Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH), 5-11 Theobalds Road, London WC1X 8SH. All COPE members are welcome to attend, whether or not they are presenting a case. Download the agenda and materials here (PDF, 180kb)
The closing date for applications for COPE's research grant is 1 June 2012. Any COPE member can apply for a grant (up to £5000) for a research project into publication ethics. See http://www.publicationethics.org/resources/research for more details and an application form.
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.
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.
COPE is very pleased to announce the appointment of the new COPE Ombudsman, Suzanne Morris. Suzanne Morris is the Postgraduate Coordinator at the Sustainable Minerals Institute, University of Queensland, Australia. Suzanne also holds the role of Research Integrity Officer at the University of Queensland.
Voting for the 5 vacancies on COPE council is now open and will remain open until Wednesday 23 May 2012. All Full and Associate Members are entitled to vote. Please note: there is only one vote per journal title, even for journals with multiple editors. The vote should be cast by the Member editor, who is usually the Editor-in-Chief, or otherwise by the nominated contact for the journal.
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.
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.
How COPE manages complaints against member journals has been revised and updated and is now available via the website here. Note: this revision has not yet been incorporated into the translated versions of the flowcharts. These will be available shortly.
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.
Download the Spring issue of Ethical Editing, the newsletter from COPE. This issue's theme is ''15 Years of COPE!''. We would very much welcome any feedback or comments you may have. Please contact us via the website.
After extensive consultation with institutions and editors around the world, COPE has issued guidelines about how universities and journals should cooperate on cases of suspected research misconduct. The new guidelines are available here and the press release announcing the guidelines is here.
The 2nd Brazilian Meeting on Research Integrity, Science and Publication Ethics takes place in Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo and Porto Alegre between 28 May 2012 and 1 June 2012. Click here for more information.
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.
The next COPE Forum meeting is being held on Monday 5 March 2012, 3-5pm, in the Council Chamber, Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH), 5-11 Theobalds Road, London WC1X 8SH. All COPE members are welcome to attend, whether or not they are presenting a case. Download the agenda and materials here (PDF, 136kb).
A joint COPE/BMJ consensus statement on research misconduct in the UK has been published both on the COPE and BMJ websites (available here). The consensus statement relates to the recent high-level meeting on research misconduct organised by COPE and the BMJ.
You can now listen to the cases presented at the December COPE Forums in audio. Listen to the full discussion and hear how the Forum members debated the issue and the conclusions they arrived at. The December cases start from Case Number 11-23 (Possible overlapping publications/data). See here.
Initial reports of the meeting on research misconduct organized jointly by COPE and the BMJ have been published in the BMJ and also in Nature which has also published an editorial. A full report of the meeting, including a consensus statement, will
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 .
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.
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
COPE and the BMJ have organized a high-level meeting on research misconduct with speakers from several countries. The topic is also covered by an editorial in the BMJ. The editorial is available to BMJ subscribers here, and on the COPE website here.
The slides and audio of the three presentations at the recent North American seminar are now available for downloading here. Listen to Lisa Bero discuss ghost and guest authorship, Dave Kochalko talk about ORCID, and Robert Guralnik discuss authorship issues in mathematics.
Download the Winter issue of Ethical Editing, the newsletter from COPE. This issue's theme is ''Ethics around the globe''. We would very much welcome any feedback or comments you may have. Please contact us via the website.
During the 2nd World Conference on Research Integrity in Singapore in 2010, COPE helped develop two position statements setting out international standards for responsible research publication for editors and authors. They have been published as part of the conference proceedings under a Creative Commons licence* (details of the proceedings are available from the publisher, here).
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
An eLearning course for editors, developed by COPE, is now live on the website. Available to members only, the course aims to give editors a deeper understanding of publication ethics and provides practical guidance on how to detect, prevent and handle misconduct. A press release with more information is available here.
Voting for the 2 vacancies on COPE council is now open and will remain open until Friday 28 October 2011. All Full and Associate Members are entitled to vote. Please note: there is only one vote per journal title, even for journals with multiple editors. The vote should be cast by the Member editor, who isusually the Editor-in-Chief, or otherwise by the nominated contact for the journal.
iThenticate have published a white paper titled: Pressure to Publish, How Globalization and Technology are increasing Misconduct in Scholarly Research, with contributions from the COPE Chair Liz Wager. To read the paper see here.
COPE is pleased to announce that applications are now being sought for the COPE international advisory board. This has been established to enable us to gain an understanding of the ethical issues and concerns facing individual countries and regions. A local point of contact will be appointed to advise and assist COPE in its work to support editors and publishers of peer-reviewed journals in all aspects of publication ethics.
The COPE flowcharts are now available in Chinese on the website. 14 of the full set of 17 flowcharts have been translated, the remaining 3 will be available shortly. The Chinese version joins Italian and Spanish on the website. Following soon are: Croatian, Turkish, Korean, Farsi (Persian), Japanese, Brazilian Portugese and Arabic. We are always looking for new translations.
COPE is very pleased to announce that it will have its first international congress on publication ethics in Shiraz, Iran, 24–25 November 2011. The congress is in association with the Iranian Society of Medical Editors and is supported by Shiraz University of Medical Sciences. The meeting will be held in the five star Homa Hotel (http://www.homahotels.com/Summary.aspx).
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.
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.
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.
Download the Autumn issue of Ethical Editing, the newsletter from COPE. This issue's theme is ''Evaluating current ethical practices''. We would very much welcome any feedback or comments you may have. Please contact us via the website.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
We are now accepting cases for the next COPE Forum, 3.00 - 5.00pm on Tuesday 6 September 2011. The meeting will take place at The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH), 5-11 Theobalds Road, London WC1X 8SH . Cases can be submitted here. Closing date for submissions is Tuesday 23 August.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The COPE eLearning course on publication ethics is due to launch in September 2011. The course consists of eleven modules in total, four of which will be released in September. These are: An Introduction to Publication Ethics, Plagiarism, Fabrication and Falsification. The remaining seven modules will be released subsequently. For more information contact us here.
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.
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.
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.
COPE is pleased to announce its 3rd North American Seminar and Forum. The COPE Forum will take place on the afternoon of 31st October (2–5 pm) followed by a whole day Seminar on 1st November. The theme of this year’s Seminar is Authorship. More details can be found here.
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.
Voting for the 3 vacancies on COPE council is now open and will remain open until Friday 8 July 2011. All Full and Associate Members are entitled to vote. Please note: there is only one vote per journal title, even for journals with multiple editors. The vote should be cast by the Member editor, who isusually the Editor-in-Chief, or otherwise by the nominated contact for the journal.
In a new venture for COPE, we welcome you to submit your publication ethics work for presentation as a poster at COPE’s first Asia-Pacific Seminar in Australia. The topics considered will be publication ethics-oriented research or information about ethical policies, techniques, collaborations, and initiatives that COPE members and others attending the COPE seminar will be interested in learning about.
Download the Summer issue of Ethical Editing, the newsletter from COPE. This issue's theme is 'Exploring the ethical landscape'. We would very much welcome any feedback or comments you may have. Please contact us via the website.
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.
COPE has just posted details regarding its 1st Asia Pacific Seminar and Forum. Taking place in Melbourne, Australia on 14 November 2011, the theme is PUBLICATION ETHICS AT THE FOUR POINTS OF THE JOURNAL EDITING COMPASS. See here for more details. Registration is now open.
When aspects of publication ethics are particularly fast-moving or controversial COPE cannot always provide detailed guidance. Consequently, in a new venture for COPE, we are intending to publish a series of discussion documents with the aim to stimulate discussion rather than tell editors what to do. We hope that, by raising the issues, we can contribute to the debate within the academic publishing community and work towards agreement or definition of difficult problems.
The Royal Society is seeking input from academia, business, industry, Government, interest groups and members of the public for a new, major policy study on the use of scientific information as it affects scientists and society. It will ask how scientific information should be managed to support innovative and productive research that reflects public values. See http://bit.ly/k0vnv8 for more details.
The closing date for applications for COPE's research grant is 1 June 2011. Any COPE member can apply for a grant (up to £5000) for a research project into publication ethics. See http://www.publicationethics.org/resources/research for more details and an application form.
The report from I BRISPE (the 1st Brazilian meeting on Research Integrity, Science and Publication Ethics) has now been published. The meeting took place in December 2010, and was attended by the COPE Chair, Liz Wager, who also presented at the 5 day meeting.
COPE Council member, Margaret Rees, has written a guide to ethical editing for new editors. Becoming an editor of a journal is an exciting but daunting task especially if you are working alone without day to day contact with editorial colleagues. This short guide aims to summarize key issues and to provide links to relevant pages of the COPE website as well as those of other organisations.
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.
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.
The COPE website is undergoing a redesign which involves moving the members database. While this is ongoing, members will not be able to change their details on the website. Members will be able to continue using the website, browsing all the content. Members will also be able to login and submit cases, but will not be able to change their personal details or the details of the
The COPE UK Seminar 2011 will be held in London on Friday 18 March 2011.
The theme of this year’s seminar is authorship and falsification/fabrication of data. Editors, authors and all those interested in improving the standard of publication ethics are welcome to attend. To register, please complete the registration form here.
A registry for the protocols of systematic reviews has been created. The aim of encouraging registration of systematic reviews (as for clinical trials) is to ensure the results are reported responsibly and according to the original design, and also to reduce non-publication of negative findings.
Download the Winter issue of Ethical Editing, the newsletter from COPE (http://publicationethics.org/newsletters).
This issue's theme is ‘misconduct’. We would very much welcome any feedback or comments you may have. Please contact us via the website.
I BRISPE joins together the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ), the Brazilian Center for Physics Research (CBPF), the Institute for Information in Science and Technology (IBICT), the University of São Paulo (USP) and the National Institute for Space Research (INPE), in association with the Inter-American Institute for Global Change Research (IAI).
The I BRISPE will involve 4 full-day round tables and 3 workshops (Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo), which will be held on December 10, 13, 14, 15 and 16, 2010.
4th International Conference on Information Law and Ethics 2011, Thessaloniki, Greece, May 20-21, 2011
Organized by: INSEIT/Ionian University/Macedonian University/Thessaloniki Law School
ICIL 2011 is sponsored by the International Society for Ethics and Technology (US), the Institute for Legal Informatics (Germany), the International Center for Information Ethics (Germany) and NEXA Center for Internet and Society (Italy)
For more details and information on call for papers please see the website: http://conferences.ionio.gr/icil2011
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.
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.
EASE (European Association of Science Editors) is hosting Pippa Smart's How To Be A Successful Journal Editor course on Saturday 5 and Sunday 6 February 2011 in Warsaw, Poland. Pippa Smart will run her very popular course at the National Cancer Centre in Warsaw, kindly hosted by Edward Towpik. More information about course content can be found here: http://www.pspconsulting.org/journals.shtml
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?
Have a research project on publication ethics but don't have the funding? Twice a year, COPE offers up to £5000 to any member of COPE for a defined research project that is in the broad area of the organisation's interests.
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.
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.
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?
Download the Autumn issue of Ethical Editing, the newsletter from COPE (http://publicationethics.org/newsletters).
This issue's theme is ‘Correcting editorial inequalities’. We would very much welcome any feedback or comments you may have. Please contact us via the website.
Can you sum up COPE in a single phrase? We're looking for a new slogan for our homepage. Can you suggest something better than 'Helping journals to get their houses in order'? If we get lots of good suggestions we may ask members to vote on them. There's no prize except the chance to know your creative talents have contributed to our website! Click on the link below to submit your suggestion.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
In response to growing concern about reporting biases, and advocacy for registration of systematic reviews, the Centre for Reviews and Dissemination (CRD) is leading an initiative to establish an international register of ongoing systematic reviews.
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.
Download the Summer issue of Ethical Editing, the newsletter from COPE (http://publicationethics.org/newsletters). This issue's theme is Plagiarism, following on from our recent annual seminar. We would very much welcome any feedback or comments you may have. Please contact us via the website.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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 http://www.eurostemcell.org/commentanalysis/peer-review
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.
These guidelines are an update of the first version of the Good publication practice guidelines, published in 2003. The updated guidelines were produced after consultation with academics, journal editors, publishers, medical writers and companies. They include a checklist.
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.”
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
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.
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).
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.
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.
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
The UK Research Integrity Office has just finalised its Code of Practice for Research, revised following the public consultation on a draft version earlier this year. COPE also commented on the draft version. This final version of the Code is being circulated to the research community. A copy of the Code can be found on their website.
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.
Jeremy Theobald has stepped down as COPE Treasurer. We thank Jeremy for all his contributions to COPE over several years - in particular in developing this website as well as his work as Treasurer and in developing COPE's membership and financial stability. Until formal elections can be held (at the next AGM in March 2010), Richard O'Hagan has agreed to take over Jeremy's role and will be Acting Treasurer and Ginny Barbour will take over from Richard as Acting Secretary.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
An editorial inAmerican 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
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."
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.
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.
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)!
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'.
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:
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.
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.
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:
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.
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...?
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
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.
The Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) is pleased to announce its partnership with Elsevier, publisher of scientific, technical and medical information products and services. More than 2000 journals, the full collection of Health, Sciences and Science & Technology journals published by Elsevier, have been added to the list of COPE members.