News & Opinion

Opinion / Stem cell researchers call for open peer review

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

Opinion / Peer review in stem cell research

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.

News / COPE survey

The results from the survey of COPE Members, which was carried out online recently, have been collated into a report which can be downloaded here (Download PDF, 645kb).

Opinion / RSPCA paper on journal policies for use of animals in research

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.

News / COPE’s retraction guidelines

COPE’s retraction guidelines have now been published and are available to download (see Guidelines,

Opinion / New version of “Good publication practice for communicating company sponsored medical research"

The BMJ has just published a new version of “Good publication practice for communicating company sponsored medical research: the GPP2 guidelines

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.

New elements in the guidelines are:

Opinion / Sense about Systematic Reviews

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.”

News / Forum agenda for 2 December 2009 meeting

Download the agenda and materials for the 2 December 2009 COPE Forum (Download PDF, 144kb).

Opinion / Duplicate publication guidelines from BMC

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

Opinion / NEJM paper on selective reporting of trials of off-label use of gabapentin

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.