The Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) was established in 1997 by a small group of medical journal editors in the UK but now has over 6000 members worldwide from all academic fields. Membership is open to editors of academic journals and others interested in publication ethics. Several major publishers (including Elsevier, Wiley–Blackwell, Springer, Taylor & Francis, Palgrave Macmillan and Wolters Kluwer) have signed up their journals as COPE members.
COPE provides advice to editors and publishers on all aspects of publication ethics and, in particular, how to handle cases of research and publication misconduct. It also provides a forum for its members to discuss individual cases (meeting four times a year in the UK and once a year in North America). COPE does not investigate individual cases but encourages editors to ensure that cases are investigated by the appropriate authorities (usually a research institution or employer).
All COPE members are expected to follow the Code of Conduct for Journal Editors. COPE will investigate complaints that members have not followed the Code.
COPE also funds research on publication ethics, publishes a quarterly newsletter and organises annual seminars in the UK and the USA. COPE has also created an audit tool for members to measure compliance with its Code of Conduct and Best Practice Guidelines for Journal Editors.
What guidance is available on this website (for members and non-members)?
- COPE Code of Conduct and Best Practice Guidelines for Journal Editors
- Flowcharts on how to handle common ethical problems
- Other COPE guidelines (eg on retractions)
- Sample letters (to adapt for use)
- Database of all cases discussed at COPE Forum (including podcasts of the discussion (where available), the advice given and the outcome of cases)
Benefits of COPE membership
COPE members can:
- receive advice on individual cases via the Forum
- access the e-learning package (due Q1 2011)
- use the ethical audit tool to see how well their journals match COPE’s guidelines
- use the COPE logo in their journal
- apply for COPE research grants
- stand for election to COPE Council
How is COPE run?
COPE is a charity registered in the UK. It is run by a governing Council whose members are trustees of the charity. COPE has an independent Ombudsman to adjudicate disputes between COPE members or between them and the organisation. The day-to-day running of COPE is handled by the Operations Manager and Administrator.
COPE has supported the UK Panel for Research Integrity (UKRIO) and the World Conferences on Research Integrity (Lisbon 2007, Singapore 2010). It also has links with the Council of Science Editors, the European Association of Science Editors, the International Society of Managing and Technical Editors and the World Association of Medical Editors. You can read more about COPE's history here.