COPE's first guidelines were developed by Philip Fulford, Michael Doherty, Jane Smith, Richard Smith, Fiona Godlee, Peter Wilmshurst, Richard Horton and Michael Farthing, after discussion at the COPE meeting in April 1999. These were published as Guidelines on Good Publication Practice (Download PDF, 112 kb) in the Annual Report of 1999 (Download PDF, 4.4 Mb).
In 2004, Richard Smith, the then Chair of COPE and Editor of the BMJ, with Pritpal Tamber and Jeremy Theobald, drafted a Code of Conduct for Editors. The code built on the Guidelines for Good Publication Practice and underwent wide consultation with COPE Council and with editors and publishers. It was published on the first COPE website in November 2004 with an Editorial in theBMJ. The original Code of Conduct (Download PDF, 212 kb) is linked to here for reference but is now reitried and arched.
The code set out standards of good editorial conduct. It called on editors to take seriously their role as guardians of biomedical science by taking all reasonable steps to ensure that allegations of research misconduct are properly investigated. It also established a mechanism for dealing with complaints against COPE member editors that could not be resolved by the journal’s own complaints procedure. A checklist for the Code was developed and members surveyed for their journals' adherence. The results of this were presented by Fiona Godlee at the 2005 Annual Seminar and published in the Annual Report (Download PDF, 160 kb) of that year. To help editors implement COPE's advice and deal with common areas of misconduct, the Guidelines on Good Practice were replaced in 2006 by a series of flowcharts. Originally developed by
The Code of Conduct was reorganised and updated by COPE Council in September 2007 and a further 'gold standard' of best practice was developed. The Code of Conduct was designed to provide a set of minimum standards to which all COPE members are expected to adhere. The Best Practice Guidelines are more aspirational and were developed in response to requests from editors for guidance about a wide range of increasingly complex ethical issues. COPE expected all members to adhere to the Code of Conduct but understood that editors may not be able to implement all the Best Practice recommendations immediately. The idea was that the suggestions made in the Code of Conduct would help to identify aspects of journal policy and practice that needed to be reviewed and that the guidelines would form the basis for periodic journal audits.
Liz Wager also prepared the first draft of those guidelines. They were then developed following discussion with the COPE Council, presented for discussion at the COPE Seminar in March 2008 and published in October 2008.
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1 April 2019
Updated the content to refer to Core Practices. Corrected links.