Discussion documents

When aspects of publication ethics are particularly fast-moving or controversial COPE cannot always provide detailed guidance. The COPE discussion documents 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 scholarly publishing community and work towards agreement or definition of difficult problems.

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COPE Discussion Documents

If you have any comments, please email the Executive Officer, Natalie Ridgeway.

Preprints. March 2018

    How should editors respond to plagiarism? April 2011

      Forum Discussion documents

      In a new undertaking for the COPE Forum, a specific topic will be discussed at the start of each quarterly COPE Forum meeting. As well as those at the virtual meetings, people unable to take part in the meetings can comment via the COPE website in advance.

      COPE Forum 30 April 2018: Preprints: continuing the conversation

      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.

      COPE has facilitated this discussion previously via an earlier forum discussion and with respect to per review. To continue the conversation, COPE has developed a new ‘Preprints’ discussion document that sets out some of the benefits and challenges associated with the posting of preprints.

      COPE Forum 24 July 2017: Preprints: what are the issues?

      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. To date there have been few public discussions around the ethics of making unverified research available in this way and there are a number of issues that arise.

      Summary of the discussion at the COPE Forum and of the comments on the COPE blog [PDF, 332KB]

        COPE Forum 12 March 2013: Text recycling

        The topic for discussion at this Forum was ‘Text recycling’. Self-plagiarism, also referred to as ‘text recycling’, is a topical issue and is currently generating much discussion among editors. Opinions are divided as to how much text overlap with an author’s own previous publications is acceptable, and editors often find it hard to judge when action is required. In an attempt to get some consensus and consistency on the issue, editors at BioMed Central produced some guidelines. These guidelines were posted on the COPE website and members were invited to comment, and the topic was discussed at the COPE Forum on 12 March 2013

        Summary of the discussion at the COPE Forum and of the comments on the COPE blog [PDF, 113KB]

          COPE Forum 18 June 2012: Electronic Responses to Blogs and Journal Articles

          The topic for discussion at this Forum was ‘Electronic Responses to Blogs and Journal Articles’. Specifically, what are the issues, in terms of publication ethics, surrounding blogs where journals are the target of concerted 'attacks' by the proponents of one particular viewpoint, and are there appropriate guidelines on managing such situations?

          Summary of the discussion at the COPE Forum and of the comments on the COPE blog [PDF, 49KB]