A short research article described a new method and tested the method, showing proof-of-concept that the method worked; the idea for the method is presented as the authors’ own.
On publication, the paper receives an overwhelmingly positive response from the community. Shortly after publication, the editorial team is contacted by a PhD student and their supervisor who had published the idea for the method on a blog 2 years earlier. Side by side comparison shows a significant overlap (approximately 25–30% of the article) between the blog and the article, in particular in the rationale for, and description of, the method. The text is rephrased in many places, but there are large sections that are structurally very similar between the article and the blog with some terminology and phrases being identical. Furthermore, the method is unique in its concept and no similar proposals seem to exist in the published scientific literature (on PubMed), so it seems obvious that the blog was the main source for the overlapping sections.
When challenged by the editorial team the authors acknowledged the existence of the idea and that they should have given credit to the blog but argued that their paper is about the empirical testing of the method. It seemed obvious that credit must be given in the article to the student for proposing the method and that there is no difference between a scientific article and a blog in this respect.
In the first instance, a correction was published with rewritten text and clear reference to the blog throughout the article, making clear the origin of the idea for the approach. The team’s interpretation of the COPE Retraction Guidelines was that this is a partial duplication (thereby treating the grey literature as part of the 'scientific literature' – see question 4 below) and, given that the article adds testing of the method and hence the proof-of-concept, that readers are best served with a correction. It seemed that a retraction, as demanded by the PhD student and his/her supervisor, would more serve to punish the authors (which the editorial team understood is not the purpose of a retraction) than to correct and benefit the literature.
It is worth noting that although three referees approved the article (in open peer review), the student and supervisor and some others who commented publicly have also questioned the scientific validity of the way in which the proof-of-concept was demonstrated in the article.
Question(s) for the COPE Forum
• Where does the journal's responsibility to protect the student's rights lie and does it need to go further than the correction and retract?
• Is this a clear case of plagiarism that demands a retraction?
• How much does the structure and text need to be the same to count as plagiarism? Is this a case that needs to be investigated by the authors’ institution?
• Given that retractions and corrections are primarily meant to correct the scientific literature, is there any difference between a blog and a scientific paper when it comes to 'partial duplication'?
Both a correction and a retraction would protect the student’s rights and correct the record. The question then arises—what is the purpose of a correction or retraction? If it is primarily to correct and benefit the literature, then a correction does that. However, the Forum acknowledged that this will probably not satisfy the student and their supervisor.
The Forum discussed blogs as a source of the scientific literature. Blogs are often not cited because they are not seen as permanent. But is there a difference between a blog “grey literature” and an article “published literature”? The Forum agreed that the blog should be considered as published content and although websites change and the blog does not have a DOI, it should still have been cited in the original article.
A suggestion was that for the original blog post, the student could ensure that the blog has a DOI or it could be written up for a journal, particularly if there is more work done by the student.
On a poll of the Forum audience, the majority agreed that a correction seems to be the appropriate (non-punitive) action (compared with a handful who favoured retraction); a correction also serves the student’s rights by indicating clearly where the ideas originated, and maintaining in the literature the work that validates those ideas. The Forum believed that the editors were correct in the course of action they took, and the requirement that the blog concept be clearly recognized.
The Forum discussed if this was plagiarism. There was certainly plagiarism of ideas and the Forum noted that there should be awareness of “ownership of ideas”. Transparency is key in these scenarios and ideas need to be properly credited. Some argued that the article adds something new (validation) and major correction (to address the unattributed copying via proper reference and attribution) undoes the “harm” done by the absence of attribution.
However, some of the members of the Forum were concerned about the apparent deception—the authors did present the method as their own. They recommended that the journal contact the author’s institution. However, it is a judgment call for the editor as to whether the institution is contacted. The institution might appreciate knowing so they can build guidance on citing grey literature into their teaching/training.
The editorial team took the feedback from the COPE Forum on board and notified the corresponding author’s institution of the allegations; the case is still being considered by the research integrity team at the institution. In addition, an editorial note has been added to the article to alert readers that concerns had been raised about the overlap between the original article and the student’s blog (and that the case has been referred to the author’s institution).
Follow up (January 2017):
The journal did not receive any further information from the author's institute on whether or not they will pursue this further. The editor considers the case closed.
An author on a "perspective/consensus" type paper continues to provide new editorial as well as substantial content comments on consecutive versions of a paper, and currently disagrees with the content of the final version of the paper. The other eight authors have approved the final version of the paper prepared and circulated by the lead author. At this stage, the lead author sees no rationale for making further content changes and hence intends to resolve the situation himself by suggesting to any authors who do not agree with him that they are removed from the authorship list and acknowledged for any key contributions (as appropriate).
Question(s) for the COPE Forum
• Is the suggested handling by the lead author appropriate? Are there are other solutions available/preferable? • Is it appropriate for a lead author to address an issue with the authors individually, initially face-to-face, and then inform/involve all of the authors in a second step for them to make a consensus decision? • What is the Forum’s advice on the role and responsibilities of a lead author more generally? Is there any available guidance on this?
The Forum agreed this is an authorship issue and relates to authorship practices. The "lead" author can have different meanings in different disciplines. There is no accepted general opinion on this issue—it can vary by convention and discipline. The lead author can be the first or last author, or the most senior author.
Editors would not normally become involved with these types of cases—editors usually insist that authors resolve any authorship issues before submission.
Ideally, all authors should agree—consensus should be reached. If the direction of a paper changes, all authors need to agree to the changes in writing. One solution is to ask each author to specify their contribution. CRediT (Contributor Roles Taxonomy) could be useful here. If the authors have made valid contributions to the paper, then the lead author cannot remove them from the paper.
The presenter updated the Forum that the case was resolved by formal discussion with all of the authors on a conference call.
As editor of a psychology journal, I received a manuscript from a group of scholars. The authors describe a qualitative online study with adolescent girls, aged 15–18 years, who met in person with a stranger they first ‘met’ online. The girls describe their reasoning about the risks, the safety measures they used and reactions to discomfort they experienced in the meetings.
The authors noted on our required information form that they “Confirm that all the research meets the ethical guidelines, including adherence to the legal requirements of the study country.” They also note in their cover letter that the paper conforms to APA (American Psychological Association) standards.
In the paper, the authors note that “parental consent was not required” because “all of the participants were older than 15 at the time of the interview, which is the legal age in the country where the study was performed”.
Because they identified the source of a number of quotations from the interviews that they conducted as being from 15 year olds, I contacted the first author for clarification. I also asked where the statute is listed that states 15 years as the age of consent in your country and also asked if the study was reviewed by an ethical review board.
The author confirmed that the legal age is 15 years and the sentence should have read “all the participants were 15 years old or older.” They agreed to correct the paper. They stated 15 years was set in the project as the age where they would not require parental consent, but the youths themselves were informed about the procedure as well as their rights and agreed to participate. They said the law does not require informed consent when personal data (ie, data that could directly connect the information collected to the specific person) are not being gathered and stored during the process (with the exception of biomedical research). Hence institutional review board approval was not required and the project was therefore not reviewed by an ethical board. However, the project proposal contained a detailed description of the procedure, including the ethical aspects. The project proposal was approved by a university, and evaluated, approved and funded by a grant agency.
My concern is about the age of the participants. Does the Forum have a recommendation regarding the requirements for parental approval for participants as young as 15 years, even if the legal age of consent is 15?
Question(s) for the COPE Forum • What is COPE's position on research on 15–18 year olds without parental permission in a country where the legal age of consent is 15 years?
The Forum suggested there are two issues here: the age of legal consent without parental approval and the ethical issue.
While the study has institutional backing, some of the Forum were of the opinion that the study should have been reviewed by an institutional review board. Only an institutional review board or an ethical board can judge whether or not consent should have been obtained.
One view was that parents should have been informed for the younger aged participants (15 and 16 year olds). However, another view was that the benefits outweigh the risks, and that if the parents had been informed, that may have prevented the participants taking part in the study. The age of consent varies widely in different countries. If participants are over the age of consent for that particular country and the study was done according to national standards, then the authors should be allowed to publish. A suggestion was that if the paper is accepted for publication, the editor could put a statement or note on the paper around the issue of consent, in the cultural context. It may also be useful for the editor to write an editorial comment as readers may also have similar questions.
Since many journals have international authors, should the onus be on editors if there is lack of clarity to confirm the norms elsewhere. Do we need universal standards for issues like this?
The reviews for the article were returned and the article was rejected based on the merit of the paper. The matter regarding this specific submission is closed. The authors followed the letter of the law in their country, but the editor still wonders if there should be a universal age for consent of minors, without parental approval. There are many sides to the issue.
The author X of a paper published by journal A complained to the editor-in-chief of journal A that his/her paper has been plagiarised by a paper that has been published later by journal B. Moreover, the authors of the paper in journal B allegedly did not respond to letters sent by author X asking for an explanation about the apparent plagiarism.
The editor-in-chief of journal A compared the two papers and confirmed the plagiarism. Then s/he tried to contact the editor-in-chief of journal B, but no response was received, even after several reminders. Similarly, no more successful were attempts by a representative of the publishing house of journal A to contact any representative of the publishing house of journal B.
Author X continues to ask what journal A (where his/her plagiarised paper has been published) can do for him/her. Journal A is considering publishing either an expression of concern or a ‘note of plagiarism’ on its paper that would inform the community that the paper in journal A has been plagiarised by a paper in journal B.
Question(s) for the COPE Forum • Is journal A entitled to publish an expression of concern or ‘note of plagiarism’ in the absence of any reaction from the author/editor-in-chief/publisher of paper B? • Can this expression of concern/note be published based only on the assessment of the editor-in-chief of journal A?
The Forum agreed that there is often little that the editor can do in these situations when another journal refuses to engage.
One suggestion was to contact the publisher of journal B if there is no response from the editor. The publisher should responsibility in these cases so escalating the issue to the publisher level should be considered. If journal B is a member of COPE, a complaint to COPE could be lodged. The editor could also consider contacting the institution of the author who had plagiarised the work.
There could be copyright issues here, with violation of copyright by journal B (if copyright was transferred to journal A by the author). Therefore, legal action could be considered.
There are instances where unscrupulous journals do not respond to these requests and in these circumstances the Forum would advise journal A to post a note on the paper. The note would also clarify which of the papers is plagiarised. The note should be worded in neutral terms. However, it is unlikely that author X would be satisfied with a note in journal A; he probably wants the paper removed from journal B. If journal A holds copyright to the plagiarised paper, then legal action may be the only option.
A manuscript was submitted to our journal that describes a social media advocacy campaign that was run by an international NGO for the purpose of eliciting public support for a new law in a low-middle income country. The authors are from the NGO and the government department in that country, that together funded and ran the campaign, and also collected and analysed the data used in the manuscript.
Some of the data reported in the manuscript were survey data collected from people who signed the online petition in support of the proposed law. The manuscript provides information that could be useful for others planning similar advocacy campaigns. The data are reported in grouped format (counts and percentages), such that participants are not able to be identified from the results. The nature of the data reported in the manuscript is not of a sensitive nature, and the study would generally be considered a low risk project (answering an online survey about how the participant found out about the campaign and demographics of respondents etc).
The authors state that all respondents agreed to participate in the research. However, the study has not been reviewed or approved by a human research ethics committee.
Question(s) for the COPE Forum • Would retrospective research ethics committee review be appropriate to consider in this situation?
The majority view from the Forum was that the editor should obtain retrospective ethics approval for the study. However, the Forum noted that it is up to the editor, and it is his judgement call; if the editor is happy with the current position, and common sense tells him that the study is sound, then he should publish.
Although low risk, some of the Forum cautioned that the editor should err on the side of caution as the study involves human subjects, and the advice was to go back to the authors and ask them to obtain ethics approval for the study. If retrospective approval is obtained, the Forum advised a note on the paper saying that retrospective approval was obtained, in the interests of full transparency. A poll of the (8AM) audience revealed that the majority were in favour of going back to the authors and asking them to obtain retrospective ethics approval.
Another view from the Forum was that editors should only seek retrospective review under extraordinary circumstances. As a norm, retrospective approval should not be used for any study that has been completed, unless there are exceptional circumstances (research conducted in a war zone for example). A suggestion was for the authors to provide more specific information on the type of consent that was obtained and for this to be published as an appendix to the paper.
The authors were advised by the editor that they needed to address the issue of lack of ethics approval for the study and it was recommended that they seek retrospective ethics approval from an institutional review board. However, the authors resubmitted the manuscript without ethics approval and stated that ethics approval is not required for this type of study (surveys) in the country where the study was conducted. The editor requested they supply further material, such as a letter from the research ethics authority in the country or other official document that confirms this type of study is automatically exempt from requiring ethics approval, and participant information and consent statements.
The journal is waiting on material from the authors to confirm the study meets accepted standards.
Follow up (October 2016): The authors submitted a response to the journal. Rather than evidence of exemption from ethical approval, they obtained retrospective ethics approval from a relevant institutional review board in the country and provided the certificate. The manuscript has now been accepted.
A prospective author contacted the editorial office of a medical journal to request that an intended submission was not reviewed or consulted on by experts involved in a number of published guidelines on the topic of the paper. The author named some of these experts, which included members of the journal’s editorial board (including editor A).
The author justified this request by explaining that his paper disagrees with the published guidelines, and therefore he believed that the experts who contributed to the guidelines would “likely to be very negative and possibly biased”. The author stated that these experts, including some members of the editorial board, may have a conflict of interest. The author stated that his request is permitted by COPE.
The author was asked by the editorial office to submit his paper with the letter that detailed his request. The author did submit the paper with an abridged letter, as he believed that the original letter was not appropriate to submit with the paper. The abridged letter makes the same request, but does not specifically name the experts.
The journal’s policy is for all reviewers and editorial board members to declare any conflicts of interest when commenting on a paper, so that their comments can be taken in the context of their conflict. If reviewers or editors do not feel they can be impartial, then they would be asked not to contribute to the editorial process for the paper.
To provide further context, the author has submitted three papers to the journal previously, which have been rejected. The most recent submission was unsuccessfully appealed. The author’s letter to the editorial office refers to the papers previously rejected by the journal and outlines where they have been accepted for publication and the positive feedback the author has received from outside parties. The author points out that this feedback is “in stark contrast to the very critical comments” from the journal’s editorial board. The author has submitted letters to the journal, which have been published. One of these letters was in response to a paper published by the journal and authored by editor A. After submission of the paper the author emailed the editorial office with the comments: “I am sure that [the journal] will make sure that this manuscript is treated judiciously and justly. I humbly request that [the journal] should make sure that any criticism by editors and reviewers is specific, clearly explained and justifiable. However, if significant errors remain in this regard and if as a result an important debate and patient safety takes a backseat then I will probably need to make a formal complaint to [the journal] against the paper by [editor A] in the interest of patient safety. It is my duty to express my concern that such a complaint could possibly potentially have significant repercussions for the author [editor A].’
In light of these comments the journal is keen to ensure that the author has no grounds for complaint against the journal.
Question(s) for the COPE Forum • Can an author request for certain experts not to be involved in reviewing their paper? • By not involving experts that could be particularly negative, is the journal then giving the paper an unfair advantage?
This case provoked a lot of discussion. The Forum had concerns that the researcher is being overly aggressive, and is behaving in a threatening way and holding the journal to ransom, possibly related to his past history with the journal. The advice was for the journal to take a tough stance and stand by its policies and procedures.
The answer to the question “can an author request for certain experts not to be involved in reviewing their paper?” is yes—the author is entitled to make this request, but the editor does not have to feel bound to exclude specific reviewers. Otherwise there is potential manipulation of the peer review system by the author. The author should give reasons for his requests. Some noted that it depends on how many experts the author asks not to be involved in reviewing the paper. Some journals put a limit on the number of reviewers that can be recommended/request not to review. If the author requests a lot of reviewers to be excluded, then this could raise concerns.
Many journals allow authors to specify "non-preferred" individuals at submission, but no guarantee is given that the editor will exclude those individuals, especially if they are considered the expert in the field. If an editor does contact non-preferred reviewers, other reviewers are also included. A non-preferred individual should not handle a paper as editor.
The Forum noted that these types of situations can end badly if the author has certain expectations. Hence a suggestion was to inform the author that the journal will do their best to accommodate his requests, the journal will conduct an unbiased and professional peer review process which may include some of the editorial board members if they have expertise in this field, and the editors will have the final decision. If the author is not happy with these conditions, then he should be invited to consider withdrawing his paper and submitting it to another journal.
Some cautioned that the author should be given the benefit of the doubt given that academic rivalries and feuds are not uncommon. If the author's study is flawed, other independent experts should be able to point out the flaws. Also, there are occasions when a potential reviewer has made a public statement prejudicial to the content or has a conflict of interest known to the author. If a reviewer is highly visible or is known to have a stance on a particular controversial topic, it is reasonable for an author not to want to have his paper reviewed by this person if the paper takes a contrary view or does not support this point of view, but it is also up to the editor to use his discretion. This can also be difficult in very small fields.
Another view was to ask author if the author agrees to formal open peer review—the reviewers are named, and perhaps the reviews are even uploaded as supplementary files if the paper is published. But others argued that you should not change journal processes for one paper. Also, there is a danger that this may provoke the author further if the reviewers he suggested are involved in the review of his paper. Also, editors have a duty to protect their reviewers.
The Editors decided to comply with the author’s request. The manuscript was rejected, based on two peer-review reports and opinions from 11 editors. The author was told that the journal had complied with the request, and that advice had been sought from COPE. The author subsequently appealed the decision; this was not upheld.
In light of this, the editorial board were asked to create a policy for handling requests to exclude individuals from the journal’s editorial process. The following has been added to the journal’s editorial policy: “We reserve the right to send manuscripts to the reviewers of our choice”. The editor considers the case closed.
A university institutional review board (IRB) investigation found that there was extensive data fabrication in connection with a clinical research study. Three articles and one abstract reporting results from this clinical study were published. Our journal published the abstract, which we intend to retract. The three articles have been retracted by the journals that published those articles.
Given the serious and extensive nature of the data fabrication, and the fact that the research involved infants, a very vulnerable group of subjects, we are very concerned about the fact that several other articles by this author have been published in our journal. Although the research reported in these articles was not within the scope of the university IRB investigation, the research was conducted at that institution and by the same individual. We feel we have a responsibility to alert the readers of these articles to the findings of the IRB report.
Question(s) for the COPE Forum • Is there justification to publish an expression of concern about articles that report research not specifically reviewed in the IRB investigation?
The Forum advised against making a unilateral decision to publish an expression if there is no concrete evidence or proof of misconduct related directly to these papers. This could have huge implications for the editor and the journal.
Is the institution conducting an investigation at present? If the editor has concerns about these papers, then he should contact the institution or the review board who initiated the original investigation and inform them that there are concerns with these papers and ask them to investigate. It would be premature to post an expression of concern without first contacting the institution. Also, if there is no ongoing investigation, it would be inappropriate for the journal to publish an expression of concern.
The editor should also consider the fact that there may be innocent co-authors.
One suggestion was for the journal to consider conducting their own investigation and getting a review board to look at all of the author’s work.
The majority of the Forum agreed that going back to the institution and asking for an investigation was worthwhile; if the institution agrees, then the editor can publish an expression of concern.
A paper was submitted to our journal. The managing editor was concerned about patient information in the paper and queried the authors. The authors responded that the data were collected from routine samples and so consent was never obtained. The patients were lost to follow-up, and there was no ethics committee approval as it involved the study of existing data, but they did discuss with the institutional review board who said it was exempt.
The cohort was 2500 patients, all with one syndrome, in one hospital. The paper contains two tables that display data from 12 patients: sex, age, presenting symptom, as well as laboratory parameters and outcome.
Question(s) for the COPE Forum • Are these patients identifiable? • If we remove, say, age and sex, would that be sufficient to render the data anonymous? Would we lose clinical significance by removing age and gender for those patients, although the paper does mention that of the 12 patients most were female and gives the median age group? • Should we publish this without patient consent? • The study also mentions controls who underwent biopsy, but what is not clear is whether those controls were also from the same cohort and perhaps underwent biopsy as part of routine screening. Would they need ethics approval for biopsy?
The Forum agreed that the case was concerning. With the sophisticated knowledge and information that can be trawled from the internet, the concept of anonymity is becoming more and more difficult. However, editors have to do their best to protect patients’ identities, and it is has to be an editorial decision on the risk–benefit of publishing.
Journals have different policies on publishing papers without consent or approval, although many of the Forum participants said that they would reject a paper if there was no patient consent and/or no ethics approval.
The advice from the Forum was to contact the authors and ask for the Institutional Review Board (IRB) documentation. The editor should ask the authors to clarify why the study was exempt from ethics approval. If the authors insist the study did not require ethics approval, then the editor should ask for proof—for example, a written statement from the IRB. The editor could also contact the IRB directly with their concerns.
The Forum also advised that the issue of consent should be raised with the authors—both consent to participate in the study and consent to have the data published. Was consent received from the whole cohort? Did the authors receive consent to publish from the patients whose data were published?
Following the discussion at the Forum, the journal asked the authors to provide any information that they had about informed consent at the time of treatment. The authors sent their translated form, which specifically mentioned they had consent for treatment and not for publication explicitly. Hence on these grounds, the editor decided to reject the paper. The editor informed the authors, who did understand and said that they could not find the patients to seek consent as they were lost of follow-up. The journal considers the case closed.
Our journal recently approved a commentary article for publication, after the manuscript had been substantially revised during the editorial process. In the course of preparing the text for the article proof, the copy editor discovered that the authors had published the revised manuscript on an external public website, just prior to receiving notification from our system of our formal acceptance for publication. Although formally accepted, the article has not yet be been published (neither online nor in print).
In our journal, authors are required, at the time of submission of a manuscript, to confirm that the manuscript has not previously been published in other media, that they consent to giving our journal exclusive rights to represent, duplicate and publish the manuscript, and that written consent for subsequent use of the manuscript must be obtained from the Journal.
Immediately after submission of a manuscript, all authors receive a confirmation email in which we repeat that the content/manuscript must not be discussed in any form of media until the manuscript is published by the journal, without a specific exception from us. This message is repeated in several subsequent communications, including at the time of acceptance for publication.
The timing of the publication of this manuscript on an external website falls at an unusual intersection between submission of a revised manuscript, acceptance of a final version of the manuscript and publication of the final manuscript. We judge the situation as somewhat different from the COPE flowcharts for redundant publication. We have informed the authors that we have postponed publication until we receive the COPE Forum's recommendation. In the meantime, we have asked the authors to remove the content of the manuscript from the external website.
Question(s) for the COPE Forum • Is it acceptable to permanently withhold publication of this otherwise accepted manuscript?
The editor updated the Forum that the author has now removed the manuscript from the external public website, stating that it was a technical error.
The Forum suggested that this case highlights the lack of knowledge of some authors with regard to the consequences of posting on blogs, websites, etc, and that education is needed around these issues to reinforce the message that this constitutes publishing.
The Forum noted that this was not redundant publication but could have been a breach of copyright, if the paper had not been taken down from the website. With so many publishing models available, is it conceivable that the authors were confused? Editors should ensure their journal policies on permissible duplicate publication are up to date. For some journals, publication of manuscripts on preprint servers, for example, is permissible, but this should be clearly indicated on the journal website. In the present case, the journal does not have an open access policy and at the time of submission the journal assumes copyright of the article.
The Forum agreed that the authors were in the wrong here, but the right thing to do now is for the journal to publish the paper. If the editor feels she would like to do more, she could consider contacting the authors’ institution as a way of educating the authors and providing a gentle reminder of the appropriate behaviour in such instances, and the contract and copyright issues involved when authors submit a paper for publication.
The authors were understanding of the journal's concerns and removed the content from the external website. The journal proceeded to publish the manuscript.
An author submitted a redundant publication to one of our journals. After reviewing the report from the anti-plagiarism software, we followed the COPE flowchart up to and including contacting the author's institution. We have not received a response from the author or the author's institution. Shortly afterwards, the same author submitted a (different) redundant publication to one of our other journals. We followed the same steps and have not received a response.
The institution listed in the author's submission form is not an academic one. We cannot find the author on the staff list and the only email address the author has provided is a Gmail account.
Question(s) for the COPE Forum • What additional steps can/should we should take if the author/institution is unresponsive?
The editor provided additional information to the Forum that the two submissions contained plagiarised material and were replications of two already published articles. The editor has written to the author and the institution but has received no response.
In such cases the Forum would normally advise approaching a higher authority than the institution if that is possible. Is there a professional body that the author belongs to or a funder that could be contacted? In the UK, for example, you might contact the General Medical Council (GMC) if the author was a registered doctor.
However, the Forum acknowledged that there is only so much the editor can do, and it may be the case that the editor has to accept that there is nothing more he can do. The Forum advised making all the journal editors aware of this person in case future submissions are received but advised against blacklisting, especially if the true identity of the author is in doubt.
The editor attempted to contact the author/institution again but to no avail. Both papers were rejected (and the journal’s concerns about the high level of textual overlap were included in that letter, following COPE sample letters). The journal considers the case closed.