The journal operates a double blind peer review system. Because the journal is small, it does not use a platform for reviews, so reviewers are sent a Word document containing the manuscript and an evaluation form to complete, in which they can leave their comments. However, some reviewers choose to comment directly on the Word document. Most of these comments are anonymised by appearing as user1 or some other nickname. However, sometimes a reviewer will comment using their real name. Typically, the editor must edit each comment and re-do these to remove the reviewer´s name and avoid revealing their identity.
However, is the reviewer implicitly deciding to reveal their identity using their real name when commenting? It takes a long time to mask the identity of the reviewer, as each comment must be deleted and redone.
Question(s) for the Forum
Would it be a breach of contract to send the document with the reviewer’s identity revealed to the author?
The Forum suggested that the editor simply tell the reviewers not to leave their comments on the Word document. The journal could also look at their policies to make it clear to reviewers what they should do. The style of peer review is a matter of journal policy, not contract. The double blind peer review system means that the reviewer and author identities are not known. If the reviewer’s identity is revealed to the author, it may cause problems if the author knows the reviewer, or disagrees with their decision, or feels their decision was biased. This could result in the editor having to find additional reviewers.
If the problem is the time it takes for the editor to mask the reviewer comments from the Word file, the journal could consider using PDF files instead of Word files, or the Word file can be saved as a PDF but without including the tracked changes.
An author affiliated with a research institution R published two papers as a single author, one of them in a journal of publisher A.
After publication, publisher A was contacted by the research integrity officer of institution R with a letter of concern. The letter stated that the research institution has conducted a formal investigation and concluded that the author failed to acknowledge fully the likely contributions made by other staff and students in his research group, even though his work was heavily influenced by the ideas and experimental results of other members of staff in the research group. The formal investigation panel agreed unanimously that the author had behaved unprofessionally and upheld the finding that research misconduct had taken place regarding the submission and subsequent publication of the single author paper in the journal.
The research institute said that they had not been able to reach an agreement with the author about the situation and asked the publisher to publish an erratum (or some similar note of concern) with the text: “The work was carried out while the author was at [xxx] funded by [xxx]. The experimental scheme set out in figure [xxx] was influenced by discussion with the [xxx] groups at [xxx]”
The journal contacted the author, who did not agree with publishing an erratum. The author stated that: the work was not exclusively carried out while being at [xxx], but it represented the results of a continued effort since when he was at another institute (which has been acknowledged in the paper); he was not made aware of the role of the funding agencies [xxx] during his years of employment; he states that the sketch in the figure is his original idea and is not an experimental scheme, but rather may be used to derive various experimental schemes for prototyping.
The author counter-proposed publishing an erratum as follows: "The author also acknowledges the collaborative effort in the submission of experimental proposals [xxx], based on the above theoretical framework, to build the first ever [xxx], which he initiated and led as the Principal Investigator, using the [xxx] Facility at the [xxx], in discussion with the [xxx] teams (funded by [xxx]) at [xxx]. The author further acknowledges the strong merits of this collaborative effort which warrants its continuation as already initiated by the author."
The research institute found the proposed text unacceptable as it both misrepresents and seeks to undermine the findings of the research institute's investigation. Furthermore, it claimed that the author led a collaborative project in relation to the development of an experimental prototype, which is not borne out by the facts. The research institute cannot agree to the publication of such a misleading statement. They ask the publisher instead to consider publishing a statement alongside the author's paper to confirm that it has been subject to a formal finding of research misconduct for making use of the ideas of others without permission or acknowledgement. The institute argues that such a statement is necessary for transparency, and to correct the scientific record.
Questions for the Forum
Has the Forum seen similar situations where the author and the author's research institution disagree about proper and adequate recognition of contributors to a published work?
Is it appropriate to publish a statement of concern that the paper has been subject to a formal finding of research misconduct for making use of the ideas of others without permission or acknowledgement?
The Forum agreed that the institution needs to resolve the issue with the authors. The editor cannot adjudicate in this situation, but they can ensure the publication record is up to date and correct. Hence the Forum advised publishing an expression of concern until consensus is reached by the institution and the authors. In the expression of concern, the editor can describe the findings of the institution and the objections from the authors. Authorship and contributorship disputes cannot be resolved by editors and should be directed to the institution. As there was another institution involved, the editor may wish to contact the second institution and ask them to conduct an investigation but still publish an expression of concern while this is ongoing.
Another option is to threaten retraction of the article if no agreement is reached. The editor could give the institution and the authors a time limit, after which the journal will retract the article.
An invite for a review was made by journal A. The first revision was done six months after submission, and the second revision two months later. Three weeks after submission of the second revision, the editor’s decision was minor revision. At this point, the corresponding author, author X, informed the editor of journal A that the authors were reluctant to respond to the comments of the second reviewer. However, they did not formally decline to revise or withdraw their manuscript from journal A.
Then, author Y contacted the editor of journal B, a review journal which normally commissions its content, to ask if the review would fit into the scope of journal B. The editor of journal B agreed to a submission. He was aware that the review was previously submitted to journal A. Author Y indicated that he wanted to remove the article from journal A and publish it elsewhere. The editor of journal B sent the review for peer review.
Two months later, the editor of journal A contacted author X as the deadline to submit the third revision to journal A was approaching. Author X accepted an extension to submit offered by the editor of journal A. One day before the deadline, the authors contacted journal A to withdraw the paper from publication and mentioned that the review was accepted by journal B.
A month earlier, after one round of peer review in journal B, the first revision of the review was accepted by journal B.
The editor of journal A contacted the editor of journal B, stating that there was simultaneous submission. The editor of journal B contacted their publisher, and the production process of the review was stopped. However, at this stage, it was too late to stop the “in press” version from appearing online. Journal B began an investigation and contacted journal A and author Y. Author Y said he was submitting the case to the ethics committee of his institution. Journal B decided to wait on a final decision until the report was received. Journal B communicated this to journal A. Meanwhile, journal A was concerned that the review was appearing as “in press” in journal B during the investigation. Journal B then temporarily withdrew the “in press” version of the review until a conclusion to the case was reached.
Journal B concluded that this was a case of simultaneous submission without aiming at duplicate publication. Journal B received the report of the ethics committee of the institution from author Y. The report did not find against the authors because they did not submit a revision to journal A while the paper was being peer reviewed at journal B. Author Y said that the authors would like the review to be published in journal B. Journal B forwarded the report to journal A.
Journal A would like journal B to keep the review as withdrawn. Journal A is also clear that it does not want to further consider publishing the review as a matter of principle.
Questions for the Forum
Does the Forum agree with the conclusion of journal B that there has been simultaneous submission without aiming at duplicate publication?
Does the Forum agree with the conclusion of journal A that there has been unethical behaviour on the part of author X (on behalf of the other authors) because they did not formally withdraw the article from journal A while waiting to see if the review would be accepted by journal B?
Does the Forum agree with the conclusion reached by the ethics committee of the author’s institution?
Given that there is no scientific problem with the review and that there has been no duplicate publication, should journal B publish the review with a note mentioning that the review was initially submitted to journal A?
Should journal B keep the review as permanently withdrawn as there was simultaneous submission? If yes, could the Forum advise on relevant text for the note?
Are there any other recommendations?
The Forum noted the policy of dual submission has not been honoured but there is little than journal A can do.
In this case, it seems that the dual submission was not deliberate bad practice on the part of the authors. The authors made the mistake of not withdrawing their article from journal A before submitting it to journal B. The authors may have wrongly thought that journal A knew they wished to withdraw their paper when they stated that they did not want to respond to the comments of the second reviewer. However, they should have engaged with the journal to formally decline to revise or withdrawn their manuscript from journal A at this point, or when journal A offered them the extension. The authors were in the wrong but perhaps they should be given the benefit of the doubt of deliberate dual submission.
Journal B is not at fault as the authors did not make it clear that the paper was still under consideration at journal A. Dual submission in itself may not be sufficient reason for retraction, although it results in wasted time and resources for the journal and reviewers. Journal B should be allowed to re-instate the paper. But journal A should contact the authors about their behaviour, explaining what they did was not good practice.
Some journals state in their information for authors that dual submission is grounds for automatic rejection. There could also be copyright issues if the authors have signed an agreement with the journal.
Author A contacted author B. Author B had published a paper several years ago that contained verbatim text of author A’s previously published work. The verbatim work was cited but presented to the readers as paraphrased from the original. Similarity checking software showed that the paraphrased text was too close to the original text; in fact, it was quoted verbatim.
Author A is demanding that author B request the publisher to remove all of the text used from author A’s published work. Removing all of author A’s work from author B’s published manuscript equates to 8% of the text. The text to be removed would be the ‘paraphrased text' and the reference list entries to author A's work.
The concerns raised by author A to validate the removal of their text from the published work are that although the name of author A lies buried in the sections where phrases, sentences, and whole paragraphs have been lifted from their work, the actual passages lifted are not marked as quotations (by quotation marks, indentation or in any other way); the impression therefore is that the lifted passages are at best, author B own words, or at worse, author B is paraphrasing the words of author A. But neither is true. These are whole passages lifted from the work of author A. An internet search of the words contained in author A’s work will wrongfully and fraudulently show up as belonging to author B.
Question(s) for the Forum
How can the publisher correct the publication record in this instance?
Should the publisher retract the paper or publish a corrigendum?
The Forum advised that it is important where the overlap or plagiarism occurred in the article. If the verbatim text is in the results section or directly affects the findings of the paper, then retraction might be necessary. However, if the copied text is in the introduction or methods sections, for example, then a corrigendum might be more appropriate.
A manuscript was submitted to a journal and after the review and revision process, the submitted manuscript was accepted for publication. During the manuscript revision process, the corresponding author was in contact with the journal: answered all of the emails, performed revisions of the manuscript, prepared answers to the comments of the reviewers, etc.
When the manuscript was accepted for publication and the corresponding author was asked to review the final revision of the manuscript, the corresponding author stopped answering emails. The journal tried to contact the corresponding author several times. The journal also tried to contact the co-authors and the university (the department of the authors), but no response has been received. Thus the manuscript is ready for publishing, but the journal is unable to contact the authors of the manuscript.
Question(s) for the Forum
What should the journal do?
The Forum advised not publishing the paper if the editor does not have final consent from the authors. A suggestion was to contact the authors and the authors’ institutions with a specific deadline, stating that if no response is received within this time frame, the paper will be withdrawn. The editor may wish to also send a registered letter by post to ensure the authors have received the request. The authors require permission from the journal to formally withdraw the paper if they wish to publish it in another journal.
The main reason for not proceeding with publication is that if issues arose with the paper after publication, the authors would need to be contacted, especially if the editor does not have access to the raw data. Authorship implies responsibility for the research presented in the paper. If the authors are not responding, then no one is taking responsibility for the work and therefore the paper cannot be published. The paper should not be published without the corresponding author's final approval.
Another question is whether the author signed a journal publishing agreement. If not, the paper cannot be published from a legal and copyright perspective also.
An author's institution requires that authors publish a set amount of times per year in journals that are indexed by Scopus in order to retain their tenure. The author submits to an open access journal and their paper is published after processing charges are paid. After publication the journal is dropped from the Scopus index. The author asks for the paper to be withdrawn by the journal so that they can submit to a different journal that meets their institution’s requirements.
The publisher removes the paper but it has been indexed for Crossref’s Similarity Check database, meaning that if the author submits to another journal it will produce a 100% match and provide evidence of prior publication. The author is asking that Crossref removes the article from the Similarity Check database.
Crossref is seeing an increasing number of requests like this, where authors are asking for their articles to be removed from journals that they no longer perceive to be a suitable place for publication. Removing the article from the Similarity Check database will allow the author to publish elsewhere, but it could be argued that this obscures the scholarly record by “hiding” the fact that the article has been published before.
Question for the COPE Forum
Should CrossRef remove the article from the database and give the author a "clean slate" to submit the paper elsewhere?
The Forum noted that retracting an article when the indexing of the article in a database such as Scopus or Web of Science changes is not an acceptable practice and is not in accordance with COPE’s Retraction Guidelines. This practice could be considered gaming the system.
The authors should be disclosing, in their cover letter to the new journal, that the article was previously retracted. If CrossRef removes the article from the Similarity Check, they are essentially enabling the authors to hide from scrutiny. Hence the Forum would not recommend that CrossRef remove these articles. Articles are withdrawn and retracted for a number of reasons, and from the editor’s perspective, it is helpful to see the history of the article and the reasons it might have been withdrawn. Hence hiding the history of an article is problematic.
If an author is required to publish in a Scopus indexed journal, when the paper was published it was indexed and hence would have met the requirements of the submission or tenure documentation. It was only subsequently that the journal lost its indexing. Hence authors are gaming the system by asking for retraction of the article and for the history of any prior submissions of that article to be erased. Therefore, by removing the article, CrossRef would be complicit in hiding that information from the authors' employer.
If an author regrets publishing a paper in a low quality journal and subsequently gets the paper retracted, they should explain their mistake to the next journal editor and provide documentation to prove it. Effectively, the burden of proof should be on the author as they made the mistake. It is then up to the new journal to decide if they consider this legitimate and to process the article.
In summary, the Forum recommended not removing articles from the database and forcing the burden of proof onto the authors. CrossRef can legitimately and ethically decide against removing the articles based on the fact that when papers are retracted for other reasons, they remain in the database. CrossRef does not make decisions or judgements on the nature or form of the retraction. CrossRef provides the historic evidence of where that article has appeared over time.
CrossRef are updating their best practice guidance and have shared the case information with Turnitin, and the directors and board of Crossref. A blog about the case will be posted soon and it will appear in the member newsletter. The case is now closed.
A meta-analysis was published in a journal ahead of print, and then subsequently in print. Several months later, the journal was contacted by a faculty member at a university not connected with the study. The reader outlined three general concerns with the meta-analysis. The concerns were discussed by the editorial team, including the statistical editor, and it was decided that the overall results of the meta-analysis were not affected. The complainant persisted in the critique, which was relayed to the authors of the original article. The first author provided a detailed response to the issues raised; the journal did not request an erratum at that time.
A discussion followed between the complainant and the editorial office about the extent to which the issues raised were errors or ‘a matter of opinion’. One error was clear and was corrected by an erratum. In the journal’s view, the other issues raised were open to interpretation. The complainant was invited to write a letter to the editor, but they declined and persisted that an erratum should be published or that the journal should consider retracting the article.
Because some of the points of critique were of general interest to the field, and also in an effort to resolve the issue of the continued critique by the complainant, the journal decided to publish an editorial comment authored by the editor in chief and the statistical editor. The editorial comment paraphrased the complainant’s concerns and added a few additional considerations relevant to the interpretation of the meta-analyses. The complainant was given the opportunity to review the editorial comment and the journal also asked his permission to be acknowledged for bringing the issue to the journal’s attention. The complainant gave his feedback, which was incorporated, and also his permission to be acknowledged. The journal also gave the authors of the original article the opportunity to respond to the editorial comment. The authors wrote a scholarly response and also provided re-analyses of the data when excluding the contested studies. The editorial comment was published, together with the acknowledgment, the author’s response and the erratum.
Before the publication of the editorial comment, the journal held a conference call with the complainant. The complainant had published a paper on a related issue in the preceding year, but the study published in the journal was different from the previous meta-analyses from the complainant’s own group. This had not been disclosed to the journal previously. It became also clear that the complainant had not contacted the authors of the article to share his concerns, and the journal encouraged him to do so.
Subsequently, the complainant raised new issues with the original meta-analyses, which they discussed with the authors. The complainant insisted that an additional erratum was needed; the authors of the meta-analysis are now preparing a second erratum. The complainant was again invited to write a letter to the editor, and again declined.
The journal is concerned that the second erratum will not satisfy the complainant and that this issue will not end unless the journal agrees to retract the original article. The assessment of the journal is that there are insufficient grounds to retract this article. One of the complainant’s recent emails to the authors says that they will contact the authors’ university and colleagues and the funding agencies that support the work of this research group about the purported errors made by this team. The complainant has also requested that the journal involves the publisher’s "ethical committee dealing with the publication process".
Question(s) for the COPE Forum
What is a journal’s responsibility to minimise potential damage that readers can do to the reputation of the author where the reader disagrees with the editorial team and the authors of the original article on whether an error has been made versus a difference in opinion?
What are the options for a journal to respond to (unreasonable) requests from readers regarding the content published in the journal and/or request to retract a paper if the editorial team considers the concern not sufficiently problematic to result in retraction?
What could the editorial team have done to better respond to the reader’s concerns?
The Forum noted that although it is honourable to want to protect the authors from this complainant, it is not the journal’s responsibility. The editor has a responsibility to protect the scholarly record, and to publish errata or retractions, based on the data and peer review process of the journal. In this case, it would seem that this is becoming more of a matter of a personal vendetta between the complainant and the authors. The Forum suggested that the editor could consider contacting the authors’ institutions and asking them to investigate.
The Forum mentioned that often journals encounter individuals who are persistent—they raise one issue, the journal addresses and potentially corrects the issue, but the complainant is not satisfied and refuses to accept that the issue has resolved. All journals can do is follow due process: the journal should have a process, have documentation of having followed that process, be transparent, and keep good records. Ultimately, editors have the right to decide what they publish, and the editor's and publisher’s decision is final. Has the journal communicated this clearly to the complainant? The complainant requested that the journal involve the publishers’ ethics committee, so the editor might consider this option, if an ethics committee exists at the publisher.
These situations can be very difficult for journals, especially with a persistent complainant. If the journal has completed its due process and determined that the article stands, with or without an erratum, then due process has been done. If the complainant comes back with new concerns or issues that were not considered or were not covered by the prior assessment, that might be a reason to look at the article again. But if they are simply reiterating the issues that were raised previously, it is reasonable for the editor to say they have already considered those issues and that the case is closed.
What is the journal's responsibility to minimise damage? The journal’s responsibility is to the content of the article. What the reader does external to the journal cannot be managed by the journal.
A manuscript was submitted to disseminate a cross correlational survey research study. The manuscript states that the data were collected through surveys for the two calendar months prior to initial manuscript submission, which occurred in the middle of the third month. The initial submission indicated the research followed the principles of the Declaration of Helsinki, but no other human subjects’ protection information was provided. This is not unusual at the journal when the institutional review board (IRB) or organisation does not provide documents in English. The journal requires an English language translation copy of IRB approval on submission of the revision. After peer review, a revision was requested along with an English translation of the IRB approval letter, the exemption or the organisational policy or government regulation that clearly exempted the research protocol from ethics review.
The revised submission included an English translation of portions of the IRB approval that documented there were two review dates; both occurred after the initial manuscript was submitted to the journal and the initial “revise” decision was sent to the author. It is unclear if the IRB requested revisions to the protocol, which had already been completed, before approving. The editor rejected the manuscript at this point for ethical concerns.
The corresponding author requested an appeal of the editor’s reject decision. The corresponding author reported a different starting date for data collection than the original manuscript had listed, now only two weeks prior to initial manuscript submission. The corresponding author said that they had missed the IRB deadline in month 2, were triaged and not considered for review by the IRB due to the COVID-19 pandemic at the usual deadline for month 3, but were able to submit on the last day of month 3 and received approval in the middle of month 4 (after which the revised manuscript was submitted). The corresponding author acknowledged they chose to collect data prior to IRB submission and approval under the pandemic circumstances, with a self-determination they were following the requirements of the Helsinki Declaration and no other documented ethical or human subjects’ review prior to data collection was apparent.
The journal often receives manuscripts of survey results intended for an internal organisation needs assessment or evaluation, or for quality approval purposes. There are instances where the results of such survey analysis are appropriate to publish and exempt from IRB review, or for the authorship team to seek IRB approval for dissemination after data collection if an unexpected or novel relationship is found. However, in this instance, there is no clear documentation of the intent for a specific organisation’s needs assessment, evaluation, or quality improvement that would clearly meet exempt from review or ethical approval criteria.
Question(s) for the COPE Forum
Should the journal allow resubmission of the manuscript or an appeal to the reject decision, under the unique circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic, which included the IRB triage of the corresponding author’s protocol.
The Forum noted that most universities had a statement related to institutional review board (IRB) approval with respect to the COVID-19 pandemic, generally stating researchers could not conduct research that required approval and obtain retrospective approval on the research. In this case, it seems that the authors submitted an IRB application and performed the research, assuming the research would be approved. But most universities require researchers to wait for that approval—there is no right of retrospective approval. The Forum believed that the journal took the correct decision in rejecting the article and should not seriously consider an appeal. However, a suggestion was to consider contacting the original IRB to ask if they had a policy about retrospective data collection and if they were aware that the data collection had already occurred.
An author submitted a manuscript and stated that he was the sole author. The manuscript received a favourable peer review and eventually was accepted. Some time after the article was published, a co-author told the author to contact the journal to correct the author list. The author of record (AOR) did this and supplied co-author names to the journal.
The editor worked with the author group to determine the source of the error and to resolve the list and order of authors. The AOR acknowledged that he should have credited additional authors. All authors agreed with the corrected list of authors, but the AOR insisted on being the first author and the other authors did not agree.
Pursuant to COPE guidelines, the editor contacted the university of the AOR for assistance and found that the author had left and was now a resident of another country. The university was unable to assist in resolving the authorship issue. The AOR then contacted the journal and stated that due to disagreement on the order of authorship, he was requesting a retraction of the article.
One more attempt was made by the editor and a co-author to resolve the dispute, but the AOR refused to acknowledge any other lead author. However, the AOR agreed that, following retraction, the manuscript could be resubmitted with another lead author. Attempts to negotiate another solution and education about the consequences of retraction have been unsuccessful in resolving the problem.
Question(s) for the COPE Forum
Are there any remaining options other than retraction?
What is the recommendation should the authors wish to resubmit to the same journal, as has been expressed?
Aside from the existing extensive author guidelines required by the journal, is there another way to prevent this in the future?
What other steps should be taken to address the authors in the case?
The Forum agreed that the editor followed the correct route in terms of handling this case. If the article itself is sound and there is nothing wrong with the research or the integrity of the data in the article, it is usually not appropriate for an article to be retracted for an authorship dispute. The purpose of retraction is to rectify the scientific record not to resolve an authorship dispute.
Also, it is not the role of publishers or editors to resolve authorship disputes. These issues need to be investigated and resolved by the authors’ institutions. The editor may wish to push this request back to the institution and indicate that the journal will not retract the article unless specific reasons for retraction are given.
The COPE retraction guidelines include a section on “Should retraction be applied in cases of disputed authorship?” The guidelines state that “If there is no reason to doubt the validity of the findings or the reliability of the data, it is not appropriate to retract a publication solely on the grounds of an authorship dispute.” The ideal situation would be for the authors to agree on a course of action. Failing that, the institution should be asked to investigate. If the institution fails to investigate, or does not respond, the journal should consider publishing an expression of concern or a corrigendum, which transparently states that the journal has become aware that there is an ongoing authorship dispute.
Another view was to consider if there are grounds for retraction based on copyright infringement or some other legal issue (eg, libel, privacy). If the publisher finds there is infringement on the other authors' rights to have been included as authors on this list, retraction might be justified. The Forum would advise the publisher in consultation with their legal department to determine if there is a serious legal issue that necessitates that the article be retracted. Whether the article is republished with another author list is another issue that would need to be resolved but it would mean that the research is not lost but the authorship is corrected.
For future submissions, the journal may wish to update their instructions to authors to state that a signed statement by all of the authors is required on submission, recognising the order of authorship, that there is no one else that should be included as an author in the manuscript and that manuscripts will not be retracted on the sole basis of an authorship dispute.
Thejournal chose to republish the article with a corrected author list and a corrigendum. The corrected article has been published online and will later appear in a print issue of the journal.
A publisher is responding to allegations about a particular group of authors. The complainants have accused this group of authors of wide scale research fabrication and misconduct, relating to a large number of their papers across many different journals (published by a variety of publishers).
The publisher and the journals that are investigating and responding to these claims have referred the concerns to the institution responsible for the research governance of the authors. The institution said they would investigate and respond by a certain date, but their response is slightly overdue.
Question(s) for the COPE Forum
Should an expression of concern be published while waiting for the outcome from the institution?
One of the journals has received another submitted paper by the same group of authors. Should the paper undergo normal peer review, or should it be delayed because of the unresolved investigation about the other papers?
Should different publishers/journals share information with each other about cases that involve multiple papers and journals? If so, how should the information be shared with others?
COPE typically advises that cases should be handled and judged individually. A new submission should not automatically be dismissed from being peer reviewed, but the editor may wish to consider additional precautions in its review. One suggestion is to ask the author to provide all of the raw data or any underlying images. The journal may wish to do additional statistical analysis to see whether there are unlikely patterns in the data.
Communication with other editors might be fruitful where there are duplications among different papers in different journals across publications. Otherwise, the editor should try to respect confidentiality. The editor should look at their own journal independently of other journals. It is not appropriate to correct or retract a paper just because there are problems with other papers.
After a delay, the journal heard back from the authors’ institution who carried out the investigation. However, the institution’s response has not given the journals enough information to fully evaluate the articles. The publisher is reaching out to other publishers who have been affected by this case to see whether the institution has given other publishers any more information that might be useful. The journal is waiting to receive responses.