I am delighted to have this opportunity to introduce myself to the broad readership of the Digest as the new Chair-elect of COPE, a position I will hold for a year before I become Chair of COPE. COPE is entering a critical phase in its life. The organisation has expanded rapidly, so we need to focus on our strategic goals set out last year.
Early in my academic career I was sent a publication in which my name appeared as a 5th author. The research was legitimate, conducted by a senior colleague, and I had participated in a small part of the research. I had not been involved in the writing of the paper, its final approval, or in signing the copyright agreement.
Clear policies (that allow for transparency around who contributed to the work and in what capacity) should be in place for requirements for authorship and contributorship as well as processes for managing potential disputes.
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The topic for discussion at this Forum was ‘Authorship, contributorship, who’s doing what, and what do we need?’ Authorship issues are one of the most common issues that COPE members have to deal with. Leaving aside the ethically problematic issues of ghost, guest and gift authorship, seemingly simpler authorship disputes of for example, who deserves authorship, or what author order should be are very common across most disciplines
The associate editor of journal X identified author Y on a submission paper as someone who had lost their license to practice due to malpractice. As part of the settlement, author Y had agreed to refrain from providing services to patients. Author Y now resides on a different continent, and the study presented in the submission was apparently carried out in in this continent. There is no mention in the conflict of interest statement regarding the loss of license.
In 2012, Dr X started her post-doctoral training under a fellowship. She worked on the project until 2014, when the fellowship ended. She did all the work herself, and gave two seminars showing her results and progress, with positive feedback. When needed, she consulted with the supervisor or with a senior scientist in the laboratory (who has since resigned).
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.