A paper on a controversial topic from three authors was published. All three authors completed forms to say that they did not have competing interests. This was stated at the end of the paper. A reader subsequently contacted the journal to say that she had clear evidence that one of the authors did have competing interests. He had, she said, been involved in legal cases and received substantial payments for his work. The article related to these legal cases. The author intends to write to the complainant and ask her permission to send her letter to the author. If he accepts that he did have a competing interest, then the journal will publish a statement saying so. Does COPE agree with this? Should anything more be done?
_ The public has the right to know if there were conflicting interests and that if there was any doubt, it is better to disclose. _ Just because the material is in the public domain does not exonerate an author from declaring such interests.
The editor sent the complainant’s letter to the author in question after which a statement of competing interest was published in the journal.
A paper published in journal A in 1990 was published almost verbatim in journal B the following year, and yet again in journal C in 1993. None of these publications made any reference to the others. The case emerged in the process of one of the authors applying for a professorship. The authors conceded their error when tackled on the issue. One editor agreed to publish notice of duplicate publication, but difficulties were experienced tracking down the third editor.
Notice of duplicate publication should be published across all three journals, preferably simultaneously.
A paper was published for which the authors’contributions were as follows: A and B had the original idea and planned the study. A was also responsible for collecting the samples and patient data. C established the database and participated in planning the clinical trial. D developed the enzyme linked immunoabsorbent assay and analysed all the samples. E and F were responsible for the statistical analyses of the data. The paper had been written jointly by B, G, D, H and A. A and B were guarantors of the study. D complained to the Danish Committee on Scientific Dishonesty, arguing that the contributor list had been altered from what had been agreed by the authors. The Committee upheld this complaint and the journal agreed to publish a correction to the contributor list, as follows: A and D took the initiative to the investigation. A collected the clinical material. F updated and validated the clinical data, which was initially registered and arranged by C. F and D analysed in cooperation the samples for PAI-1. F and E conducted in cooperation the statistical analysis. F, B, D and A interpreted the statistical results. A and B wrote the first draft of the paper and were in charge of the final manuscript. All authors actively participated in discussions regarding the conduction of the work and in preparation of the final manuscript. The findings of the Committee have subsequently been disputed.