Unethical withdrawal after acceptance to maximize the 'impact factor'?


We are a publisher with a portfolio of about 25 journals, with journal X being the flagship journal. Journal X has a high impact factor. We also publish a range of other, newer journals,  some of which are ranked highly but most have no impact factor.

About this resource

Cite this as: COPE Council. COPE Discussion Document: Addressing ethics complaints from complainants who submit multiple issues. March 2015.
Version 1: March 2015
© 2020 Committee on Publication Ethics (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0)

Full page history


Multiple redundant submissions from the same author


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.


Reprimanded author plagiarizes again


A reviewer, R1, brought to our attention several suspected cases of plagiarism in paper A1, submitted by authors A.

The main concerns were:
— large parts of paper A1 resembled paper B submitted by a different group of authors B, with one of the most major changes being a change in the observation day;
— large parts of a section were taken from paper C by author C, including an entire figure;
— other sentences were copied from other papers.


Author creates bogus email accounts for proposed reviewers


Recently, as co-editor of my journal, I received a manuscript submitted for publication. The author had recommended two reviewers along with their Gmail accounts and affiliations. I was curious about the affiliation of one of the reviewers. I looked this person up and discovered they had a different email address than that provided by the author. So I used


Case of figure duplication and manipulation involving two journals


The editors in chief of journal A and journal B, both owned by society C, received a letter from the last ‘senior’ author, also the corresponding author on one of the papers (author D), concerning separate papers published in both journals (paper E published in journal A and paper F published in journal B), informing them that one of the co-authors on both papers is under investigation for scientific fraud. The results of the investigation are expected to take a further 6 months to complete.


Lack of acknowledgement of contributor


Our case relates to a paper (by author’s A and B) that was retracted because of lack of acknowledgement of the contribution of another author (C). The retraction statement noted: “While the A/B paper is largely the work of A and B, it includes some sentences and ideas that previously appeared in an unpublished paper and/or Power Point presentation only with A and C listed as authors.


Supervisor publishes PhD students work


The PhD supervisor and a co-supervisor published a paper. The paper contained the work of a PhD student; approximately 90% of the paper was from the thesis. The PhD student found out when the paper was electronically pre-published. He contacted the supervisor. The supervisor’s first reaction was “How did you find out”? The supervisor did not want to include the PhD student as an author since he himself had done most of the work.


Suspected contact between reviewer and an author led to coauthorship of the reviewer


A manuscript was submitted via our electronic submission system and processed in accordance with the standard procedures of the journal. This was originally a single author submission, and in the covering letter the author suggested two potential reviewers.

The Associate Editor assigned reviewers, choosing reviewer A along the suggestions of the author, and reviewer B from his own list of reviewers.


Paper published that is a verbatim copy of another published one by another author


This is a report of two cases of possible misconduct by the same author(s): one that was identified during the review process and one only after it was published.