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Simultaneous submission without aiming at duplicate publication


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.


Retrospective registration, outcome switching and ethical approval


Journal A received a number of concerns from a reader regarding a paper published in the journal. These concerns were reviewed and sent to the authors of a paper, along with additional comments from the editorial board. The concern was largely around retrospective registration, and an inconsistency between the trial registry record and the published paper. An editorial board member conducted a full comparison of the trial registry entry with the paper.


Image manipulation as a general practice


As managing editor, I view all manuscripts before they are assigned to an editor. Within a 4 week period, I have detected five manuscripts where photographs of either gels or plant materials were used twice or three times in the same manuscript. These manuscripts were immediately rejected.


Editor as author of a paper


A subject editor, who oversaw a manuscript, was invited by the authors to become a co-author after the first review round. After inviting the subject editor to become an author (and adding his name to the author list), the revised version of the paper was submitted to the journal. The authors expected that a different subject editor would handle the paper in the next review round.


Extensive publication errors. Should we 're-publish'?


In March 2012, our journal published a posthumous excerpt of a book by a prestigious scholar, who had died before completing the book. We chose to publish because the unfinished book represented the scholar's life work, and would not find another publication venue. The excerpt included a number of large figures, which we also published.


How to correct an incorrect decision to publish a flawed paper


Some years ago our journal published a paper reporting concentrations of a substance in an organ in a small number of people of a particular occupational group who had died of a rare disease. The results have been reanalysed in two subsequent papers and discussed in five pieces of correspondence in two journals. The original paper contributes to a body of evidence used by the defence in some compensation claims in the USA.


Possible plagiarism case


One of the referees of our journal has brought to our attention a potential case of plagiarism.

The referee feels that the a manuscript submitted to our journal plagiarises an article published in another journal. The authors are from an institute in a far-eastern country.

We would be grateful if COPE could provide an opinion on this issue, as well as advice on what would be the best course of action.


Inadvertent discovery of salami submission


The journal submitting this case to COPE sent a paper [paper 1] to a reviewer who wrote this in the review: “…That apart, this manuscript seems to be another report of the already published **** trial, looking at the data from a slightly different angle. I am not convinced, however, that the data is worthy of so many submissions.”


Signing on behalf of other authors


The editors received a manuscript from a Far Eastern country ready to accept. The senior author (who has spent a lot of time in the West) was in the US when the editors asked for final signatures to be sent.  The senior author instructed his team to collect and fax signatures while he was away and this was sent to the editors.


Competing interest issue


An online post-publication literature evaluation service, aiming to highlight the best articles in medicine, received an evaluation of an article on which the evaluator was listed as an author on PubMed. The editor queried the evaluation and the evaluator replied explaining s/he had no involvement with the study but had commented on it.