Mistakes (author)

About this resource


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.


Author of rejected paper publicly names and criticises peer reviewer


The first author of a paper rejected by our journal publicly identified one of the four peer reviewers for the paper by name. She did this during a media interview conducted after the paper was published by another journal. The first author implied in that interview and subsequently on Twitter that the paper was rejected because of that person's review and also claimed the reviewer did not reveal relevant COIs.


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.


Mislabelling/duplicate images


We were contacted by a reader who told us that he had spotted a number of cases of image duplication and mislabelling of fluorescent tags that had occurred over the past 4 years. These involved two papers published in our journal, and two other papers published in two different journals. The two papers in our journal were both reviews, and the one that had the most occurrences involved a poster (associated with the review) that we had recently published.


How many “mistakes” are too many?


We published a randomised trial by six authors. Some years later, we received a letter from a researcher who had been looking into the trial in the context of a meta-analysis.


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.


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.