The COPE complaints process was established in 2010 (revised in 2014) as means to provide independent guidance on disputed matters of publication ethics for our member editors and publishers. While the members of the Complaints subcommittee have worked tirelessly to provide advice and to assist in resolving complaints brought to the subcommittee's attention, often those results have been frustrated by issues including:
a) lack of clarity about the scope of the subcommittee's remit;
b) misperceptions among COPE's members and wider audience about COPE's role in administering complaints; and
c) the absence of any defined enforcement mechanism.
To address these challenges, COPE's Trustee Board and Council have approved a number of changes to its current process. First, the administration of publication ethics disputes will be transitioned to a new subcommittee, the Facilitation and Integrity subcommittee. The change in subcommittee structure is intended to clarify that the primary role of the subcommittee is not to adjudicate complaints, but instead to facilitate the resolution of disputes in a manner that is consistent with COPE's remit. Second, the process for submission and evaluation of disputes has been modified to clarify the rights and expectations for parties involved in a dispute, and to ensure that the subcommittee can focus its efforts on cases that are best suited for its guidance and mediation service. Finally, COPE has adopted a new sanctions policy, to provide a framework for addressing members who demonstrate an unwillingness to abide by the COPE principles of publication ethics.