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Publishing ethics Guidelines proposed by COPE Mohammad Abdollahi Professor and Dean, Dept. Toxicology and Pharmacology, TUMS EiC, J Med Hypotheses Ideas.

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Presentation on theme: "Publishing ethics Guidelines proposed by COPE Mohammad Abdollahi Professor and Dean, Dept. Toxicology and Pharmacology, TUMS EiC, J Med Hypotheses Ideas."— Presentation transcript:

1 Publishing ethics Guidelines proposed by COPE Mohammad Abdollahi Professor and Dean, Dept. Toxicology and Pharmacology, TUMS EiC, J Med Hypotheses Ideas (Elsevier, The Netherlands) EiC, DARU J Pharm Sci (BMC, The UK) Council Member, COPE (The UK)

2 Why publication is important? All scientific jobs are completed by writing. Scientists in the world communicate with each other by writing Writings should be published somewhere in scientific journals or books, etc. If misconducts happen in publication it will hurt science and related aspects. Therefore, publication needs code of conducts

3 Retraction of papers In the last decade, the number of publications and misconducts in publication have been increasing. Parallel to above increase, the number of retractions has been increased by many journals including very famous ones!

4 How should we deal with publication misconducts The following questions come to mind: 1)Is there any organisation to deal with this concern? 2)What should be done if misconducts happen? 3)Is there any approved advice or kind of flow chart to deal with misconducts? 4)Who is going to judge about occurrence of misconducts? 5)What is happening to publication with the growth of world INTERNET? 6)Is there any tools to diagnose misconduct? 7)Does rapid growth of electronic publication affect happening of misconduct?

5 Overview of COPE What COPE does COPE structure COPE history Resources and member benefits Most common forms of misconduct COPE’s advice for preventing them

6 What COPE does Membership organisation (and registered charity) for journal editors and publishers: Provides advice (not regulation) on all aspects of publication ethics Provides support and resources for good publication practice (guidance documents, flowcharts) Advises on how to handle cases of research and publication misconduct (forums) Educates editors on identifying research and publication misconduct and their responsibilities (seminars, talks, e-learning modules)

7 COPE structure Work guided by an elected Council and elected Officers, who work voluntarily Day-to-day management of business affairs handled by three permanent staff (paid): Operations Manager, Natalie Ridgeway; Administrator, Linda Gough; Web Manager, Cynthia Clerk Specific projects managed by various sub- committees of Council members

8 COPE history Began in 1997 as an informal forum for editors in the UK to discuss ethical issues related to research and publication in biomedical journal publishing In established as a limited company and a UK-registered charity Currently >8000 members, from 75 countries All academic disciplines are covered 20 Council members from 11 countries and a range of disciplines

9 Guidance documents Code of conduct and best practice guidelines for journal editors Code of conduct for journal publishers Guidelines for the board of directors of learned society journals Ethical guidance for peer reviewers Guidance on co-operation between research institutions and journals Guidelines for retracting articles Sample letters for handling common problems Discussion documents (eg, anonymous whistleblowing) A series of flowcharts

10 Flowcharts Redundant (duplicate) publication Plagiarism Fabricated data Changes in authorship Ghost, guest, or gift authorship Conflicts of interest General suspected ethical concerns Reviewer misconduct How COPE deals with complaints


12 Forums COPE offers advice and guidance to its members, primarily through its quarterly forum meetings: Held in London or via webinar Allow members to benefit from views and experiences of other members Cases presented anonymously Text summaries and audio recordings published on the website (database of >450 cases, searchable by year and keywords) Members can contact COPE between forums for advice on urgent cases

13 Other member services COPE members can: Attend the annual seminar for free Access the eLearning package Use the ethical audit tool to see how well their journals match COPE’s guidelines Use the COPE logo in their journal Stand for election to COPE Council

14 Most common forms of misconduct Authorship disputes Plagiarism Redundant (duplicate) publication Reviewer misconduct Ghosts and guests Conflicts of interest Fabricated/falsified data General suspected ethical concerns

15 Authorship disputes Researcher claims that he/she should have been included as an author on a paper Researcher claims that he/she has been included on the authorship of a paper without his/her agreement COPE advises: Have a written policy on what constitutes authorship Request signed statements of contribution from all named authors Request signed agreement from those named under acknowledgments

16 Plagiarism Author presents the work of others (data, words, or theories) as if they were his/her own and without proper acknowledgment COPE advises: Include a definition of plagiarism and your policy on it in information for authors Consider obliging authors to read your policy and tick a box to confirm that prior to submission Consider judicial use of plagiarism-detection software such as iThenticate

17 Redundant (duplicate) publication, text recycling Researcher publishes all (or a substantial part of) a piece of work more than once (in the same or another language) without adequate cross-referencing/justification COPE advises: Include a statement in information for authors that material should not have been published elsewhere Use plagiarism-detection software such as iThenticate

18 Reviewer misconduct Use of confidential information for reviewer’s own benefit (eg, plagiarising text, stealing data or ideas) Submission of biased review in the hope of preventing or delaying publication by a rival Failure to declare competing interests COPE advises: Issue clear advice to reviewers on what is expected of them Refer to COPE ethical guidelines for peer reviewers

19 Conflicts of interest Potential for professional judgment on a primary interest (such as validity of research) to be influenced by a secondary interest (such as financial gain, personal relationships or rivalries, academic competition, or intellectual beliefs) COPE advises: Have a clear policy on conflicts of interest (for editors, authors, and reviewers) Ask all authors to declare potential conflicts of interest, and consider publishing them

20 Fabricated/falsified data Fabrication: invention of data Falsification: manipulation of real data – eg, omission of “inconvenient” findings, alteration of images COPE advises: Have a clear policy on the enhancement, cutting/pasting, or obscuring of images if likely to be a particular problem in your field Image manipulation detection software may help

21 Other issues… Author recommends a reviewer who turns out to be a close friend or even the author him/herself Editor submits and accepts own research without peer review Anonymous whistleblower contacts journal repeatedly, pointing out unspecificied ethical issues in different articles


23 Some cases Mistakes When journals publish notices to correct errors made by authors in published works (i.e. corrigenda) Authorship When a case involves any issues to do generally with authorship Changes In Authorship When changes to the author list are requested at a late stage in the publication process (i.e. after submission to a journal or after publication) Complaints Consent For Publication When authors fail to obtain explicit consent to publish an individual’s personal details (e.g. for case histories)

24 Cases Copyright Breaches When copyright material is reproduced without permission Data Fabrication Making up research findings Data Manipulation/Fabrication Data Manipulation/Falsification Manipulating research data with the intention of giving a false impression. This includes manipulating images (e.g. micrographs, gels, radiological images), removing outliers or ‘inconvenient’ results, changing data points, etc...

25 Cases Data Ownership When ownership of, access to, or rights to publish or to published research data are disputed Disputed Authorship When those involved with a research project or publication cannot agree on how the authorship should be represented (e.g. who should be listed and the order of listing) Editorial Decisions When there are concerns that editorial decisions are being made in an unethical way (e.g. Editors’ conflicts of interests are not being handled properly or if decisions appear to be unduly influenced by commercial considerations) Editorial Independence Restrictions of editorial freedom (e.g. when a journal’s owner or publisher attempts to exert inappropriate influence over editorial decisions) Editorial Misconduct Where an editor or journal has acted in a way that contravenes the COPE Code of Conduct for Editors Ghost Authorship When somebody who deserves to be listed as an author or contributor on a publication is omitted

26 Cases Gift Authorship When somebody who has made little or no contribution to a research project or publication is included as an author Image Manipulation Impact Factors When Editors or publishers attempt to manipulate their journal’s impact factor Journal Mistakes When journals publish notices (errata) to correct problems introduced by the editing process (e.g. typographic errors, omissions, misplaced text, incorrectly labelled figures) Lack Of Ethical Review/Approval Carrying out experimental research that has not been approved by an appropriate ethical review body (such as a Research Ethics Committee or Institutional Review Board) despite such approval being required NB: Some types of data collection, such as routine audit, which may result in publication, do not require ethical review. Lack of review/approval does not necessarily indicate that the research was unethical but simply that the appropriate safeguards/approval processes have not been applied. See also guidelines of differences between research and audit

27 Cases Misleading Reporting Multiple Submissions When a manuscript (or substantial sections from a manuscript) is submitted to a journal when it is already under consideration by another journal Overlapping Publications For research reports: when two (or more) articles report the same analysis of the same data set, or contain relatively small amounts of new data or alternative analyses compared with the original publication, particularly when this is done in such a way that reviewers/readers are unlikely to realise that some of the findings have been published before For reviews and editorials: when two (or more) review articles or editorials include material that has been published elsewhere by the author(s) Participant Confidentiality Failing to respect the right of individuals to have their personal data treated in confidence; failing to obtain explicit consent from individuals to publish personal information obtained in the course of research or treatment

28 Cases Participant Consent Failing to obtain fully informed consent from individuals taking part in research or conducting experiments in circumstances in which voluntary participation (and freedom to withdraw from a study without fear of the consequences) cannot be ensured Peer-Review Process Concerns that a journal's peer-review process is inappropriate (e.g. because it creates conflicts of interest, is unfair, introduces bias or is unethical) Plagiarism When somebody presents the work of others (data, words or theories) as if they were his/her own and without proper acknowledgment Protection Of Subjects (Human) Failing to protect research participants (patients, volunteers or others) from potential hazards of taking part in research

29 Cases Protection Of Subjects (Animals) Failing to minimise suffering and adhere to recommended standards for the care of laboratory (or other research) animals Redundant Publication When a published work (or substantial sections from a published work) is/are published more than once (in the same or another language) without adequate acknowledgment of the source/cross-referencing/justification, or When the same (or substantially overlapping) data is presented in more than one publication without adequate cross-referencing/justification, particularly when this is done in such a way that reviewers/readers are unlikely to realise that most or all the findings have been published before Relation To Society/Owner Concerns about an Editor’s relation to the journal’s owner or parent organisation (e.g. lack of editorial independence, undue interference from parent society, editor contracts or incentive schemes that create conflicts of interest)

30 Cases Research Ethics Investigations Concerns about processes for ethical review of research (e.g. lack of independent review body or inadequate procedures) Retractions Concerns arising from requests to retract published articles (i.e. for a journal to publish a notice of retraction), Editors’ decisions to retract articles or the process of retraction Reviewer Misconduct When reviewers: fail to treat submissions in confidence use information for their own benefit from a submission they have been asked to review (e.g. reporting data as if it were their own, plagiarising text, stealing data or ideas and using them in grant applications) try to delay publications from rivals/competitors submit a biased review or inappropriate recommendations in the hope of preventing or delaying publication by a rival fail to declare competing interests.

31 Cases Role Of Publisher When a journal publisher attempts to exert undue influence over editorial decisions Role Of Sponsor When there is any question over the role of a funder in a publication, including when the involvement of a funder in any part of the research or publication (e.g. study design, data collection, analysis, reporting) is inadequately disclosed Sanctions For Misconduct When journal editors, publishers or learned societies impose sanctions on authors who have committed publication or research misconduct (e.g. by banning individuals from publishing in their journals) Selective Reporting When unfavourable or inconvenient end-points (e.g. outcomes that fail to reach statistical significance or do not favour a particular product or hypothesis) are deliberately omitted from publications reporting research Self-Plagiarism

32 Cross check by the software

33 Cases Undeclared CoI (Authors) When authors fail to declare all conflicts of interest relevant to their publication (i.e. relationships, both financial and personal, that might affect the conduct or interpretation of their work and about which editors or readers might wish to be made aware) Undeclared CoI (Editors) When editors (or other members of a journal’s staff or editorial board) fail to declare conflicts of interest relevant to the editorial processes of their journal (i.e. relationships, both financial and personal, that might introduce bias or prevent objectivity) Or When journals fail to adopt appropriate systems for ensuring that people with relevant competing interests (whether declared or not) are not involved in editorial decisions (e.g. systems to prevent editors from considering their own work or that of close colleagues or family members) Undeclared CoI (Reviewers) When reviewers fail to declare all conflicts of interest relevant to the submission being considered (i.e. relationships, both financial and personal, that might prevent an unbiased and objective evaluation of the work)

34 Cases Undeclared Financial Support For Publication When sources of support for a research project or publication are not declared (e.g. failing to disclose funding for research or for publication such as assistance from a professional writer or payment to an author) Unethical Research Experiments that contravene ethical norms, such as the protection of research participants, the treatment of research animals, patient confidentiality, consent to take part or withdraw from a study or informing participants about the nature of the research Unethical Treatments Administering questionable healthcare procedures (e.g. failing to inform patients of the potential risks of treatment, that a treatment is experimental / unapproved or that they are involved in an experiment) Whistleblowers Individuals who make allegations about research or publication misconduct and the handling of these individuals

35 Sources of information on publication/research ethics COPE : Council of Science Editors : The European Association of Science Editors (EASE) :

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