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The work of COPE (Committee on Publication Ethics). Mike Farthing, editor, GUT Richard Horton, editor, Lancet Richard Smith, editor, BMJ Alex Williamson, publishing director, BMJ Publishing Group. What I want to talk about. What is COPE? Why did it start? What are its aims?

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the work of cope committee on publication ethics

The work of COPE(Committee on Publication Ethics)

Mike Farthing, editor, GUT

Richard Horton, editor, Lancet

Richard Smith, editor, BMJ

Alex Williamson, publishing director, BMJ Publishing Group

what i want to talk about
What I want to talk about
  • What is COPE?
  • Why did it start?
  • What are its aims?
  • How has it done?
  • Where now?
what is cope
What is COPE?
  • The Committee on Publication Ethics founded in 1977
  • A bunch of pals, who are editors and who help each other out with ethical problems
  • An informal editors’ support group
why did cope start
Why did COPE start?
  • A growing appreciation of problems around scientific integrity
  • A series of high profile scandals
  • The loneliness of editors
  • The feeling that we needed to put our house in order
  • We couldn’t wait for the establishment
what are the aims of cope
What are the aims of COPE?
  • To advise on cases brought by editors
  • Publish an annual report
  • Publish guidance on the ethics of publishing
  • Promote research into publication ethics
  • Offer teaching an training
how has cope done
How has COPE done?
  • Aim 1: Advise editors on cases
cope cases 1997 2000
COPE cases, 1997-2000

Evidence of

Not

applicable

Year

Probably no

No of cases

misconduct

misconduct

1997

18

12

0

6

1998

34

30

2

2

1999

28

20

4

4

2000

23

18

5

0

Total

103

80

11

12

problems dealt with by cope
Problems dealt with by COPE
  • Number of cases 103
  • Redundant publication 29
  • Authorship 18
  • Falsification 15
  • No informed consent 11
  • Unethical Research 11
problems dealt with by cope9
Problems dealt with by COPE
  • Number of cases 103
  • No ethics committee approval 10
  • Fabrification 8
  • Editorial misconduct 7
  • Plagiarism 4
  • Undeclared conflict of interest 3
problems dealt with by cope10
Problems dealt with by COPE
  • Number of cases 103
  • Breach of confidentiality 3
  • Clinical misconduct 2
  • Attacks on whistleblowers 2
  • Reviewer misconduct 1
  • Deception 1
problems dealt with by cope11
Problems dealt with by COPE
  • Number of cases 103
  • Failure to publish 1
  • Ethical questions 11
case example probable fraud on a massive scale
Case example: probable fraud on a massive scale
  • Statistician would be happy to go to court to say that the data in a study submitted to a journal are fabricated
  • Review of published work of the author suggests that around 30 papers published in international journals contain fabricated data
  • Complaint made to national body
case example an unbelievable surgical series
Case example: an unbelievable surgical series
  • The surgeon has sutured the superficial temporal artery of 1200 patients with migraine. All are cured.
  • No ethics committee approval. No clear diagnostic criteria. No controls. No evidence of consent.
  • Complaint made to the head of the hospital. No action taken.
how has cope done14
How has COPE done?
  • Aim 2: Publish an annual report
  • Two published, next one December 2000
  • Available: publicationethics.org.uk
how has cope done15
How has COPE done?
  • Aim 3: Produce a code of publication ethics
  • Produced
  • Circulated to around 100 editors
  • Revised
  • Accepted by 98 journals
  • Available www.publicaitonethics.org.uk
how has cope done16
How has COPE done?
  • Aim 4: promote research into publication ethics
  • Small progress
  • Research is planned
  • Is this research? Perhaps just about.
how has cope done17
How has COPE done?
  • Aim 5: Offer teaching and training in publication ethics
  • Two seminars
  • Many lectures
where now for cope
Where now for COPE?
  • Formalise: constitution drafted
  • Shame the British establishment into responding to research misconduct
  • Expand
  • Continue core activities
  • More research and education