From COPE <[email protected]>
Subject COPE Digest October 2020: Paper mills | New publication ethics cases
Date October 16, 2020 7:46 AM
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We discuss the topic of systematic manipulation of the publishing process via 'paper mills'. A troubling operation which seems to be increasing

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COPE Digest
OCTOBER 2020, Vol 8

Issue 10: Paper mills | New cases

Welcome to the October issue of COPE Digest.

I begin this month’s letter to you with the sad news that COPE Council Member, Dr Tracey Bretag, passed away this month. We refer you to our testimony about Tracey in this edition of Digest.

We also say farewell to two of our Council Members ([link removed]) as they step down from their positions; Seth Leopold after three years and Adrian Ziderman after seven. Adrian has represented COPE over many years, speaking at conferences on our behalf, and was most recently involved in COPE's drive to understand more about the publication ethics needs of the arts, humanities and social science communities. Seth has contributed to many discussions of cases sent to COPE Council and was committed to facilitating the resolution of disputes. My sincere thanks to both for their commitment and support of COPE over the years.

In my July letter ([link removed]) I mentioned that COPE became a signatory to the Coalition for Diversity and Inclusion in Scholarly Publishing (C4DISC). The Coalition recently launched officially, and have updated their website with a range of ways for organisations and individuals to participate ([link removed]) . COPE fully supports the goals of the Coalition. We recognise that experiences of scholarly publishing vary across the world and also appreciate that much may be gained by creating a fully inclusive environment and culture. The first Toolkits from the Coalition ([link removed]) will be developed to support antiracism programmes for organisations, and support career paths for Black, Indigenous, and people of colour. We will be looking to see how COPE can support these initiatives, to raise awareness and wider adoption of the statement of principles.

In our last Forum we discussed the topic of Systematic manipulation of the publishing process via 'paper mills' ([link removed]) . A fascinating but troubling operation...

READ MORE ([link removed]) >

COPE Chair Deborah Poff

Systematic manipulation of the publication process
COPE hosted a discussion at the September COPE Forum, with guest speaker Elisabeth Bik, on the large scale manipulation of the publication process via "paper mills".

Paper mills are profit oriented, unofficial and potentially illegal organisations that produce and sell fraudulent manuscripts that seem to resemble genuine research. They may also handle the administration of submitting the article to journals for review and sell authorship to researchers once the article is accepted for publication. Indications that manuscripts may be produced by a paper mill are more readily detected at scale as they may be similar in layout, experimental approach and have similar images or figures.


A group of COPE member publishers give their perspective on paper mills and the action journal editors and publishers can take to prevent these papers being published.


COPE guidance helps journal editors and publishers identify the suspicious activity that might indicate systematic manipulation. Flowcharts offer a step by step approach to dealing with the issue when it is discovered both before and after publication.
We will continue to work with members to regularly revise COPE guidance on systematic manipulation of the publication process.


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Text recycling webinar recording

In August we hosted a webinar with speakers from the Text Recycling Research Project (TRRP) to hear about their latest findings, and the ethical and practical issues involved in establishing good practice and effective policy.
The recording is now available, plus questions we couldn't get to during the webinar which have since been answered by the TRRP team.

WATCH WEBINAR ([link removed]) >

** Advice on new cases
The cases presented at the COPE Forum on 4 September 2020, together with the advice given and updates on previous cases, are now on the COPE website.

New cases:
* How to respond to a reader's repeated concerns ([link removed])
* Authors requesting withdrawal of articles from similarity check database in order to re-publish ([link removed])

Updates on existing cases:
* Institution refuses to investigate scientific issues ([link removed])
* Allegations related to multiple papers and journals ([link removed])
* Is approval needed for a social media survey? ([link removed])
* Author admits failure to credit other authors ([link removed])
* Author displays bullying behaviour towards handling editor ([link removed])

** Next COPE Forum: Tuesday 15 December, 2PM (GMT)
Please note the change of date for the Forum. The Forum is now on Tuesday 15 December.

COPE Members: if you have a publication ethics issue you're currently dealing with and need advice from other COPE members, you can submit your case for discussion and advice at our next COPE Forum.
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In the News

** Latest publication ethics news
This month the news includes articles on open access, research integrity, current challenges in the publishing industry and more.
* UK seeks to get 100% of all clinical trials registered and their results reported.
* Winners of the 2020 Awards for Innovation in Publishing are a multilingual search engine for international law, and a free tool to create publications with built-in accessibility features.
* The Chinese scientific publishing industry will strive to publish more quality and influential English language scholarly journals, and enhance global cooperation in upholding academic integrity and open science,

READ MORE ([link removed]) >

Dr Tracey Bretag

COPE, and all of us who are committed to academic integrity, lost a good friend on 7 October 2020. Some of us knew Tracey as the Founding Editor of the International Journal for Educational Integrity. Members of ENAI knew her as an active participant and speaker at their meetings. Many people use her valuable Handbook of Academic Integrity. COPE knew her in all of these capacities, and as a member of COPE Council since 2017.

READ MORE ([link removed]) >

** We're looking for new COPE Council members
We are seeking applications from individuals interested in serving on COPE Council. We have six vacancies. We particularly welcome applications from:
* journal editors
* candidates with a background in arts, humanities, and social sciences
* candidates with a background in professional membership organisations

In accordance with COPE’s constitution, the candidate, or the organisation they represent, must have been a member of COPE for at least 1 year.


** Data sharing policies in scholarly publications: interdisciplinary comparisons
Congratulations to Michal Tal-Socher and Adrian Ziderman, authors of a paper funded by a COPE research grant. Their paper, Data sharing policies in scholarly publications: interdisciplinary comparisons, has been published in the journal Prometheus, and gives an insightful assessment of current preferences for data sharing processes and platform solutions across different disciplines.

READ MORE ([link removed]) >

** Transparency in the publishing process
Dr Trevor Lane, COPE Council member, was an invited speaker at the 2020 Asia Pacific Virtual Event of the International Society of Managing and Technical Editors (ISMTE). In the session on 'Transparency in the Publishing Process', he presented a webinar on “Ethical use of professional editorial and publishing support services”.
The webinar and slides from the session are available to watch again.

WATCH WEBINAR ([link removed]) >
COPE Members

Membership handbook
The new membership handbook is a guide, for new and existing members of COPE, to the benefits of being a COPE member, how to make the most of membership, and how to uphold the highest ethical standards in research publishing.
READ HANDBOOK ([link removed]) >

Update your member details
Have your contact details changed? Do you have new staff at your journal?
Update the contact details for your journal on our website and ensure you and your colleagues can access all COPE resources.
UPDATE YOUR DETAILS ([link removed]) >

** COPE Digest Editor:
Nancy C Chescheir, MD, Editor-in-Chief, Obstetrics and Gynecology

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