Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE)

COPE stands for “the Committee on Publication Ethics” and is a forum of peer-reviewed journals to talk over matters related to the integrity of the scientific record. COPE encourages editors to report ethical problems in the publication process.

In concordance with Elsevier’s commitment to support journal’s editor in controlling the cases of violation of publication ethics, all Elsevier-published journals joined COPE in January 2008.

Background

Founded in 1997 by a number of medical journal editors worried about publication misconduct such as plagiarism, unethical research, passing off fraudulent data and so on, COPE was initially a gathering of individuals. Later COPE turned into a limited company (“incorporated”) and a non-for-profit organization.

Role

In the case of an ethical complaint, COPE will not investigate, nor it offers any judgment on the right or wrong of given allegations. What COPE does in such situations is to investigate and determine  whether the journal involved has behaved based on the COPE code of conduct and best practice guidelines for editors.

Cases

The COPE Forum meets in London, and the members can introduce cases for advice. All members and appropriate guests can attend in this Forum in person or by telephone.  

Members who are signed in are invited to submit a case in advance, which are anonymous before circulation and then discussed during the Forum, with advice given on appropriate action. Members should provide feedback on their cases at subsequent meetings.

There is a database that contains all the cases submitted to the Forum, anonymously and free of any information about the submitting journal. All COPE members have access to this database. It is useful in answering queries about the cases similar to those discussed before. It is also a useful research tool.

Furthermore, it is also possible for the members to seek confidential advice on subtle ethical issues, for example between Forum meetings from COPE’s chairman.

Other facilities

Other membership advantages include:

  • Free attendance at annual seminar
  • Website with members area: blog, sample letters, presentation
  • Publication ethics audit tool
  • Newsletter
  • eLearning program on how to handle and stop misconduct

COPE informs editors about the relevant initiatives and invite them to attend in Forums, workshops and meetings. It also contacts them in reference to specific cases involving their journals.

Inquiries

For any queries regarding your journal’s membership with COPE, refer to http://publicationethics.org/contact-us to have access to the member area or about COPE, its website, policies, activities or publication misconduct.

Note:

COPE charts show the general process of investigation in visual form, communication and decision making and for this reason are useful tools for editors. There are petty differences between COPE-recommended procedures as described on these charts and procedure recommended by Elsevier. Therefore, it is recommended that editors discuss and agree with their publishing contact on a course of action together.

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