What we often perceive as independent quality certificates of publishing ethics are sometimes apparently nothing more than a fig leaf. This is especially true for journals self-registering with the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE). Yet most strikingly, even official paying members of the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) are not really bound to follow the rules of good editorial practice this organization advices. This happens with open consent of COPE, as the examples of Frontiers and also Nature Publishing Group demonstrate. In fact, the COPE council even appears partially managed by the very publisher which openly admits to ignoring its publication ethics guidelines:  Frontiers.

piggy bank

After the Swiss publisher Frontiers was listed by Jeffrey Beall as a potential, possible, or probable predatory scholarly open-access publisher, the Frontiers Communications Office provided a comment under the relevant news article in Nature. It argued against Beall’s listing by mentioning the awards Frontiers received and the Frontiers membership on the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE). In fact, Frontiers writes on their website, under the heading Publication Ethics and Malpractice:

“Frontiers endeavors to follow the guidelines and best practice recommendations published by the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE). […] Frontiers follows the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE) guidelines including its recommended authorship criteria. Frontiers in Cardiovascular Medicine is listed as a journal following ICMJE recommendations on its website.”

So how can a publisher, which journals obviously received the approval of such highly respected publishing ethics organizations as ICMJE and COPE, find itself on Beall’s list? One clue might be: because both ICMJE and COPE leave it to their subscribers as whether to actually follow their recommendations. Publishers, who choose to ignore the ICMJE and COPE advice on publication ethics, are neither requested to comply, nor are they banished if they don’t.

As a reminder, the editorial conflict at Frontiers arose because medical chief editors felt they had little influence on which papers were accepted for publication in their journals and on which criteria. They also perceived the publisher-imposed rules, which strongly discourage manuscript rejection, as hurdles to their editorial duties to prevent the publication of seriously flawed medical papers. Yet in a reply to the editorial Manifesto, Frontiers wrote:

“Frontiers practices abide by these guidelines [ICMJE and COPE]. We are now formalizing this by officially registering our journals with these associations. Frontiers in Cardiovascular Medicine, for example, is listed by ICMJE as a journal that complies to their guidelines”.

Right after the sacking of almost all medical chief editors, Frontiers biomedical and neuroscience journals were indeed enlisted en masse as “following the ICMJE Recommendations”, including Frontiers in Medicine and Frontiers in Cardiovascular Medicine, which did not even have their accountable chief editors anymore. Interestingly, a section of ICMJE recommendations concerns “journal owners and editorial freedom”. On the latter, it says:

“The ICMJE adopts the World Association of Medical Editors’ [WAME] definition of editorial freedom, which holds that editors-in-chief have full authority over the entire editorial content of their journal and the timing of publication of that content. Journal owners should not interfere in the evaluation, selection, scheduling, or editing of individual articles either directly or by creating an environment that strongly influences decisions. Editors should base editorial decisions on the validity of the work and its importance to the journal’s readers, not on the commercial implications for the journal, and editors should be free to express critical but responsible views about all aspects of medicine without fear of retribution, even if these views conflict with the commercial goals of the publisher”.

I have contacted ICMJE with an inquiry, how the journals of a publisher, which seems to openly oppose the ICMJE and WAME-defined editorial independence, could become listed as following these very recommendations. This was the unsigned reply I received:

“The list includes journals whose editors or publishers have contacted the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE) to request listing.  We are not able to confirm the actual editorial practices of non-ICMJE journals.  As is noted at our website: The ICMJE cannot verify the completeness or accuracy of this list”.

My understanding was therefore, that just because a journal has itself listed as “following the ICMJE Recommendations”, it does not necessarily mean that this journal or its publisher are also required to actually implement these. The self-accomplished ICMJE listing is obviously not really attached to the actual act or even intent of “following the ICMJE Recommendations”.

Indeed, the ICMJE Journal Listing Request Form seems to allow anyone to self-enlist as “Following the ICMJE Recommendations”, apparently without further proceedings attached to it. Also, as Darren Taichman, Secretary of ICMJE, wrote in his follow-up email to me: “ICMJE does not collect fees from or certify anyone. And, Frontiers is not a member of ICMJE”. Therefore, in the case of ICMJE one should always make a distinction in publishing ethics expectations between its proper members such as The BMJ, JAMA or The Lancet on the one hand and the “Journals Following the ICMJE Recommendations” on the other.

With the Frontiers involvement with COPE however, it is different. Frontiers COPE membership is official and it costs. Even though the Swiss publisher enlisted only 50 of its 54 journals (thus also reducing its annual membership fee from £5,353 to £3,275), it still is one of the larger contributors to the COPE budget (COPE is legally a charity and thus likely relies on membership fees and donations).

Frontiers joined COPE in January 2015. Exactly one year before, the COPE council member Mirjam Curno, joined Frontiers in her main professional occupation as journal manager. Virginia Barbour, Chair of COPE, has specified in her email to me and in comment on my earlier Frontiers article:

“Mirjam Curno is a member of COPE council – a position she was elected to when she was employed at the Journal of the International AIDS Society in 2012 and which continued (with the agreement of the COPE Council and on becoming an Associate Member of COPE) after she moved to Frontiers; she is now also a trustee of COPE.”

As aside, Curno is not the only COPE council member primarily employed by a commercial for-profit publisher, who is also simultaneously COPE member. Treasurer Chris Leonard is Head of academic and journals publishing at Bloomsbury Qatar Foundation. Former Treasurer and now Co-Vice-Chair Chris Graf works as associate editorial director at Wiley-Blackwell.

It proved rather difficult to engage with Curno on the matter of editorial ethics in regard to her current main employer, Frontiers. In August 2015, I wrote Curno an email, addressing her explicitly in her function as COPE council member (for lack of other options I used Curno’s contact email @frontiersin.org).  My inquiry was about the shortfall of editorial independence at Frontiers, as perceived by the former medical editors and detailed in their editorial Manifesto. My specific concern presented to the COPE council member Curno was, that this situation might be in conflict with the Code of Conduct for Publishers as issued by COPE. The Code namely stipulates that publishers should ”foster editorial independence” and that they

“should work with journal editors to set journal policies appropriately and aim to meet those policies, particularly with respect to:

– Editorial independence

– Research ethics, including confidentiality, consent, and the special requirements for human and animal research

[…]

– Transparency and integrity (for example, conflicts of interest, research funding, reporting standards – Peer review and the role of the editorial team beyond that of the journal editor”

Yet these were exactly the demands which the Frontiers medical editors have issued in their manifesto and for which they were collectively sacked by Fenter on behalf of the publisher.

Since that email two months ago, I never received any reply at all from my direct addressee Curno. Instead, soon afterwards, an email from Frederick Fenter, Frontiers Executive Editor arrived:

“I have learned that you have been in contact with my colleague Dr. Curno with another round of questions.  I remain your contact here at Frontiers for any such requests”.

In his follow-up email, Fenter stated the following:

“Please do not confuse COPE’s business with Frontiers’ business.  If you have queries for COPE, please use their well-established procedures.  Questions concerning Frontiers should be addressed to me. There is absolutely no conflict between our way of operating and the COPE guidelines.  The processes we have implemented are fully compliant, which is obvious to those who read publicly available information”.

Fenter then proceeded on to explain the Frontiers principles, most of which I have already relayed in a comment to the relevant article.  While I am very grateful to Dr. Fenter for addressing all my concerns rapidly and in detailed and extensive manner, he could hardly help me understand the side of “COPE’s business” in regard to Frontiers, for which I specifically have contacted Dr. Curno.

In fact, I was somewhat surprised that a COPE trustee is, for some reason, not able to correspond on her own about the implementations of COPE guidelines by its publisher members. I was left confused as to whether Dr. Curno is a dedicated academic, appointed as COPE trustee against her numerous highly qualified competitors for her engagement and contributions to publication ethics, or if she is currently rather a non-autonomous COPE delegate of her main employer, the publishing house Frontiers. The fact that all communication regarding Curno’s role at COPE happened through her employer at Frontiers, Fenter, as well as the COPE Chair, Barbour, might be interpreted as evidence for the latter.

Regarding concerns about Frontiers editorial process, Barbour (who is also one of the founding editors  and formal editorial director of PLOS Medicine), wrote in her email to me and in the COPE public statement:

“We note that there have been vigorous discussions about, and some editors are uncomfortable with, the editorial processes at Frontiers. However, the processes are declared clearly on the publisher’s site and we do not believe there is any attempt to deceive either editors or authors about these processes. Publishing is evolving rapidly and new models are being tried out. At this point we have no concerns about Frontiers being a COPE member and are happy to work with them as they explore these new models”.

However, Frontiers is not the only recent COPE publisher member which seems to openly take a stance which might be interpreted as contradicting COPE guidelines. Another such example is the much bigger Nature Publishing Group (which mother company, the German publisher Holtzbrinck, also partially owns Frontiers). NPG also has recently joined COPE, with 123 of its journals, including the flagship Nature and other Nature family journals.

Shortly before this, the journal Nature Communications has retracted a paper, with apparently the sole argument being that of authors’ disagreement over the approval of publication. I have reported on this conflict involving Jan Ellenberg, head of research unit at EMBL in Heidelberg, and his former postdoctoral scientist, Aïcha Metchat, for Laborjournal, in German. In such cases, where “there is no reason to doubt the validity of the findings”, COPE retraction guidelines advise the editors to consider a correction, instead of retraction. Even Nature’s own website is quite in agreement with COPE and refers to retractions solely as “notification of invalid results”, which “are judged according to whether the main conclusion of the paper no longer holds or is seriously undermined”. Otherwise, the NPG retraction policies give no mention of authors’ conflicts over the publication of otherwise valid data.

Yet Alice Henchley, Head of Press at NPG, has forwarded me this statement by the Chief Life Sciences Editor at Nature Communications, Niki Scaplehorn:

“Since the publication of the retraction, we have indeed become members of COPE, which provides guidance on publication ethics. The COPE guidelines do not, however, replace our editorial policies, which remain in effect as they were when the decision to retract the paper was made and are clearly detailed on our website”.

Thus, COPE members are not really that bound to precisely follow COPE guidelines. Originally, COPE was founded as “a forum for its members”, and beyond this: “COPE provides advice to editors and publishers on all aspects of publication ethics and, in particular, how to handle cases of research and publication misconduct”. The COPE website also insists: “All COPE members are expected to follow the Code of Conduct for Journal Editors”. Yet this very Code advises that “editors should follow the COPE guidelines on retractions”, which Nature Communications did not. Also, in several instances the Code unmistakably stipulates the demand for editorial independence, the deficit of which Frontiers has been accused of. Understandably, as a discussion and advisory forum COPE is in no position to enforce the adherence of its members to the guidelines they have voluntarily subscribed to. But even then, do such journals and publishers have to be welcomed or tolerated by COPE as its members?

One could argue that it is a wiser approach to engage uncooperative publishers as COPE members, with the expectation that they would little by little eventually adjust their editorial practices to the COPE guidelines on publication ethics. This might be one very enticing future outcome. Another, less desirable one, could be that the new COPE members, likely together with their financially dependent representatives on the COPE council, could simply write a new set of publication ethics guidelines, which may be very different from the current one. Indeed, COPE is a constantly developing discussion forum, and the currently valid guidelines for editors and publishers were formulated by the earlier COPE members’ circle. Who knows, if in the future COPE code of conduct, a demand for editorial independence might actually be deemed as editorial misconduct. After all, there are not many industries where such high profits are being made as in academic publishing.

02.11.2015: The PLOS affiliation of Dr. Barbour has been corrected as a former one, according to her own feedback (s. below). I apologise for using outdated information from the PLOS website (http://blogs.plos.org/speakingofmedicine/author/virginia_barbour/).

68 thoughts on “Join the Committee, ignore Publication Ethics

  1. Dear Leonid,

    See below for some preliminary information about the way how COPE is currently funded. The information was retrieved from the internet at around 15 September 2015. It is thus well possible that details are outdated.
    .
    (1): Total incoming resources: 278,176 GBP (2013). Incoming resources from subscriptions: 263,525 GBP (2013). Source: http://publicationethics.org/files/u7140/Signed_2013_Financial_StatementsFINAL.pdf
    .
    (2): Company membership subscription rates 2015.
    No of journals. Cost per annum:
    2001-2500: 54,579 GBP.
    1501-2000: 44,113 GBP.
    1001-1500: 31,520 GBP.
    501-1000: 18,405 GBP.
    251-500: 10,538 GBP.
    101-250: 9,540 GBP.
    51-100: 5,353 GBP.
    26-50: 3,275 GBP.
    11-25: 1,443 GBP.
    5-10: 682 GBP.
    Source: http://publicationethics.org/files/Subscription%20rates%202015.pdf
    .
    (3): List with the number of journals of some major publishers who are currently member of COPE:
    http://www.elsevier.com/journals/title/all “Showing 1 – 20 of 3159 Journals”
    http://www.tandfonline.com/action/showPublications?display=byAlphabet “Journals(2457)”
    http://www.springer.com/gp/eproducts/springer-journals “The SpringerLink online journal collection includes more than 2.200 English-language journals.”
    http://olabout.wiley.com/WileyCDA/Section/id-406089.html “Wiley offers an exceptional portfolio of over 4 million articles from 1,500 journals.”
    http://www.hindawi.com/ “Hindawi is a rapidly growing academic publisher with 437 peer-reviewed, open access journals”
    http://www.mdpi.com/about “MDPI publishes over 120 diverse open access electronic journals”
    https://www.plos.org/publications/ “The PLOS Suite of Journals: PLOS ONE, PLOS Biology, PLOS Medicine, PLOS Genetics, PLOS Computational Biology, PLOS Pathogens, PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases.”
    .
    (4): the subscription rates for 2015 for some of the members of COPE:
    Elsevier: 54,579 GBP for 2015 (+ 18,405 GBP for 2015?).
    Taylor and Francis: 54,579 GBP for 2015.
    Springer: 54,579 GBP for 2015.
    Wiley: 44,113 GBP for 2015 (or 31,520 GBP for 2015?).
    Hindawi: 10,538 GBP for 2015.
    MDPI: 9,540 GBP for 2015.
    PLOS: no member.

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  2. The ‘Conflict of interest form’ for members of the council of COPE state: “While COIs will be reviewed annually, they must also be specifically declared at the beginning of each Council or Forum meeting or before participation in any complaints processes. COIs are posted on COPE’s website.”
    .
    The COI of Council member Mirjam Curno was undated when it was retrieved from the site of COPE at around 15 September 2015. It lists:
    * “Journal Name (if editor): Journal of the International AIDS Society.”
    * “Publisher: International AIDS Society.”
    This COI statement of Mirjam Curno does not provide any details about her activities at Frontiers.
    .
    LS states: “Frontiers joined COPE in January 2015. Exactly one year before, the COPE council member Mirjam Curno, joined Frontiers in her main professional occupation as journal manager.”
    .
    One might therefore conclude that the COI statement of Mirjam Curno was outdated when retrieved from the site of COPE at around 15 September 2015. One might also conclude that Mirjam Curno has not attended a meeting of the Council of COPE and/or a Forum meeting and/or was participant in any complaint process for already a quite long period of time.

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  3. Dr Schneider seems to be implying that there is some sort of conspiracy about how COPE is run, its aims, and how publishers or journals become members. I’m responding to explain what COPE does and where it sits in the entire landscape of publication ethics.
     
    COPE is a membership organisation, not a statutory or regulatory one, and everything that we do is driven by that. Our structure, governance, and finance are all laid out on our website http://publicationethics.org/about/governance – including the process for election of officers and trustees by the council at the AGM and of council members who are elected by the general membership.

    To be elected to COPE Council the nominee must be a member of COPE as per our Articles of Association (http://publicationethics.org/files/Articles_%20of_%20Association_9September2015.pdf). As such, it is inevitable that all of the council members and trustees are either working at journals or publishers or have other expertise relating to publication ethics – that is what makes them effective COPE council members and trustees.  

    It is of note that the vast majority of the general membership of COPE – of which there are more than 10,000 – are Editors-in-Chief of journals, with only a relatively few memberships being held directly by representatives of publishers. Of those Editors-in-Chief, the majority are academics who choose to use their time to run their respective journals. Mirroring that reality, COPE Council has a mix of professionals employed by their respective journals or publishers and academic editors.

    We all have different perspectives (for example, I’m well known as someone who works for open access) as do the organisations we work for (and we certainly do work to promote publication ethics at the places we work) but we don’t allow these perspectives to bias what advice we give. We have stringent processes in place to recuse ourselves if there are competing interests. Mirjam Curno, as I have already stated, had no part in the decision at COPE as to whether Frontiers became a member. The positions of officers, trustees and council members are voluntary and unpaid and council members and trustees work very hard on their own time to produce the guidance and resources we offer. We have one permanent member of staff (our Executive Officer) plus a small freelance team, who are paid.
     
    COPE started as a very small discussion group among editors and our major discussions – still called forums –  happen 4 times per year and are where we discuss and advise, but don’t dictate, how members could handle the cases they bring. As a membership organisation, our primary aims are to provide advice, support and education to our members, to be part of discussions on publication ethics more widely and, as the need arises, to help develop responses to novel issues that arise (eg the recent fake peer reviewer issues). We aim to do all this in a professional way in an area that we know that can lead to highly charged debates. The style of COPE is both educational, rather than quasi-legal, and collegial. 

    COPE has never expected to be the only organisation who has an opinion or guidelines in this area. All of our resources (except for an online course and an audit tool) are freely available on our site and we know they are used by many groups who are not members. We encourage other organisations to have their own guidelines and to draw on ours if they wish and we have provided input into the development of some of these if asked.
     
    There are some factual inaccuracies in this piece that need to be corrected. I was one of the founding editors of PLOS Medicine, the journal, not PLOS, the organisation. I don’t work there now, I now work for the Australasian Open Access Support Group. COPE, as a charity and membership organization, receives annual fees from its members and has never received independent donations.

    You suggest that “new COPE members, likely together with their financially dependent representatives on the COPE council, could simply write a new set of publication ethics guidelines, which may be very different from the current one.” Our guidelines will certainly evolve over time as needed but we have processes in place to consult widely on them and the suggestion that editorial independence would be considered misconduct is frankly absurd. No one group dominates our discussions and we welcome wide input. The very fact that our current guidelines are so widely used by diverse groups points to their relevance across a wide variety of journals and publishers and even institutions.
     
    Publishing is a rapidly evolving ecosystem of different models. Publication ethics – entwined as it is with pressure to publish, and the other incentives and rewards in academia – is also becoming more complex. We know that there is a wide range of opinions on how journals and publishers should respond to issues that arise, especially new ones, and there are no easy answers – even to what seem like simple issues. The new models of publishing also throw up specific new challenges and we believe that these challenges need the many different groups involved to have robust discussions – but it does also need these discussions to happen in a constructive way.

    On a personal note, chairing COPE is one of the hardest but most rewarding positions I’ve ever had and I’m immensely grateful for colleagues and staff at COPE, as well as COPE members, who are prepared to engage in this important area.

    Virginia Barbour

    Chair, COPE

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    1. Dear Dr. Barbour, many thanks for your feedback and my apologies for using outdated information on your affiliation with PLOS (which is now corrected).
      At this stage, I have named two recent COPE members (one large, Frontiers, and one very large, NPG) which apparently chose to place internal guidelines over those of COPE recommendations. In fact, you do not disagree that this has been the case, and do not indicate that COPE would officially oppose these strategies of the new COPE publisher members.
      These new members are as such in fact likely invited to contribute to future discussions and COPE guideline development (which, as you yourself stated, are not static).
      As in regard to COPE council member Dr. Curno, I am still puzzled why my inquiry to her about COPE policies on editorial independence was answered at that time exclusively by Dr. Fenter of Frontiers, and not by Dr. Curno herself (or any other senior COPE representative).

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  4. Further to Klaas’ comments above: the UK Charity Commission forms don’t list individual remuneration but the outlay for “wages and salaries” was GBP 51,644 in 2014 and there was one employee. That’s a decent full-time income and a nice little earner if it’s in addition to another job, but we don’t know who the employee is.

    Dr Barbour is also Executive Officer of The Australian Open Access Support Group (AOASG); I cannot find much information on that organization. It doesn’t seem to be registered as an Australian charity, and is “supported by” about 17 Australian and NZ universities. It does pay Dr Barbour a (part time?) salary, as per her COI statement (http://publicationethics.org/files/u7141/Virginia%20Barbour%20COIs%20September%202015.pdf).

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  5. My thoughts on COPE are outlined in this blog post… http://www.psblab.org/?p=410
    These thoughts stem mostly from this incident…http://www.psblab.org/?p=334

    Overall, I am not too impressed with the ability of COPE to wield any sort of power to change underlying journal practices. The wording of the guidelines contains a brief statement to the effect that “if a solution cannot be reached, the journal/publisher will be asked to reconsider their continued membership” I can’t remember the exact wording, but I do not believe there is a single documented example of the journal/publisher ever being thrown out. So, either everyone is very compliant (unlikely given what we now know), or the “threat” of dismissal is an empty one.

    As is (unfortunately) the case also for the US Office of Research Integrity, the consequences or sanctions for misbehavior are rather weak, which provides little incentive for anyone to change their ways, even when caught doing things wrongly.

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  6. COPE is currently processing three complaints which I have filed against publisher Taylor & Francis. These complaints were filed on 6, 8 and 10 July 2015. They focus around the refusal of publisher Taylor & Francis to retract a paper, and a comment, loaded with fabricated data.
    See https://pubpeer.com/publications/CBDA623DED06FB48B659B631BA69E7
    .
    COPE wrote to me on 26 July 2015: “Your concerns have been reviewed by the COPE subcommittee that handles complaints and they have established that COPE will be pursuing the case as a complaint. (…) COPE will contact the publisher and request their comments on the concerns raised. COPE will copy you in the correspondence to the publisher, we will aim to do the same in any future correspondence with the publisher unless issues come to light which should be handled confidentially.”
    .
    I received until now not a single piece of the correspondence of COPE with publisher Taylor & Francis.
    .
    I am working closely together with a large bunch of ornithologists and conservationalists. At least three of the co-authors of the comment of Porter et al http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/09397140.2015.1023424#.VfBBh9LtlHx are EiC of an ornihological journal (or hold a position which is more or less equal to EiC). All three journals are very well respected within the community. None these journals is member of COPE.
    .
    See https://pubpeer.com/publications/7DA806A8062EF9474F1A53717B9D1D#fb36200 for more details.

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    1. I would like to note that I have received until now not a single piece of the correspondence of COPE with publisher Taylor & Francis. I am therefore already waiting 198 days to get these correspondence. I have contacted a large variety of relevant parties / allies of COPE about this lack of response from the side of COPE. This was until now also unsuccesful. I do have loads and loads of auto-replies. Anyone any idea what to do next?

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      1. I recommend a thorough reading of Samuel Beckett’s “Waiting for Godot” (or if you are Francophone, “En attendant Godot”.
        You can then, like the rest of us, apply to play Estagon, as we have a lot of experience!

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  7. Craig Hassapakis is the EiC of Amphibian & Reptile Conservation (ARC, http://amphibian-reptile-conservation.org/ ). This journal is also not member of COPE (at least according to http://publicationethics.org/members ).
    .
    Craig Hassapakis did not hesitate to retract very quickly a paper with data on the occurrence of salamanders in Iraq when he received a message that the first author, Omar Al-Sheikhly from Iraq, had incorporated in this paper unpublished data from an ongoing PhD project of a PhD student of Ege University (Turkey). Craig Hassapakis told me that he had done an internship with PLOS in San Francisco and thus knew how to handle when he received an e-mail from the PhD student. This e-mail was received on 2 August 2013 and the paper was retracted in August 2013 (see http://amphibian-reptile-conservation.org/archive.html for details, Neurergus (No. 12) | Volume 6, Number 4).
    .
    Cureus ( http://www.cureus.com/ ) is another example of a journal which is not member of COPE (at least according to http://publicationethics.org/members ). From http://www.cureus.com/author_guide :
    .
    “Publication Ethics and COPE. Cureus adheres to the COPE Code of Conduct and Best Practice Guidelines. Cureus EICs follow recommended COPE procedures whenever alerted to an issue requiring investigation. Cureus is committed and adheres to the prevailing industry standards and procedures for investigating publication ethics. Cureus does not tolerate plagiarism, data or figure manipulation, knowingly providing incorrect information, copyright infringement, inaccurate author attributions, attempts to inappropriately manipulate the peer review process, failures to declare conflicts of interest, fraud and libel. This list should not be considered exhaustive – those with additional questions should investigate additional resources found at the World Association of Medical Editors (WAME), the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) or the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE).”
    .
    From http://www.cureus.com/faq :
    “Who is individually responsible for the scientific quality of publications?
    1. Professor John R. Adler, Stanford University.
    2. Professor Alexander Muacevic, Munich University.
    3. The Cureus Editorial Board of more than 300 accomplished scholars and clinical leaders.
    4. The Cureus Academic Council — a select group of world-renowned academics and past presidents from leading institutions including Stanford University, the Salk Institute, the University of Chicago, Johns Hopkins, the National University of Singapore and the American Medical Association”.
    .
    Such an individual responsibility for the scientific quality is, at least towards my opinion, fully in line with for example “The Netherlands Code of Conduct for Academic Practice” ( http://www.rug.nl/about-us/organization/rules-and-regulations/algemeen/gedragscodes-nederlandse-universiteiten/code-wetenschapsbeoefening-14-en.pdf and http://www.rug.nl/about-us/organization/rules-and-regulations/algemeen/gedragscodes-nederlandse-universiteiten/wetenschappelijke-integriteit-12-en.pdf ). Some relevant quotes:
    * “the generally accepted standards for the execution of professional academic research must be met at all times.”
    * “rules governing that correct exercise of duties should be established in writing to provide a shared frame of reference and, if necessary, a basis for calling each other to account.”
    * “every academic practitioner must be able to explain and motivate if – and if so, to what extent and why – they are at variance with the elaborations of the Code of Conduct (the rule of ‘apply or explain’).”
    * “In assessing the performance of others (peer review of research and manuscripts), academic practitioners are led by scientific or scholarly arguments, and they refrain from assessing a manuscript if there could be any doubt about the impartiality of their opinion.”
    * “every academic practitioner affiliated with a university provides an up-todate and complete list of their relevant ancillary activities on the university website.”
    * “raw research data are stored for at least ten years. These data are made available to other academic practitioners upon request, unless legal provisions dictate otherwise.”
    * “all those involved in academic teaching and research are personally responsible for preventing and drawing attention to academic misconduct.”
    .
    Dr Curno is listed as chair of the Subcommittee “Outreach and Events” ( http://publicationethics.org/about/subcommittees ). One of the objectives of this Subcommittee of COPE is “to increase awareness of COPE and to attract new members.” I still don’t understand why Dr Curno did not respond on queries from the side of LS.
    .
    John R. Adler, the EiC of Cureus, responds on queries from the side of for example Retraction Watch and provides as well insight in his handling. See http://retractionwatch.com/2015/11/02/sex-addiction-article-retracted-republished/ and http://scholarlyoa.com/2015/08/20/some-strange-goings-on-at-cureus/

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  8. “We note that there have been vigorous discussions about, and some editors are uncomfortable with, the editorial processes at Frontiers. However, the processes are declared clearly on the publisher’s site and we do not believe there is any attempt to deceive either editors or authors about these processes. Publishing is evolving rapidly and new models are being tried out. At this point we have no concerns about Frontiers being a COPE member and are happy to work with them as they explore these new models”.

    If you can’t answer the question you’re being asked, change the question. The issue is not whether there is “any attempt to deceive editors or authors about the process” on the part of Frontiers, nor whether they are “exploring new models,” but whether “the process” is violating guidelines they are claiming to uphold. Are the editors “uncomfortable” because the “processes” are violating ethical guidelines, or because they’re confused Luddites?

    Does Dr. Barbour think a. Frontiers are violating the guidelines, b. Frontiers are not violating the guidelines c. Frontiers are kind of in violation of the guidelines d. It doesn’t really matter whether or not Frontiers are violating the guidelines; e. The rain in Spain falls mainly in the plain?

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  9. I don’t know how frequent this is, but I can offer two clear instances where Frontiers assigned articles to editors who were not remotely competent in the subject matter of the article.

    (The first example, moreover, is an article published in Frontiers in Systems Neuroscience in November 2015 that is essentially a repeat of an article published by Frontiers in Psychology in July 2015 (and, before that in PNAS in 2011.) (Not sure where COPE stands on this issue, but according to standards developed at the Second World Conference on Research Integrity, “Researchers should adhere to publication requirements that submitted work is original, is not plagiarised, and has not been published elsewhere.” (Wager E & Kleinert S (2011) Responsible research publication: international standards for authors. A position statement developed at the 2nd World Conference on Research Integrity, Singapore, July 22-24, 2010. Chapter 50 in: Mayer T & Steneck N (eds) Promoting Research Integrity in a Global Environment. Imperial College Press / World Scientific Publishing, Singapore (pp 309-16). (ISBN 978-981-4340-97-7))

    The article is Perception and Reality: Why a wholly empirical paradigm is needed to understand vision (Purves, Morgenster & Wojtach, 2015) in Frontiers in Systems Neuroscience. The editor is C.A. Antoniades. According to her web page, she studies “brain diseases [that] affect various types of bodily movements, either producing unwanted movements such as tremors or reducing movement by making the patient stiff and slow, or sometimes both.” Her relationship to vision science is via studies of the oculomotor system. I suppose that, given that the article had already been published twice, once in PNAS, she felt reasonably safe in her decision. I’m looking forward to the next Frontiers version of this paper, because readers who don’t happen to visit the home pages of Frontiers in Sys.Neurosci. and Frontiers in Psych can locate it (oh, wait…). (Btw, I have posted numerous analytical comments on the Frontiers in Psychology version on PP and PubMed Commons (to which the authors briefly and inadequately responded), and will compose a more organised review of this latest version. (I also addressed the PNAA version in a recent editorial in Peception.)

    The second example involves a comment I submitted in response to an article in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience by Tseng, Gobell and Sperling (2015). The topic relates to shape and slant perception, and the editor was a child psychologist whose work had no connection to visual perception, and who rejected the article without offering any rationale. (I have since published my observations (to which the authors responded) on PP and PMC).

    I’m sure there are many such cases. How ironic that Frontiers innovative transparency policy (publishing editors’ names) should end up revealing that they are corrupting corruptible editors…

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    1. Replying to myself – Given that the first version included R.B. Lotto as co-author, should we view his work as having been plagiarised – at least by the new co-author (what was his role, grammar-check)?Why did they need a new third co-author? Why not just keep the two original ones, and leave it at that?

      The term shell-game comes to mind, for some reason that is not completely clear to me.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. I would like to report some findings about the COI statement of Dr Curno, downloaded on 10 September 2015 from COPE’s website. The link to this COI statement at the bio of Dr Curno indicated on 10 September 2015: “The competing interest statement for Mirjam Curno for 2012 can be downloaded here (PDF 216kb)”.
    .
    This COI statement of Dr Curno is undated. It lists: “Journal Name (if editor): Journal of the International AIDS Society. Publisher: International AIDS Society.” I am unable to find any details about Frontiers in this undated COI statement of Dr Curno. The bottom of the form states: “While COIs will be reviewed annually, they must also be specifically declared at the beginning of each Council or Forum meeting or before participation in any complaints processes. COIs are posted on COPE’s website.”
    .
    Dr Scheiner wrote: “Frontiers joined COPE in January 2015. Exactly one year before, the COPE council member Mirjam Curno, joined Frontiers in her main professional occupation as journal manager.”
    .
    It seems therefore that Dr Curno has not attended any “Council of Forum meeting” for already at least one and a half year. It seems as well that Dr Curno was not in involved in any “complaints processes” since she moved to Frontiers.
    .
    I am hereby inviting to Dr Curno to confirm that she has not attended any forum meeting or council meeting of COPE for at least this period of time (the whole of 2014 and 2015 until 10 September). I am hereby inviting as well to Dr Curno to confirm that she was not involved in any complaints process at COPE for the same period of time.

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  11. Dear Leonid,
    .
    I am realizing myself that I had already posted details about the COI statement of Dr Curno on 1 November 2015. There is until now no response from Dr Curno. You were also wondering why Dr Curno did not respond on queries from your side. I tend to interprete this ‘no response’ as intentional and as worrisome. There are of course valid motives (sick and/or on leave and/or for a prolonged period of time at a site without connection to the internet) which might explain why Dr Curno has until now not responded. I offer my deep apologies to Dr Curno when there are indeed such valid motives.
    .
    I would also like to inform you about details in the biography of Dr Barbour, chair of COPE, which were present on the website of COPE on 10 September 2015. It is stated in this biography: “She has a long history of working in open access publishing, having joined PLOS in 2004 as one of the three founding editors of PLOS Medicine, finally becoming Medicine and Biological Editor Director of PLOS in 2014.”
    .
    Her COI statement (also downloaded on 10 September 2015) was dated 20 January 2013. It states: “I am Chief Editor of PLOS Medicine and Medicine Editorial Director, PLOS, and thus employed by PLOS (the Public Library of Science)”.
    .
    This form (the COI statement of Dr Barbour) states as well: “While COIs will be reviewed annually, they must also be specifically declared at the beginning of each Council or Forum meeting or before participation in any complaints processes. COIs are posted on COPE’s website.”
    .
    So what do you think? Does this information imply that Dr Barbour was attending meetings of COPE and/or was Dr Barbour involved in complaints processes with an outdated COI statement? Or does this imply that Dr Barbour has not been involved in any of these activities at COPE for already a prolonged period of time?
    .
    I am of course also inviting Dr. Barbour to join the debate at this blog about the details of 10 September 2015 in her biography and in her COI Statement and to provide the readers of this blog with her points of view.
    .
    Klaas van Dijk

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    1. Dear Klaas,
      regarding the the role of Dr. Curno at COPE:
      since no further information has arrived, neither from Frontiers, nor from COPE, nor in fact from Dr. Curno herself, it is safe to assume that she indeed is installed at COPE solely as a Frontiers representative and has no independent function at COPE outside of this.
      Frontiers seems to have a rather strict hierarchy (https://www.glassdoor.co.uk/Reviews/Frontiers-Reviews-E690862.htm), and this might explain why Dr. Curno was not allowed to reply to me and why my inquiry to her was answered by Dr. Fenter only.

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      1. Dear Leonid,

        Thanks alot for your kind and friendly response. I still fail to understand that it seems to me that it is not allowed for Dr Curno to contact you without an approval from Dr Fenter and/or without an approval from Dr Barbour.

        So what will happen when you are at a scientific meeting about for example publication ethics and/ or open access, etc, and you will meet Dr Curno at such a meeting? Does my assumption about an approval of Dr. Fenter and/or an approval of Dr Barbour implies that Dr Curno is not allowed to communicate with you when there is no approval from Dr Fenter and/or from Dr Barbour and/or that Dr Curno will first need to contact Dr Fenter and/or Dr Barbour for feed-back before she is allowed to communicate with you?

        Excuse me very much, but such a situation is very, very uncommon in my field of research. Invariably, all people are always allowed to ask questions to and/or to communicate with all people who are at such a meeting. Recently, I was for example attending a lecture of Dr Frans de Waal at RUG in Groningen, see http://sggroningen.nl/nl/evenement/frans-de-waal for the details of this lecture. This lecture was on the evening of 9 November 2015. There were around 800 people, including loads and loads of students. Afterwards, Dr de Waal was sitting on a chair, alongside a temporary counter of the local bookseller. Dr de Waal was sighing books people had bought, but all could also ask Dr de Waal questions about his lecture. No problem at all, any one was allowed to ask any question (of course including for example science journalists, etc.), and Dr de Waal was very willing to answer all these questions.

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  12. Dear Leonid,
    .
    I had an experience in June 2008 in the night train between Ashgabat and Dashogus (Turkmenistan) where I and other Dutch citizens were ordered by the staff of the train that it was not anymore allowed for us to communicate with the Turkmeni citizens in this night train. The staff of this night train forced us to go back to our part of the night train, and afterwards locked the doors of our part of the night train. I had another experience in late 2009 in Sanaa (the capital of Yemen) where it turned out that it was impossible for me and for other Dutch citizens to talk with a female student over there. Both experiences were while I was visiting these countries as a tourist. The tour leader of our trip to Yemen had visited Yemen several times. She was a lady in her 60ies and had met this female student during one of her earlier trips, and was thus very well aware that this female student liked it very much to communicate with foreigners.
    .
    I can also recall that it was not allowed for almost all Sovjet Union scientists in the 1970s and in the 1980s to have contacts with scientists in Western Europe. It was in those days also impossible for scientists in Western Europe to conduct field work in the Russian Arctic. Quite a few migratory birds species using the international Wadden Sea for refuelling are breeding in the Russian Arctic. Some of these species are even exclusively breeding in the Russian Arctic. No way anyone doing research on these birds in Western Europe was able in those days to visit the breeding areas in the Russian Arctic and to conduct studies over there.
    .
    I was one of the participants of the 3th International Swan Symposium in Oxford (UK). This symposium was held from 9-13 December 1989. This was one of the very first times that many Russian scientists were able to visit Western Europe, and that they were free to speak with anyone. Their level of English was very low (or nil), so there were even translators. Some of the Russian scientists gave amazing talks about their research. The year 1989 was also the very first year when it was possible for Western scientists to visit the Russian Arctic. Among them were several Germans, and their stories were amazing. I was one of the participants of a joint Dutch-Russian international expedition to the Taimyr peninsula in the summer of 1993. No problem at all to talk with anyone.
    .
    It is very sad that Dr. Curno is not allowed to communicate with you. I see many similarities with the situation in the 1970s and in the 1980s in the Sovjet Union. I also see many similarities with my experience in the night train in Turkmenistan while crossing the Karakum desert. You are a journalist, so I don’t need to tell you about the level of the freedom of press in Turkmenistan in those days. It seems indeed that you are right that Dr. Curno has some sort of ceremonial function at COPE. I once was confronted with a member of the editorial board of a scientific journal who also turned out to be a ceremonial member of the editorial board of this journal. Lateron, she got removed from the editorial board of this journal.
    .
    I still fail to understand that this can happen within COPE. I am hereby inviting Dr Curno for a response and please accept my apologies when there are errors and/or mistakes in my statements and/or assumptions.
    .
    I would like to note that I have until now (Sunday 3 January 2016) not received a single piece of the correspondence of Iratxe Puebla with publisher Taylor & Francis about a faulty paper on the breeding biology of the Basra Reed Warbler (see my earlier posting over here). Iratxe Puebla from COPE had promised this to me for the first time on 26 July 2015 (161 days ago). Iratxe Puebla is as well the Managing Editor of PLOS and I have therefore contacted PLOS. I have until now received loads and loads of auto-replies from PLOS (all of them with a case #), but nothing about the activities of Iratxe Puebla to help me with getting retracted this faulty paper on the breeding biology of the Basra Reed Warbler in a TF journal. Iratxe Puebla simply does not respond.
    .
    I also would like to remind you to an entry at Pubpeer about a very nice paper in a PLOS journal with Virginia Barbour, the chair of COPE, as one of the authors (“Ten Simple Rules for Building and Maintaining a Scientific Reputation”, see http://journals.plos.org/ploscompbiol/article?id=10.1371/journal.pcbi.1002108 ). Once again, no response from the side of Virginia Barbour, and as well from all other parties, on my queries ( https://pubpeer.com/publications/1C6B56C6600F850C0320D4161278E8#fb43193 ).
    .
    Klaas van Dijk / Groningen / The Netherlands / https://scholar.google.es/citations?user=hmhMcScAAAAJ&hl=en

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  13. Please join in the debate on COPE’s increasing lack of accountability and inability to hold its members, who pay money for “membership”, to be held accountable. Specific case studies involving COPE member journals and publishers should be listed with an objective description of the problem, when the response has been tardy, or counter to basic principles of transparency, or accountability.

    As a first step, the lack of accountability and transparency by the COPE leadership must be exposed. Thereafter, once we realize that we are in fact dealing with a leadership that practices and implements multiple levels of ethical posturing, and thus has no moral ground to educate others, then the scientific community should expose each case, one by one. I dare say that the lists, if everyone contributes to one failed case involving a COPE member, will be longer than the lists of “predatory” OA journals on Jeffrey Beall’s web-site. s first evidence, 21 unresolved cases of Melo/Esteller involving COPE member journals:
    https://pubpeer.com/topics/1/2E91E8916236A6EE03F372E64FBBAF#fb45216

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  14. Following the unprecedented rise of Dr. Elizabeth Wager in the rank and file of the COPE power structure, first as COPE board member from 2006-2009, then as COPE Chair from 2009-2012, and now as Honorary member, doing promotional stunts such as the following presentation advertising the benefits of COPE at UC Davis in early February 2016 [1], members of the science community decided to examine some of Dr. Wager’s publishing record, out of curiosity.

    Those who are familiar with COPE will also know that Dr. Wager, who is one of the most prominent and central players in the world of science publishing ethics, a lauded leader and advocate of publishing ethics, was also the key author of the current COPE guidelines for authors that sets out a comprehensive set of guiding principles for scientists, editors and publishers, and the seminal document based on which COPE sells its image and thus garners membership fees.

    One would thus assume that the individuals and institutes that established these rules, or guidelines as they are known, would also abide by them. That is almost without saying. And one of the rules in these guidelines refers to conflicts of interest, or COIs, that could be seen to influence the outcome of a manuscript, the chance of its publication, or any relationships that could be seen to influence the content, the ability to have that paper accepted, and thus published. COIs are not only financial links, they may extend into convenient partnerships in industry, in publishers, among editors, or among colleagues who also hold power in powerful positions that could influence the positive outcome of a paper, its results, or its publication. A COI does not have to be evident. It can be potential, and that is why COIs are so extremely important on a scientific paper. Even when there are no COIs, this should be fully declared. This is a rule that scientists have to abide by, especially when submitting to a COPE member journal.

    These are the principles that have been espoused by COPE, created and authored, and then widely “sold” and advertised by COPE, and very actively by Dr. Wager. One would thus think, automatically, that these strict rules that apply to the scientific community, would also apply to COPE board members, trustees and last but not least, Dr. Wager herself.

    After all, as documented to some extent at Retraction Watch, the declaration of a false or incomplete COI, or the lack of a COI when there should have been once, is a serious ethical offense, and can be met with a fatal destiny: a retraction [2].

    Dr. Wager is undoubtedly a public figure, even if she has no Wikipedia page. In fact, she is much more than that. She is now an official watchdog, as clearly defined at UC Davis [1], in defense of science’s integrity. This implies that, given her pinnacle position in publishing ethics, that we, the public, expect her to have an impeccable academic and publishing record. I repeat, impeccable.

    It is precisely because I discovered something quite shocking recently that I have felt compelled to come forward publicly to share my concerns. I have discovered an as yet unknown number of papers authored by Dr. Wager that:
    a) fail to declare a COI; or
    b) fail to declare a full and comprehensive COI, in particular the multiple complex links to industry, publishing, ethics, and COPE.

    Here is one classic example.
    Defining and responding to plagiarism
    Elizabeth Wager, Learned Publishing (2014)
    https://pubpeer.com/publications/F991E3844D1D0B1A782241BA6A3B92
    http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1087/20140105/abstract
    DOI: 10.1087/20140105

    The discussion on that PubPeer page is fascinating. A chronological assessment may help to understand this better (also because comments tend to just disappear from PubPeer, on occasion, so this serves as an alternative respository):
    1) A claim is made on February 3, 2016 by an unregistered commentator that no COI statement exists in this paper.
    2) On February 9, 2016, Dr. Wager responds “This article clearly states “Note: this article is adapted from the COPE discussion document ‘How should editors respond to plagiarism?’ which was first published at http://publicationethics.org/files/Discussion%20document.pdf in April 2011″ therefore the link to COPE is obvious.”
    3) On the same day, an unregistered commentator states “Just because something may appear to be obvious to the author, does not mean that it must not be officially described as a written COI in the paper. A COI statement is missing. One of the potential COIs here is that you were perhaps given an unfair advantage, given your position and standing, to have an easier pathway to publication. The only way to remove doubt from independent readers is for the editor to show the peer reports publicly, and for an official COI to be written. Why does Dr. Wager get a special treatment but other authors who publish in Learned Publishing have to follow the established rules?”
    4) On February 10, a peer states “I agree with the original poster that a disclaimer showing the temporary official link of the author to the topic being discussed would have been fit. Otherwise it feels a bit like merchandising of the company.”
    5) On the same day, Dr. Wager states that “OK, I will raise this with the editor of Learned Publishing and see if the journal wants to add a statement clarifying that when I wrote this article, I was Chair of COPE.”, and confirms, in a separate statement, that she has already contacted the editor.

    The Editor of Learned Publishing is Pippa Smart. This journal is the official journal of the Association of Learned & Professional Society Publishers, published in collaboration with the Society for Scholarly Publishing, which is, for those with some broader insight, the owner of the blog, The Publishing Kitchen [3, 4].

    So, who is Pippa Smart, relative to Elizabeth Wager? Well, these two share a rich history, more recently which can be seen in a celebration in Dubai, in August, 2015, where Dr. Wager represents as the Director, The Asian Council of Science Editors [5].

    Why is it that such a high-ranking position is not listed on her company’s (SideView) list of appointments [6]?

    Most importantly, in this focus on the lack of declared COIs, is the fact that Dr. Wager and Dr. Smart, share positions as editors of Science Editing [7].

    This case in itself is fascinating because it reveals the following:
    1) This paper was published in a journal published by Wiley, a former employee of Dr. Wager. COI #1. Unstated and undeclared.
    2) This paper was published while Dr. Wager was COPE Chair. COI #2. Unstated and undeclared.
    3) This paper was published by her “friend” and long-term “professional colleague”, Dr. Pippa Smart, and supposedly the “editor” that Dr. Wager claims to have contacted to issue a correction. This is COI #3. Unstated and undeclared.

    These are three shockingly and deeply conflicted relationships that have not been declared.

    How many other undeclared COIs exist? In how many more papers? There is now serious doubt, loss of trust, and deep concern. Under any normal circumstance, the failure by any “regular” scientist who would submit and publish a paper in a Wiley journal, which is a paying COPE member, would result in a retraction. No questions about it.

    However, will we witness, before our eyes, an incredible case of ethical cronyism and exceptionalism? Perhaps the answer to this question may be known in the following days.

    I claim that the basis on which Dr. Schneider established this blog was that there was opacity, duplicity and lack of accountability by COPE and/or COPE members and/or COPE seniority. I have thus decided to post my analysis of this case here on his blog [8].

    In the light of this very serious situation, the logo on Dr. Wager’s company page “A new angle on writing and publications” may have some curious, and unintended, interpretations.

    Dr. Wager is invited to respond to these claims publicly as her authored policies on publishing ethics – and which she does not appear to be respecting herself – are currently being imposed on the entire scientific authorship. Perhaps Dr. Schneider could serve as a moderator?

    [1] http://icis.ucdavis.edu/
    [2] http://retractionwatch.com/category/by-reason-for-retraction/failure-to-disclose-coi/
    [3] http://www.alpsp.org/Learned-Publishing
    [4] http://scholarlykitchen.sspnet.org/
    [5] http://theacse.com/meeting2015.php
    [6] http://lizwager.com/appointments.html
    [7] http://www.escienceediting.org/about/editorial.php
    [8] https://forbetterscience.wordpress.com/2015/10/31/join-the-committee-ignore-publication-ethics/

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  15. I think that COPE is used as a fig leaf and distracting from the underlying problems. I point out that Science has not retracted any of its three Voinnet articles. If Science and Nature do not strive for purity, which journal will? And where else can we have a gold standard for level/purity?
    COPE rules corrupt the process because they make a very weird combination of thoughts from the judicial system and collegiality. COPE rules say: (1) An involved party, either the journal or preferably the institute, should lead the investigation in regard to possible article retraction, which is a thought fully foreign to the judicial system which relies on independent judges; but (2) from the judicial system it takes “guilty only if on purpose”, whereas in science the burden of evidence should be opposite and the trustworthyness of the article should be the main issue and independent from the fact whether the authors were silly, sly, confused, drunk or plain evil.
    Based on COPE rules, journals hide behind institutional investigations, investigations which do (based on COPE rules) do not distinguish well between whether an article is sufficiently trustworthy and how the authors should be judged.
    The very logical solution is that a group of (independent) peers should judge the article, and that the institute should only judge the authors. An argument that only the institute can request insights in the ground data is absolute nonsense and comes from this corrupted partial copying from the judicial system. The committee of peers only has to judge whether the article is trustworthy, and the burden of evidence for that lies fully with the authors. Such committee doesn’t have to prove that the author was wrong, which is where COPE rules focus on, with the automatic effect that COPE rules focus on the role of the institute.
    Such “the institute is responsible for the decision” attitude is of course very convenient for the journals, which at least puts some suspicion on COPE that their rules were not inspired by improving science alone.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Johannes, a fair argument. So, then why do they pay COPE money? It’s like paying for a flawed product, or for a service they don’t really use, or respect. They can’t claim to be a watchdog in public, and then show no teeth. That’s a chihuahua! That brings both institutions into disrepute: COPE, for receiving handouts, and the ethically superior COPE members, who have free reign to do anything they want, with a mere slap on the wrist. If and only if they are caught.

    The only way to hold them accountable now is by calling them out in public. COPE has lost much trust, and its leadership has shown gaffe after gaffe. Even though they repaired the errors, the fact they existed shows that there were serious problems that they should have detected, but didn’t. And none of their 10,850+ members said a thing.

    The perfect example above: Dr. Wager. I’m waiting to see what mega spin the “ethics” community is going to give in defense of Dr. Wager, and COPE. They’re all in each others’ pockets, it’s as simple as that.

    If we, as scientists, are given a zero tolerance policy that we have to respect, and are severely penalized when we fail those rules, e.g. retractions, then why is this zero tolerance not reciprocal? It’s called ethical exceptionalism:
    https://pubpeer.com/topics/1/7889531E56DD31F272815C9B30AC49

    These rules (i.e., COPE guidelines) are simply one part of the “socially responsible business model”: if the publisher looks like its ethically responsible, even though its paying for the same ethical rules, it’s just making a circus of ethics. We are the joke of the party. And ultimately, we are the victims unless we protest this farce.

    Look, don’t get me wrong. The COPE PDFs are useful, but does COPE really need to receive an estimated several hundred thousand GB pounds in “membership fees” to put up its PDF files. I am sure that Elsevier could spare a loose 1 million US$ for the scientific community and make all advice and PDF files open access. Heck, it takes a free WordPress page to provide the suitable platform, not much more.

    Buying ethics, in essence which is what is happening, marketed and promoted at meetings as Dr. Wager is going, is unethical. If no money was involved, my rhetoric would likely evaporate.

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  17. I am not in favor of a rigid retraction system, since people do make mistakes which can be fixed with corrections. But what we currently have is that many journals seem to try to stretch that pool of reasonable leniency from the scientific community to a point where it becomes pure idiocy. I don’t even think that the journals benefit from that, I just think that it is just in the DNA of the people involved, they came so far in their career because they handled problems in a certain way and just continue to do so now they are at the top. Anyway, it is only logical that modern science ended up with a majority of cancer research papers not being reproducible. The main reason for this, in my opinion, is that we let the judging of the system and its flaws do by people who benefit from the system and have a stake in those flaws. COPE is actively supporting that.
    Theoretically, COPE is not the problem, as they define themselves as an advisory organ for journals and do not claim a role beyond. However, because there are no other organs, everybody looks at COPE as if they should watchdog science integrity. That is where the public thinking gets confused and processes delayed and muddled, and I can’t help but feel that many journals and some scientists are very happy with this distracting role of COPE.
    Basically, we need a judging system for papers independent of judging of the authors, done by knowing scientists without a stake in the matter.
    It is also a mistake of COPE to portray articles as if property of the journals, as if it were your daily newspaper. Scientific articles are the end product, and often only product, of a large investment by governments. Not only that, articles take a lot of professional reading time from highly governmental paid individuals, and have the ability to seed wrong concepts and hopeless experiments.
    I can’t see science fix itself, as too many “top” people are only there because of their talent and inclination to navigate the system. I hope that industry, which also loses a lot of money because of bad publications, will force some changes for the better.
    I can’t see much wrong in the individual COPE members or their publications, but I would appreciate it if they as an organization could grow some teeth and a better concept.

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  18. Dear Leonid,

    I am currently in a final stage to submit a manuscript in which I refer to the 2009 retraction guidelines of COPE. It turns out that there are at least five (identical?) papers in which these guidelines have been published.

    Wager, E., V. Barbour, S. Yentis & S. Kleinert, on behalf of COPE Council 2009. Retractions: Guidance from the Committee on Publication Ethics. Journal of Critical Care 24: 620–622.
    DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jcrc.2009.10.009
    Wager E., V. Barbour, S. Yentis & S. Kleinert (on behalf of COPE Council) 2009. Retractions: Guidance from the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE). Maturitas 64: 201–203.
    DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.maturitas.2009.09.018
    Wager, E., V. Barbour, S. Yentis & S. Kleinert (on behalf of COPE Council) 2009. Retractions: Guidance from the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE). Croatian Medical Journal 50: 532–535.
    http://www.cmj.hr/2009/50/6/20017220.htm
    DOI: 10.3325/cmj.2009.50.532
    Wager E., V. Barbour, S. Yentis & S. Kleinert and on behalf of COPE Council 2010. Retractions: guidance from the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE). Obesity Reviews 11: 64–66.
    DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-789X.2009.00702.x
    Wager E., V. Barbour, S. Yentis & S. Kleinert on behalf of COPE Council 2009. Retractions: Guidance from the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE). The Anatolian Journal of Cardiology 9: 447-449.
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19965313
    http://www.anakarder.com/jvi.aspx?pdir=anatoljcardiol&plng=eng&volume=9&issue=6
    http://www.journalagent.com/anatoljcardiol/pdfs/AnatolJCardiol_9_6_447_449.pdf
    no DOI?

    Do you have any idea which paper is the best option to list in the references of my manuscript?

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    1. My advice. Do not cite any of these copies. Only cite the original copy from the COPE site as Wager et al. (2009).

      My comments/concerns:

      1) As a scientist, if I wish to publish my ideas 5 times, with identical wording, will 5 journals allow me to?
      2) Are these 5 journals COPE members? If yes, when did they become members?
      3) How has the impact factor of these journals, where applicable, benefited from this penta-duplicate?
      4) How many times have these 5 copies been cited?
      5) How is this not self-duplication?
      6) 4 out of 5 of the papers was published in 2009, one in 2010. This suggests simultaneous submission to multiple journals at the same time. Were the editors aware of these multiple submissions to multiple journals at the time of each submission? Who exactly were the receiving and approving editors in each case?
      7) Klaas, what are the submission, acceptance and publication dates for these 5 papers?
      8) Was any peer review conducted?
      9) Did Wager et al. try to get the same paper published in more journals?
      10) Why only medical journals accepted this advertisement?
      11) If all 5 papers have identical text, why do none of them have inverted commas to show that they are identical text?
      12) Why do none of these “papers” have a conflict of interest (COI) statement? For example, the fact that Dr. Elizabeth Wager, who was not a doctor until 2010, was the COPE Chair at the time?
      13) Dr. Wager obtained a PhD in 2010. From where? Where can we find the university that awarded her this PhD? Where can we find the academic papers that allowed her to be awarded this PhD? Were these 5 papers used to reward Dr. Wager with a PhD?
      14) Finally, were any of these 5 duplicates included in Dr. Wager’s “CV” on her company web-page SideView*? I checked. They are not listed there. This makes Dr. Wager’s information on her website incomplete, misleading and dangerous. This is not the lack of transparency we expect from the ex-COPE Chair, current COPE Honorary member and most likely the world’s most prominent “ethicist” (if we consider that Dr. Wager is the leading author of the COPE guidelines now imposed on most of the biomedical science fields).

      Maybe Dr. Wager. Dr. Barbour, Dr. Yentis and Dr. Kleinert, who are all “ethical” leaders, would like to offer some transparent responses?

      http://lizwager.com/
      Specifically:
      http://lizwager.com/publications.html

      Like

      1. The heat is on!

        Peer 3 at PubPeer, in response to another Peer who defends this penta-duplicate as a Creative Commons License, is angered, claiming that they appear to be real duplications, and that he/she wishes to sue Maturitas for trying to charge just under 32 US$ for a copy of the paper (incidentally, three of the papers’ DOI all link to the Maturitas paper):

        “Dear Peer 2, can you provide eus with where it is made clear on these publications that they are based on republished with Creative Commons material ?

        I am appalled for they look like real duplications to me. I am tempted at paying to get this paper from http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.maturitas.2009.09.018 just to sue them after for having sold me a 100% duplication of free material! What to say merchandise material, as this totally looks like being.”

        https://pubpeer.com/publications/8056DB82F8702D4D8F65BCBE8E186D#fb46486

        Anyone requiring the 5 PDF copies to verify that these are Xerox copies, please contact Dr. Schneider. He can put you into contact with me directly.

        Like

      2. There’s no “heat”.

        Material published under a CC-BY license can be repackaged for commercial purposes. The publisher has no legal obligation to the reader/purchaser to tell them that the material is available for free elsewhere.

        In fact, it is the authors’ rights that are being violated, since they are the ones who own the copyright to the material and the fine text of the CC license is not being followed by (at least some of) the publishers.

        There are no grounds for a reader to file suit here, only for the copyright holder.

        But don’t let minor things like “facts” get in the way of your crusade against COPE.

        Like

  19. Iratxe Puebla, the Complaints Administrator of COPE ( http://publicationethics.org/cope-staff ) promised me on 26 July 2015 to sent me in cc the correspondence of her with publisher Taylor & Francis about a faulty paper in a TF journal, see https://pubpeer.com/publications/7DA806A8062EF9474F1A53717B9D1D#fb36200
    .
    I have until now, 12 March 2015, not received a single piece of this correspondence. I am therefore already waiting 230 days on getting this correspondence. I have of course sent several reminders. A representative of COPE told me on 11 September 2015 that COPE would no longer open e-mails from my side. I have urged this representative a few times to forward to me the correspondence of Iratxe Puebla with publisher Taylor & Francis. This was unsuccessful.
    .
    I have therefore contacted other parties, for example publisher PLOS, the employer of Iratxe Puebla (Iratxe Puebla is currently the Managing Editor for the journal PLOS ONE). I have sent various reminders to PLOS, until now without getting the correspondence. I do have loads of auto-replies from PLOS (all of them with a different case number). Iratxe Puebla does not respond.
    .
    Dr. Kamoun and Dr. Zipfel have recently published a letter in Nature in which they state that an obvious refusal to correct errors / mistakes must also be regarded as scientific misconduct ( http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v531/n7593/full/531173e.html ).
    .
    I hold the opinion that the above listed behaviour of Iratxe Puebla falls within the definition of scientific misconduct as defined by Dr. Kamoun and Dr. Zipfel, see also http://www.tsl.ac.uk/about-tsl/scientific-integrity/
    .
    I have therefore decided to file a formal complaint at publisher PLOS against Iratxe Puebla. This complaint was filed on 28 February 2016. My decision to file such a complaint was not an easy one and the decision was taken after several reminders to PLOS remained unanswered (I only received auto-replies with new case numbers). See below for the contents of this complaint. I have until now only received two auto-replies from PLOS.
    .
    Please don’t hesitate to contact me when there are errors and/or mistakes in texts from my side.
    .
    .
    “From: Klaas van Dijk; To: plosone; Sent: Sunday, February 28, 2016 12:26 PM; Subject: A formal complaint to PLOS with serious allegations of scientific misconduct commmited by PLOS employee Iratxe Puebla

    Dear PLOS et al,

    I would like to report that Iratxe Puebla, the Managing Editor of PLOS ONE, is currently deeply involved in covering up a clear case of scientific misconduct.

    Numerous efforts, and already for a prolonged period of time, to convince Iratxe Puebla to stop with the above mentioned behaviour were unsuccessful. I have therefore concluded that it is intentional behaviour of Iratxe Puebla to continue with her efforts to cover up a clear case of scientific misconduct.

    I am therefore lodging a formal complaint to PLOS with serious allegations of scientific misconduct committed by Iratxe Puebla.

    The Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research http://www.nhmrc.gov.au/_files_nhmrc/publications/attachments/r39.pdf states: “It also includes the wilful concealment or facilitation of research misconduct by others.”

    That’s what is going on over here.

    The VSNU Code of Conduct ( http://www.rug.nl/about-us/organization/rules-and-regulations/algemeen/gedragscodes-nederlandse-universiteiten/code-wetenschapsbeoefening-14-en.pdf and http://www.rug.nl/about-us/organization/rules-and-regulations/algemeen/gedragscodes-nederlandse-universiteiten/wetenschappelijke-integriteit-12-en.pdf ) states:

    “Regarding the behaviour types listed below, the universities hereby declare that they categorically reject them, are actively fighting them, and if necessary will punish offenders with all the sanctions at their disposal. Violations of academic integrity include the following: (…). Permitting and concealing the misconduct of colleagues.”

    I suggest to punish Iratxe Puebla with a severe sanction.

    Backgrounds are listed in:
    https://pubpeer.com/publications/CBDA623DED06FB48B659B631BA69E7
    https://pubpeer.com/publications/7DA806A8062EF9474F1A53717B9D1D#fb36200
    https://pubpeer.com/publications/1C6B56C6600F850C0320D4161278E8#fb43193
    https://forbetterscience.wordpress.com/2015/10/31/join-the-committee-ignore-publication-ethics/
    https://forbetterscience.wordpress.com/2016/01/07/frontiers-christmas-carol/
    http://scholarlyoa.com/2016/01/12/one-problem-with-the-scholarly-publishing-industry/
    http://scholarlyoa.com/2016/01/14/another-controversial-paper-from-fronters
    https://pubpeer.com/topics/1/2E91E8916236A6EE03F372E64FBBAF
    https://www.geneticliteracyproject.org/2015/12/16/seralini-feed-contamination-study-plos-fire-not-following-guidelines-data-access/

    Thanks in advance for sending me a response in which is stated that my formal complaint against Iratxe Puebla was received by PLOS in good order.

    Please don’t hesitate to contact me when there are errors and/or mistakes in texts from my side.

    Best wishes,

    Klaas van Dijk / Groningen / The Netherlands / https://scholar.google.es/citations?user=hmhMcScAAAAJ&hl=en

    DISCLAIMER: I am hereby declaring that that this e-mail is prepared in good faith, that this is also the case for all other e-mails from my side to PLOS and to all other parties about the ongoing issues about a faulty paper on the breeding biology of the Basra Reed Warbler. I am hereby declaring that all of these e-mails from my side are 100% honest e-mails. Anyone who is claiming that I am dishonest, and/or that my behaviour is partial, and/or vexatious and/or that my statements about the paper on the breeding biology of the Basra Reed Warber are untrue / false (etc.), will first need to provide me access to the full list of requested raw research data (see https://pubpeer.com/publications/CBDA623DED06FB48B659B631BA69E7#fb31538 for the full list), and will need to accept that Richard Porter and his co-workers can scrutinize this entire set of raw research data. (I, Richard Porter and all co-authors of a rebuttal of Richard Porter state the paper on the breeding biology of the Basra Reed Warbler is loaded with fabricated data).”

    “From: PLOS ONE; To: Klaas van Dijk; Sent: Sunday, February 28, 2016 12:21 PM; Subject: Auto-Reply: A formal complaint to PLOS with serious allegations of scientific misconduct commmited by PLOS employee Iratxe Puebla

    Dear Klaas van Dijk

    Thank you for contacting PLOS ONE. We will respond to your email as soon as we are able.

    In the meantime, you may find the answer to your query here:
    PLOS ONE Video Shorts http://blogs.plos.org/everyone/plos-one-video-shorts/
    Frequently Asked Questions http://blogs.plos.org/everyone/authors/qa/
    Reviewer Guidelines http://www.plosone.org/static/reviewerGuidelines.action

    Kindest regards,

    PLOS ONE Case 04430062 PL#0N3_AR ref:_00DU0Ifis._500U0RIuz6:ref”

    “From: “PLOS ONE”; To: Klaas van Dijk; Sent: Monday, March 07, 2016 11:11 AM; Subject: Auto-Reply: Fw: A formal complaint to PLOS with serious allegations of scientific misconduct commmited by PLOS employee Iratxe Puebla

    Dear Klaas van Dijk

    Thank you for contacting PLOS ONE. We will respond to your email as soon as we are able.

    In the meantime, you may find the answer to your query here:
    PLOS ONE Video Shorts http://blogs.plos.org/everyone/plos-one-video-shorts/
    Frequently Asked Questions http://blogs.plos.org/everyone/authors/qa/
    Reviewer Guidelines http://www.plosone.org/static/reviewerGuidelines.action

    Kindest regards,

    PLOS ONE Case 04442239 PL#0N3_AR ref:_00DU0Ifis._500U0RkFzm:ref”

    Like

  20. Dear Leonid,

    See below for copies of some of the e-mail correspondence with Griffith University about ongoing issues of Dr. Virginia Barbour, the chair of COPE. This e-mail correspondence started on 11 October 2015 and it was finished on 15 March 2016. Please note that “School of Medicine, Griffith University” is listed as single affiliation of Dr. Barbour in Barbour et al. ( http://trialsjournal.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s13063-015-1107-1 [recieved on 6 July 2015, published on 21 January 2016]).

    I recall to you that I was heavily turned down by Dr. Barbour et al. in the summer of 2015 when I told Dr. Barbour that I was expecting that she was always working according the VSNU guidelines (see
    http://www.rug.nl/about-us/organization/rules-and-regulations/algemeen/gedragscodes-nederlandse-universiteiten/code-wetenschapsbeoefening-14-en.pdf and http://www.rug.nl/about-us/organization/rules-and-regulations/algemeen/gedragscodes-nederlandse-universiteiten/wetenschappelijke-integriteit-12-en.pdf ). Please note that there are many similarities between the VSNU guidelines and the scientific integrity policy of the Sainsbury Laboratory ( http://www.tsl.ac.uk/about-tsl/scientific-integrity/ , see also Kamoun & Zipfel, 2016, http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v531/n7593/full/531173e.html ).

    “From: Klaas van Dijk; Date: 2015-10-11 9:47 GMT+02:00; Subject: Academic Title Holder Dr Barbour is deliberately refusing to work together with me to get retracted a paper which is loaded with fabricated data To: Simon Broadley; Cc: David Ellwood

    Dear Professor Broadley,

    I am hereby reporting to you that Academic Title Holder Dr. Virginia Barbour is deliberately refusing to work together with me to get retracted a paper which is loaded with fabricated data. I fail to understand how this behaviour of Dr. Barbour is in line with the “Griffith University Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research” (TRIM document 2013/0014781).

    I am hereby reporting to you that I am unable to find a COI statement of Dr Barbour on the website of Griffith University. I fail to understand how this is in line with the “Griffith University School of Medicine Conflict of Interest and Sponsorship Guidelines”, in particular because I am being informed that Dr. Barbour has a wide range of (side-)activities.

    Please send me a response in which is stated that you have recieved this e-mail in good order.

    Best wishes, Klaas van Dijk / Groningen / The Netherlands”

    “From: Simon Broadley; To: Klaas van Dijk; Sent: Sunday, October 11, 2015 9:46 AM; Subject: Out Of Office – Business Re: Academic Title Holder Dr Barbour is deliberately refusing to work together with me to get retracted a paper which is loaded with fabricated data.

    Dear Colleagues. I am currently away as Head of School on Business and will return to the office on Monday 12th October 2015. During this period, the Acting Head of School will be Professor Gary Rogers.

    During this time, all urgent School matters should be forwarded to Professor Gary Rogers. If you are requiring: an appointment with myself or the A/Head of School or assistance with Head of School matters, please contact my PA Teresa Russo. For any Administration matters please contact Julie Saville or Tina Koutsellis. Regards, Simon Broadley”

    “From: Klaas van Dijk; To: Rick Williams; Cc Andrea Bishop, Richard Porter; Sent: Monday, February 22, 2016 11:24 AM Subject: Please forward to me scientific points of view of Academic Titleholder Virginia Barbour on various queries about a faulty paper which is loaded with fabricated data

    Dear Mr. Williams, Thanks alot for your kind and friendly response of last Friday.

    (1): can you please forward to me, and as well to Richard Porter (in cc), and ASAP, the scientific point of view of Dr. Barbour (cf section 6 of part A of https://www.nhmrc.gov.au/_files_nhmrc/publications/attachments/r39.pdf ) about the statement of Richard Porter (‘the following paper was not based upon any validated scientific facts’, see attachment) on a faulty paper about the breeding biology of the Basra Reed Warbler (see https://pubpeer.com/publications/CBDA623DED06FB48B659B631BA69E7 for backgrounds).

    (2): can you please forward to me, and as well to Richard Porter (in cc), and ASAP, the scientific point of view of Dr. Barbour (cf section 6 of part A of https://www.nhmrc.gov.au/_files_nhmrc/publications/attachments/r39.pdf ) about the statement of Dr. Çağan Şekercioğlu, a member of the Editorial Board of the journal in question (“From: Çağan Şekercioğlu To: Klaas van Dijk Sent: Saturday, October 17, 2015 5:34 PM, I agree with you that this paper must be retracted, and I implore Max Kasparek to do so.”). See https://pubpeer.com/publications/CBDA623DED06FB48B659B631BA69E7#fb42415 for the context.

    (3): can you please forward to me, and as well to Richard Porter (in cc), and ASAP, the scientific point of view of Dr. Barbour (cf section 6 of part A of https://www.nhmrc.gov.au/_files_nhmrc/publications/attachments/r39.pdf ) about the statement of emeritus professor Dumont (Gent University), another member of the Editorial Board of ZME. (“From: Henri Dumont To: Klaas van Dijk Sent: Wednesday, July 15, 2015 10:52 AM Hoewel ik geen ornitholoog maar limnoloog ben voel ik aan dat er inderdaad iets niet klopt met de door U bekritizeerde paper. (…) en dat brengt mij tot de volgende vraag: wat bedoelt U met de ruwe gegevens die U wil zien? Ik vrees nl dat die niet bestaan.”). See https://pubpeer.com/publications/CBDA623DED06FB48B659B631BA69E7#fb42415 for the context.

    Thanks in advance for forwarding me the scientific responses of Dr. Barbour on these three queries. Please don’t hesitate to contact me when there are errors and/or mistakes in texts from my side.

    Best wishes, Klaas van Dijk / Groningen / The Netherlands”

    “From: Andrea Bishop; To: Klaas van Dijk; Sent: Wednesday, February 24, 2016 11:20 PM; Subject: Re: Please forward to me scientific points of view of Academic Titleholder Virginia Barbour on various queries about a faulty paper which is loaded with fabricated data

    Dear Mr van Dijk, I refer you to the earlier correspondence from Griffith University on this matter, dated 19 February 2016. The correspondence provides the basis for our stated determination that no further action will be taken in regard to your request to remove Adjunct Prof Virginia Barbour as an academic title holder at Griffith University.

    Kind regards, Andrea, Professor Andrea Bishop, Director, Office for Research, Griffith University, Room 0.12, Bray Centre (N54), Nathan campus, 170 Kessels Road, Nathan, QLD 4111, Australia”

    “From: Klaas van Dijk; Sent: Saturday, March 12, 2016 10:05 AM; Subject: The Head of School of Medicine professor David Ellwood must man up and must immediately remove Academic Titleholder Dr. Virginia Barbour from Griffith University

    Dear all, There is until now no response from Mr. Williams on my e-mail of last Monday to Griffith University about ongoing issues of Dr. Virgina Barbour (see below). There is as well no response from anyone else from Griffith University. This implies for example that there are no errors and/or mistakes in texts from my side (see below).

    Dr. Virginia Barbour is still listed as Academic Titleholder at https://www.griffith.edu.au/health/school-medicine/staff/academic-title-holders (despite several requests from my side to remove her from this list).

    I recall that I have reported for the first time on 11 October 2015 to Griffith University my concerns about the behaviour of Dr. Virginia Barbour. (see below). This e-mail was received in good order by Griffith University (see below). We are right now 12 March 2016. No one has rebutted that Dr. Virginia Barbour is currently deeply involved in covering up a clear case of scientific misconduct.

    I have therefore concluded that professor David Ellwood, Head of the School of Medicine of Griffith University, fully agrees with my statement that Dr. Virginia Barbour, listed as Academic Titleholder at the School of Medicine of Griffith University, is currently deeply involved in covering up a clear case of scientific misconduct.

    I have also concluded that the non-response from the side of Griffith University on my e-mail of last Monday, and the non-response from the side of Griffith University on other e-mails from my side about these issues of Dr. Virginia Barbour, is caused by an order of Dr. Virginia Barbour that it is not allowed for anyone at Griffith University to communicate anymore with Klaas van Dijk.

    Such a behaviour is of course totally unacceptable for anyone at Griffith University. Such a behaviour is even disasterous for the reputation of a scientist (Bourne & Barbour 2011, http://journals.plos.org/ploscompbiol/article?id=10.1371/journal.pcbi.1002108 ).

    I therefore pledge professor David Ellwood to man up, to show leadership, to ignore the requests (etc.) of Dr. Virginia Barbour, and/or the requests of allies of Dr. Virginia Barbour (this includes requests etc. from Dr. Andrew Barbour, the husband of Dr. Virginia Barbour), and to remove immediately Dr. Virginia Barbour from Griffith University, together with a press release with the motives why Dr. Virginia Barbour has been removed from Griffith University.

    Removing immediately Dr. Virginia Barbour from Griffith University, together with a press release with the motives, is the best option to ensure to the rest of the world that Griffith University has indeed 0 tolerance towards people who are covering up a clear case of scientific misconduct. See also http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v531/n7593/full/531173e.html

    Thanks in advance for your efforts and thanks in advance for a response. Don’t hesitate to contact me when there are errors / mistakes in texts from my side.

    Best wishes, Klaas van Dijk / Groningen / The Netherlands

    DISCLAIMER: I am hereby declaring that that this e-mail was prepared in good faith, that this is also the case for all other e-mails and/or texts from my side about the faulty paper on the breeding biology of the Basra Reed Warbler, a paper which is loaded with fabricated data. I am hereby declaring that all of these e-mails / texts from my side, to Griffith University and to all other parties, are 100% honest e-mails / texts. Anyone who is claiming that I am dishonest, and/or that my behaviour is partial, and/or vexatious and/or that my statements about the paper on the breeding biology of the Basra Reed Warber are untrue / false (etc.), will first need to provide me access to the full list of requested raw research data (see https://pubpeer.com/publications/CBDA623DED06FB48B659B631BA69E7#fb31538 for the full list), and will need to accept that I, Richard Porter, and all co-workers of Richard Porter are able to scrutinize this entire set of raw research data.”

    “From: David Ellwood; To: Klaas van Dijk; Sent: Tuesday, March 15, 2016 4:06 AM; Subject: Your email correspondence with the School of Medicine

    Dear Professor van Dijk,

    Thank you for your recent email dated March 12th, and the copies of emails to various other members of the staff of Griffith University which I have received over the last few months.

    As you are aware. Virginia Barbour is an academic title-holder at this university, which is an honorary title. Her various roles in medical publishing have no particular relevance to this position, and the School of Medicine has no connection with any of the activities which are of concern to you. We have no intention to respond to your calls to remove her from our list of academic title-holders.

    I must inform you that I consider the frequent emails about this matter, and the content of the most recent one which was copied to multiple others within the school, to be a form of harassment and request that you desist from this immediately. I do not wish to receive any further emails from you about this matter, nor do I want you to correspond with any members of the staff of the School of Medicine,

    Your Sincerely, David Ellwood

    David A Ellwood, MA, DPhil (Oxon), MB, BChir (Cantab), FRANZCOG (CMFM), DDU, Professor of Obstetrics & Gynaecology, Acting Head of School & Deputy Head of School (Research), Academic Lead for Equity, Selections & Diversity, School of Medicine, Level 8.38, Griffith Health Centre (G40), Gold Coast Campus, Griffith University QLD 4222, AUSTRALIA”

    Like

  21. Dear Leonid,

    Thanks alot for posting my recent comment with parts of the e-mail correspondence with Griffith University about ongoing issues of Dr. Virginia Barbour, an Academic Titleholder at the School of Medicine at Griffith University ( https://www.griffith.edu.au/health/school-medicine/staff/academic-title-holders ).

    Dr. Virginia Barbour, the chair of COPE, also holds positions at QUT, the Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Australia, ( https://www.qut.edu.au/ ). http://staff.qut.edu.au/details?id=barbourg reveals that Dr. Barbour is a professor at the ‘Division of Research and Commercialisation, Office of Research Ethics & Integrity’ and that she holds a visitor’s position at the ‘Technology, Information and Learning Support, DVC Office (TILS).’ Dr. Barbour is listed as Advisor of the Director of the Office of Research Ethics and Integrity at QUT (see http://www.orei.qut.edu.au/about/contacts/ ).

    QUT has a whole bunch of Research Integrity Advisors (RIA’s). “When should I speak to a Research Integrity Advisor? If you have a concern about the conduct of research at QUT or research being conducted in collaboration with QUT, you should speak to a Research Integrity Advisor. The context of your concern is important. Concerns may relate to: the ethical conduct of research (…) research practices (….).”
    See http://www.orei.qut.edu.au/about/contacts/integrityadvisors.jsp

    So I have contacted on 9 February 2016 professor Pettitt, one of the RIA’s, about the current behaviour of Dr. Virginia Barbour. There was no response. I have sent him, and the other RIA’s, a reminder on 12 February 2016. I have until now only received two auto-replies on reminder #1. I did not receive a response on reminder #2 sent on 16 February 2016 to these RIA’s. I did not receive a response on reminder #3 sent on 17 February 2016 to the RIA’s and to the nine scientists with a Featured Profile at http://staff.qut.edu.au/ There was no response on a follow-up on reminder #3, sent on 20 February 2016 to the RIA’s, to the scientists with a Featured profile, and to some other people at QUT. A formal complaint against Dr. Barbour was filed on 20 February 2016 to the Head of School / Executive Officer of the Division of Research and Commercialisation of QUT and, seperately, to the Head of School / Executive Officer of the Division of Technology, Information and Learning Support of QUT. I have until now not received a response.

    So I have until now only received two auto-replies from QUT. This implies that QUT has until now not rebutted my statement that Dr. Virginia Barbour is at the moment deeply involved in covering up a clear case of scientific misconduct. I have until now also not received the correspondence of COPE with publisher Taylor & Francis about the faulty paper (see my other comments in this blog post). COPE told me on 26 July 2016 that I would receive in cc this correspondence. I am thus already waiting 236 days on getting this correspondence.

    See below for the correspondence until now with QUT about the issues of Dr. Virginia Barbour.

    “From: Klaas van Dijk; To: A. Pettitt; Sent: Tuesday, February 09, 2016 9:01 PM; Subject: [Research Integrity Advisor] Dr Virginia Barbour of QUT is deeply involved in covering up a clear case of scientific misconduct
    Dear professor Pettitt, I would like to report that professor dr. Virginia Barbour is currently deeply involved in covering up a clear case of scientific misconduct. Please contact Dr. Barbour for the details and please forward to me the response of Dr. Barbour. Please remove ASAP Dr. Barbour from QUT in case Dr. Barbour is unwilling to change her current behaviour. Thanks in advance for your co-operation and for a response. Best wishes, Klaas van Dijk”
    “From: Klaas van Dijk; To: RIA’s; Cc: A. Pettitt; Sent: Friday, February 12, 2016 10:08 PM; Subject: [Research Integrity Advisor] Dr Virginia Barbour of QUT is deeply involved in covering up a clear case of scientific misconduct
    Dear RIA of QUT, There is as yet no response from professor Pettitt (in cc) on my e-mail of last Tuesday to him. Also Dr. Barbour has not contacted me. I am therefore sending you a reminder. Please contact Dr. Barbour for the details and please forward to me the response of Dr. Barbour. Please remove ASAP Dr. Barbour from QUT in case Dr. Barbour is unwilling to change her current behaviour and/or when Dr. Barbour is unwilling to communicate with me about the topic in the subject of this e-mail. Thanks in advance for your co-operation and for a response. Best wishes, Klaas van Dijk”
    “From: Bianca Capra; To: Klaas van Dijk; Sent: Friday, February 12, 2016 10:08 PM; Subject: Automatic reply: [Research Integrity Advisor] Dr Virginia Barbour of QUT is deeply involved in covering up a clear case of scientific misconduct
    Thank-you for your email. I am on Parental leave from the 22 January until 28th November inclusive. I will only be checking my email sporadically during this period. Cheers”
    “From: Martin Sillence; To: Klaas van Dijk; Sent: Friday, February 12, 2016 10:08 PM; Subject: Automatic reply: [Research Integrity Advisor] Dr Virginia Barbour of QUT is deeply involved in covering up a clear case of scientific misconduct
    I am currently overseas on business and leave and will have intermittent access to email while I am away. I shall attend to your email witin a few days, or soon after I return on Feb 17. If the matter is urgent please either contact the School Office on (..), or leave a message on my mobile (..) and I shall return your call as soon as possible.”
    “From: Klaas van Dijk; To: RIA’s; Cc: A. Pettitt; Sent: Tuesday, February 16, 2016 9:05 AM; Subject: [Research Integrity Advisor] Reminder RE: Dr Virginia Barbour of QUT is deeply involved in covering up a clear case of scientific misconduct
    Dear RIA of QUT, There is as yet no response from professor Pettitt (in cc) on my e-mail of last Tuesday to him. There is as yet also no response from professor Pettitt on my reminder from last Friday to him. I only received two auto-replies. Also Dr. Barbour has not contacted me. I am therefore sending you a reminder. Please contact Dr. Barbour for the details and please forward to me the response of Dr. Barbour. Please remove ASAP Dr. Barbour from QUT in case Dr. Barbour is unwilling to change her current behaviour and/or when Dr. Barbour is unwilling to communicate with me about the topic in the subject of this e-mail. I would like to thank Dr. Capra and Dr. Sillence for sending me an auto-response on my e-mail of last Friday. Both auto-responses imply that my e-mail of last Friday was received by QUT in good order. Thanks in advance for your co-operation and for a response. Best wishes, Klaas van Dijk”
    “From: Klaas van Dijk; To RIA’s and to the nine scientists at QUT with a Featured Profile; Cc: A. Pettitt; Sent: Wednesday, February 17, 2016 8:51 AM; Subject: Reminder 3 that Dr Virginia Barbour of QUT is deeply involved in covering up a clear case of scientific misconduct
    Dear all, There is as yet no response on my e-mail to RIA professor Pettitt. I only received two auto-replies on reminder #1 from last Friday. There is as yet no response on reminder #2 from yesterday. I am therefore sending reminder #3. Also Dr. Barbour has not contacted me. Please contact Dr. Barbour for the details and please forward to me the response of Dr. Barbour. Please remove ASAP Dr. Barbour from QUT in case Dr. Barbour is unwilling to change her current behaviour and/or when Dr. Barbour is unwilling to communicate with me about the topic in the subject of this e-mail. I would like to thank Dr. Capra and Dr. Sillence for sending me an auto-reply on my e-mail of last Friday. Both auto-replies imply that my e-mail of last Friday was received by QUT in good order. Thanks in advance for your co-operation and for a response. Best wishes, Klaas van Dijk”
    “From: Klaas van Dijk; Sent: Saturday, February 20, 2016 10:48 AM; Subject: Dr Virginia Barbour of QUT is deeply embroiled in covering up a clear case of scientific misconduct (…)

    Dear all at QUT, There is as yet no response from anyone from QUT on reminder #3, and on reminder #2, in which I report to various members of the staff at QUT that Dr. Virginia Barbour of QUT is currently deeply involved in covering up a clear case of scientific misconduct. There is also no follow-up from anyone from QUT on my e-mail to professor Pettitt, sent to him on 9 February 2016, and on a reminder (reminder #1, sent to the other RIA’s of QUT on 12 February 2016).
    Also Dr. Barbour has not responded. (…..). Part B of the Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research ( https://www.nhmrc.gov.au/_files_nhmrc/publications/attachments/r39.pdf ) states: “Research misconduct (…) also includes the wilful concealment or facilitation of research misconduct by others.” That’s what is going on over here. Part B of the Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research states as well: “Repeated or continuing breaches of this Code may also constitute research misconduct”. Please note that there have already been numerous contacts from various parties to persuade Dr. Barbour that she must change her behaviour. Until now without a result. Please remove ASAP Dr. Barbour from QUT because Dr. Barbour is deliberately engaged in a “wilful concealment or facilitation of research misconduct by others.” Please contact Dr. Barbour for the details and please forward to me the response of Dr. Barbour and please don’t hesitate to contact me when there are errors and/or mistakes in texts from my side. Thanks in advance for your co-operation. Best wishes, Klaas van Dijk”

    “From: Klaas van Dijk; Sent: Saturday, February 20, 2016 12:34 PM; Subject: Formal complaint to the Division of Research and Commercialisation of QUT with serious allegations of scientific misconduct commited by Dr Virginia Barbour
    Dear reader of this e-mail, I am hereby lodging a formal complaint to the Head of School / Executive Officer of the Division of Research and Commercialisation of QUT ( https://www.qut.edu.au/about/contact/d/division-of-research-and-commercialisation and http://www.resacom.qut.edu.au/redirect-index.html ) with serious allegations of scientific misconduct committed by Dr. Virginia Barbour ( http://staff.qut.edu.au/details?id=barbourg ).

    See below [= see above] for the “revelant information” (cf 2.7.4 at http://www.mopp.qut.edu.au/D/D_02_07.jsp ). Much backgrounds about the current behaviour of Dr. Babour in this case have also been posted online. See
    https://pubpeer.com/publications/CBDA623DED06FB48B659B631BA69E7
    https://pubpeer.com/publications/7DA806A8062EF9474F1A53717B9D1D#fb36200
    https://pubpeer.com/publications/1C6B56C6600F850C0320D4161278E8#fb43193
    https://forbetterscience.wordpress.com/2015/10/31/join-the-committee-ignore-publication-ethics/
    https://forbetterscience.wordpress.com/2016/01/07/frontiers-christmas-carol/
    http://scholarlyoa.com/2016/01/12/one-problem-with-the-scholarly-publishing-industry/
    http://scholarlyoa.com/2016/01/14/another-controversial-paper-from-fronters
    https://pubpeer.com/topics/1/2E91E8916236A6EE03F372E64FBBAF

    The contents of these blog posts, and the comments, are an integral part of this formal complaint against Dr. Barbour. This formal complaint against Dr. Barbour is based on item 2.7.4 at http://www.mopp.qut.edu.au/D/D_02_07.jsp (and a follow-up after there was no response from any of the RIA’s).

    Please remove immediately Dr. Barbour from QUT in case Dr. Barbour is unwilling to send me a rebuttal and in case Dr. Barbour is unwilling to start to work together with me to ensure that the faulty paper on the breeding biology of the Basra Reed Warber, a paper which is loaded with fabricated data, and a comment, will be retracted, ASAP and fully in line with the guidelines of COPE.

    DISCLAIMER: I am hereby declaring that that this complaint is lodged in good faith, that this is also the case for all other e-mails from my side to Dr. Barbour, and to all other parties and/or allies of Dr. Barbour, about the ongoing issues of the faulty paper on the breeding biology of the Basra Reed Warbler. I am hereby declaring that all of these e-mails from my side are 100% honest e-mails. Anyone who is claiming that I am dishonest, and/or that my behaviour is partial, and/or vexatious and/or that my statements about the paper on the breeding biology of the Basra Reed Warber are untrue / false (etc.), will first need to provide me access to the full list of requested raw research data (see https://pubpeer.com/publications/CBDA623DED06FB48B659B631BA69E7#fb31538 for the full list), and will need to accept that Richard Porter and his co-workers can scrutinize this entire set of raw research data.

    Thanks in advance for sending me a response in which is stated that my formal complaint was received by the Head of School / Executive Officer of the Division of Research and Commercialisation of QUT in good order. Please don’t hesitate to contact me when there are errors and/or mistakes in texts from my side. Best wishes, Klaas van Dijk”

    “From: Klaas van Dijk; Sent: Saturday, February 20, 2016 12:05 PM; Subject: Formal complaint to TILS of QUT with serious allegations of scientific misconduct commited by Dr Virginia Barbour. Dear reader of this e-mail, I am hereby lodging a formal complaint to the Head of School / Executive Officer of the Division of Technology, Information and Learning Support of QUT ( https://www.qut.edu.au/about/contact/groups/division-of-technology-information-and-learning-support ) with serious allegations of scientific misconduct committed by Dr. Virginia Barbour ( http://staff.qut.edu.au/details?id=barbourg ). [………]. Thanks in advance for sending me a response in which is stated that my formal complaint was received by TILS of QUT in good order. Please don’t hesitate to contact me when there are errors and/or mistakes in texts from my side. Best wishes, Klaas van Dijk”

    DISCLAIMER: I am hereby declaring that that this comment was prepared in good faith, that this is also the case for all other texts from my side about the faulty paper on the breeding biology of the Basra Reed Warbler, a paper which is loaded with fabricated data. I am hereby declaring that all of these texts from my side are 100% honest texts. Anyone who is claiming that I am dishonest, and/or that my behaviour is partial, and/or vexatious and/or that my statements about the paper on the breeding biology of the Basra Reed Warber are untrue / false (etc.), will first need to provide me access to the full list of requested raw research data (see https://pubpeer.com/publications/CBDA623DED06FB48B659B631BA69E7#fb31538 for the full list), and will need to accept that I, Richard Porter, and all co-workers of Richard Porter are able to scrutinize this entire set of raw research data. Please don’t hesitate to contact me when there are errors and/or mistakes in texts from my side.

    Like

  22. Copy/pasted from https://www.facebook.com/james.c.coyne (posted on 22 March 2016, readable for all):

    “Eventually I am going to have to blog about how much a waste of time it is to complain to Committee on Publication Ethics [..] concerning abuse by editors or the need to retract papers. COPE is only in the business of advising its member journals. In the end, it often ends up protecting bad behavior and bad outcomes and bad science.”

    Like

  23. Dear Leonid,

    Adam Jacobs ( https://twitter.com/statsguyuk ) posted on 23 March 2016 a comment on the Facebook page of James Coyne (see above). “What splendid timing that I managed to restore my old blog just the other day. It means I can now point you to a blogpost I wrote some years ago about exactly the same thing. Sad to see nothing has changed.” This comment of Adam Jacobs refers to http://dianthus.co.uk/quis-custodiet-ipsos-custodes

    Some quotes from this blog post: “I had hoped that the Committee on Publication Ethics would be able to rule on the matter. Sadly not. They did agree to look at the case, but gave an utterly bizarre response. They claim that they investigate breaches of their code of conduct, but they also told me that they will not comment on the facts of the case. And apparently, without considering the facts of the case, they determined that their code had not been breached. I cannot see how they could possibly know whether their code had been breached without looking at what actually happened. Presumably they just took the journal’s word for it.”

    “In any case, as their process was conducted behind closed doors and no detailed reasons for their decision were given, how they arrived at their decision is destined to remain a mystery. For an organisation that claims to be concerned with publication ethics, of which transparency is such an important part, to have such an opaque decision making process is deeply worrying.”

    “I really cannot understand why an organisation that claims to be an authority on publication ethics feels the need to conduct their affairs with such secrecy. Doing things in secret is not good publication ethics.”

    The paper in question is Spielmans & Parry, 2010, From Evidence-based Medicine to Marketing-based Medicine: Evidence from Internal Industry Documents, Journal of Bioethical Inquiry, Volume 7, Issue 1, pp 13-29, http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11673-010-9208-8 A letter by Adam Jacobs can be downloaded at http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11673-010-9226-6 A response from the authors is not open access http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11673-010-9241-7

    Adam Jacobs also has published a paper about this issue in the journal “The Write Stuff” (volume 20, 2011, page 108-109), Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? Getting away with publication misconduct: A ghostly tale, see http://dianthus.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/COPE-article-published-version.pdf

    “(….) all this assumes good faith on the part of the journal editor. What happens if that good faith is lacking? In this case, it is clear that the journal editor, Kate Cregan, had not simply been guilty of an inadvertent omission. She was perfectly aware that the article was inaccurate: even the authors of the article agreed with this. She never attempted to claim that the allegations in the article were true. But despite that, for whatever reason she may have had, she chose to let an inaccurate article remain uncorrected in her journal.”

    There is also a report with much background information about this case on the website of EMWA ( http://www.emwa.org/Documents/Resources/Shashok%20-%20Web%20Editorial.pdf ). This report (“Evading responsibility to readers and third parties: How an international bioethics journal failed to correct the record of publication”) was composed by Karen Shashok. It seems to me that this report was published in the end of 2011 (I was unable to find a date when it was published). I have no idea if there exists an update and/or if another version of this report has been published.

    Like

  24. Dear Leonid,

    Dr. Virginia Barbour, chair of COPE, is also one of the authors of “Ten Simple Rules for Building and Maintaining a Scientific Reputation”, Philip Bourne & Virginia Barbour, published 30 June 2011,
    http://journals.plos.org/ploscompbiol/article/comments?id=10.1371%2Fjournal.pcbi.1002108

    See below for the text of a so-called ‘Reader Comment” on this article which I have posted today.

    “Do Not Ignore People (rule 3) and Do Not Ignore Criticism (rule 2), Posted by Klaas van Dijk on 25 Mar 2016 at 09:39 GMT. Dr. Bourne, the first author of this paper and one of the EiC’s of this journal, was informed by me for the first time on 9 October 2015 that I was at that moment unable to locate the details of the competing interests statement of Dr. Barbour. This e-mail was sent in cc to Dr. Nussinov, the other EiC of this journal, to ploscompbiol AT plos.org and to data AT plos.org. I did not receive a response. A reminder was sent to Dr. Bourne on 12 October 2015. This reminder was sent in cc to Dr. Nussinov, to ploscompbiol AT plos.org, to data AT plos.org and to plosone AT plos.org I have until now only received an auto-reply from plosone AT plos.org on my reminder (Case 04210052). Last week, I became aware that ‘PLOS Computational Biology Staff’ had posted a comment with the lacking details about the competing interests statement of Dr. Barbour. My e-mail of 9 October 2015 contained also other questions. I fail to understand why there is until now no response on my e-mail of 9 October 2015. No competing interests declared.”

    Like

  25. Dear Leonid,

    Cope is currently seeking new Council members. Copy/pasted from http://publicationethics.org/news/vacancies-cope-council :

    “Vacancies on COPE Council.
    Due to expansion of Council, we are seeking nominations for seven new Council members. We are specially seeking candidates from Mainland Europe, South America and Asia, and with expertise in any of the following areas: finance, the humanities, educational resources, membership relations or book publishing.

    COPE Council is an active, working council. Council meets three times a year; two of the meetings are held by webinar, with the other being a 3 day residential meeting incorporating subcommittee meetings and a strategy day. It is expected that all COPE Council members will attend all of these meetings. Annual seminars and workshops are held in a number of locations worldwide and it is hoped that Council Members will participate in at least one of these.

    Council is divided into subcommittees, and Council Members will be expected to join a subcommittee of interest and actively help to achieve the subcommittee’s objectives. Other general Council tasks, such as the Forum and responding to member queries, are undertaken electronically. It is anticipated that the work of Council Members should amount to about 1–2 days per month, in addition to attendance at meetings.

    Council Members will be appointed by COPE Council for 3 years, with the possibility after further election of an additional 3 years. These are voluntary unpaid positions. It is expected that your employer will cover any expenses as part of your professional development; if this is not feasible, please contact the COPE Administrator for guidance.

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

    Candidates for Council membership will be short-listed by the nominations subcommittee. Short-listed candidates will be interviewed. Council Members shall be elected by the Full and Associate General Members with voting rights or (if the candidates are unopposed) by the approval of the Council.
    Further details, including a job description, can be found below. If you wish to apply, please contact the COPE administrator.for full details. The closing date for applications is: 15 April 2016

    COPE Council Member: role description
    Purpose of role
    • To be responsible, together with other council members, for the activities of the Committee on Publication Ethics.
    Key responsibilities
    • Attend and take a full part in meetings of Council by webinar, and attend and take full part in the annual residential meeting
    • Attend and contribute to quarterly Forum meetings by webinar
    • Take part in additional policy and advisory discussions (usually electronically).
    • Take part in subcommittees and other tasks, as agreed by Council.
    • Represent COPE externally when required to do so by Council.
    Person specification
    • Experience of scholarly publishing (in particular, gained as the editor or publisher of a peer-reviewed publication).
    • Understanding of ethical issues in scholarly publishing (eg, having published on or with experience of such matters).
    • Experience of committee work or involvement with charitable organizations.
    • Other expertise that will benefit COPE, such as writing, editing, research, publishing, producing educational resources etc. is welcomed
    • Sufficient time to commit to COPE activities, including attending meetings and contributing to the work of Council as required.”

    Like

  26. Dear Leonid, readers of your blog might be interested to know that Dr. Mirjam Curno is listed as moderator for a session about “Handling and understanding misconduct” at the 13th EASE Conference in June 2016 in Strasbourg (France). Dr. Curno is one of the the members of the Gender Policy Committee of EASA ( http://www.ease.org.uk/about-us/organisation-and-administration/gender-policy-committee ).

    Copy/pasted from http://www.ease.org.uk/ease-events/13th-ease-conference-strasbourg-france :

    “The main theme of the 13th EASE Conference is “Scientific integrity: editors on the front line” along with many other hot topics. (….).

    Parallel sessions Sunday 12 June 2016. Handling and understanding misconduct (08:45-10:15)
    3A: Managing cases of misconduct. Moderator: Mirjam Curno, Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) Council; Frontiers, Switzerland.
    On the art of whistleblowing (Christiaan Sterken)
    Navigating ethical cases: from the role of publishers to collaborating with other editors (Elizabeth Moylan).”

    Like

  27. Dear Leonid,

    Dr. Mirjam Curno is last author of a recently published paper in the new journal ‘Research Integrity and Peer Review’ ( http://researchintegrityjournal.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s41073-016-0007-6 ). This paper was submitted on 3 November 2015 and it was published on 3 May 2016. Dr. Curno lists ‘Affiliated with Journal of the International AIDS Society’ and has declared that there were no competing interests. It seems to me that this affilation is (heavily) outdated. I am also wondering why Dr. Curno has not listed that she is currently employed by publisher Frontiers and that she is one of the Trustees of COPE.

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26361171 is recent paper with Dr. Curno as first author. This paper was submitted on 16 November 2014 and it was accepted on 1 June 2015. This paper lists “Formerly International AIDS Society, Geneva, Switzerland; Frontiers, Lausanne, Switzerland” as affilation of Dr. Curno. Dr. Curno is listed as corresponding author and the PDF (open access) lists an yahoo account as contact address for Dr. Curno (“Mirjam J. Curno, PhD, Frontiers, EPFL Innovation Park, building I, 1015 Lausanne, Switzerland, (e-mail …”).

    Dr. Shirin Heidari is the first author of the paper published on 3 May 2016. Dr. Heirari lists “EASE Gender Policy Committee/Reproductive Health Matters” as affiliation. Dr. Heidari is the last author of the other paper. She lists “Formerly International AIDS Society, Geneva, Switzerland; Inforia, Geneva, Switzerland” as affilation. Do you happen to have any idea about the current status of something which is called Inforia? It seems to me that http://www.inforia.org is inactive.

    Both Dr. Curno and Dr. Heidari are members of the Gender Policy Committee of EASE. Dr. Heidari is listed as chair of this Committee. Dr. Heidari is also one of the members of the council of EASE. http://www.ease.org.uk/about-us/organisation-and-administration/council-members lists “Journal of the International AIDS Society, Geneva, Switzerland” as affilation of Dr. Heidari. I was unable to locate the name of Dr. Heidari at http://www.jiasociety.org/index.php/jias/about/editorialTeam

    http://www.ease.org.uk/about-us/organisation-and-administration/gender-policy-committee lists: “Shirin Heidari, Director and Editor Reproductive Health Matters, http://www.rhmjournal.org.uk“. I was able to locate the name of Dr. Heidari at http://www.rhm-elsevier.com/content/edboard

    http://jama.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=1889150 is another paper with Dr. Heidari as first author and with “Inforia, Geneva, Switzerland” as her affilation. This paper was published in mid 2014.

    So what’s going on over here and why do I get so much outdated and/or conflicting information about affilations?

    Like

  28. @ Dave Fernig (comment #609, March 17, 2016 at 13:33, “I recommend a thorough reading of Samuel Beckett’s “Waiting for Godot” (or if you are Francophone, “En attendant Godot”. You can then, like the rest of us, apply to play Estagon, as we have a lot of experience!”):

    We received on 16 June 2016 a formal response from Taylor & Francis on a request from 21 June 2015 to them to give us accces to a specific set of raw research data of the faulty paper on the breeding biology of the Basra Reed Warbler. Deborah Kahn, publishing director, STM journals, told us: “Like the majority of scientific journals, this one does not compel the author to provide the raw data of the research to anyone. We will not be responding to your request to provide you with this.”

    So the raw research data of this paper are not available for vetting / validating / scrutinizing / verifying etc. Our request of 21 June 2015 was a follow-up on an email of 15 June 2015 from the first author in which he told us that he refused to give us access to this set of raw research data.

    I fail to understand why we needed to wait 361 days to get this response. Several reminders had been sent to several people at TF about this issue. These reminders only yielded auto-replies (or no response at all). Deborah Kahn also stated in her e-mail: “no-one in this organisation will respond further to your emails.”

    Like

  29. Dear Leonid,

    Publisher Taylor & Francis has published yesterday (5 July 2016) a formal “Expression of Concern” which refers to the 2013-paper on the breeding biology of the Basra Reed Warbler. See http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/09397140.2016.1208389

    “”We have been informed of a question of the reliability and validity of the data reported in the above work. We note that the data described in this article have not been independently verified, and we recommend that readers take this into account when reading the paper or performing further work based on this study.”

    It seems to me that this Expression of Concern is a direct result of the recent release of a thorough investigation into serious allegations of fabricated and/or falsified data in this 2013-paper and in a 2015-comment by the same authors. The report if this investigation is since 1 July 2016 in the possession of the publisher and the EiC of the journal.

    Like

    1. This report of a thorough investigation into serious allegations of fabricated and/or falsified data in Al-Sheikhly et al. (2013, 2015) is not confidential. Please contact me if you would like to get a copy.

      The investigation was focused on:
      (a) getting access to raw research data reportedly collected in the years 2006 and 2007 and reportedly collected for the statement “males are often polygynous (42.9%, n= 317 observed males)”;
      (b) getting reviews from experts about the allegations;
      (c) getting responses from the authors and their affiliations on preliminary versions of the investigation;
      (d): getting a good picture of the role of the three authors and their affiliations.

      The main findings of the investigation are:
      (a) the set of raw research data is unavailable. The first author refuses to release them, the last author and his affiliation have never properly responded on requests to release them. The data are also not in the possession of Taylor & Francis, the publisher, and Max Kasparek, the Editor-in-Chief of the journal;
      (b) all responses from the first and the last author and from the affiliation of the last author are invalid and/or insufficient and/or unsatisfactory;
      (c) lots of experts, including members of the editoral board of the journal, support the views of several organisations and of a large amount of ornithologists and others that the papers contain fabricated and/or falsified data;
      (d) we were unable to find experts who endorse the views of the first and of the last author that their papers are based on solid scientific data;
      (e) we were unable to locate a university in Saudi Arabia who had endorsed this study;
      (f) there is no conclusive evidence about an involvement of the second author, there is no conclusive evidence of an endorsement by the affiliation of the first author.
      .
      We have asked publisher Taylor & Francis and the EiC of the journal ZME to sent us in due time a point-by-point rebuttal (of an expert with a name and contact details in case we want to have a scientific dialogue with this expert) in case they disagree with (one or more items of) the report. We are always willing to have a scientific dialogue with anyone who is not endorsing the conclusion of this investigation. We invite all opponents to join the debate at https://pubpeer.com/publications/CBDA623DED06FB48B659B631BA69E7

      Like

      1. Dear Leonid,

        See below for a slightly redacted version of an email about this topic which was sent on 15 July 2016 to Publisher Taylor & Francis.

        “From: Klaas van Dijk; To Deborah Kahn; Cc: Max Kasparek; Sent: Friday, July 15, 2016 12:38 PM; Subject: Basra Reed Warbler papers in TandF journal ZME: an urgent request to sent us a formal retraction note.

        Dear Ms Kahn,

        We would like to thank you very much for your email of 16 June 2016 in which you confirm that the requested set of raw research data of a paper in a TandF journal on the breeding biology of the Basra Reed Warbler is not available (RE: our email to Dr. Kasparek, the EiC of ZME, dated 21 June 2015, also sent in cc to members of the staff of Taylor & Francis).

        We also would like to thank you very much for your quick initial response on the outcome of our final investigation on the allegations of fabricated and/or falsified data in Al-Sheikhly et al. (2013, 2015). This report was sent on 1 July 2016 to four members of the staff of Taylor & Francis, to Dr. Kasparek and to some members of the Editorial Board of ZME, and to other interested parties. (The report is not confidential).

        Your initial response was the publication of an Expression of Concern on 5 July 2016. The core of your response is: ‘We have been informed of a question of the reliability and validity of the data reported in the above work. We note that the data described in this article have not been independently verified, and we recommend that readers take this into account when reading the paper or performing further work based on this study.’

        Our report states that you (publisher Taylor & Francis and EiC Max Kasparek) have a limited amount of time (5 days) to provide us with a point-by-point rebuttal of an expert (an expert with a name and contact details in case we want to have a scientific dialogue with this expert).

        It is right now 15 July 2016. We have not received such a point-by-point letter. We have not received another response from you. We have thus concluded that all at Taylor & Francis, in the widest possible sense, endorse the conclusion of the final investigation that Al-Sheikhly et al. (2013, 2015) contains fabricated and/or falsified data and that therefore Al-Sheikhly et al. (2013, 2015) must be retracted. A point-by-point rebuttal was not received from Dr. Kasparek. Another response was not received from Dr. Kasparek. (Also others have not provided us with opinions / statements (of experts) with opposing views). We have thus concluded that Dr. Kasparek endorses the conclusion of the final investigation that Al-Sheikhly et al. (2013, 2015) contains fabricated and/or falsified data and that Al-Sheikhly et al. (2013, 2015) must be retracted.

        We therefore urge you to ensure that we get in due time, (a) a formal letter from the responsible Managing Editor (see attachment for an example) in which it is stated that Al-Sheikhly et al. (2013, 2015) will be retracted, or (b) an e-mail from Dr. Kasparek with a similar statement.

        We reiterate that we are always working within the framework of the VSNU ‘The Netherlands Code of Conduct for Academic Practice’. The details can be found at http://www.rug.nl/about-us/organizat…ning-14-en.pdf and at http://www.rug.nl/about-us/organizat…teit-12-en.pdf (item 10 of the Preamble of the Code links both documents with each other).

        (…). Best wishes, Klaas van Dijk”

        Like

  30. Klaas van Dijk asked: “[. . .] Anyone any idea what to do next?”

    Hast thou complained about COPE to the Charity Commission of the United Kingdom or the Charity Commission for England & Wales or a similar organisation? Hast thou considered suing COPE under charity law (to e.g. get a judge to strip it of its supposedly charitable status)? Is legal aid (lawyer paid by a state on thy behalf instead of paid by thee) available for this?

    I quote de a judgment of an ex-court case of England and Wales (that was not about charity law) referring to another ex-court case: “lawyers specialising in charity law, namely Geldards LLP.” Perhaps the lawfirm Geldards LLP could be helpful.

    Lydia Maniatis:
    “[. . .]

    I’m sure there are many such cases. How ironic that Frontiers innovative transparency policy (publishing editors’ names) should end up revealing that they are corrupting corruptible editors…”

    Identifying editors and referees by names is not innovative. The “Journal of Geophysical Research” used to do this decades ago.

    Like

  31. Dear Klaas van Dijk:

    May I suggest not using
    “There is as yet no response [. . .] on my e-mail”
    and instead using
    “There is as yet no response [. . .] to my e-mail”?

    “Both auto-responses imply that my e-mail of last Friday was received by QUT in good order.”

    Learn how to command an email client to request Delivery-Status Notifications so as to have evidence that emails were delivered. (Return receipts (Message-Disposition Notifications) are also nice.)

    Regards,
    Paul Colin de Gloucester

    Like

  32. Michael Pyshnov complained about immorality of “Nature” and the Committee on Publication Ethics. The first time he heard of me was via an email that I sent during November 2012. He replied to this email with:

    “[. . .]

    I looked at your comment in Nature. I wrote several times there and most of my comments were deleted, Nature
    does not allow the URL of my web site, period. I had correspondence with their editor, to no avail. My firm
    opinion is that the crooks in “sci. integrity” are everywhere. They allow all talk and comments except
    mentioning a concrete documents. This mary-go-round is going on for decades.

    I believe that looking for the answers in official places is a mistake. Writing to people in official positions
    is a mistake. There is, first, a need to open a forum for whistleblowers in Sci.Integrity or better in
    Sci.Fraud. This forum should not publish theoretical “research” on research integrity, but publish DOCUMENTS OF
    INDIVIDUAL CASES. It can be called this: Science Misconduct/Fraud Individual Cases or:
    ScienceMisconduct/Whistleblowers or something similar. The problem is that there is no any pressure unless such
    documents collected in a forum. Again, officials will only answer to such collection of documents that also
    will show that currently official reaction is a sham. Enough begging.

    Michael”

    I had not referred to “Nature” in this email that first made him aware of me. I infer that he searched the Internet for me and found an online message by me on Nature(.com).

    On a webpage he reported:
    “Correspondence with the
    Committee on Publication Ethics
    I wish everyone who is worried by the growing fraud in scientific research and publications will understand the following correspondence. Such documents are rarely, if at all, made public. It is important to understand how scoundrels in the industry of “ethics and integrity” are perverting and falsifying academic law to cover up the fraud of the scoundrels in scientific laboratories and scientific journals. To make clear some points that may escape the attention of readers, I give my comments, following the emails, and, my general remarks at the end.

    [. . .]”

    Like

  33. Nicholas Collin Paul de Gloucester wrote on July 22, 2016 at 18:06: “Learn how to command an email client to request Delivery-Status Notifications so as to have evidence that emails were delivered. (Return receipts (Message-Disposition Notifications) are also nice.)”

    Thanks alot for your recommendation.

    Deborah Kahn, a high-ranked employee of publisher Taylor & Francis, wrote to me on 16 June 2016: “no-one in this organisation will respond further to your emails.” (see my comment #1614, posted July 6, 2016 at 11:11). It seems therefore that all at publisher Taylor & Francis are at the moment unwilling to sent me ‘Delivery-Status Notifications’ and/or ‘Message-Disposition Notifications’.

    My email of 15 July 2016 to Deborah Kahn (see my comment #1762, posted July 19, 2016 at 10:16) was therefore also sent to some other employees of publisher Taylor & Francis. Three auto-replies show that my email of 15 July 2016 was received by publisher Taylor & Francis in good order.

    “From: Barbara Costello; To: Klaas van Dijk; Sent: Friday, July 15, 2016 12:40 PM; Subject: Automatic reply: Basra Reed Warbler papers in TandF journal ZME: an urgent request to sent us a formal retraction note. Thank you for your email. I have left for the day, back in the office Tuesday 19th July, I will respond to your email on my return. Please note my working hours are Monday-Thursday, 9am to 2pm.”
    “From: Ailsa Marks; To: Klaas van Dijk; Sent: Friday, July 15, 2016 12:40 PM; Subject: Automatic reply: Basra Reed Warbler papers in TandF journal ZME: an urgent request to sent us a formal retraction note. Thank you for your email, I am out of the office attending conferences between 6th July to 22nd July, with intermittent access to emails. During the period 11th – 15th July I will be on annual leave with no access to emails. If you have an urgent query or need further assistance please contact Helen Brown on [redacted].”
    “From: Ashlynne Merrifield; To: Klaas van Dijk; Sent: Friday, July 15, 2016 12:40 PM; Subject: Automatic reply: Basra Reed Warbler papers in TandF journal ZME: an urgent request to sent us a formal retraction note. Many thanks for your email. I am currently out of the office with no access to email. I will get back to you as soon as possible when I return to the office on Monday 18th July. Best wishes, Ashlynne.”

    The name Barbara Costello was derived from an auto-reply of Deborah Kahn: “From: Deborah Kahn; To: Klaas van Dijk; Sent: Saturday, May 28, 2016 10:41 AM; Subject: Automatic reply: On the persistent refusal of Taylor and Francis to retract a paper about the breeding biology of the Basra Reed Warbler which is loaded with fabricated data. Thank you for your email. I am away on leave until 31st May and will not be checking email regularly. I will respond on my return. If your message is urgent, please contact Barbara Costello [redacted] who will direct it to someone who can respond.”

    The name Ailsa Marks was derived from an email from the EiC of the journal, Dr. Max Kasparek: “From: Max Kasparek; To: Klaas van Dijk; Cc: Ailsa Marks; Sent: Wednesday, May 06, 2015 6:40 PM; Subject: AW: serious concerns on the credibility of data on Basra Reed Warblers in two recent ZME papers.” The name Ashlynne Merrifield was also derived from an email of Dr. Kasparek: “From: Max Kasparek; To: Richard Porter; Cc: Ashlynne Merrifield; Date: 19 February 2016 at 10:04:23 GMT; Subject: Basra Reed Warbler”.

    I have until now not received other responses from publisher Taylor & Francis on my email of 15 July 2016. Please don’t hesitate to make more comments on the contents of my emails.

    Like

    1. DSNs would be sent automatically if they would have been requested. (However, to request DSNs one might need to manually request them.) How to configure an email client to request DSNs depends on the email client. One example is
      https://support.Office.com/nl-nl/article/Bezorgings-en-leesbevestigingen-ontvangen-a34bf70a-4c2c-4461-b2a1-12e4a7a92141?omkt=nl-NL&ui=nl-NL&rs=nl-NL&ad=NL

      I did not find many other useful webpages in Dutch about this topic but thou couldst read e.g.
      https://addons.Mozilla.org/nl/thunderbird/addon/dsn-settings-2/
      and
      http://blog.IusMentis.com/2014/07/21/hoe-bewijs-je-nu-dat-een-e-mail-aangekomen/

      How to configure an email client to request MDNs also varies by email client. E.g.
      https://addons.Mozilla.org/nl/thunderbird/addon/return-receipt-toolbar-button/

      Like

  34. Deborah Kahn is the publishing director STM journals at publisher Taylor & Francis. She is also chair of the Ethics Committee for the whole of Taylor & Francis journals.

    Deborah Kahn has sent on 22 April 2016 an application letter to COPE in which she has asked COPE to get listed as one of the candidates to get elected as one of the new members of the Council of COPE. Attached to this letter is an extensive CV. COPE has decided that Deborah Kahn fulfilled the criteria to get elected. She was therefore put on a list of 13 candidates on which members of COPE could vote to get elected. There were in total 8 vacancies. Voting was open until 17 June 2016. Deborah Kahn was one of the eight persons who got elected.

    Seven of the eight elected candidates are already installed as new members of the Council of COPE. The installation of Deborah Kahn is at the moment ‘on hold’. COPE published on 7 July 2016 (10.22am) a statement about Deborah Kahn ( http://publicationethics.org/news/results-cope-council-election ):

    “Deborah Kahn applied to be a member of COPE Council and has been elected by the General Membership. However, Deborah will not be taking up her position until an ongoing case involving Taylor & Francis has been resolved.”

    I am hereby urging Deborah Kahn to ensure that we receive within the shortest possible period of time a formal retraction note from a Managing Editor at Taylor & Francis in which it is stated that Al-Sheikhly et al. (2013, 2015) contain fabricated and/or falsified data and that therefore Al-Sheikhly et al. (2013, 2015) will be retracted.

    I note that until today no one has challenged the findings of the Final Investigation that Al-Sheikhly et al. (2013, 2015) contain fabricated and/or falsified data. I reiterate that this Final Investigation has been sent to publisher Taylor & Francis on Friday 1 July 2016.

    Like

  35. The contents of the url http://publicationethics.org/news/results-cope-council-election is not anymore accessible for non-members of COPE. The statement about Deborah Kahn is however also accessible through http://publicationethics.org/cope-newsletter/2016/jul/cope-digest-publication-ethics-practice-july-2016-vol-4-issue-7

    “Deborah Kahn (Editorial Director, Taylor & Francis, UK) applied to be a member of COPE Council and has been elected by the General Membership. However, Deborah will not be taking up her position until an ongoing case involving Taylor & Francis has been resolved.”

    Deborah Kahn has not yet been installed as member of the Council of COPE ( http://publicationethics.org/about/council ). The faulty papers (Al-Sheikhly et al. 2013, 2015) in a Taylor & Francis journal have not yet been retracted ( http://www.tandfonline.com/toc/tzme20/59/2 ).

    Guy Kirwan is one of the 14 authors of a comment and a rejoinder on Al-Sheikhly et al. (2013, 2015), see http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/09397140.2015.1023424 and http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/09397140.2015.1023426 Guy Kirwan wrote on 8 May 2015 in a thread about the this topic on http://www.birdforum.net/showthread.php?t=303435 :

    “Unfortunately, those responsible for the publication of the Basra Reed Warbler paper appear to value truth in science less than some other journal publishers.”

    Like

  36. Dear Leonid,

    Mirjam Curno is one of the co-authors of a recently published paper in the journal “Research Integrity and Peer Review” ( http://researchintegrityjournal.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s41073-016-0007-6 ).

    The manuscript was received on 3 November 2015, was accepted on 13 March 2016 and was published on 3 May 2016. The paper states: “all authors read and approved the final manuscript.” The journal published on 24 June 2016 an erratum / correction / update / clarification about the current affilation of Mirjam Curno ( http://researchintegrityjournal.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s41073-016-0016-5 ).

    “Erratum. After publication of the article [1], the authors would like to clarify that Mirjam Curno’s current affiliation is Frontiers. The work reported in this article was, however, conducted while she was affiliated with the Journal of the International AIDS Society.”

    Like

  37. Dear Leonid,

    See below for a slightly redacted version of an email which was sent on 29 July 2016 to Deborah Kahn of publisher Taylor & Francis. Deborah Kahn is one of the elected candidates for the council of COPE.

    This email was sent in cc to some other members of the staff of publisher TandF. Autoreplies from four staff members of TandF were received on the same day. These autoreplies show that the email of 29 July was received in good order.

    There was until now no other follow-up. Deborah Kahn has until now not been installed as member of the council of COPE ( http://publicationethics.org/about/council ).

    “From: Klaas van Dijk; To: Deborah Kahn; Sent: Friday, July 29, 2016 1:17 PM; Subject: Deborah Kahn of TandF cannot take up position as member of the Council of COPE as long as two faulty papers in ZME on Basra Reed Warblers have not been retracted

    Dear Ms Kahn,

    The auto-replies from members of the staff of publisher Taylor & Francis on our email of 15 July 2016 have been received in good order.

    Both faulty papers are until now not retracted ( http://www.tandfonline.com/toc/tzme20/59/2 ) and we have not yet received, (a) a formal letter from the responsible Managing Editor in which is stated that Al-Sheikhly et al. (2013, 2015) will be retracted, or (b) an e-mail from Dr. Kasparek with a similar statement. We have also not received other messages from ZME and/or TandF. We are therefore sending you a reminder. We once again urge you to ensure that we get these documents in due time.

    We are aware that you have contacted COPE on 22 April 2016 with an application letter and a CV in which you state that you would like to apply to become member of the Council of COPE. (Both documents are in our possession). You belong to the candidates who got elected.

    COPE has however posted a ‘Statement’ about you on the public part of their website on 7 July 2016 (10:22 AM): “Deborah Kahn (Editorial Director, Taylor & Francis, UK) applied to be a member of COPE Council and has been elected by the General Membership. However, Deborah will not be taking up her position until an ongoing case involving Taylor & Francis has been resolved.”

    We take it for granted that the text in this Statement (‘an ongoing case’ and ‘has been resolved’) refers to your involvement in the retraction of Al-Sheikhly et al. (2013, 2015). This implies towards our opinion that COPE currently holds the view that you cannot take up your position as member of the Council of COPE as long as Al-Sheikhly et al. (2013, 2015) has not been retracted. We note that there are grounds to assume that a letter from COPE to us, dated 13 July 2016, also contains information about this issue.

    We are aware that publishers of peer-reviewed journals, including mainstream publisher TandF, are used to work with ‘tacit approval within a limited amount of time’. We propose that this is also the case with our contacts about both papers of Al-Sheikhly et al. (2013, 2015) with all at TandF, in the widest possible sense. (…). Please inform us therefore before the end of Monday 1 August 2016 (5PM, London time) in case there are objections from TandF that we are correct by stating that the ‘Statement’ at the website of COPE about TandF employee Deborah Kahn directly refers to the case around the two faulty papers in ZME (Al-Sheikhly et al. 2013, 2015).

    Please ensure that we get in due time, (a) a formal letter from the responsible Managing Editor in which is stated that Al-Sheikhly et al. (2013, 2015) will be retracted, or (b) an e-mail from Dr. Kasparek with a similar statement.

    Klaas van Dijk / Groningen / The Netherlands”

    Like

  38. Copy/pasted from “Lessons from the controversy over statins” (published on 8 September 2016 at http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(16)31583-5/fulltext ):

    “(….). In October, 2014, a year after the original articles questioning the safety and efficacy of statins were published, a group of concerned scientists, including several authors on the Review we publish today, wrote to the Chair of the UK’s Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE). COPE provides guidance to editors and publishers about questions of publication ethics. The concerned scientists pointed to publication of incorrect claims about statin side-effects, inaccurate editorial and media statements, and inappropriate peer review. After 2 years of frustrating exchange, including a direct request that COPE conduct an independent investigation, COPE declined to act further, emphasising that it is a charitable member organisation, not a regulatory authority. Although it is true that COPE is not a statutory regulator, it does investigate the conduct and processes of journals and editors. COPE’s refusal to investigate the growing concerns of senior UK scientists was surprising and disappointing. (….)”

    Like

  39. https://www.publishingcampus.elsevier.com/pages/201/Colleges/College-of-Skills-Training/Publishing-ethics/Experts-corner.html is a link to the three members of the independant advisory board of the ‘Ethics in Research and Publication Program’ of publisher Elsevier.

    These three members are David Rew, Margaret Rees and Alexander Florence. The bio of Margaret Rees at the above link states:
    * “Margaret Rees Secretary Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE), United Kingdom Editor in Chief Maturitas. Emeritus Reader in Reproductive Medicine in Oxford.”
    * “Margaret Rees has a longstanding, unique portfolio of experience of research and publication ethics. She chairs a National Health Service research ethics committee, is a member of the Oxford Central University Research Ethics Committee, the chair-elect of the UK Association of Research Ethics Committee and COPE secretary.”

    So Elsevier states that Margaret Rees is at the moment the secretary of COPE.

    This information is not in line with the information which is currently listed at http://publicationethics.org/about/council I have downloaded on 23 October 2015 a copy of this url. This copy list that Charon Pierson was at that time already secretary of COPE. This copy of 23 October 2015 reveals that Margaret Rees was at that time not anymore listed as member of the Council of COPE.

    This all implies that the information in the bio of Margaret Rees about her current ties with COPE at https://www.publishingcampus.elsevier.com/pages/201/Colleges/College-of-Skills-Training/Publishing-ethics/Experts-corner.html is currently heavily outdated.

    Both Margaret Rees and Elsevier were informed yesterday about these discrepancies. There was until now no response.

    Like

  40. Many readers are aware that I am working together for already a prolonged period of time with a large amount of ornithologists and conservationalists to get retracted a fraudulent paper on the breeding biology of the Basra Reed Warbler in a Taylor & Francis journal (Al-Sheikhly et al. 2013).

    I have therefore read with great interest a recent paper in BMJ Open about retractions in journals of BioMed Central (Moylan & Kowalczuk 2016). I quickly noted an issue with the competing interests statement of Dr. Moylan. Dr Moylan is a member of the council of COPE since January 2016. Dr. Moylan is listed as corresponding author. She is not allowed to open e-mails from my side. I have therefore contacted the editor of BMJ Open for a copy of the ICMJE disclosure form of Dr. Moylan. The editor of BMJ Open responded very quickly. I got an invitation to submit an Eletter to BMJ Open. This Eletter (‘Commentary on a study about retraction notices in journals of BioMed Central’) was submitted on 7 January 2017. An edited version was published on 18 January 2017 at http://bmjopen.bmj.com/content/6/11/e012047.responses

    The submitted version contains more backgrounds about the Basra Reed Warbler and about the involvement of Dr Moylan with our efforts to retract the Basra Reed Warbler article. I have published this version as a ‘comment’ at https://www.researchgate.net/publication/310778980 , the ResearchGate entry of the paper, on 23 January 2017.

    The editor of BMJ Open has published on 13 February 2017 a ‘note from the Editor on the prepublication history’ alongside the paper of Moylan & Kowalczuk. The rejected version and the reviews on the rejected version have also been added, see http://bmjopen.bmj.com/content/bmjopen/6/11/e012047.draft-revisions.pdf and http://bmjopen.bmj.com/content/bmjopen/6/11/e012047.reviewer-comments.pdf The review by Dr. R. Grant Steen contains interesting details. The editor of BMJ Open told me that the authors are preparing a response on (the submitted version of) my Eletter. The submitted version of my Eletter is in the possession of Dr. Moylan.

    A copy of the ICMJE form of Dr. Moylan was until now not received. I have therefore contacted yesterday the editor of BMJ Open with a proposal to contact the BMJ’s ethics committee http://www.bmj.com/about-bmj/advisory-panels/ethics-committee and discuss with them the consequences of the unavailability of the ICMJE form of Dr. Moylan (to readers of her paper in BMJ Open).

    See also https://pubpeer.com/publications/969CF510137B45F3DCAD9C40B03462

    Like

  41. I have until now not received a copy of the ICMJE form of Dr. Moylan.

    I have therefore filed a formal complaint to BMJ on 7 March 2017. “From: Klaas van Dijk; To: Complaints; Date: 7 March 2017 at 11:59; Subject: Formal complaint to BMJ; Lectori salutem, I am hereby filing a formal complaint to BMJ (complaint #1, RE: http://www.bmj.com/about-bmj/complaints-procedure ). This complaint refers to (1) my ‘expression of unhappiness’ in regard to (2) the ‘long delay’ to get a part of the raw research data of http://bmjopen.bmj.com/content/6/11/e012047.full (see below for the backgrounds, see also the attachment), and (3) which is ‘something that is within the responsibility of The BMJ’s editorial department – content or process.’ (…). Please send me a response in which the receipt of this formal complaint is acknowledged (‘all complaints will be acknowledged within three working days’) and please contact me immediately in case there are errors and/or mistakes in my texts.”

    I received within a few hours a response. “To: Klaas van Dijk; Sent: Tuesday, March 07, 2017 2:58 PM; Subject: Re: Formal complaint to BMJ; Dear Klaas, Thank you for your message. Because it relates to BMJ Open, it has been passed on to me to respond to. Please direct any further complaints to me. On the issue of the ICMJE form, please note that it is our position that the form does not constitute underlying research data of the article. (…). We will not be acknowledging any further complaints from you relating to this matter.”

    A respond was sent the next day. “From: Klaas van Dijk; Sent: Wednesday, March 08, 2017 8:50 AM; (…) I would like to thank you very much for your quick response of yesterday in which you acknowledge the receipt of my formal complaint of that day. (….) I have noted that you do not refer to sources, in particular papers in peer-reviewed journals, when claiming that the ICMJE form of Dr. Moylan is not part of the raw research data of the paper in question. Please therefore ensure that I get within 24 hours after you have received this e-mail references to at least 3 papers in legitimate peer-reviewed journals (so excluding all journals which are on the list of Jeffrey Beall, most recent edition of 2017), to support this claim.”

    There was no response. I have therefore sent a reminder. “From: Klaas van Dijk; Sent: Thursday, March 09, 2017 9:40 PM; Subject: Reminder for 3 references in peer-reviewed journals to support the claim that an ICMJE form of the guarantor is not part of the raw research data of a paper in BMJ journals; (…) There was not yet a response on my request to your colleague [redacted] to send me ‘at least 3 papers in legitimate peer-reviewed journals (so excluding all journals which are on the list of Jeffrey Beall, most recent edition) to support your claim that the ICMJE form of Dr. Moylan is not part of the raw research data of the paper in question.’ I am therefore sending a reminder. I propose you ask [redacted] at BMJ, to assist your colleague [redacted] to send me this references. I take it for granted that your colleague [redacted] is willing to have a scientific dialogue with me about the contents of these 3 references. Please accept my apologies in case the delay is caused because your colleague [redacted] is sick and/or on leave and/or for a prolonged period of time at a place without access to the internet. Please acknowledge the receipt of this e-mail and please contact me immediately in case there are errors and/or mistakes in my texts.”

    I received the next day a response. From: Complaints; To: Klaas van Dijk; Sent: Friday, March 10, 2017 11:04 AM; Subject: Re: Reminder for 3 references in peer-reviewed journals to support the claim that an ICMJE form of the guarantor is not part of the raw research data of a paper in BMJ journals; Dear Klaas, Thanks for getting in touch, I’m happy to confirm receipt of this complaint. Although we currently give a three day acknowledgement window for complaints, we do go on to state that ‘…if possible a full response will be made within four weeks. If this is not possible an interim response will be given within four weeks. Further interim responses will be provided until the complaint is resolved.’ As you can imagine this process does take time, especially when multiple issues are raised across departments with different working schedules. I’m aware that you also have raised a complaint to BMJ Open, which has been formally acknowledged. As this complaint falls under the remit of BMJ Open, further responses should also come from them directly. Sincerely, [redacted]”

    Great. A formal acknowledgement from BMJ on 10 March 2017 that my complaint #2 was received in good order by BMJ, although BMJ told me on 7 March 2017: “We will not be acknowledging any further complaints from you relating to this matter.”

    There was no follow-up. I have until now not received the requested 3 references and also not a copy of the ICMJE form of Dr. Moylan. I have therefore contacted BMJ once again on 16 March 2017. “From: Klaas van Dijk; To: Complaints; Sent: Thursday, March 16, 2017 9:30 AM; Subject: Formal complaint to BMJ about the tacit refusal of BMJ to give me a copy of the ICMJE form of Dr Moylan of http://bmjopen.bmj.com/content/6/11/e012047 ; Dear [redacted], Thanks alot for your quick and friendly response of last Friday in which BMJ acknowledges my complaint (complaint #2) about this issue. (….). No one has until now informed me that there are errors and/or mistakes in my texts. A time window of 1 week (9 March – 16 March) seems reasonable for ‘immediately’. This implies that there are no errors and/or mistakes in my texts. (….). I am hereby informing you that I have until now not received a single reference from a ‘legitimate peer-reviewed journal (so excluding all journals which are on the list of Jeffrey Beall, most recent edition) to support the claim of BMJ that ‘the ICMJE form of Dr. Moylan is not part of the raw research data of the paper in question.’ This of course implies that BMJ has until now not been able to locate a single reference from a ‘legitimate peer-reviewed journal (so excluding all journals which are on the list of Jeffrey Beall, most recent edition) to support the claim of BMJ that ‘the ICMJE form of Dr. Moylan is not part of the raw research data of the paper in question.’

    I am hereby informing you that I have until now not received a copy of the ICMJE form of Dr. Moylan, the guarantor of http://bmjopen.bmj.com/content/6/11/e012047 I recall that I have asked BMJ for the first time on 28 November 2016 for a copy of this form. Several reminders were send, all without getting a copy. It is right now 16 March 2017. (…). The paper and http://www.bmj.com/about-bmj/resources-authors/forms-policies-and-checklists/declaration-competing-interests (‘After publication, the forms must be made available by the corresponding authors on request.’) do not indicate that there is an exception for Dr. Moylan on this rule. (….) I am therefore filing to BMJ a new complaint (complaint #3) (….) Please acknowledge the receipt of this complaint and please contact me immediately in case there are errors and/or mistakes in my texts.”

    To be continued…..

    Like

  42. I have until now not received a copy of the ICMJE form of Dr. Moylan, a member of the council of COPE, and the guarantor of the paper in question in the journal BMJ Open. BMJ et al. have until now not provided me with ‘at least 3 papers in legitimate peer-reviewed journals (so excluding all journals which are on the list of Jeffrey Beall, most recent edition) to support your claim that the ICMJE form of Dr. Moylan is not part of the raw research data of the paper in question.’

    BMJ et al. welcomes complaints (Source: http://www.bmj.com/about-bmj/complaints-procedure “We welcome complaints”). Therefore 9 formal complaints about these issues have been filed to BMJ et al. It turned out that communicating with BMJ et al about these issues, including a proper handling of the complaints, was increasingly difficult. Complaint #9 was therefore send to several e-mail accounts at BMJ et al. This turned out to be a successful strategy, as I received several auto-replies from the server(s) of BMJ et al. I regard these auto-replies as the formal acknowledgement that my complaint #9 was received in good order by BMJ et al. (Source: http://www.bmj.com/about-bmj/complaints-procedure “All complaints will be acknowledged within three working days.”).

    Both authors have published on 21 April 2017 a rebuttal on my comment at http://bmjopen.bmj.com/content/6/11/e012047.responses#response-to-commentary-on-a-study-about-retraction-notices-in-journals-of-biomed-central

    The COI declaration of this rebuttal states: “MKK is a co-Editor-in-Chief of the journal Research Integrity and Peer Review, and ECM is on the Editorial Board of Research Integrity and Peer Review, however this journal was launched in May 2016 and was not involved in the study.”

    A press release of BioMed Central at biomedcentral.com/about/press-centre/business-press-releases and dated 2 April 2015 states:
    * “BioMed Central is pleased to announce the launch of a new open access journal Research Integrity and Peer Review, which will act as an academic forum where these discussions can take place.
    * “The journal will be launched at the world conference of 4th World Conference on Research Integrity, which will be held in Rio de Janeiro from May 31 to June 3, 2015.”
    * “The journal will be led by a team of academic experts and members of BioMed Central’s own in-house research integrity team.”
    * “Dr Stephanie Harriman and Dr Maria Kowalczuk, will also act as co-Editors-in-Chief. As BioMed Central’s Medical and Biology Editors, they cover all aspects of policy and ethical issues across BioMed Central’s journals, as well as carrying out research on peer review, and developing guidelines for the Committee On Publication Ethics.”

    http://bmjopen.bmj.com/content/bmjopen/6/11/e012047.draft-revisions.pdf reveals that the first version of the paper in BMJ Open was submitted on 28 July 2015. This version does not list that MKK was at that time a co-Editor-in-Chief of the journal Research Integrity and Peer Review (at that time already announced (on 2 April 2015 in a press release), and also already launched.

    A blog at https://blogs.biomedcentral.com/bmcblog/2015/09/28/journal-research-integrity-peer-review/ and dated 28 September 2015 states:
    * “The journal is now open for submissions and considers manuscripts on research and publication ethics, research reporting, and peer review. These topics will be handled by the four co-Editors-in-Chief, Maria Kowalczuk, Stephanie Harriman, Iveta Simera and Elizabeth Wager, respectively.”

    http://bmjopen.bmj.com/content/bmjopen/6/11/e012047.draft-revisions.pdf reveals that the second version of this manuscript in BMJ Open was submitted on 30 March 2016 (page 25 of the merged PDF). This version does not list that MKK was at that time a co-Editor-in-Chief of the journal Research Integrity and Peer Review.

    I am hereby inviting MKK to explain over here her statement in the rebuttal that “this journal was launched in May 2016”, and I am hereby inviting EM and MKK to explain over here the first date, with an accuracy of a day, when they got involved, and in the widest possible sense, with the first preparations about the journal Research Integrity and Peer Review.

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    1. I am hereby informing the readers of this thread that I have until now not received a copy of the ICMJE form of Dr. Moylan, the guarantor and the corresponding author of a paper in the journal BMJ Open.

      I am therefore already waiting >6 months for a copy of this form of Dr. Moylan. Dr Moylan is a member of the council of COPE and is an employee of publisher BioMed Central. Dr. Moylan does not open e-mails from my side. I am therefore communicating with BMJ about this issue. Communicating with BMJ about this isssue has detioriated, as I only receive for already a rather prolonged period of time out-of-office-auto-replies (and no follow-up). I have therefore started with communicating with publisher BioMed Central about this issue. Dr. Moylan is one of the members of the ‘Research Integrity Group’ of this publisher https://www.biomedcentral.com/about/who-we-are/research-integrity-group

      I have recently contacted all members of this ‘Research Integrity Group’ about this issue with the ICMJE form of Dr. Moylan. I have until now only received some out-of-office-auto-replies. My former experiences with communicating about a research integrity topic with these members of the ‘Research Integrity Group’ of this publisher were disasterous (no response & no response & no response, etc.). I therefore would like to ask readers of this thread for some ideas how to communicate successfully with members of this ‘Research Integrity Group’ of publisher BioMed Central. Are there readers who have been able to communicate successfully with members of this ‘Research Integrity Group’?

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      1. I have in the meanwhile prepared a draft (“Evidence for partial behaviour at BMJ”) about the unavailability of this form and I plan to post a final version of this draft as preprint at one of the preprint servers. I am hereby inviting readers of this posting for feedlback / comments / critics on this manuscript (a Word document with 2700 words). Please don’t hesitate to contact me for a copy of this manuscript (klaas.vdijk AT hetnet.nl). See also https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=903954093092670&set=a.109114155910005.16322.100004342632663&type=3&theater

        Abstract. “This study documents an exception on the rule for research articles in the medical journal BMJ Open that the ICMJE disclosure forms of authors must be made available on request. I describe my attempts to get the form and I argue that its unavailability relates to personal conflicts of interest with the corresponding author about my efforts to retract a fatally flawed article on the Basra Reed Warbler Acrocephalus griseldis. I describe undisclosed potential conflicts of interest between this corresponding author and employees of publisher BMJ and I argue that partial behaviour by BMJ is the most plausible explanation for the unavailability of the form. The decision of BMJ not to comment on drafts is towards my opinion the strongest argument that this view is founded.”

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  43. There is until now no follow-up on an e-mail of 24 May 2017 to COPE and to Elsevier about the authorship of ‘JV Kadeisvili’, see http://www.pepijnvanerp.nl/articles/finding-jerdsey-v-kadeisvili-or-mailing-with-ruggero-m-santilli/ for some of the backgrounds.

    “From: Pepijn van Erp; To: Iratxe Puebla; Catriona Fennell (ELS-AMS); Cc: Klaas van Dijk;
    Sent: Wednesday, May 24, 2017 3:09 PM;
    Subject: Re: Complaint about Elsevier in matter of dealing with fake authorship

    Dear Mrs. Puebla and Fennell,

    I’m requesting an update of the investigation into the authorship of ‘JV Kadeisvili’ which Elsevier has stated to have started in October last year (e-mail mrs. Fennell on Oct 22nd). The last update from Elsevier I received is from November 4th 2016 and the last update from COPE is from March 12th 2017.

    In my opinion it is unbelievable that two organisations who claim to be able to deal with issues concerning scientific integrity in a professional way, apparently are unable to get to the bottom of this very simple matter within a couple of weeks. So please, tell us what the problem is, or stop pretending that you take this matter seriously.

    Regards, Pepijn van Erp”

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  44. Chris Graf is a member of the staff of publisher Wiley and he is one of the Trustees of COPE (currently one of the co-chairs of COPE). Chris Graf is also one of the authors of a recent preprint at bioRxiv with several recommendations for improvements in the cooperation and the liaison between editors and others about papers / manuscripts with issues (‘Cooperation and liaison between Universities and editors (CLUE): recommendations on best practice’, http://biorxiv.org/content/early/2017/05/19/139170 , posted on 19 May 2017).

    COPE, and thus also Chris Graf, is since 1 July 2016 in the possession of a report with the name ‘Final investigation on serious allegations of fabricated and/or falsified data in Al-Sheikhly et al. (2013, 2015) – 1 July 2016’. This report concludes that Al-Sheikhly et al. (2013, 2015) contains fabricated and/or falsified data and that Al-Sheikhly et al. (2013, 2015) thus must be retracted. The report contains views and comments of experts, including members of the editoral board of the journal in question, which support the main conclusion that Al-Sheikhly et al. (2013, 2015) contains fabricated and/or falsified data. See for backgrounds https://pubpeer.com/publications/CBDA623DED06FB48B659B631BA69E7

    The report was released on 1 July 2016 and it is widely distributed. The report is not confidential, so please don’t hesitate to contact me when you would like to have a copy. It is clearly stated in the report that we are welcoming opposing views and that people / organisations who rebut the main findings of this report are invited to contact us with opposing views / comments from experts, together with their names and their contact details and a declaration that they are willing to communicate with us about about their views / comments, in case these people / organisations rebut the main findings of this report. COPE was at that moment, 1 July 2016, processing formal complaints which we had filed at COPE against member publisher Taylor & Francis for the refusal of this publisher to retract Al-Sheikhly et al. (2013, 2015).

    There is however until now no formal response from COPE with views of COPE about the main findings of this report (‘Final investigation on serious allegations of fabricated and/or falsified data in Al-Sheikhly et al. (2013, 2015) – 1 July 2016’.). We have therefore recently starting with efforts to liaise / cooperate with Chris Graf about this issue. Our efforts were until now unsuccessful (= no response). We are not aware that Chris Graf is at the moment sick and/or on leave and/or for a prolonged period of time at a site without access to the internet and no one has until now informed us that this is the case.

    We therefore would like to ask readers of this comment to liaise with Chris Graf and ask Chris Graf to start with liaising with us about our wish to get a clear statement from him, in his capacity as Trustee of COPE and as employee of Wiley, that (a) he fully agrees with the main finding of this report that Al-Sheikhly et al. (2013, 2015) contains fabricated and/or falsified data and that Al-Sheikhly et al. (2013, 2015) thus must be retracted, or (b) provide us with opposing views / comments from experts, together with their names and their contact details and a declaration that they are willing to communicate with us about about their views / comments, in case Chris Graf / COPE rebuts / opposes the main findings of this report.

    Wiley, the employer of Chris Graf, is publisher of several journals within the field of research of Al-Sheikhly et al. (2013, 2015), for example “Ibis” http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/journal/10.1111/(ISSN)1474-919X and “Journal of Animal Ecology” http://besjournals.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/hub/journal/10.1111/(ISSN)1365-2656/

    Both journals are highly respected within the community and both journals have lots of experts, members of their editorial board and reviewers, who are easily able to judge within a few days the main findings of the report ‘Final investigation on serious allegations of fabricated and/or falsified data in Al-Sheikhly et al. (2013, 2015) – 1 July 2016’. We have therefore advised Chris Graf to contact a few experts of these journals for views / comments on the main finding of the report ‘Final investigation on serious allegations of fabricated and/or falsified data in Al-Sheikhly et al. (2013, 2015) – 1 July 2016’.

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  45. Copy/pasted from http://www.translationalethics.com/2017/06/02/recapping-the-recent-plagiarism-scandal/ (author Benjamin Gregory Carlisle, published 2 June 2017):

    “The journal refused to retract the paper. It was excellent press for the journal and for the paper’s putative authors, and it would have been embarrassing for them to retract it. The journal had rolled out the red carpet for this paper after all [2], and it was quickly accruing citations.

    The case was forwarded to the next meeting of the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) for their advice. Three months later, at the August 2016 COPE meeting, the case was presented and voted on [8]. It was surreal for me to be forced to wait for a seemingly unaccountable panel of journal editors to sit as a de facto court, deciding whether or not someone else would be credited with my words, all behind locked doors, with only one side of the case—the journal editors’—represented. In the end, they all but characterised my complaints as “punitive,” and dismissed them as if my only reason for desiring a retraction was that I was hurt and wanted revenge. The validity issues that I raised were acknowledged but no action was recommended. Their advice was to send the case to the authors’ institution, Cambridge University, for investigation. I do not know if Cambridge did conduct an investigation, and there has been no contact with me.

    There is, to my knowledge, no way to appeal a decision from COPE, and I know of no mechanism of accountability for its members in the case they advise a journal with the wrong answer. As of January 2017, the journal officially considered the case closed.”

    See https://publicationethics.org/case/what-extent-plagiarism-demands-retraction-vs-correction (ref 8) for an anonymised version of this case. See also http://retractionwatch.com/2017/05/24/authors-retract-much-debated-blockchain-paper-f1000/

    COPE used to have an Ombudsman for such kind of appeals. COPE has for already around one and a half year no Ombudsman.

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