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.
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/).
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 , 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.”
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”
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. (….)”
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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.
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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
Copy/pasted from https://twitter.com/CoyneoftheRealm/status/837326489704095744 (2 March 2017):
“Familiar with many complaints to #COPE, I challenge anyone who has made a complaint to come forward and say they were satisfied.”
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…..
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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.
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’?
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.”
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”
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’.
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 , 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 . 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.
A formal complaint with serious allegations of research misconduct by Dr. Virginia Barbour (‘wilful concealment or facilitation of research misconduct by others’, cf. page 10.2 at https://www.nhmrc.gov.au/_files_nhmrc/file/research/research-integrity/r39_australian_code_responsible_conduct_research_150811.pdf ) was filed to the University of Queensland (UQ) on 28 February 2016.
A formal acknowledgement that this complaint had been received in good order was received the same day (ref 2016-025). This formal acknowledgement states that the complainer ‘will be contacted in due course’. This has until now not happened. UQ is thus still processing this complaint. Processing such complaints must follow the procedures in https://www.nhmrc.gov.au/_files_nhmrc/file/research/research-integrity/r39_australian_code_responsible_conduct_research_150811.pdf
Page 10.4 states that the processing of these complaints must follow the principles of ‘procedural fairness’ / ‘natural justice’. So the processing of this formal complaint lasts already almost one and a half year.It seems therefore that there are grounds to argue that UQ has difficulties to reject / rebut/ refute the allegations.
Dr. Virgina Barbour is listed as one of the members of the editorial board of the journal ‘Research Integrity and Peer Review’ https://researchintegrityjournal.biomedcentral.com/about/editorial-board I became interested to get views about this topic from the rather recently appointed new Editor-in-Chief Dr. Joerg Meerpohl of the German Cochrane Centre / University Medical Centre Freiburg (see http://www.cochrane.de/de/team and http://www.open-project.eu/project-partners and http://www.cochrane.de/welcome ). I have thus contacted Dr. Meerpohl about this topic on 12 July 2017. Dr. Meerpohl responded on 27 July 2017. Dr. Meerpohl told me in this response that it was for him no problem at all to have a member in the editorial board of this journal of which UQ is processing for already almost one and a half year a formal complaint with serious allegations of research misconduct.
I would like to ask Leonid to distribute widely within Germany and within his network these views of the co-director of Cochrane Germany. I propose critics of my acting to digest
Leonid wrote: “It proved rather difficult to engage with Curno”.
See below for my experiences to contact Dr. Curno about a request for a copy of her paper ‘Challenges to Ethical Publishing in the Digital Era’ http://www.emeraldinsight.com/doi/abs/10.1108/JICES-08-2015-0026 There was until now no follow-up on the automatically generated auto-reply from ‘Frontiers Zendesk’ of 13 December 2016. Others have until now also not responded on my e-mail of 13 December 2016.
The library of RUG, the University of Groningen, does not subscribe to this journal. Efforts to contact Michael Wise, another member of the council of COPE, about this issue were unsuccessful (a formal refusal to provide me with a copy, as told to me by a representative of UWA, the University of Western Australia, the employer of Michael Wise). Also the library of UWA does not subscribe to this journal.
Professor Robert Hauptman, author of ‘Hauptman R. 2016, Response to Mirjam J. Curno, Journal of Information, Communication and Ethics in Society 14: 16-19,
http://www.emeraldinsight.com/doi/abs/10.1108/JICES-09-2015-0030 ‘ was contacted on 29 August 2017 with a request for a copy of his article. Professor Hauptman responded the same day. He told me that he would send a hard copy of his article by snailmail from the US to my home address in The Netherlands. This hard copy arrived on Saturday 2 September at my home address in The Netherlands. I have made a scan of this hard copy. It is of course no problem at all to send a copy of this scan to interested parties.
I have also told professor Hauptman about the difficulties to get a copy of the paper of Dr. Curno. Professor Hauptman told me: ‘I naturally do not understand any of this. In the old days, a request for an offprint was met with immediate provision.’
“From: Klaas van Dijk; To: gearoid.faolean AT frontiersin.org; Cc: support AT frontiersin.org; Mirjam Curno;
Sent: Tuesday, December 13, 2016 1:37 PM; Subject: 2 questions about your colleague Dr Mirjam Curno and about the paper Challenges to Ethical Publishing in the Digital Era
Dear Dr. Faoleán,
I am working together with a large amount of ornithologists and conservationalists to get retracted a fraudulent paper in a Taylor & Francis journal on the breeding biology of the Basra Reed Warber in Iraq.
We are therefore very interested in the recent paper “Challenges to ethical publishing in the digital era” ( http://dx.doi.org/10.1108/JICES-08-2015-0026 ). We don’t have funds to pay $32 for the PDF and we therefore always contact the author(s) for the personal author copy.
We have send your colleague Dr Mirjam Curno, the single author of this paper, on 11 and on 18 October 2016 an e-mail in which we have asked her for a PDF (the personal author copy of the final published version) of this paper (see below). There was however until now no response. There was also no response from Dr. Curno when we communicated on 23 October 2016 about this topic with professor Segev (Dr. Curno in cc). There was no response (from Dr. Curno) when we have contacted Dr. Fenter about this topic on 2 November and on 11 November 2016 (Dr. Curno in cc).
Your loop profile http://loop.frontiersin.org/people/136854/bio lists that you are the ‘Ethics & Integrity Manager’ at Frontiers. We therefore take it for granted that we are allowed to contact you about this topic.
We were unable to locate your email address and we therefore just have sent a so-called ‘test email’ to gearoid.faolean AT frontiersin.org . This ‘test email’ was not bounced. We therefore conclude that we can use gearoid.faolean AT frontiersin.org to communicate with you.
(1): we would be very pleased if you can sort out why your colleague Dr. Curno has until now not responded on our request for a PDF (the personal author copy) of the paper “Challenges to ethical publishing in the digital era” ( http://dx.doi.org/10.1108/JICES-08-2015-0026 ) and inform us about the outcome of your enquiry.
(2): Dr Curno lists “Frontiers, Lausanne, Switzerland” as one of her affilations of this paper. We therefore take it for granted that you and/or one or more of your colleagues at publisher Frontiers are in the possession of a PDF (the personal author copy) of the paper “Challenges to ethical publishing in the digital era” ( http://dx.doi.org/10.1108/JICES-08-2015-0026 ). We would be very pleased if you can send us a copy of this PDF.
We would like to thank you very much for your efforts and we offer our sincere apologies that we needed to bother you about this topic. Please acknowledge the receipt of this email and please contact us immediately in case there are errors and/or mistakes in our texts.
Klaas van Dijk / Groningen / The Netherlands / http://orcid.org/0000-0003-1544-7983 ”
“From: Frontiers Zendesk; To: Klaas van Dijk; Sent: Tuesday, December 13, 2016 1:33 PM; Subject: [Request received] 2 questions about your colleague Dr Mirjam Curno and about the paper Challenges to Ethical Publishing in the Digital Era
Please type your reply above this line Helpdesk support AT frontiersin.org Your request (60098) has been received and is being reviewed by our support staff. To add additional comments, reply to this email.”
Have yoiu not, right about now, heard abouit scihub?
Yours sincerely, oliver
PS: LS know my whereabouts, he can give you my contact info.
Dear Oliver, a fried of mine did a few weeks ago a search at Scihub for the paper of Dr. Cunro and told me that he was unable to find a PDF of this paper at Scihub.
Pingback: Frontiers: vanquishers of Beall, publishers of bunk – For Better Science
The journal “Roars Transactions, a Journal on Research Policy and Evaluation” has published on 2 November 2017 a paper with the title “Is partial behaviour a plausible explanation for the unavailability of the ICMJE disclosure form of an author in a BMJ journal?”
See https://riviste.unimi.it/index.php/roars/article/view/9073 The paper is open access and descibes my efforts to get a copy of the ICMJE disclosure form of a paper authored by Dr. Elizabeth Moylan, a member of the council of COPE.
“This case study about the ethical behaviour in the field of scholarly publishing documents an exception on the rule for research articles in the medical journal BMJ Open that ICMJE disclosure forms of authors must be made available on request. The ICMJE, the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors, has developed these forms for the disclosure of conflicts of interest for authors of medical publications. The case refers to the form of the corresponding author of an article in BMJ Open on retraction notices (Moylan and Kowalczuk, 2016). The corresponding author is a member of the council of COPE, the Committee on Publication Ethics. I will argue that the unavailability of the form relates to personal conflicts of interest with the corresponding author about my efforts to retract a fatally flawed study on the breeding biology of the Basra Reed Warbler Acrocephalus griseldis. I describe my attempts to get the form and I will argue that its unavailability can be attributed to partial behaviour by BMJ, the publisher of BMJ Open. This study complements other sources reporting ethical issues at COPE.”
The paper is published in the section ‘Discussion Notes’. The editors of “Roars Transactions, a Journal on Research Policy and Evaluation” are encouraging readers and others to submit comments / responses.
One of the members of the council of COPE https://publicationethics.org/about/council is Frits Rosendaal, a full professor at Leiden University / Leiden University Medical Centre (LUMC). The COI form of Frits Rosendaal at the website of COPE is dated 21 April 2017. This seems to indicate that Frits Rosendaal is member of the council of COPE since at least 21 April 2017.
It is mandatory for all Dutch scientists of all Dutch research universities to act at all times and for the full 100% according to the rules and the guidelines of the VSNU Code of Conduct http://www.rug.nl/about-us/organization/rules-and-regulations/algemeen/gedragscodes-nederlandse-universiteiten/code-wetenschapsbeoefening-14-en.pdf (‘Academic practitioners must comply with the Code of Conduct’, item 8 of the Preamble). The VSNU Code of Conduct states in item 4.7 (page 9): “Every academic practitioner affiliated with a university provides an up-todate and complete list of their relevant ancillary activities on the university website.”.
I had noted that the information about this side-job (‘ancillary activity’) at COPE was not listed at the university homepages of Frits Rosendaal https://www.universiteitleiden.nl/en/staffmembers/frits-rosendaal#tab-2 and https://www.lumc.nl/org/klinische-epidemiologie/medewerkers/Rosendaal
https://www.staff.universiteitleiden.nl/human-resources/hr-policy-and-code-of-conduct/code-of-conduct/ancillary-activities also states: “You are obliged to report all your ancillary activities and you require permission from the board of your faculty or unit.”
I have contacted Frits Rosendaal and professor Tieken, the Research Integrity Officer of Leiden University, about these issues on Tuesday 7 November 2017. Professor Tieken responsed the same day. She did not indicate that Frits Rosendaal was at that time sick / on leave / for a prolonged period of time at a place without access to the internet. Frits Rosendaal did not respond, also not on reminders. Frits Rosendaal has until now not responded on queries about the date when he was elected as member of the council of COPE and on queries about the requested permission. The information about his side-job at COPE is still not listed at the university homepage. Professor Tieken has until now not refuted that this permission does not exist and that Frits Rosendaal is member of the council of COPE since at least 21 April 2017.
Frits Rosendaal is a fellow of KNAW https://www.knaw.nl/en/members/members/7961?set_language=en , a member of the Central Committee on Research Involving Human Subjects in The Netherlands http://www.ccmo.nl/en/members , and chair of the Committee of Scientific Integity of LUMC https://www.lumc.nl/research/grp-and-integrity/Committee-Scientific-Integrity/ ). It is stated at https://www.lumc.nl/res/att/1023658/Scientific-Integrity-at-the-LUMC : “Although integrity at the higher aggregation level of the LUMC’s scientific activities naturally depends on the integrity of individual LUMC researchers, it requires additional attention from those occupying senior positions in our line organisation.”
It is thus remarkable that Frits Rosendaal has until now not responded on the queries and it is thus remarkable that the information about his side-job at COPE is still not listed at his home pages.
A formal complaint about these issues (a.o. with allegations of a violation of item 4.7. of the VSNU Code of Conduct by Frits Rosendaal, no information about his side-job at COPE at his homepages) was filed at Leiden University / LUMC on 8 November 2017. I received the next day a formal letter from LUMC (6.684/2017/AH/tk) in which it is stated that this complaint against Frits Rosendaal was received in good order.
Leonid Schneider wrote: “It proved rather difficult to engage with Curno”. This comment shows that is it also difficult to communicate with other members of the council of COPE.
I am in the possession of a formal letter from LUMC and dated 15 November 2017 in which it is stated that Frits Rosendaal is member of the council of COPE since 21 July 2017.
I am also in the possession of a formal letter from Leiden University from which it can be concluded that Frits Rosendaal has an oral permission from the board of Leiden University for his side-job as member of the council of COPE. This formal letter from Leiden University is dated 13 November 2017. This letter does not contain details about the date of this oral permission. I am also in the possession of an e-mail of Frits Rosendaal to 3th parties (dated 11 November 2017) in which Frits Rosendaal states that he has permission for his side-job ‘member of the council of COPE’. Requests to various parties about the date of this oral permission remained unanswered. No one (from Leiden University) has rebutted / refuted that this oral permission from the board of Leiden University predates 4 November 2017, the day when I have contacted Frits Rosendaal for the first time.
It thus seems reasonable to argue that there is no evidence for permission from Leiden University for the side-job ‘member of the council of COPE before 4 November 2017. The letter of 13 Novemver 2017 from Leiden University states that this side-job will soon be added to the list with side-jobs (ancillary activities) of Frits Rosendaal at his university homepage. This happened soon afterwards.
The VSNU CoC (‘The Netherlands Code of Conduct for Academic Practice’) at http://www.vsnu.nl/files/documenten/Domeinen/Onderzoek/The_Netherlands_Code%20of_Conduct_for_Academic_Practice_2004_(version2014).pdf states at page 9: “Every academic practitioner affiliated with a university provides an up-todate and complete list of their relevant ancillary activities on the university website.” It is thus mandatory for all Dutch researchers to have such a list with is (a) up-todate, and (b) complete.
It can thus be concluded that Frits Rosendaal has hidden for all visitors of his university homepage for a period of well over 3 months that he had a side-job as ‘member of the council of COPE’.
This item in the VSNU CoC is related to the sectoral scheme covering ancillary activities of the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities (see
Copy/pasted from this sectoral scheme covering ancillary activities: “3. What is understood by ‘work carried out for third parties’: a. Is participation in an academic committee or consultative body considered to be work carried out for third parties? Not automatically, as these are tasks that fall under your university duties. There can sometimes be ‘grey areas’, however, so in case of doubt it would be advisable to request permission anyway so that the Dean (for academic staff) or Director (for support and administrative staff) and HR can help identify any potential risks with respect to conflicts of interest or academic integrity. If participation is not voluntary, this shall be considered part of your job and not work carried out for third parties. In any event, ensure that activities such as participation in committees or consultative bodies are mentioned on your publicly accessible web page.”
The COI statement of Frits Rosendaal at the website of COPE is dated 21 April 2017. It seems thus reasonable to argue that there are contacts with COPE about this side-job since at least 21 April 2017. This implies towards my opinion that there was enough time for Frits Rosendaal to arrange a written permission for his side-job ‘member of the council of COPE’ before 21 July 2017 (the day when he got installed as ‘member of the council of COPE’), and fully according to the rules and the guidelines of the sectoral scheme covering ancillary activities at http://www.vsnu.nl/files/documenten/CAO/Sector_regeling_nevenwerkzaamheden_2017-ENG.pdf