COPE, the publishers’ Trojan horse, calls to abolish retractions

COPE, the publishers’ Trojan horse, calls to abolish retractions

Four private scientists without any agenda whatsoever published a research result preprint on the portal BioRxiv. The “new results” reported in the article are actually new ideas which are just as good as any research results, because they are supposed to bring the field of scholarly communication forward. The question is, where to, and why should anyone go there. Because the idea is to abolish the only tool science now has at hand to punish research misconduct: retractions. Fraudulent papers are to receive instead an amendment, which will notify those particularly inclined readers that research data or ethics approval (for clinical studies) might have been falsified or missing. Those proposing to remove the only punitive measure available in scholarly publishing are in fact the very people who are supposed to be overseeing the editorial integrity. The goats whom science welcomed as gardeners now dropped the pretence and declared their true vision for the garden. Continue reading “COPE, the publishers’ Trojan horse, calls to abolish retractions”

Academic self-plagiarism: misconduct or a literary art form?

Academic self-plagiarism: misconduct or a literary art form?

Plagiarism, the misappropriation of the (usually written) work of others in order to present it as one’s own, is universally regarding as academic misconduct. A number of German politicians and even government ministers saw their stellar careers damaged (sometimes beyond repair), and their beloved doctorate degrees occasionally taken away, after they were discovered to have plagiarized large sections of their dissertations.

But what about self-plagiarism, where scientists recycle their own texts and data for new papers, and occasionally even re-publish entire articles (with minor changes)? Most journals, keen to publish original works only, do not allow self-plagiarism. But the science publisher and Open Access pioneer Jan Velterop even suggests that self-plagiarism should be an acceptable or even welcome thing in academic publishing.

Debora Weber-Wulff, professor at the University of Applied Sciences in Berlin and THE specialist for plagiarism detection, disagrees. She is one of the contributors of the anti-plagiarism platform VroniPlag Wiki where the above-mentioned German politicians and many medical doctors were exposed for stealing texts for their own dissertations. Here is what Weber-Wulff told me: Continue reading “Academic self-plagiarism: misconduct or a literary art form?”

Join the Committee, ignore Publication Ethics

Join the Committee, ignore Publication Ethics

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.”

Continue reading “Join the Committee, ignore Publication Ethics”