Citation maniuplation: The good, the bad and the ugly
Citation Manipulation: The Good, the Bad
and the Ugly
A COPE Perspective
Council of Science Editors
May 8, 2018
Deborah C. Poff, CM, PhD
Vice-Chair and Chair-Elect, COPE
First, I would like to say that it is a privilege and honour to be back in
Beijing for a second time this year to be talking about COPE. So, I would
like to extend my thanks before my presentation for the opportunity to
speak with you today.
Research Integrity Policy Development
Nationally and Internationally
• In the mid to latter part of the 20th century, the development of
standards of research ethics and research integrity emerged in many
nation states and transnationally
• Initially these initiatives focussed primarily on biomedical ethics and
• Over the last 25 plus years this development and concern with
research integrity extended to other sciences, social sciences,
professional disciplines and more recently the humanities as well as
interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary fields across many disciplines
COPE’s History is Consistent with the Contemporary Evolution of
Treatment of Research Integrity/Publication Ethics
• In 1997, COPE began as an informal small, self-help group of editors
in the Bio-medical sciences
• It is not surprising that this was the initial group in terms of discipline
because of shared values and shared concerns:
1. Shared Values: Unity of science model with shared methodological norms
for scientific rigour, such as: parsimony, replicability, hypothesis-driven
research, importance of objectivity, fact-value distinctions, truth claims,
2. Shared values of concern: the protection of human-subjects in research
and the cluster of values which follow from commitment to scientific and
ethics integrity, such as, publication integrity, integrity of results,
dissemination standards, avoidance of salami slicing, plagiarism, COI,
authorship issues, etc.
COPE’s Growth and Evolution
• As COPE developed contemporaneously with the development of
Research Policies initiated by government directives, granting
agencies, universities and teaching and research hospitals, our
membership broadened, initially within the Sciences and then more
recently within the Humanities and Social Sciences
• From humble beginnings with 3 biomedical journal editors, 20 years
later COPE currently has a membership of over 12, 000 members
What are we and Who are we?
• COPE is a membership organization. Our members are primarily editors of
journals and publishers although we are currently exploring expanding our
membership. Part of this potential expansion is being explored with a pilot
project with five universities around the world.
• As an organization, COPE’s role is to assist editors of scholarly journals and
publisher/owners in their endeavour to preserve and promote the integrity
of the scholarly record through policies and practices that reflect the
current best principles of transparency as well as integrity.
• COPE operates, manages and governs the organization with a small group
of paid employees and a large group of very active volunteers who serve on
the trustee board and council.
Who are these volunteers?
• Members who serve on the trustee board and council are academic
scholars, editors, professionals in publishing and editorships. They are
committed to publication ethics in their professional lives and bring
their expertise as volunteers to their service for COPE.
How Do We Serve our members?
• As you are aware, COPE continues to create a number of resources,
many of which have been translated into Mandarin. These include:
• CASES – All of the cases that COPE has discussed since its inception in 1997
have been entered into a searchable data base. This database now contains
over 500 cases together with the advice given by COPE.
• Codes of Conduct and Best Practice Guidelines, including Code of Conduct
and Best Practice Guidelines for Journal Editors and for Journal Publishers.
• Flowcharts – all flowcharts have been translated into Chinese and are
stepwise guides if you suspect a range of alleged violations of publication
ethics including redundant publications, plagiarism, fabricated data, changes
in authorship, ghost, guest or gift authorship, undisclosed conflict of interest,
wrong-doing by reviewers, etc.
• General guidelines and principles documents, such as, Principles of
Transparency and Best Practice in Scholarly Publishing, guides for ethical
editing for new editors, guidelines for retracting articles
• Discussion documents, such as, “who owns peer reviews? which involves a
recently evolving set of issues; what constitutes authorship; handlings
competing interests and a recent discussion of best practice in theses
• We also offer webinars on timely subjects and issues as well as periodic
forums of topics of particular concern to our editors and publishers and
face to face seminars. We ran one such seminar in Beijing in March of this
year on “The Pillars of Publication Ethics with a Focus on peer review,
authorship and plagiarism.
• As well we conduct research on our members and their needs,
partially as a mechanism for quality assurance in meeting the range of
issues from the different disciplines of our members
• One new initiative is developing new resources for the Humanities
and Social Science members of COPE, beginning with data gathering
and feedback from a session organized by Taylor & Francis last week
• We intend to survey our members in the Humanities and Social
Sciences to further identify gaps in our resources for these members
• We also provide resources and further reading for our members
Our Core Practices: A New Approach
• Given the complexity and sheer volume of information that COPE
provides to its members and to many individuals and groups in the
broader community, COPE has recently restructured and simplified its
approach to issues and allegations of violations of publication ethics.
All materials and resources are now available for accessing under 10
broadly based “core practices.” All materials related to each of the 10
core practices can be accessed simply by clicking on those individual
category of practices. I will end my presentation by simply providing
you with the identification and representation of those categories.
Full treatment of the 10 Core Practices and supporting materials can
be found on the COPE website.
Ten Core Practices: One stop Shopping
1. Allegations of Misconduct
2. Authorship and Contributorship
3. Complaints and Appeals
4. Conflicts of Interest/Competing Interests
5. Data and Reproducibility
6. Ethical Oversight
7. Intellectual Property
8. Journal Management
9. Peer Review Processes
10. Post-publication Discussions and Corrections
• Each Core Practice includes a general principled approach to the
issues covered within that practice. For example, 1. Allegations of
misconduct identifies the importance of clearly described processes
for handling allegations of misconduct as a general principle and then
directs the editor to resources such as What to do if you suspect an
ethical problem and resources dealing with whistle-blowers, including
• Chris Graf, our COPE Co-Chair will be following with a more case-
based or applied treatment but I will leave with a little more
information concerning the rationale of what we are doing here.
Why Change our Approach to our Resources?
• Most importantly, we wanted to present a high level, principled approach to
• As already noted, the COPE website has loads of information.
• As we all know, the best websites are the most transparent and user friendly in
terms of navigation and access.
• With one stop shopping you click on the topic that is of most relevance to the
issues that you are addressing and find all the relevant material within the
• Additionally, many complainants (primarily authors who are unhappy with
editorial practices and wish to complain about a member journal or publisher)
were using the very detailed Code of Conduct as Best Practice Guidelines as
quasi-judicial hammers for their challenges of wrong-doing
• The Code for Journal editors, for examples, is 12 pages long and addresses a
complex range of issues from microlevel to macrolevel.
Thank you for your attention
And I hope that COPE can be of service to you and your organizations.