Here at Retraction Watch, we constantly receive emails from readers who are frustrated with a particular journal — perhaps it has ignored obvious problems in a published paper, performed only a cursory peer review, or takes months (or years) to take action on a problematic article. Many whistleblowers bring their concerns to the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE), which provides guidelines for best practices in publishing. But sometimes, those same whistleblowers complain to us that there aren’t adequate punishments for journals that ignore allegations or maintain improper practices — and COPE, though an important standard-bearer for the industry, lacks teeth. Did you know COPE can revoke a journal’s membership if it doesn’t uphold the organization’s ethical standards? This has always been possible, and a recently released COPE statement about its sanctions policy has tried to clarify its position. We spoke with COPE co-chairs Geri Pearson and Chris Graf about this and other recently announced changes.
Geri Pearson and Chris Graf: COPE’s remit is to support and advise editors of scholarly journals and publishers/owners. The Core Practices include the core tenets of the Code of Conduct, but have been simplified and better reflect current practice. Additionally, the new framework will make it easier for members and the wider community to find COPE’s continuously updated resources as new issues arise.