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«Summary Institutions and journals both have important duties relating to research and publication misconduct. Institutions are responsible for the ...»

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Cases of plagiarism, breach of copyright or redundant publication usually involve several journals who should therefore cooperate with each other and share information as required (e.g. about submission dates and copyright transfer agreements) to resolve the issues.

6. Ensuring the reliability of the published research record If an institutional investigation or disciplinary hearing into research misconduct recommends that a researcher seeks a retraction or correction, the institution should inform the editor(s).

Similarly, journals should be prepared to issue retractions or corrections when provided with findings of misconduct arising from appropriate investigations.4 Publications should be retracted if they prove unreliable (for whatever reason), but if only a small part of the publication is affected (while the majority of findings and conclusions are valid) then a correction should be published.

Expressions of Concern may be published to alert readers to an ongoing investigation into actions likely to affect the reliability of published findings; they should be followed by a retraction, exoneration or correction when the investigation has concluded. Expressions of Concern should not be viewed as ‘milder’ versions of retractions.

Journals should also be prepared to publish corrections or retractions when honest errors are admitted.

Retraction statements should include the reasons for the retraction and should distinguish between cases of misconduct and honest error to encourage researchers to report errors when they occur and ensure no stigma is attached to this.4

7. Journal and institutional policies

Institutions should have policies supporting research integrity and good practice (e.g. for authorship), describing research misconduct (e.g. data fabrication and plagiarism) and unacceptable publication practices (e.g. redundant publication, inappropriate authorship, and use of confidential material by reviewers), and how these are handled.8 Such policies should be publicised and enforced within the institution.

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Institutions should encourage researchers to inform journals if errors are discovered in published work.

Journals should have policies about how they handle suspected misconduct and how they respond to institutions and other organizations that investigate cases of research misconduct (e.g. national bodies).

8. Encouraging good practice Journals should provide clear advice to authors and reviewers and have appropriate policies for editors and staff relating to all aspects of publication ethics.9,10 Journals should inform authors and readers how they handle cases of suspected research misconduct or unacceptable publication practices.

Institutions should include training in good publication practices as part of their programmes of education in research integrity.

Institutional leaders and journal editors should aim to create research environments that encourage good practice and should lead by example in their own publication practices.

Institutions should ensure that their systems for appointments and assessing research productivity do not create incentives for unacceptable practices, such as redundant publication and guest authorship.

9. Investigating previous publications Research and publication misconduct may not be an isolated incident. In many cases, when serious misconduct comes to light, investigation of the researcher’s earlier work reveals further problems.

Therefore, when a researcher is found to have committed serious misconduct (such as data fabrication, falsification or plagiarism) the institution should review all the individual’s publications, including those published before the proven misconduct took place. In such cases, it may be necessary to alert previous employers to enable them to review work carried out by the discredited researcher when working at their institution, to determine the reliability of publications arising from that work (for an example of this see reference11).

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1. Wager E. Coping with scientific misconduct. BMJ 2011;343:d6586

2. Wager E. What do journal editors do when they suspect research misconduct? Medicine & Law 2007;26:535-44

3. Sox HC & Rennie D. Research misconduct, retraction, and cleansing the medical literature: lessons from the Poehlman case. Annals of Internal Medicine 2006;144:609-13

4. Wager E, Barbour V, Yentis S, Kleinert S on behalf of COPE Council. Retractions: Guidance from the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE). http://publicationethics.org/files/u661/Retractions_COPE_gline_final_3_Sept_09__2_.


5. COPE code of conduct for journal editors. www.publicationethics.org/resources/code-conduct

6. COPE Flowchart: What to do if you suspect a reviewer has stolen an author’s idea or data. http:// publicationethics.org/files/u2/07_Reviewer_misconduct.pdf

7. COPE Flowcharts: Changes in authorship. http://publicationethics.org/resources/flowcharts

8. Singapore Statement on Research Integrity. www.singaporestatement.org

9. 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, pp 309-16. Also available at: http://publicationethics.org/international-standardseditors-and-authors

10. Kleinert S & Wager E (2011) Responsible research publication: international standards for editors. A position statement developed at the 2nd World Conference on Research Integrity, Singapore, July 22-24, 2010. Chapter 51 in: Mayer T & Steneck N (eds) Promoting Research Integrity in a Global Environment. Imperial College Press / World Scientific Publishing, pp 317-28. Also available at: http://publicationethics.org/international-standardseditors-and-authors

11. Reich ES. Biologist spared jail for grant fraud. Nature News, 28 June 2011. Nature 474, 552(2011); doi 10.1038/474552a

Further reading

Office of Research Integrity. Handling misconduct. http://ori.dhhs.gov/misconduct/ UK Research Integrity Office. Procedure for the Investigation of Misconduct in Research. www.ukrio.org Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research. http://www.nhmrc.gov.au/publications/synopses/r39syn.

htm European Science Foundation(ESF)/ All European Academies (ALLEA). The European Code of Conduct for Research Integrity. http://www.esf.org/activities/mo-fora/research-integrity.html Honesty, Accountability and Trust: Fostering Research Integrity in Canada. The Expert Panel on Research Integrity,

2010. http://www.scienceadvice.ca/uploads/eng/assessments and publications and news releases/research integrity/RI_report.pdf

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We thank the following individuals* for helpful comments during the consultation process:

Joseph Ana, CRUTECH, Calabar, Nigeria Melissa Anderson, University of Minnesota, USA Jorge Audy, Pontifical Catholic University of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil Shally Awasthi, CSM Medical University, Lucknow, India Nils Axelson, Statens Serum Institut, Denmark Simon Bain, Australian National University, Australia Virginia Barbour, Public Library of Medicine (PLoS) / COPE Council Kim Barrett, University of California, San Diego, USA / American Physiological Society Simon Barrett, Monash University, Australia Carlo Bonan, Pontifical Catholic University of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil Peter Brooks, King Abdullah University of Science & Technology, Saudi Arabia Cynthia Carter, University of Cardiff, UK / COPE Council Carmel Collins, Open University Research Ethics Reference Group, Milton Keynes, UK Kathryn Dally, University of Oxford, UK Kusal Das, Al Ameen Medical College, Karnataka, India Ulrich Dirnagl, Charite Universitätsmedizin, Berlin, Germany Mark Dixon, University of Western Australia, Australia Anders Ekbom, Karolinska Institute, Sweden Bronwyn Greene, University of New South Wales, Australia Rebecca Halligan, University of Sydney, Australia Irene Hames, COPE Council Sara Jordan, University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China Vedran Katavic, University of Zagreb, Croatia Ana Marusic, University of Split, Croatia Matko Marusic, University of Split, Croatia Tony Mayer, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore Traian Mihaescu, University of Iasi, Romania Linda Miller, New York University, USA Suzanne Morris, University of Queensland, Australia John Oates, Open University Research Ethics Reference Group, Milton Keynes, UK Geraldine Pearson, University of Connecticut, USA / COPE Council Margaret Rees, University of Oxford, UK / COPE Council Steven Shafer, Stanford University, USA Rosemary Shinkai, Pontifical Catholic University of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil Lance Small, University of California, San Diego, USA / COPE Council Nicholas Steneck, University of Michigan, USA Randell Stephenson, University of Aberdeen, UK / COPE Council Ping Sun, Institute of Scientific and Technical Information of China Paul Taylor, University of Melbourne, Australia Carlos Teixeira, Pontifical Catholic University of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil Prathap Tharyan, Christian Medical College, Vellore, India Ricardo Timm de Souza, Pontifical Catholic University of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil André Van Steirteghem, Universitair Ziekenhuis Brussel, Belgium / COPE Council Sonia Vasconceles, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil David Vaux, The Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research, Melbourne, Australia *Please note that contributors commented in their individual capacities and therefore this listing does not necessarily indicate that these institutions endorse these guidelines

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