An Analysis on the Research Ethics Cases Managed by the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) Between 1997 and 2010.
ABSTRACT The growing emphasis on the importance of publishing scientific findings in the academic world has led to increasing prevalence of potentially significant publications in which scientific and ethical rigour may be questioned. This has not only hindered research progress, but also eroded public trust in all scientific advances. In view of the increasing concern and the complexity of research misconduct, the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) was established in 1997 to manage cases with ethical implications. In order to review the outcomes of cases investigated by COPE, a total of 408 cases that had been managed by COPE were successfully extracted and analysed with respect to 7 distinct criteria. The results obtained indicate that the number of ethical implications per case has not changed significantly (p > 0.01) since the year COPE was instigated. Interestingly, the number of ethical cases, and to some extent, research misconduct, is not diminishing. Therefore, journal editors and publishers need to work closely together with COPE to inculcate adoption of appropriate research ethics and values in younger researchers while discouraging others from lowering standards. It is hoped that with a more concerted effort from the academic community and better public awareness, there will be fewer incidences of ethically and scientifically challenged publications. The ultimate aim being to enhance the quality of published works with concomittant public trust in the results.