Research conducted has to be published or documented; otherwise, it is rendered
undone or incomplete. Publication of paper is critical for the evolution of
various fields as discussed above and this comes with many responsibilities. But
with time, many malpractices and unethical practices have also come into being
such as plagiarism, data fabricating, research frauds and what not. Publishers
have the duty and responsibility to ensure that the piece of work that is being
published by them is not fabricated, plagiarized or forged (fraud).
publisher has a pivotal, supporting and telling role in this process and is also
responsible for making sure that the best and bona fide practices are being
followed in its publications. This article will discuss various guidelines
developed by COPE, that is, Committee on Publication Ethics so as to know the
code of ethics to be followed by publishers. But first, we shall discuss some
major misconducts and malpractices in brief in publishing that are very common
Unethical practices in publishing
Plagiarism is usage of the words, figures and ideas of others without
attribution. It occurs when someone presents the work of others as if it was
his/her own without proper acknowledgement or prior permission.
Data fabrication/Data falsification
Data falsification means manipulating the research data and information
deliberately with the intention of giving a false impression. This includes
manipulating pictures (e.g., graphs,), removing outliers or the results,
changing, adding or omitting data points etc.
This refers to the practice of submitting the same research paper or the same
study to two journals or publishing more or less the same study in two journals.
These submissions/publications can be nearly simultaneous or years later.
Undeclared conflict of interests
This problem occurs when issues outside the research could be reasonably
perceived to affect and influence the nature of the piece of work or its
assessment. It could result in biased professional judgement.
This issue occurs when the research paper includes comments, critics or opinions
about somebody or such person's work in a malicious way which tend to lower such
person's reputation in the opinion of the society.
Code of Ethics to be followed by the Publishers
We should be concerned about the discussed malpractices because such unethical
practices influence research and clinical practices, retracted work goes on
being cited, leads to waste of resources and damages public trust in
research/science. Thus, to prevent such misconducts and malpractices, we have
Committee on Publication Ethics which is a membership organization for journal
editors and publishers.
The Committee on Publication Ethics was founded in 1997
and is a non-profit organization whose stated mission is to define best practice
in the ethics of genuine publishing and to assist editors and publishers to
achieve this. It has many critical jobs to do such as providing advice on all
aspects of publication ethics, providing support and resources for good
publication practices, advising on how to handle cases of research and
publication misconduct, educating editors and publishers on identifying research
and publication misconduct and their responsibilities.
COPE has developed some
guidelines that are to be followed by the editors and publishers in order to
avoid such negative effects and aforementioned malpractices and misconducts
while publishing the research work.
The guidelines and key points are listed
- The editors and publishers are given clear guidelines on what is
acceptable and what is not acceptable in a research paper regarding content,
language and tone. As we know that a publisher plays a pivotal role in
ensuring that only genuine and original pieces of work are published,
therefore, it is his/her job to ensure the same. The piece of work should
not be fabricated, unauthorized, plagiarized or defamatory.
- The guidelines clearly state that it is the publisher's responsibility
to make sure that the work has not been published before anywhere (except
that in a form of abstract, or as a part of published lecture or thesis).
This misconduct is very common these days as many original research papers
which have been already published get published again by other people
because the publisher did not pay heed to it. Therefore, the publisher has
to make sure this malpractice does not take place.
- The publisher has to make sure that the work he is publishing is not
under consideration anywhere else because it would be duplication/submission
of multiple copies otherwise leading to waste of resources and hard work of
the author to whom the piece of work belongs.
- It is the publisher's duty and responsibility to make sure that there is
no infringement of copyrights. Prior to publishing some research paper, he
has to make sure that copyright has not been breached in its publication.
- The publisher has to ensure that the submission has been approved by all
the co-authors and responsible authorities at the institution or
organization where the work has been carried out in the first place. Only
then the publisher publishes the piece of work to make sure that there is no
undeclared conflict of interests.
- Publisher has to make sure if a piece of work is being translated from
some language to another and is being re-published, then there is to be a
prior consent of the original author to whom the piece of work belongs in
the first place.
- The publisher has to make sure that the content that is being published
by him does not consist any sort of omitted data to misrepresent or distort
anything in the content. Misrepresentation by omission of data is also one
of the many malpractices that is common these days which results in wrong
conclusions and findings and that is why the publishers have to keep a check
on the content that they publish to avoid this from happening.
To extrapolate, research and research papers will be rendered futile if they are
not taken care of while publishing by the publisher. If they are plagiarized,
unauthorized, fabricated or fraudulently submitted then it would result in
public trust being damaged and a waste of precious time and resources.
Therefore, to ensure that this does not happen, the publishers strictly follow
the guidelines developed by COPE, which happens to be a non-profit organization
founded twenty-four years ago. The organization has laid down certain code of
ethics to be followed by publishers and have given the publishers certain
The publishers have to always adhere to these codes and must
ensure that everything they publish is original and genuine and does not
infringe these codes. These codes are the basis on which bona-fide content is
published on the websites and various platforms. The codes of ethics play a
critical role in making sure that the content that is being published online and
on social media platforms is free of the aforementioned malpractices and
unethical conducts and does not result in a waste of time, efforts and money.
These codes make these online platforms a safer place for people to publish
their content and will keep on doing so in the future as well.