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© 2019 Committee on Publication Ethics

Our COPE materials are available to use under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs license

Supported by Routledge/Taylor & Francis Group


COPE (Committee on Publication Ethics) is a non-statutory body which aims to provide practical publication ethics guidance for journal editors working in all research disciplines. COPE was first conceived by an editor of a specialist medical journal at the BMJ Publishing Group but has since grown to become a fully multidisciplinary organisation. As a result of perceptions within COPE that some members not in Science Technology and Medicine (STM) disciplines might not consider COPE to be as relevant, in early 2019 COPE, with the support of Routledge (part of the Taylor & Francis Group), commissioned primary research to better understand the publication ethics landscape for editors working on journals within the arts, humanities, and social sciences. The research used a two-stage methodology: first exploring the issues qualitatively via two online focus groups with a diverse group of journal editors from the arts, humanities, and social sciences, before creating and disseminating an online survey. The survey received 656 admissible returned forms.

- 64% of journal editors encountered issues addressing language and writing quality barriers, which they are balancing against remaining inclusive in their publication decisions.

- 58% reported detecting plagiarism as the most serious issue they dealt with, followed by fraudulent submissions and data/image fabrication.

- Recognising and dealing with bias in peer reviewer comments was an issue encountered by 55% of journal editors.

- Journal editors felt least confident in dealing with data and/or image fabrication issues and fraudulent submissions.

CONTENTS / Executive summary / Background to the research / The research / The results / Awareness and relevance of COPE to arts, humanities, and social sciences journal editors / Key suggestions for future directions / Conclusions / Appendices / COPE TIMELINE / FEEDBACK AND Acknowledgements