The Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) recently announced changes to its Code of Conduct as well as a new policy on sanctions against member journal editors and publishers that do not follow their 'principles.'
Until recently, members of COPE agreed to adhere to their Code of Conduct and Best Practice Guidelines for Journal Editors (and Publishers). Members also agree to follow the Principles of Transparency and Best Practice in Scholarly Publishing.
Both of these documents provide very helpful advice on how to organise and run a professional journal. The Code of Conduct includes 'must do' items for members as well as 'aspirational' suggested best practices. Two weeks ago, the Code of Conduct was replaced with the new 'Core Practices.'
In announcing the Core Practices, COPE explained that the Code of Conduct carried a legal connotation, which was not intended. Also, COPE recognised that some items were extremely specific (e.g., "Editors should follow the procedure set out in the COPE flowchart on complaints") while others were very open to interpretation (e.g., "Editors should strive to ensure that peer review at their journal is fair, unbiased and timely"). There are also elements of the code that are not relevant at all journals (e.g. "Editors should have a written contract(s) setting out their relationship with the journal's owner and/or publisher").
The new Core Practices contain 10 categories from the Code. There is a brief paragraph describing each and a link to further resources. The resources include case studies, blog posts and articles, guidelines if available, and COPE's famous flowcharts that provide step-by-step suggestions on how an editor or journal could handle ethics issues.
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