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Good practices

Partnerships against misconduct

daniel buenoA document released by the Committee on Publication Ethics (Cope), headquartered in the UK, has established directives to encourage cooperation between research institutions and scientific journals in the investigation of cases of misconduct and also in the promotion of good practices among scientists and editors (table below). Cope is a forum of scientific journals that has more than 7,000 members in various countries in all fields of knowledge. The journals of the main publishing houses, such as Elsevier, Springer and Palgrave Macmillan, follow its recommendations.

“Institutions and journals have a duty to fight misconduct,” says Elizabeth Wagner, Chair of COPE. “It’s important that we communicate and collaborate effectively,” she says. The idea corroborates the ‘Code of good scientific practices’ introduced by FAPESP in 2011, according to which the bulk of responsibility for integrity lies with the institutions, even though periodicals are co-responsible within the limits of their operation.

In the case of journals, it is recommended that they have clear policies for dealing with suspicious cases and are ready to respond to questioning from institutions and other organizations charged with carrying out investigations. Institutions, on the other hand, must encourage their researchers to inform journals if mistakes are discovered in published works. They must also offer training on good practice in their education programs on scientific integrity.

Although it has been studying rules for investigating suspicions, the document emphasizes that the task of educating researchers, promoting good practices and creating prevention strategies are equally important. “Ideally, the policies of journals and institutions must cover all of these aspects,” the document emphasizes. The text recognizes that other players, principally the funding agencies, have an important role to play in promoting scientific integrity and that they must be informed about cases of misconduct in the projects that they sponsor. “We hope the directives help the financing institutions to develop their scientific integrity policies, in collaboration with researchers and editors.”