Charon Pierson
Charon Pierson
Editor, Journal of the American Association of Nurse Practitioners

Here we continue our series of posts on publishing ethics to coincide with the recent release of Wiley's Best Practice Guidelines on Publishing Ethics: A Publisher's Perspective, 2ed. The post below was first published in the online newsletter Nurse Author & Editor

Like many nurse editors, I assumed that authors and reviewers for nursing journals were always acting ethically. I had been an editor for about seven years before my illusions were shattered. I was contacted by an editor of a medical journal who forwarded an email from a physician claiming my journal had published an article by a nurse author more than 11 years earlier that was nearly a verbatim copy of an article previously published by the complaining physician. I was not the editor of the journal at that time, nor was the publisher the same as the current publisher; nonetheless, editors and publishers assume the liabilities of what has occurred prior to their tenure on a scholarly journal. You might wonder how plagiarism in such an old article had been uncovered and why that even matters.

To answer the first question, the duplication was uncovered by a third party researcher who was conducting a systematic review of the literature on a topic and both articles appeared in her pile of articles for possible inclusion in the review. She read both and wondered if she had mistakenly pulled one article twice. She made a side-by-side comparison of the articles and found more than 85% verbatim duplication of content. Based on the publication dates of the articles, she determined that the one authored by the physician and published in a medical journal was the primary article. The article authored by the nurse and published in my journal was the plagiarized article.

The second question relates to more than ethics or professional conduct. The significant issue goes back to the process of systematic reviews and effect sizes when data from multiple smaller studies are aggregated to determine if a specific intervention is more effective than the control. This is the foundation of evidence-based practice and clinical practice guidelines. Clinicians around the world rely on systematic reviews of pooled studies to keep pace with the every changing environment of health care and to mitigate the effect of confounding results of small, underpowered studies. In addition to being unprofessional and unethical, duplicate publication, whether by outright plagiarism of an article or by authors who submit the same data to multiple journals, can affect the outcome of systematic reviews.

How do editors resolve such conflicts?

My first thought when I read the medical editor’s email was:  has this ever happened in a nursing journal and if so, how can I make a reasonable assessment of this situation?  In all honesty, my first thought was why would a nurse copy an article from a medical journal to begin with and why did she submit it to my journal?  That question could never be resolved, so I focused on the real issue:  how to deal with this situation in a fair and logical manner. Given that this situation was outside my realm of previous experience, I began searching for resources. My publisher directed me to the website for the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE; http://publicationethics.org/) where I discovered a flow chart (Suspected plagiarism in a published article) to guide me through the process. In addition to clear directions about what steps to take at various points in the process, there were also sample letters and guidance for the final step, retraction of the article.

After it became clear that this was a situation that called for a retraction, I wondered if any nursing journals had ever issued a retraction for plagiarism, but I was not sure how to find that information. I contacted the librarian at my university and asked if she could help me search for a retraction from a nursing journal. Within minutes, I had three librarians engaged in the task and in a few minutes I had copies of 3 retractions from nursing journals. As it turns out, you can search in PubMed for retractions in nursing journals. The COPE guidelines call for contacting the institution of the offending author and presenting the facts of the case, which I did. The author’s university asked for written statements from me and copies of the articles, which I provided.

Like many editors, my first contact with COPE was a direct result of needing guidance about how to deal with ethical breaches of conduct (Pearson 2012). Although this was my first encounter with COPE, it would not be my last. Following this situation, my journal instituted plagiarism checking software, and although that was not available at the time of the case detailed above, I found that many authors were submitting plagiarized work. Looking back on my prior years as an editor, I only recall one instance of a reviewer spotting blatant plagiarism in a submission. Clearly, automated software was finding more than reviewers would ever find. I continued to use the COPE website to develop my process for rejection of plagiarized and duplicate submissions. I attended a COPE meeting in the US and met Geri Pearson (Pearson, 2012) who was the first nurse elected to this international council. The next time there was a call for candidates to stand for elections to COPE, I submitted my papers and was elected.

How does COPE operate?

COPE is an international organization founded in 1997 in the United Kingdom (UK). Now, Council members reside in Australia, Norway, Denmark, Belgium, Switzerland, UK, Iran, Israel, Canada, Brazil, and the United States (Geri Pearson and I are the only members from the US at present). Council members are elected as Trustees of the organization, which is a registered Charity in the UK. These are voluntary positions, and we represent a broad spectrum of journals from medicine, nursing, dentistry, pharmacology, feminist studies, bench sciences, business, ethics, literature, informatics, and economics; there is also a publisher and an ombudsman serving on the Council. The two nurses on the COPE Council (of the 19 elected members) bring a set of skills and perspectives to the organization that I have come to recognize. For example, some of the issues raised at the COPE Forum, at which COPE members can present ethical cases to the Council for advice, relate to qualitative studies. Many Council members are quantitative researchers or bench scientists with little to no experience with qualitative work. Nurses and others in the humanities bring a more comprehensive understanding of the process of qualitative and historical research.

COPE has nearly 8,000 members, most of whom are journal editors. You may be a member and not know it. Publishers join by signing on their journals and sometimes the access information does not get to all the editors. If you are curious about your status, you can check your journal name in the alphabetical members’ list on the website (http://publicationethics.org/members) or contact your publishing manager for more information.

Through the efforts of COPE and other organizations (eg, The International Academy of Nursing Editors; http://www.nursingeditors-inane.org/), maintaining high ethical standards in nursing journalism has become easier. We are bringing awareness to potential ethical situations that were more difficult to see in the past. We are also bringing awareness to new “wrinkles” in unethical conduct through the case presentations and discussion papers available on the COPE website. If you have not visited the COPE website, I hope you will do so. If you have not participated in a COPE Forum, I think you will find it a valuable member benefit. I always think of COPE as our “water cooler” – the place where editors can go to discuss the pressing issues we sometimes face, the place where we can get a crash course in publication ethics.


Pearson GS (2012) Making publication ethics work. Nurse Author & Editor 22(1).


    Grace Pold 
Grace Pold
Graduate Student 

1. Staying on top of the literature  Every time a new paper comes out, you realize it has cited twenty other papers you should really read, and by the time you have finished reading the background for that first paper, there are tables of contents from five other journals waiting for you.

2. Utilizing effective time-management See above.  The internet is a gold-mine of information, but also of booby traps of awesome articles or protocols you really want to try out, but you have to remain focused. You have up to five years to become an “expert” in a smidgen of science, and you need every moment of it. So that article on the top 100 ecological questions of our time is going to have to be erased from my memory and replaced by the top 100 papers I should have read in the past month and didn’t.

3. Learning to be independent. If you thought you were all free and grown-up when you left Mummy and Daddy’s house to be a college undergrad all by your quasi-adult self, think again. You are a real adult now. You are now responsible for every piece of information which enters your brain,  For every idea which comes out, you'd better make sure it is your own (and hopefully can be used in some paper or grant proposal by your advisor).

4. Having just the right degree of certainty in your abilities. Cockiness will get shoved right back down your throat. Not only will you be incredibly unpopular with the (at times) over-certain administrators, but you will deny yourself the opportunity to take every paper, blog post, and interaction as an opportunity to learn. And believe me, learning what other people have to say is a much better way to sell yourself than convincing yourself you know it all. Or even most of it. But you need to have some certainty in your abilities.  Prove that you are strong, independent and powerful, and fight back with more first author publications in a year than others have had in the past five.

5. Playing politics. Universities are the most political things in the universe. There will be people you don't like. Don't worry - they probably didn't want you to join the department either. Professors will or won't get tenure or advance in the "rankings", and you won't always find an objective reason for why this was the case.  But whatever happens in the department, you will have to nod and smile and accept that it was the right thing.

6. Learning that while this is science, and trial and error is a valuable part of the learning process, you can’t always learn everything this way. Reagents are expensive, things explode. People explode. Graduate school is about balancing preparation and planning with doing. If you do too much of the former, you realize what you want to do will never work and won’t move forward. If you do the latter, then you end up wading through a lot of data and peer mediation discussions trying to figure out what went wrong.

7. Getting the data/publication balance right. You need a peer-reviewed publication (or two or three) to graduate and/or have a future in science, but do you keep collecting data in the hope that the extra feature will make the paper into a highly-respected journal, or publish now with the comments you get from reviewers guiding future work? What if your publishing strategy isn’t consistent with your advisor’s, or your collaborators aren’t on the same schedule as you and take forever to respond to drafts of the manuscript you send them?

8. Remembering that it is as much your job to help your advisor as it is his/her job to help you. The lab goes forward and the advisor succeeds when the students succeed. And you succeed when you can think independently and bring alternative ideas to the table, so you can critically assess other work coming from the lab.

9. Loving what you do. For most people (I hope!) this isn’t that hard, but it is absolutely the most important thing.  In theory (unless your field work puts you in a tropical locale full of biting animals), grad school can be completed with no reference to blood, sweat, and tears. But you have to enjoy it. Those prelims you hide in a hole for six months to prepare for – take it as a fun opportunity to tell your committee (or the piece of paper they handed you) about all the cool things you know about, and use studying for them as an opportunity to link your research to other areas of your field. You will thank yourself.

Grace is a member of Wiley Advisors, a program for early career researchers and professionals to serve as a voice for their communities. For more information, please visit Wiley Advisors online or on twitter @WileyAdvisors.

    Anne-Marie Green
Anne-Marie Green
Communication Manager, Wiley
Josh Sommer
Source: Josh Sommer

In 2006, at the age of 18, Josh Sommer was diagnosed with a rare bone cancer called chordoma which affects approximately 8 people per million worldwide and frequently recurs. At the time, the average survival for a newly diagnosed patient was 7 years. Then a student at Duke University, Josh decided to begin researching the disease in the only federally funded lab studying chordoma, coincidentally based at Duke, and led by Dr. Michael Kelley. The following year he dropped out of Duke to found The Chordoma Foundation, a research and patient advocacy group. His work with the Foundation has earned him the an Echoing Green fellowship for emerging leaders and this month is profiled in The Atlantic. We caught up with him on the challenges of starting and running a foundation and advancing the research necessary to save his own life.


Q. Josh, you’ve been a Chordoma patient, a researcher, and the founder of a scientific and patient advocacy foundation, to name a few things, in a very short amount of time. How and why did you decide to stop doing the research yourself to start the Chordoma Foundation?
Getting into research was initially driven by a desire to change the odds for chordoma patients. I joined a lab at Duke that was studying chordoma and ended up finding the work very interesting. However, we ran into a number of substantial obstacles that limited the research we could do. Most notably, we didn’t have access to tissue or cell lines or animal models to study. In the course of trying to find cell lines to work with, we discovered that a number of the cell lines that had been reported previously turned out to be invalid. That was troubling because it meant that: a) we couldn’t do the work in our lab that we wanted to do and b) those invalid cell lines were contaminating the literature about chordoma. I saw that the academic research community didn’t have a real incentive to check to make sure that cell lines were valid and to get the invalid cell lines out of circulation. The reality is that no one is going to prevent you from publishing a paper using invalid cell lines; that’s not what peer review does. However, if your goal is not just to publish papers, but rather to actually find a cure for the disease, it’s imperative to study valid models of the disease. That was one impetus to create an organization focused on finding a cure.


In addition to that, in the course of reaching out to find potential collaborators across the globe, I was surprised that there was actually a great deal of interest in chordoma, but that there was no communication or coordination among researchers. That convinced me that I could have a greater impact by helping to foster the conditions to make it possible for more researchers to bring their expertise to bear on the disease, as opposed to me working on just one project in one lab.


Q. Can you tell us a little bit about how you got started?
The first thing that we set out to accomplish when we started the Foundation was to unite and expand the chordoma research community. We worked with the NIH to host the first international chordoma research workshop within just a few months of getting started. At that point the Foundation was being run out of mother’s dining room. She played a huge role in providing the motivation and the wherewithal to get started; being a doctor and having run her own business provided a level of competence and credibility that really helped in the beginning. Neither of us knew how to start a disease research foundation, but we said to ourselves “This is important, so we’re going to figure it out.” Since then, much of the organization’s success can be attributed to building a talented and dedicated team of board members, advisors, volunteers and professional staff.


Q. What do you feel is the most critical mission for the Foundation?
We have a two-pronged mission: The first is to meet the needs of the chordoma patient community; to help them get the best care possible with the treatments that are available today. The second part of our mission is to advance the development of treatments as quickly as possible and, ultimately, to find a cure. We started with a focus on trying to stimulate research. As time has gone on and we’ve had some success in the research realm, we’re now turning attention to building out our programs and services to meet the needs of the chordoma patient community. But in reality, the two are closely linked because research depends on patient participation: whether it's donating tissue to our biobank, sharing information about their experiences with chordoma, or participating in clinical trials. A number of discoveries in the lab are approaching the point of clinical trials and it’s going to be increasingly important for the Chordoma Foundation to help patients find out about and gain access to these trials.


Q. What perspective does having this condition give you as the head of the Foundation?
A. It certainly clarifies my motivation. My goal and my job is to find a cure for chordoma as quickly as possible by whatever means possible. I think as a patient, I can also speak candidly and directly with the researchers that we work with. I happen to be the one who started the foundation but there are a lot of patients and family members who are also playing a very important role.. I feel that everyone in the patient community has something to contribute and I find it gratifying to work alongside other patients who share the same motivation.


Q. It seems that the Foundation has covered a lot of ground and made a lot of progress in a very short timeframe, from transforming patient’s awareness of the disease online to making significant research breakthroughs. How did you manage to engage with both researchers and patients?
A. I think a big part of it was developing a solid understanding of the science of chordoma. Because chordoma is so rare and there was so little published, it was literally possible for me to read just about everything published about the disease. Additionally, having chordoma myself, I am able to speak intelligently about the disease and the research, which I think has helped give the organization credibility among researchers. I think the biggest thing that has contributed to us being able to rally the patient community is just demonstrating results such asthe number of researchers and drug companies we’ve been able to get involved, the grants we’ve funded, and the discoveries we’ve helped bring about. I think because of this progress patients see that we have the potential to bring about more effective treatments in a meaningful timeframe. Because chordoma is a slow-growing disease, unlike more aggressive diseases, it’s feasible that those of us with the disease have the time to make a real impact on our own prognoses.


Q. Rare diseases have a lot of difficulty getting attention and funding. You’ve used some outside-the-box strategies to get funders and researchers motivated. Can you talk a little bit about those strategies?
A. Given the small size of the chordoma patient community, which is the source of the majority of our funding, we’ve had to make the money that we have raised go farther than some other groups have to. Rather than funding a variety of promising studies, in the beginning we focused on developing the research reagents that researchers need, such as cell lines and animal models and making them available to researchers who are already funded. By distributing the cell lines to 60 different labs, we’ve been able to leverage millions of dollars worth of research funding that we didn’t have to raise. One way we have been able to stimulate the development of cell lines is by offering a prize. We were very surprised at the positive response from all over the world and we found labs that we never knew were interested in chordoma. We’ve now succeeded in validating five different cell lines and have several more in development.


Q. What is next for The Chordoma Foundation and for you?
So many things! We’ve accomplished many of the initial goals that we set when the Foundation started: developing cell lines and animal models, characterizing the chordoma genome, screening approved drugs in preclinical models. Now we’re at an inflection point where the main focus of our research plan is expanding to translate the discoveries made in the lab into clinical trials. In the next couple years we will help initiate a number of clinical trials with drugs that are either already approved or are currently in clinical development. Additionally, we are embarking on an effort to develop a new drug that will inhibit a protein called brachyury, which seems to play a critical role in causing chordoma as well as other types of cancer. Both of those initiatives are going to require us to raise a lot more money than we’ve been raising, so we’re investing in increasing our fundraising capacity and in our outreach to the patient community.


Sounds like you'll have a lot to keep you busy. Thanks for talking to us Josh.

    Elizabeth Hay
Elizabeth Hay
Managing Editor, RCOG Journals

At the beginning of 2014, Twitter had 645,750,000 active registered users, with 135 000 new users signing up every day. The number of active Twitter users every month is around 115 million, and 43% of users are Tweeting on their phones.[1]

Facebook has over 1.3 billion users, with over half of these being mobile users.[2]

And it’s not just ‘social’ media that’s ever-growing; LinkedIn, with 277 million members, now has the largest number of users of any online professional network in the world. [3]

This ‘on the go’, online networking is already well established in the research community too, with the likes of Mandeley and ResearchGate.


Blue JC
Source: Blue Journal Club

So, the audience is there. but how can this online activity be employed to encourage structured, stimulating discussion on new research? How can these habits of sharing news and updates and being constantly connected be harnessed to encourage real-time research debates in an open environment?

With the support of BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, The Blue Journal Club (BlueJC) has been running for nearly 2 years. This is an online, open, international journal club for women’s health aiming to provide a platform for post publication peer review and continued medical education.

The Blue Journal Club (BlueJC) – how does it work?

BlueJC currently uses BJOG journal club resources to host an online journal club on the last Wednesday of every month, with the discussion open for a week. So far, all discussions have been held on Twitter, tracked with #BlueJC.

BJOG regularly publishes papers suitable for journal clubs. These specially selected papers provide a set of questions or discussion points, to critically appraise the paper, and a set of PowerPoint slides prepared by the author to summarize the main findings of the paper. The questions stimulate discussion on study design, analysis and interpretation of the results, and whether clinical practice should be modified in light of the overall evidence base.

Each BlueJC has a host, to coordinate the discussion and prompt users to focus on the discussion points provided.

After a week, the Journal Club Host collates all the comments (for example  produces a transcript), and BJOG encourages the host to summarize the discussion in a ‘Report from #BlueJC’ article, for consideration for publication in BJOG’s correspondence section, BJOG Exchange.

Further information on how it works can be found in BJOG’s guide to The Blue Journal Club.  A video is also available introducing the initiative – watch here



Is it working?


We have certainly seen success with BlueJC, with an average of 18 (range 7–35) participants and 122 (range 70–200) Tweets per session. So far ,BJOG has published 10 Reports from BlueJC. This initiative is constantly developing and we are continually looking at ways to improve, such as introducing an author Q&A at the beginning of each session.


More recently, we are now looking at the Altmetrics of a paper selected for BlueJC. The authors of one paper, which discussed women’s perceptions of normal genitalia, should be happy with the results since the paper achieved an Altmetric score of 91.. This is compared to an average Altmetric score of 5.3 for the journal and makes it the 6th highest scoring article so far.

Early observations indicate that our social media engagement efforts could be boosting download figures for particular papers. A BlueJC paper was the only paper published in 2013 to appear in the top 10 most downloaded papers (from the entire catalog of BJOG papers) in 2013, quickly catching up with others in the list with a 12-year head start). Another interesting observation was that Twitter and Facebook were the 5th and 6th top referrers to this paper, after only PubMed, Google (2 domains), and www.BJOG.org.

Of course, one must remember that it could be the case that papers selected for BlueJC are likely to be more topical and controversial than others, and therefore they may naturally spur debate.   We hope to carry out some research that may strengthen this early evidence of the benefits of BlueJC.

Global connection

Not only does BlueJC achieve engagement, it achieves instant connection for readers to authors, and vice versa. We have also seen key organizations and opinion leaders join BlueJC discussions. This allows for rapid post publication peer review among a wide range of stakeholders, rather than the slower, traditional method of a letter to the Editor. However, with the publication of reports from BlueJC, the value and reach of letters to the Editor is not lost.

With the discussion being open for 7 days, participants from all time zones have the opportunity to contribute to the discussion. The Journal Club host aims to hold a more structured discussion at the beginning of the week but this can be hard to coordinate to suit all time zones. We are actively working to improve this. That said, BlueJC does attract many participants and hosts from outside the UK, and this reinforces the truly global nature and reach of the research published in BJOG.


We see a mix of both trainees and consultants joining BlueJC sessions; trainees can learn how to critically appraise a paper, learn from the wisdom of more experienced colleagues worldwide and consultants are able to earn CPD points for partaking in a discussion as well as discuss papers with peers with different experiences in other countries.

What’s next?

We still have lots to learn with BlueJC, and there are vast opportunities for further development –  we have recently started this with a new Blog, Facebook Page, and dedicated Twitter feed @BlueJCHost. Our next step is to host BlueJC on alternative social media platforms.

If you are interested in learning more, joining a BlueJC or hosting one yourself, please follow the relevant links below. And don’t forget to use #BlueJC when posting!

Upcoming BlueJC sessions:

March 26: How to manage incontinence after childbirth?

April 30: What are the risks of birth to my baby?

Learn more:

Follow @BJOGTweets for all BJOG news, including upcoming journal clubs

Follow @BlueJCHost to follow discussion points

Visit The Blue Journal Club blog

View all of BJOG’s Journal Club papers

Like the BlueJC page on Facebook

Message @BlueJCHost or email mailto:bjog@rcog.org.uk


Khalid Khan, Editor-in-Chief, BJOG

Dimitrios Siassakos, Executive Scientific Editor, Journal Club and CPD Editor, BJOG

Elaine Leung, Journal Club Coordinator, BJOG

Louisa Waite, Assistant Editor, BJOG


[1] http://www.statisticbrain.com/twitter-statistics/

[2] http://www.statisticbrain.com/facebook-statistics/




    Graham Taylor
Graham Taylor
Independent Consultant

Developing an Effective Market for Open Access Article Processing Charges
Bo-Christer Björk & David Solomon
Released March 12, 2014

This interesting report, commissioned by (and clearly addressed to) a consortium of research funders comprising Jisc, Research Libraries UK, Research Councils UK, Wellcome Trust, Austrian Science Fund, Luxembourg National Research Fund and Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics, is a serious academic study (with a good executive summary, p.3) that builds on and updates earlier work by the same authors, provides new background data, analyzes risks, and proposes a number of alternative scenarios and solutions..

The primary objective is to “identify and appraise policy options for funders and other stakeholders, through which they can help ensure a competitive and transparent market for scholarly journal APCs” and to “provide useful input into the internal discussions of funding organisations regarding OA options and a broader dialogue with the different stakeholders in scholarly publishing”.

The report reflects concerns over rising costs, at institutional level, “during the transitional period” (to Gold Open Access) and whether the evolving market will be transparent and functional. It concerns itself entirely with the market for APCs (Article Publication Charges), the principal (but not the only) model for Gold OA, and with the “key current and future drivers that will determine costs”. It has relatively little to say about Green OA beyond an Appendix that quotes from new research (in press) about publishers’ embargo periods.

The authors conclude that the ‘Full OA’ market (journals operating only Gold OA) is functioning well, but that the Hybrid OA market (subscription journals offering a Gold OA option, such as Wiley’s OnlineOpen) is extremely dysfunctional, running on higher charges and generating very low uptake.

Much of the report is taken up with answering the key question “under what conditions should hybrid OA be funded?” and proposing ‘scenarios’ (interventions) that show most promise (from the point of view of funders and institutions) to deliver a transparent and competitive market in APCs. Throughout there is reference to current concerns over the potential for ‘double dipping’ under hybrid (citing familiar sources such as the BIS SelComm report and the Science Europe statement) despite the authors acknowledging that publishers have “consistently and emphatically denied the charge”. (p.25)

They hypothesize eight ‘scenarios’ for funding Hybrid OA, all of which are familiar (such as SCOAP3) and not mutually exclusive, and four of which are thought to apply equally to Full OA. From this analysis, they develop three scenarios as the “most promising for funding agencies”:

  1. Only support hybrid journals that offset APCs against subscription costs at institutional level.
  2. Adopt a value-based model with tiered caps by journal (i.e. setting maxima for APCs that funders are willing to cover)
  3. Pay only a set proportion of an APC above a threshold, say $1500.


The authors acknowledge strengths, weakness and challenges in each of these and recognize that they are operating in a complex area. There are however some oddities, for instance:

  • The authors did not interview any ‘subscription’ publishers, but instead used a literature review, selective interviews with 13 ‘experts’, data retrieved from publishers’ websites, and academic scenarios.
  • The language used in the commentary on their modelling is unclear, for example they use terms such as “refunds” without being clear what they mean by this (publisher offsets? funder grants? institutional funds?) and phrases such as: “we suggest scenario H4, in which APCs are refunded at list prices provided that mechanisms are put in place to ensure that “double dipping” at the local level doesn’t occur”.
  • There is much discussion of how to fix the dysfunctional hybrid market and how to fix the potential for double dipping, but little acknowledgement that APCs used to fund ‘full OA’ journals are equally a strain on the finances of research intensive institutions that must still fund subscriptions.
  • The authors claim that take-up of Gold OA via hybrid has been minimal, however, this has not been the experience of many publishers including Wiley, whose OnlineOpen option increased by around 150% between 2012 and 2013.


A key consideration of the report (derived from their review of the literature) is that journals in the subscriptions market are essentially ‘complementary’ and attract the potential for ‘monopoly rents’, whereas in the OA market, especially the ‘full OA’ market, more choice is available to authors, leading to more competition between journals. “The full OA market has had over 10 years to develop and is a relatively normal economic market where publishers have to compete for “customers” via a combination of quality, innovative services and price.”

The authors also maintain that “both the literature review and the empirical data collected … have highlighted that the APC funded full OA and the hybrid OA market differ”, so separate scenarios are needed. In the Full OA market, authors are influenced by price whereas in the Hybrid OA market authors select first by journal. The potential for bundling APCs with subscriptions may also impact the market.

The authors have constructed “five new datasets” to inform their study, for instance enabling them to quote data on average APC prices for different journal types to support their conclusions:

  • Full OA journal, published by ‘non-subscription’ publishers: $1,418
  • Full OA journal, published by ‘subscription’ publishers: $2,097
  • Hybrid journal, published by ‘subscription’ publishers: $2,727


They demonstrate a clear “price elasticity of demand” for APCs, and offer data for a correlation (p.36) between APC charges and their best metric for ‘value’, Source Normalized Impact per Paper (SNIP). They quote uptake of the hybrid option at 2% or less for hybrid APCs over $3000, with a few exceptions such as Nature Communications, and Springer APC-subscription bundled deals. They suggest that prices are more diversified and set more competitively by subscription publishers in the full OA market than in the hybrid market.


The authors offer valuable new data on the number of fully OA journals (p.19) and hybrid journals (p.23) now on offer by the major publishers, concluding that “the hybrid option is, almost as a rule, available for most subscription journals” but overall uptake is still very low, citing data in a recent Elsevier report for BIS showing on uptake of 0.5% of all Scopus articles as hybrid OA.


Björk & Solomon are at pains to point out that they see their scenarios as the start of a debate, and are clear that all scenarios have their advantages and drawbacks. They do not recommend a single solution but suggest that alternative models should be adapted to needs.


This paper is well worth reading, even if only its executive summary, for the new data it offers and for the discussion of the advantages and disadvantages of the various options for market interventions, most of which are already familiar to us in the publishing world. The hybrid market is immature but evidence of failure is premature. Reading this report will give us all a feel for the issues on which we will be challenged.

    Jackie Jones
Jackie Jones
Executive Journals Editor, Wiley

ethics guidelines image2

Today, Wiley presents a comprehensive update to the Wiley publication ethics guidelines first published in 2006, with the release of the Best Practice Guidelines on Publishing Ethics: A Publisher's Perspective. Second Edition.  Our aim for these guidelines remains to support all those involved in scholarly publishing with a summary of best practice guidance from leading organizations around the world.

Below are our top 10 tips:

1. Adopt journal policy and practice that supports ethical best practice – Be well-informed of good practice for ethical standards for research, editorial policy and publication ethics. Support a robust appeals/right-to-reply mechanism.


2. Support efficient, effective, ethical peer review – Provide a timely and quality review; give a fair, unbiased, objective review; respect the confidentiality of peer review; do not use insulting or defamatory language, nor make libellous, unfounded accusations.


3. Be mindful of breaches of publication ethics – Be watchful of issues of plagiarism, dual submission and publication and image manipulation; report any irregularities and inform journals where errors in research are found post-publication.


4. Disclose conflict of interest – Be conversant with COI journal policy; EIC, editorial team, authors and reviewers to declare conflicts of interest; include appropriate funding statements in manuscripts.


5. Accurately list those who contributed to the work and how – Check that co-authors meet the criteria for authorship and ensure that appropriate acknowledgements are made in the manuscript; authors should agree the order in which their names will be listed and use tools that remove potential ambiguity around author names.


6. Comply with discipline guidelines for reporting standards – Check reporting is thorough and provides readers with information needed to fully appraise research, replicate it, and use it; be alert to bias and follow guidelines for accurate and complete reporting of research.


7. Ensure that ethical and responsible research is published – explain how research has been conducted responsibly; provide assurances that participants’ rights have been protected; register clinical trials; report ethical concerns including animal/human studies; exercise cultural sensitivity.


8. Take action and alert journals to suspected malpractice – Speak to the Publisher on cases of ethical concern; seek advice from the relevant institutional, employer and funder policies regarding the reporting and investigation of suspected misconduct; consult COPE guidelines.


9. Correct errors where found – Notify journals when errors are found; collaborate to publish corrections when important errors surface, and retract articles when errors are so fundamental that they invalidate the work.


10. Protect intellectual property – Ensure there is explicit authority to publish any article and that authors are aware of their rights with regard totheir articles; comply with funder mandates around accessibility.

What do you feel are the biggest ethical challenges in scholarly publishing?  Let us know by leaving a comment below or tweeting with hashtag #PubEthics.

    Udo Schuklenk
Udo Schuklenk
Co-editor of Bioethics and Developing World Bioethics

This is the second in our series of recent blog posts on publishing ethics to mark the launch this month of Wiley's Best Practice Guidelines on Publishing Ethics: A Publisher's Perspective, 2ed..


Where should one start a blog entry about publication ethics? It’s such a wide-ranging topic and, given that this isn’t supposed to be a book length entry, I will just pick on a couple of issues that I have seen occur over the years, either in one of the journals that I co-edit or that I have come across during conversations with fellow editors.


ethics word cloud
Source: Kheng guan Toh / Thinkstock

Over the years you begin to delude yourself into thinking that you have seen the full range of ethics infringements. It’s particularly ironic, I guess, when you edit bioethics journals: you would hope that your authors would be clued in to publication ethics issues.


We have seen quite a bit of plagiarism over the years. We do subject manuscripts to Crosscheck, both randomly as well as when we have reason to be suspicious of the provenance of some of the content claimed as original by an author. Now, given that we process hundreds of manuscripts each year, what does raise suspicion? Obvious stuff really: if an author whose first language isn’t English submits a manuscript that suffers fairly consistently from low quality English language expression, and suddenly there are a few pages of impeccable English, you would probably wonder how those impeccable bits came about. Sometimes there are perfectly innocent explanations, such as authors having had a friend copy-edit parts of their manuscript, but not all of it. On other occasions you discover that some material has indeed been plagiarized.


You might also come across content that looks a little bit too familiar. Journal editors probably pick up on plagiarism for no other reason than that they send submitted papers out for review by true subject experts. More often than not they give you a heads-up on possibly plagiarized content. Funnily enough, this is how I came across a plagiarized paper for the first time in my academic life. The former editors of the journal that I now edit asked me to review a manuscript on a topic that I had just published a paper on. True enough, the paper they asked me to review was identical (to the title of the article) to my previously published piece. Go figure.


I don’t think, courtesy of legal restraints, we do a good job these days of dealing with obvious cases of plagiarism. We do a good job flagging a duplicate publication, as that is fairly easy to show. Plagiarism is becoming an endangered category. The reason, probably, is that to call something plagiarized content you’d need to prove intent if an accused author ever decided to sue you for libel. So, it seems to me that these days most instances of plagiarism are labeled as incidents of duplicate publication. The thing is, duplicate publication didn’t historically refer to duplicating other people’s content and pretending that it’s your own, but to duplicating your own content. The former would have been called plagiarism. The latter would have been called duplicate publication. Today both cases are most often referred to as duplicate publication due to fear of litigation.


Let me give you two examples, both from journals that I edit. We had large parts of an article we had published plagiarized in a medical journal. The author of the plagiarized content also happened to be a senior editorial board member of the medical journal that published said piece, and a senior bioethicist in the region. The medical journal’s editor investigated the matter and decided to publish an erratum regretting the inadvertent duplicate publication. And that was that. No professional sanction occurred, everyone happily pretended that the blatant verbatim copying of large parts of our original content was inadvertent. Nonsense.In addition,some academic institutions have been known to ignore information showing that their faculty were caught plagiarizing other people’s work.


The other example happened just a week or two ago. Academics submitted a paper to us that we accepted after peer review. They duly signed the standard disclosure form in which they assured us in writing that their content was original, and that it hadn’t been submitted or published elsewhere. We received a tip-off that the empirical component of the article we accepted (including a number of tables) had actually already been published in a local medical journal – and that indeed turned out to be the case. We emailed the authors of said document to ‘please explain’ and have yet to receive so much as an acknowledgment of receipt of our message. Either way, we caught this one. In many documents this kind of duplicate publication would be referred to as self-plagiarism. That’s a misnomer. You can’t plagiarize your own content; plagiarism by definition involves the theft of someone else’s intellectual property and it involves the thief pretending that it is his or her own. Clearly you cannot steal your own intellectual content, hence there is no such a thing as self-plagiarism.


I have great difficulty understanding why anyone would even try to publish plagiarized content. In this day and age, whole computer programs trawl academic publications non-stop, searching automatically for plagiarized content. Incidentally, one of the cases mentioned above came to my attention via this route. Why anyone would wish to subject themselves to the risk of getting caught is truly beyond me. Perhaps academics engaging in misconduct are banking on a lack of enforceable regulations. Unless their employer punishes their misconduct, the worst that can happen to them is that a particular journal bans them from submitting (for a while). Perhaps publishers and groups such as COPE (the Committee on Publication Ethics) should come together and discuss whether more significant punitive measures could deter more authors from engaging in forms of academic misconduct.


The website Retraction Watch keeps track of many academic journal retractions. Check it out when you have a minute. And COPE has developed a number of really useful flowcharts on what we as Editors should do if we come across cases of suspected plagiarism or duplicate publication. I recommend them to your attention. You might find them helpful whether you are an author or a journal editor.

    Daniel Amund
Daniel Amund
PhD, London Metropolitan University

Our ‘Day in the Life’ series of blog posts continues – this time with a day in the life of Daniel Amund-a final-year PhD student in the Microbiology Research Unit of London Metropolitan University

I am studying for a PhD in Food Science at London Metropolitan University (LMU). My research assesses the effects of environmental stresses on functional properties of probiotic bacteria, especially those stresses encountered during transit through the human gastrointestinal tract.

I was first introduced to the concept of probiotics, live microorganisms which can provide health benefits, while studying for a master’s degree in Food Science at LMU. I chose a research project on probiotics and prebiotics in yogurt for my master’s, supervised by Dr Hamid Ghoddusi, because of its novelty, especially as I come from Nigeria, where the concept is not very well-known. I was also keen to do a microbiology project, since my first degree was in Microbiology, from the University of Lagos, Nigeria.

When the opportunity arose to do a PhD, also under Dr Ghoddusi’s supervision, I pursued the opportunity. My research addresses whether there would be any impact on the in vitro functional selection criteria for probiotic bacteria, if they are first exposed to stress conditions mimicking those they would encounter in reality, and the possible implications.

My work day varies, depending on the tasks to be completed. However, being a food microbiology lab, a major aspect was the preparation and sterilization of microbiological media and glassware, which were required for a lot of our analyses. If I haven’t learned anything else, I can definitely say I’m fairly confident at operating autoclaves and dishwashers! I’m also a dab hand at pouring a decent petri dish of agar. Aside from my ‘housekeeping’ duties, I was also involved in teaching activities, mainly demonstrating to or supervising undergraduate and master’s students in the teaching lab, known as the Super Lab, Europe’s biggest teaching lab.

Being a PhD student has been quite challenging, mentally and emotionally, but especially financially. I received a tuition fee-only scholarship from the university, which I am highly grateful for, as an overseas student. However, living in an expensive city like London, to earn some extra money, I’ve had to take up casual work. Fortunately, I work for the university as a student ambassador, which can involve representing the university at external education fairs, and receiving visitors to open events at the university campuses. I’ve also dabbled in a bit of modeling for the university, and even ended up having life-size cardboard cut-outs of me around the university buildings!

Despite the challenges of juggling experiments, writing reports, making presentations and posters, teaching, and working, not to mention writing the thesis, it has been a rewarding experience too. As a PhD student, I feel I have had opportunities that I probably might not have had if I weren’t one. I’ve definitely grown as an individual, and met lots of new people. Being in a place like London, which is a hub for so many things, means that one is never short of activities to do or get involved in.  I’ve enjoyed attending lectures, workshops and conferences, and also volunteering with learned societies. I like the attention I get, justifiable or not, when I introduce myself as a PhD student.

I think researchers of my generation are at an amazing period in history, in which ground-breaking research can be carried out because of advancements in technology. The proliferation of social media channels means that it is easier to communicate one’s work and share knowledge. Open Access publishing also ensures that important research findings can be disseminated more widely , as they are not hidden behind a pay wall. However, with the current economic climate, young researchers may struggle to find funding for their work, or to find jobs altogether.

It’s important for young researchers to engage with the world around them, and not dwell constantly in a laboratory ‘bubble’. One is going to need a lot of creativity and networking in order to enhance their prospects of securing increasingly competitive jobs. Personally, I’ve found it useful to take advantage of opportunities to learn about different career options outside of the traditional academic or research jobs. I learned about the relationship between science and the media by attending a Standing Up for Science media workshop by Sense About Science (SAS). I subsequently became involved in their Voice of Young Science (VoYS) network, through which I have taken part in the Ask for Evidence campaign, and volunteered at SAS events. The VoYS program encourages early career researchers to get involved in public debates about science, to have their voices heard.

Being involved with SAS gave me the confidence to apply for a three-month postgraduate fellowship with the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology (POST). POST provides parliamentarians with balanced analysis of science and technology policy issues. I was really thrilled to be offered the fellowship, funded by the Institute of Food Science and Technology (IFST). I researched and helped write a briefing paper on Livestock Vaccines. I learned a lot about the relationship between science and policy, as well as science communication. Writing a four-page paper that had to be accessible to non-scientists was a true test! It was also an awesome feeling to be working for Parliament.

On a final note, my mantra as a PhD student has been “give it a go”. I’ve tried to seize opportunities as they come, and I think I’m all the better for it. My scope has been widened, and I can only look forward to what the future has to offer. In the meantime, I’d better go finish my thesis!

In the video below, Daniel talks about his involvement in Sense About Science's Voice of the Young Scientist Network.


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