Should editors get a CLUE? Who should investigate Questionable Research Practices? Is Chinese research seriously sullied by misconduct? How to solve publishing’s wicked challenges? Pro-predatory P&T committees?


  • Liz Wager and others posted the CLUE (Cooperation And Liaison Between Universities And Editors) guidelines on the preprint server biorxiv, regarding how journals and institutions should work together in alleged research misconduct cases. They will consider comments and suggestions posted on the preprint. Their main recommendations:
    • “National registers of individuals or departments responsible for research integrity at institutions should be created
    • Institutions should develop mechanisms for assessing the validity of research reports that are independent from processes to determine whether individual researchers have committed misconduct
    • Essential research data and peer review records should be retained for at least 10 years
    • While journals should normally raise concerns with authors in the first instance, they also need criteria to determine when to contact the institution before, or at the same time as, alerting the authors in cases of suspected data fabrication or falsification to prevent the destruction of evidence
    • Anonymous or pseudonymous allegations made to journals or institutions should be judged on their merit and not dismissed automatically
    • Institutions should release relevant sections of reports of research trustworthiness or misconduct investigations to all journals that have published research that was the subject of the investigation.

Editors: The first proposed CLUE criterion is “*While journals should normally raise concerns with authors in the first instance, they also need criteria to determine when to contact the institution before, or at the same time as, alerting the authors in cases of suspected data fabrication or falsification to prevent the destruction of evidence.” What criteria do you think would be appropriate?

Preprint: Wager E et al. Cooperation And Liaison Between Universities And Editors (CLUE): Recommendations On Best Practice doi:

Interview: When misconduct occurs, how should journals and institutions work together? (Retraction Watch)

  • Denmark is redefining how they handle research misconduct 

As of July 1, research misconduct will be limited to fabrication, falsification, and plagiarism and will be investigated by the Board for the Prevention of Scientific Misconduct. Institutions remain responsible for investigating allegations of Questionable Research Practices (eg, selective reporting of results to support the hypothesis).

Denmark to institute sweeping changes in handling misconduct (Retraction Watch)

  • A large proportion of Chinese research may be affected by misconduct

The subject survey published in Science and Engineering Ethics, estimates 40%, but has a standard deviation of ±24%. “The forms of misconduct that were most concerning to respondents-ahead of falsification, fabrication, and duplication-were plagiarism (25%) and the ‘inclusion of someone without permission or contribution in the authorship’ (28%)…The survey also shows that scientists strongly feel authorities have done little to address the underlying publish-or-perish environment that breeds misconduct; 72% thought that reforms to current systems of academic assessment was the most important measure, with only 13% prioritizing stronger systems of monitoring for misconduct.”

Four in 10 biomedical papers out of China are tainted by misconduct, says new survey (Retraction Watch)

  • Ginny Barbour concludes her term as COPE Chair and comments on positive changes and wicked challenges in publishing: “The importance of good processes is only underpinned by the fact that the types of problems that editors face are increasing in complexity.”

From the outgoing chair  (COPE Digest)

  • Should advisors publish with their PhD students?

Supervisors are morally obliged to publish with their PhD students (Times High Education — registration may be required)

  • Quest for Research Excellence Conference
    • Location: The George Washington University, Washington, DC
    • Date: August 7-9, 2017

The 2017 Quest for Research Excellence Conference.m co-sponsored by the Office of Research Integrity, The George Washington University (GWU), and Public Responsibility in Medicine and Research. “The goal of the Quest for Research Excellence conference series is to fuel knowledge sharing among all the parties involved in promoting the responsible conduct of research and scientific integrity, from scientists to educators, administrators, government officials, journal editors, science publishers and attorneys.”

Office of Research Integrity 



The predatory/pseudo-journal plot thickens: A university promotion & tenure committee is complicit in their faculty publishing in predatory/pseudo-journals. “…I included my initial finding that I had found that I was one of a minority of researchers in my department with no publications in predatory journals.” The author suggests that administrators with research backgrounds may be less likely to equate predatory with legitimate journal publications.

When most faculty publish in predatory journals, does the school become “complicit?” (Retraction Watch)



A brief review of citation performance indicators. “A good indicator simplifies the underlying data, is reliable in its reporting, provides transparency to the underlying data, and is difficult to game. Most importantly, a good indicator has a tight theoretical connection to the underlying construct it attempts to measure.” Has a good indicator been created?



A Canadian initiative to help implement ORCID more broadly, as the greatest challenge is still to get people to register their ORCID ID. “Consortium members have access to the Premium Member API, which facilitates integrating ORCID identifiers in key systems and workflows, such as research information systems, manuscript submission systems, grant application processes, and membership databases.” You can get your ID for free at .

ORCID-CA, the ORCID Consortium in Canada, to provide Canadian institutions and organizations the opportunity to obtain premium membership to ORCID (CRKN/RCDR)


Newsletter #9, originally circulated May 23, 2017. Sources of links include Retraction Watch, Scholarly Kitchen, Twitter.   Providing the links does not imply WAME’s endorsement.



How does the NAS suggest journals should foster research integrity? How should one critically evaluate a manuscript (plus more fake peer reviews)? One year of ORCID IDs, a Dear Journal letter from a biostatistician


National Academy of Sciences on how to improve research integrity

A U.S. National Academy of Sciences panel calls for formation of an independent group to address research misconduct and related issues, including [quoted from Retraction Watch, U.S. panel sounds alarm on “detrimental” research practices, calls for new body to help tackle misconduct ] “misleading statistical analysis that falls short of falsification, awarding authorship to researchers who don’t deserve it (and vice versa), not sharing data, and poorly supervising research – as ‘detrimental’ research practices.”

Fostering Integrity in Research“, from the National Academy of Sciences (free PDF download available):

The document includes 11 major recommendations; those most relevant to journal editors are pasted below (emphasis added):

“RECOMMENDATION ONE: To better align the realities of research with its values and ideals, all stakeholders in the research enterprise-researchers, research institutions, research sponsors, journals, and societies-should significantly improve and update their practices and policies to respond to the threats to research integrity identified in this report.

RECOMMENDATION FIVE: Societies and journals should develop clear disciplinary authorship standards. Standards should be based on the principle that those who have made a significant intellectual contribution are authors. Significant intellectual contributions can be made in the design or conceptualization of a study, the conduct of research, the analysis or interpretation of data, or the drafting or revising of a manuscript for intellectual content. Those who engage in these activities should be designated as authors of the reported work, and all authors should approve the final manuscript. In addition to specifying all authors, standards should (1) provide for the identification of one or more authors who assume responsibility for the entire work, (2) require disclosure of all author roles and contributions, and (3) specify that gift or honorary authorship, coercive authorship, ghost authorship, and omitting authors who have met the articulated standards are always unacceptable. Societies and journals should work expeditiously to develop such standards in disciplines that do not already have them.

RECOMMENDATION SIX: Through their policies and through the development of supporting infrastructure, research sponsors and science, engineering, technology, and medical journal and book publishers should ensure that information sufficient for a person knowledgeable about the field and its techniques to reproduce reported results is made available at the time of publication or as soon as possible after publication.

RECOMMENDATION EIGHT: To avoid unproductive duplication of research and to permit effective judgments on the statistical significance of findings, researchers should routinely disclose all statistical tests carried out, including negative findings. Research sponsors, research institutions, and journals should support and encourage this level of transparency.”



  • How to critically evaluate a manuscript

At How to critically evaluate a manuscript: 12 questions you should always ask yourself (Publons), a useful general approach to peer review, but it’s missing some important points (I’m sure you can find more–add your comments below):

-Can the study design answer the hypothesis posed? (e.g., is the hypothesis a question of causality but the study design is observational?)

-Do the conclusions follow from the results or do they exaggerate the importance and implications of the research?

-What are the funding source(s) and potential conflicts of interest of the authors?

  • Fall out from fake peer reviews continues with more than 100 retractions

A new record: Major publisher retracting more than 100 studies from cancer journal over fake peer review (Retraction Watch)



  • Results after one year of journals requiring ORCID IDs 

“Our 2015 community survey indicated that most researchers supported the idea of their organizations requiring the use of ORCID — 72% agreed or strongly agreed that these would benefit the global research community, 21% were neutral, and only 7% disagreed or strongly disagreed. Three quarters said specifically that it would be useful if their publisher mandated ORCID iDs.”

It Takes a Village: One Year of Journals Requiring ORCID IDs (Scholarly Kitchen)

  • Technical Image Editor wanted?

Journal of Biological Chemistry is hiring editors to manually screen images for potential manipulation or duplication, before publication.



“Dear Journal”, from a concerned biostatistician

“The safe-conducts given by the editorial system to articles that do not disclose exact sample sizes are shocking. Science must be based on the possibility to repeat comparable designs, which obviously encompasses the use of similar numbers of observations. Sample sizes given as intervals (e.g. “n=3- 18”), inequalities (e.g. “n>3”) or absurdly nebulous sentences (e.g. “n=4, data representative of 3 rats from 2 independent experiments”) are evident obstructions to reproducibility.

Similarly, it is perplexing to notice the proportion of publications that do not clearly reveal the statistical tests used. A clear attribution of tests must be given, including the post-hoc tests used after analysis of variance. It should not be sufficient to list all statistical procedures in the method section with no indication of which test was used in which figure or table.”

Dear journals: Clean up your act. Regards, Concerned Biostatistician (Retraction Watch)



Newsletter #7, originally circulated on April 24, 2017. Sources include Retraction Watch, Health Information for All listserve, and Open Science Initiative listserve. Providing the links does not imply WAME’s endorsement.