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Biomedical Journals Ill-Prepared to Deal With Fraud: Survey

Despite recent scandals, many have no guidelines in place

TUESDAY, March 14, 2006 (HealthDay News) -- Even though there have been a number of recent high-profile cases of fraudulent research being published in biomedical journals, many editors and publishers seem complacent about tackling the problem, a new study suggests.

The Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) surveyed 346 journals, asking them about whether they were equipped to comply with a self-regulatory code of conduct for editors that was published by COPE last year. The code calls on editors to pursue suspicions or allegations of research misconduct.

Publishing the findings in its 2005 report, COPE said it received just 118 responses to the survey.

The survey found that:

  • Nearly two-thirds of the journals that responded had no declared policies on pursuing research misconduct;
  • Six out of 10 had no declared complaints procedure in place;
  • Half had no published guidance for authors;
  • One in eight had no procedures for dealing with competing interests.

"Biomedical journals often have few resources available to them and little in the way of back up, added to which for many journal editors, the role is part-time. This often makes it very hard for them to pursue matters further," British Medical Journal editor Dr. Fiona Godlee, who led the COPE investigation, said in a prepared statement.

"Nevertheless, complaints procedures and guidance for authors should be standard minimum requirements for journals," Godlee said.

More information

The Family Caregiver Alliance explains how consumers can evaluate medical research findings and clinical trials.

SOURCE: COPE, news release, March 14, 2005
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