27 Mar, 09 | by Deborah Kirklin
So how are you coping? Are you managing to make the right choices in these difficult times? And what if you make the wrong decision? Do you worry you might be sued, or worse still that the care people receive will suffer? And no, I’m not talking about the stresses and strains of clinical practice, pressing as these can be in an ever litigious society. Nor am I referring to widespread anxieties about rising unemployment, including medical. Instead I’m talking about the admittedly niche ethics angst that is part and parcel of a modern journal editor’s lot.
“Ethics angst?” I hear you non-editors cry. “They don’t know they’re born. What on earth can be so stressful about getting to pick and choose which research gets published? They should try doing the research, then they’d know what stress is.” Well yeah yeah yeah. I get it. I really do. But the next time you hear about the latest research scandal, spare a thought for the very many editors around the world who’ll be breathing a ‘there but for the grace of’ sigh of relief and sympathy.
Which is where COPE comes in: the Committee on Publication Ethics, a remarkable organisation that now has journal members from around the world and from every imaginable discipline. COPE was originally founded to meet the needs of publishers of biomedical research and so it is a testimony to it that non-biomedical journals now make up some 60% of its membership. The newly launched website offers an impressive array of case studies and decision making flowcharts that should be of as much interest to researchers as editors.
So whether you’re a researcher or an editor or instead a consumer of that research, why not visit the COPE website and find out the sort of thing that gives editors sleepless nights. Anyone fancy doing a bit of research on it?