UK watchdog issues guidelines to combat medical research fraud
- By: Judy Jones
A group of UK medical journal editors has issued best practice guidelines to help stem research misconduct, a problem characterised by its chairman as “endemic” in the United Kingdom and the United States.
The guidelines, drawn up by the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE), are intended to promote and safeguard intellectual honesty at all stages in the research and publication cycle, from initial study design onwards.
Ethical approval, data analysis, competing interests, authorship, peer review, redundant publication, and editors' duties are among the key areas addressed. The guidance also advises editors on how to investigate suspected cases and what sanctions may be suitably applied when misdemeanours have been detected.
The committee was established in July 1997 (BMJ 1997;315:201-2), some two years after Malcolm Pearce, a senior gynaecologist at St George's Hospital in south London, was struck off the medical register by the General Medical Council for fabricating evidence he reported