Misconduct in research: editors respond

BMJ 1997; 315 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.315.7102.201 (Published 26 July 1997) Cite this as: BMJ 1997;315:201

The Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) is formed

  1. Richard Smith
  1. Editor, BMJ

    Misconduct in research momentarily rose high up the agenda of the British medical community after Malcolm Pearce, an obstetrician and gynaecologist, was found in 1995 to have forged a series of papers.1 The case made the front pages of the newspapers and led to the downfall of a president of a royal college. Despite calls for action on research misconduct,2 3 the issue has not been tackled. Now Britain has another high profile case,4 and perhaps the profession will be awakened from its torpor. In the meantime, editors—who are regularly confronted by cases of possible misconduct—have decided to help themselves. We have set up the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE).

    Last week John Anderton, a consultant physician in Edinburgh and former registrar and secretary of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh, was struck off by the General Medical Council (GMC), which regulates medical practitioners in Britain, for faking data in a clinical trial (p 205).4 The misconduct came to light because of an investigation by a pharmaceutical company, Pfizer, for which he was conducting the research. The company was helped by the private …

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