The following text, which is posted on this thread in 4 parts, was forwarded to me by an advocate who wishes to remain anonymous. The words are theirs, not mine. Each part will be posted in a new comment window for ease of reading. ***** What is COPE, and have recent changes made it no longer fit for purpose? (by Anon advocate) Part One [For those who don’t know, COPE stands for the ‘Committee on Publication Ethics’. It was set up in 1997 https://publicationethics.org/about/history and it’s co-founders were Michael Farthing (then Editor of Gut journal), Richard Horton ( Editor-in-chief of the Lancet, then and now) and Richard Smith (then Editor of the BMJ). It has expanded since 1997 to become a global overseer and advisor in the realm of research ethics with now over 12,000 members, the majority of whom are journals/ editors but include others with an interest in the field of publication ethics. Membership of COPE by journals and their editors indicates a determination to abide by the guidelines on research ethics that COPE sets out, so journals that display their COPE membership are, in effect, demonstrating to their readership that this is their noble aim ....... COPE membership, in effect, affords them ethical credibility. Past COPE Council members include Fiona Godlee (Editor in chief BMJ ) – Chair, 2004-2006, and Trish Groves (now Editor in Chief BMJ Open ) – Council Member 2007-2010, to name just a couple.] COPE doesn’t promise (and historically hasn’t promised) to investigate individual cases on behalf of outside complainants, it seems to work more as an advisory body, giving general advice to its members on good ethical practice and procedures, and also as a talking shop, where individual ethical cases can be discussed at COPE Forum meetings BUT ONLY between COPE members and in an anonymized form. One can see how this anonymity of cases could theoretically be helpful and lead to satisfactory outcomes, especially in our current world that is awash with social media interactions and blogs and all the manifestations of free speech via the internet. By not getting embroiled in the detail and potential acrimony (media storm even) of identifiable individual cases, by occupying the higher ground, COPE can theoretically maintain the neutrality it needs and ensure that the advice and direction it gives is fair all round. They can act as observers, and take on board everything that the sometimes complicated and testing ethical cases entail, whilst remaining completely impartial. Their anonymized approach is ideally tailored to cope with all the problems that our modern world could throw at it….. well you would think. But in November 2017 COPE changed the way in which it deals with its complaint procedures. More about this in Part 2.