Cyberbullying in the publishing industry

The article in Retraction Watch on March 23, 2017 written by Virginia Barbour, the current chairperson of COPE (Committee on Publication Ethics) points out a number of concerning events that editors and publishers need to watch.  In the piece she describes the cyberbullying that occurred in relation to a complaint sent to COPE about a manuscript issue.  This escalated to serious and upsetting levels that all of COPE leadership watched and tried to intervene in supporting Dr. Barbour.  It raises issues that could be of concern to nursing editors, namely that we are all vulnerable to email attacks and the incivility that can characterize communications that are lawless and without moral compass.  All journal editors receive complaints, but we should all have a process to deal with complaints and disputes. What would you do if you found your editorial role, your journal, your personal life, under attack from a faceless individual that would go to great lengths to discredit your work?  Despite our processes at COPE, the complaints about articles, authors, data, and interpretations, escalated into ad hominem attacks on the people at COPE, most notably Dr. Barbour.  The article in Retraction Watch was her response to this attack that has occurred over the past year.

Peggy Chinn, Leslie Nicoll, and Charon Pierson (also an officer at COPE) began discussing these issues in relation to the Retraction Watch article.  We believe that the wider INANE group needs to start a dialogue around these issues, protecting the editor role and journal integrity, and acknowledging that while nursing is somewhat insulated from these intense cyberattacks, they could occur.  I invite you to begin this discussion, which will continue in Denver in August at our meeting.  I’m giving much thought to these issues as I begin a three year term as the co-chairperson of COPE with Chris Graf, a Wiley publisher in the UK.  I would like us to continue this dialogue!

 

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