MET workshops

Preparing researchers to deal with publication ethics issues: how can we help?


Getting published is becoming more challenging daily for researchers as journals pile on new rules and requirements that researchers may overlook or misunderstand. A further challenge for authors is the inconsistent implementation of ethics-related policies by some journal publishers and editors. In addition, authors may face unfounded rejection because of editorial mishandling – a particularly distressing situation for early-career researchers and those having English as an additional language. To succeed in the publication game, many authors need education and training in writing and publication skills, yet institutions often fail to provide this support. Making matters worse is the publish-or-perish regimen, which can lead to pressure to cut corners in order to accelerate publication. This workshop will prepare language, editing and communication professionals to respond constructively to requests for advice on ethics-related issues that can be a barrier to publication for authors who are unsure how to deal with them. By expanding our own knowledge and skill set beyond language and editing support, we can offer additional services by educating clients about publication ethics and helping them to stay out of trouble, or to defend themselves against unjustified accusations of unacceptable behaviour. 

Developer and facilitator: Karen Shashok 

Purpose: This workshop aims to prepare colleagues to help their own clients effectively, and to feel more confident about offering a type of consultancy or advisory service that goes beyond translation, author editing and other communication-related work. 

Description: Participants will hear about research publication ethics guidelines and recommendations, see examples of recommendations and the consequences of non-compliance, and study cases of publication ethics problems triggered by authors as well as by journal editors and publishers. They will be able to share experiences in dealing with instances of problematic practices. 

Structure: 
- Brief introductions. Participants will be asked to say what disciplines they work in, and whether clients have asked them for guidance to resolve writing or publication ethics issues. 
- Overview of 
  1. issues researchers face, e.g. desk rejection of manuscripts for different reasons, errors discovered after publication, and untrustworthy (predatory, illegitimate) journals 
  2. reasons why issues arise, e.g. errors by authors, unhelpful reviewers, editorial mis-handling, insufficient education and training, confusing or complex instructions to authors, editorial incompetence, and pressure from senior co-authors 
  3. potential negative consequences for researchers, e.g. frustration, wasted time, manuscript rejection, article retraction, reputational damage
- Description of sample cases from published sources
- Group discussion of pros and cons of the resolution of sample cases
- Group review of hypothetical cases and discussion to identify ways in which participants could help authors
- Brief discussion of “what if?” issues which participants are likely to be unable to help resolve (e.g. authorship issues, interpersonal conflicts or poor communication in the authors’ setting, intentional research or publication misconduct), and how to handle requests for help in these areas. Key questions: To whom are we accountable? Where do our responsibility and authority end? 
- Recap of case resolutions to identify take-home advice for participants
- Brief recap of useful resources for further guidance
- Brief question-and-answer time

Who should attend? Translators, authors’ editors and others (both in-house and freelance) who work closely with researchers and would like to help them learn more about publication ethics and how to deal with questionable decisions by colleagues, journal editors, reviewers or publishers 

Outcome skills: 
  • How to provide useful guidance to authors who request help with different publication ethics issues 
  • How to decide whether you can help resolve an issue or whether it may be better to refer the enquirer to other sources of guidance 
  • Where to locate useful publication ethics guidelines and reference documents 

Pre-workshop information: Participants will be invited to contribute appropriately anonymized cases from their own experience in advance so that their case descriptions can be summarized and added to the workshop handout. Before the workshop, participants will be sent a short list of websites (ICMJE, COPE, Retraction Watch, etc.) they should become familiar with. 

About the facilitator: Karen Shashok has been a freelance translator and editorial consultant since the mid-1980s. She has written about translation, author editing, peer review and editorial ethics, and has provided training for researchers and editors in Spain, the Eastern Mediterranean region and South America. As a member of professional development organizations for journal editors, she has tried to bring the perspective of researchers and editors from emerging and resource-limited research communities to the attention of western English-speaking gatekeepers and experts in research ethics. For links to some of her publications see https://orcid.org/0000-0002-2506-1390