Publishing Ethics

Revoked parental consent

COPE Ethics Case

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COPE Ethics CaseIn this regular feature, we highlight an ethics dilemma from the searchable cases database operated by COPE, the Committee on Publication Ethics. In 2008, all Elsevier journals were enrolled in COPE so editors would have an alternative information resource when faced with research misconduct. The cases database contains details of, and advice given on, more than 500 cases and is just one of the many services COPE offers.

In this issue, we highlight a case in which parents contacted the authors and revoked consent that they had previously given.

Simply click on the link at the end of the article to find out what the COPE Forum advised.

Feel free to share your own thoughts in the Comments section below.


Case number 15-09 (anonymized)

Our journal publishes case reports describing the evaluation, diagnosis and treatment of unusual cases. Parents must provide written informed consent prior to manuscript submission. No cases are presented with unique identifiers and each is anonymized as much as possible.

A manuscript was submitted with written consent that was accepted for publication and assigned to an issue. Just before the issue was to be folioed, the parents contacted the authors and revoked consent. The journal was able to pull the article prior to publication. The editorial board is concerned about this happening again and what the course of action would be if consent is withdrawn from a case that has already been published.

Question(s) for the COPE Forum
* Once written consent is provided, can it be revoked?
* If the article was already published, what would be the reasonable course of action? Retraction?

Find out what COPE advised

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