The Committee on Publication Ethics, a body formed by journal editors concerned about research fraud, has launched a stinging attack on plans drawn up to tackle the problem, claiming they are "toothless" and "lack sufficient clout" to make any real difference.

The criticism is aimed at the Academy of Medical Sciences, an independent body of elected representatives, which has formulated the proposals.

In its 2002 report, released today (January 27), the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) argues the plans are flawed because they do not call for the establishment of an organization to investigate cases of alleged misconduct. An outline of the plans from Academy president Peter Lachmann is included in the report.

Instead, COPE says, the proposals rely too heavily on what it describes as the "trust culture" in medicine.

But the criticism has been strongly refuted by the Academy, which argues that its ideas have...

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