Publication Ethics

The journal adheres strongly to the guidelines of the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE). Please find a shortened version below, for the complete version click here

CODE OF CONDUCT AND BEST PRACTICE GUIDELINES FOR JOURNAL EDITORS (Shortened Version)

General duties and responsibilities of editors

Editors should be accountable for everything published in their journals. This means the editors should: strive to meet the needs of readers and authors; strive to constantly improve their journal; have processes in place to assure the quality of the material they publish; champion freedom of expression; maintain the integrity of the academic record; preclude business needs from compromising intellectual and ethical standards; always be willing to publish corrections, clarifications, retractions and apologies when needed.

Relations with readers

Readers should be informed about who has funded research or other scholarly work and whether the funders had any role in the research and its publication and, if so, what this was.

Relations with authors

Editors’ decisions to accept or reject a paper for publication should be based on the paper’s importance, originality and clarity, and the study’s validity and its relevance to the remit of the journal. Editors should not reverse decisions to accept submissions unless serious problems are identified with the submission. New editors should not overturn decisions to publish submissions made by the previous editor unless serious problems are identified. A description of peer review processes should be published, and editors should be ready to justify any important deviation from the described processes. Journals should have a declared mechanism for authors to appeal against editorial decisions. Editors should publish guidance to authors on everything that is expected of them. This guidance should be regularly updated and should refer or link to this code. Editors should provide guidance about criteria for authorship and/or who should be listed as a contributor following the standards within the relevant field.

Relations with reviewers

Editors should provide guidance to reviewers on everything that is expected of them including the need to handle submitted material in confidence. This guidance should be regularly updated and should refer or link to this code. Editors should require reviewers to disclose any potential competing interests before agreeing to review a submission. Editors should have systems to ensure that peer reviewers’ identities are protected unless they use an open review system that is declared to authors and reviewers.

Editorial and peer review processes

Editors should strive to ensure that peer review at their journal is fair, unbiased and timely. Editors should have systems to ensure that material submitted to their journal remains confidential while under review. Editors should take all reasonable steps to ensure the quality of the material they publish, recognising that journals and sections within journals will have different aims and standards.

Protecting individual data

Editors must obey laws on confidentiality in their own jurisdiction. Regardless of local statutes, however, they should always protect the confidentiality of individual information obtained in the course of research. It is therefore almost always necessary to obtain written informed consent for publication from people who might recognise themselves or be identified by others (e.g. from case reports or photographs).

Dealing with possible misconduct

Editors have a duty to act if they suspect misconduct or if an allegation of misconduct is brought to them. This duty extends to both published and unpublished papers. Editors should not simply reject papers that raise concerns about possible misconduct. They are ethically obliged to pursue alleged cases. […] Editors should first seek a response from those suspected of misconduct. If they are not satisfied with the response, they should ask the relevant employers, or institution, or some appropriate body (perhaps a regulatory body or national research integrity organization) to investigate. Editors should make all reasonable efforts to ensure that a proper investigation into alleged misconduct is conducted; if this does not happen, editors should make all reasonable attempts to persist in obtaining a resolution to the problem. This is an onerous but important duty.

Intellectual property

Editors should be alert to intellectual property issues and work with their publisher to handle potential breaches of intellectual property laws and conventions.

Encouraging debate

Editors should encourage and be willing to consider cogent criticisms of work published in their journal. Authors of criticised material should be given the opportunity to respond. Studies reporting negative results should not be excluded.

Commercial considerations

Journals should have policies and systems in place to ensure that commercial considerations do not affect editorial decisions (e.g. advertising departments should operate independently from editorial departments). Editors should have declared policies on advertising in relation to the content of the journal and on processes for publishing sponsored supplements. Reprints should be published as they appear in the journal unless a correction needs to be included in which case it should be clearly identified.

Conflicts of interest

Editors should have systems for managing their own conflicts of interest as well as those of their staff, authors, reviewers and editorial board members. Journals should have a declared process for handling submissions from the editors, employees or members of the editorial board to ensure unbiased review.