Ethical Policy

Best practice guidelines on publication ethics for authors, reviewers, and editors.

We are committed to upholding the highest standards of quality in all our publications. As such, we have adopted the Committee on Publication Ethics’ (COPE) guidelines for ethical publishing for our authors, reviewers, and editors. Moreover, as part of our commitment to protecting the integrity of the scholarly record, we are following COPE’s guidelines to help us prevent misconduct and resolve any issues related, but not limited to, authorship disputes, plagiarism, conflicts of interest, falsification and fabrication of data, unethical experimentation, and inadequate subject consent. COPE is a forum for editors and publishers of peer reviewed publications to discuss all aspects of publication ethics, as well as cases of research and publication misconduct.

Ethical guidelines for authors (Wager & Kleinert, 2011a)

  • The research being reported should have been conducted in an ethical and responsible manner and should comply with all relevant legislation.
  • Researchers should present their results clearly, honestly, and without fabrication, falsification or inappropriate data manipulation.
  • Researchers should strive to describe their methods clearly and unambiguously so that their findings can be confirmed by others.
  • Researchers should adhere to publication requirements that submitted work is original, is not plagiarised, and has not been published elsewhere.
  • Authors should take collective responsibility for submitted and published work.
  • The authorship of research publications should accurately reflect individuals’ contributions to the work and its reporting.
  • Funding sources and relevant conflicts of interest should be disclosed.

Ethical guidelines for peer reviewers (Hames, 2013)

  • Peer reviewers should only agree to review manuscripts for which they have the subject expertise required to.
  • Peer reviewers should carry out a proper assessment and which they can assess in a timely manner.
  • Peer reviewers should respect the confidentiality of peer review and not reveal any details of a manuscript or its review, during or after the peer-review process, beyond those that are released by the publisher.
  • Peer reviewers should not use information obtained during the peer-review process for their own or any other person’s or organization’s advantage, or to disadvantage or discredit others.
  • Peer reviewers should declare all potential conflicting interests, seeking advice from the editorial team if they are unsure whether something constitutes a relevant interest.
  • Peer reviewers should not allow their reviews to be influenced by the origins of a manuscript, by the nationality, religious or political beliefs, gender or other characteristics of the authors, or by commercial considerations.
  • Peer reviewers should be objective and constructive in their reviews, refraining from being hostile or inflammatory and from making libellous or derogatory personal comments.
  • Peer reviewers should acknowledge that peer review is largely a reciprocal endeavour and undertake to carry out their fair share of reviewing and in a timely manner.
  • Peer reviewers should provide the editorial team with personal and professional information that is accurate and a true representation of their expertise.
  • Peer reviewers should recognize that impersonation of another individual during the review process is considered serious misconduct.

Ethical guidelines for editors (Wager & Kleinert, 2011b)

  • Editors are accountable and should take responsibility for everything they publish.
  • Editors should make fair and unbiased decisions independent from commercial consideration and ensure a fair and appropriate peer review process.
  • Editors should adopt editorial policies that encourage maximum transparency and complete, honest reporting.
  • Editors should guard the integrity of the published record by issuing corrections and retractions when needed and pursuing suspected or alleged research and publication misconduct.
  • Editors should pursue reviewer and editorial misconduct.
  • Editors should critically assess the ethical conduct of studies.
  • Peer reviewers and authors should be told what is expected of them.
  • Editors should have appropriate policies in place for handling editorial conflicts of interest.

References

Hames, I. (2013). COPE Ethical Guidelines for Peer Reviewers; on behalf of COPE Council. Committee on Publication Ethics. (http://publicationethics.org/files/Peer%20review%20guidelines_0.pdf)

Wager, E., & Kleinert, S. (2011a). Responsible research publication: international standards for authors. A position statement developed at the 2nd World Conference on Research Integrity, Singapore, July 22-24, 2010. In T. Mayer & N. Steneck (Eds), Promoting Research Integrity in a Global Environment (pp. 309-316). Singapore: Imperial College Press / World Scientific Publishing.

Wager, E., & Kleinert, S. (2011b). Responsible research publication: international standards for editors. A position statement developed at the 2nd World Conference on Research Integrity, Singapore, July 22-24, 2010. In T. Mayer & N. Steneck (Eds), Promoting Research Integrity in a Global Environment (pp. 317-328). Singapore: Imperial College Press / World Scientific Publishing.

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