Ethical standards for publication exist to ensure high-quality scientific publications, public trust in scientific findings, and that people receive credit for their ideas. [email protected] is a member of the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) and abides by its Code of Conduct and aims to adhere to its Best Practice Guidelines.
All manuscripts are subject to peer review and are expected to meet standards of academic excellence. If approved by the editor, submissions will be considered by peer-reviewers, whose identities will remain anonymous to the authors.
Our Research Integrity team will occasionally seek advice outside standard peer review, for example, on submissions with serious ethical, security, biosecurity, or societal implications. We may consult experts and the academic editor before deciding on appropriate actions, including but not limited to recruiting reviewers with specific expertise, assessment by additional editors, and declining to further consider a submission.
All journals published by [email protected] are committed to publishing only original material, i.e., material that has neither been published elsewhere, nor is under review elsewhere. [email protected] as a participant of CrossCheck uses the iThenticate software to detect instances of overlapping and similar text in submitted manuscripts. Manuscripts that are found to have been plagiarized from a manuscript by other authors, whether published or unpublished, will incur plagiarism sanctions.
Manuscripts that are found to have been published elsewhere, or to be under review elsewhere, will incur duplicate submission/publication sanctions. If authors have used their own previously published work, or work that is currently under review, as the basis for a submitted manuscript, they are required to cite the previous work and indicate how their submitted manuscript offers novel contributions beyond those of the previous work.
Submitted manuscripts that are found to include citations whose primary purpose is to increase the number of citations to a given author’s work, or to articles published in a particular journal, will incur citation manipulation sanctions.
Data Fabrication and Falsification
Submitted manuscripts that are found to have either fabricated or falsified experimental results, including the manipulation of images, will incur data fabrication and falsification sanctions.
Improper Author Contribution or Attribution
All listed authors must have made a significant scientific contribution to the research in the manuscript and approved all its claims. It is important to list everyone who made a significant scientific contribution, including students and laboratory technicians.
Redundant publications involve the inappropriate division of study outcomes into several articles.
Conflicts of Interest
Conflicts of interest (COIs, also known as ‘competing interests’) occur when issues outside research could be reasonably perceived to affect the neutrality or objectivity of the work or its assessment. Potential conflicts of interest must be declared—whether or not they actually had an influence—to allow informed decisions. In most cases, this declaration will not stop work from being published nor will it always prevent someone from being involved in a review process.
If unsure, declare a potential interest or discuss with the editorial office. Undeclared interests may incur sanctions. Submissions with undeclared conflicts that are later revealed may be rejected. Published articles may need to be re-assessed, have a corrigendum published, or in serious cases be retracted. For more information on COIs, see the guidance from the ICMJE and WAME.
Conflicts include the following:
- Financial—funding and other payments, goods and services received or expected by the authors relating to the subject of the work or from an organization with an interest in the outcome of the work
- Affiliations—being employed by, on the advisory board for, or a member of an organization with an interest in the outcome of the work
- Intellectual property—patents or trademarks owned by someone or their organization
- Personal—friends, family, relationships, and other close personal connections
- Ideology—beliefs or activism, for example, political or religious, relevant to the work
- Academic—competitors or someone whose work is critiqued
Authors must declare all potential interests in a ‘Conflicts of interest’ section, which should explain why the interest may be a conflict. If there are none, the authors should state “The author(s) declare(s) that there are no conflicts of interest regarding the publication of this paper.” Submitting authors are responsible for coauthors declaring their interests.
Authors must declare current or recent funding (including article processing charges) and other payments, goods or services that might influence the work. All funding, whether a conflict or not, must be declared in the ‘Acknowledgments’.
The involvement of anyone other than the authors who 1) has an interest in the outcome of the work; 2) is affiliated to an organization with such an interest; or 3) was employed or paid by a funder, in the commissioning, conception, planning, design, conduct, or analysis of the work, the preparation or editing of the manuscript, or the decision to publish must be declared.
Declared conflicts of interest will be considered by the editor and reviewers and included in the published article.
Editors and Reviewers
Editors and reviewers should decline to be involved with a submission when they
- Have a recent publication or current submission with any author
- Share or recently shared an affiliation with any author
- Collaborate or recently collaborated with any author
- Have a close personal connection to any author
- Have a financial interest in the subject of the work
- Feel unable to be objective
Reviewers must declare any remaining interests in the ‘Confidential’ section of the review form, which will be considered by the editor.
Editors and reviewers must declare if they have previously discussed the manuscript with the authors.
In the event that there are documented violations of any of the above mentioned policies in any journal, regardless of whether or not the violations occurred in a journal published by [email protected], the following sanctions will be applied:
- Immediate rejection of the infringing manuscript
- Immediate rejection of every other manuscript submitted to any journal published by [email protected] by any of the authors of the infringing manuscript
- Prohibition against all of the authors for any new submissions to any journal published by [email protected], either individually or in combination with other authors of the infringing manuscript, as well as in combination with any other authors. This prohibition will be imposed for a minimum of 36 months
- Prohibition against all of the authors from serving on the Editorial Board of any journal published by [email protected]
In cases where the violations of the above policies are found to be particularly egregious, the publisher reserves the right to impose additional sanctions beyond those described above.