Publication Ethics

About Publishing Ethics can be found in the Publishing Ethics Resource Kit (PERK) (Elsevier).

Duties of Authors

1. Reporting standards: Authors of reports of original research should present an accurate account of the work performed as well as an objective discussion of its significance.

2. Data access and retention: Authors may be asked to provide the raw data in connection with a paper for editorial review, and should be prepared to provide of the work of others must always be given.

3. Originality and plagiarism: The authors should ensure that they have written entirely original works, and if the authors have used the work and/or words of others, that this has been appropriately cited or quoted.

4. Multiple, redundant or concurrent publication: An author should not in general publish manuscripts describing essentially the same research in more than one journal or primary publication.

About Guidance to Ethical Editing for Editors can be found in the Commettee on Publication Ethics (COPE). The synopsis of guidance to Ethical Editing for Editors adopted from COPE (in relation with authors, reviewers, other editors, publisher, and the others) is as below. (

1.  Initial assessment of journal when editors take over

The COPE Audit tool is used to help editors identify areas of their journal’s policy, processes or practice that require attention and may need to be revised so that they adhere to the COPE Code of Conduct  and Best Practice Guidelines on publication ethics. The COPE Audit is used in conjunction with the publisher and journal manager.

2.  Relations with the outgoing editor

The editors should allow the outgoing editor to complete submissions they started dealing with. The editors should not overturn the previous editor’s acceptance decisions unless serious problems are identified such as plagiarism or data fabrication.

3.  Relations with the other editors/editorial board

The editor-in-chief will be expected to work with a team of co-editors. When an editor is appointed, it is a good opportunity to review and confirm the roles and responsibilities of all editors and editorial staff so that everybody is clear about who does what.

4.  Relations with authors

The instructions to authors will need reviewing to ensure they are up to date with current guidelines. They should clearly state what is expected of authors and what the editor will do in cases of suspected misconduct such as plagiarism or data fabrication.  In the submission system editors may wish to provide a check list of what is expected from authors to maintain standards of manuscripts. Editors are responsible for everything they publish and should therefore take all reasonable steps to ensure the quality of this material, recognising that journals and sections within journals will have specific aims and standards. Editors’ decisions to accept or reject a paper for publication should be based only on the paper’s importance, originality, and clarity, and the study’s relevance to the remit of the journal.

5.  Transparency

Editors should work with the journal publisher/editorial office to agree processes for handling submissions that are the most efficient and appropriate for the journal.  Electronic submission systems are designed to ensure authors provide all required information (eg authorship declarations, funding information), but this should be balanced against the need to avoid over-complex submission systems which may be off putting. It may be helpful to require all elements are complete before a manuscript will be sent for peer review (since chasing details at a later stage can delay publication and upset schedules). Journals should adopt and promote an authorship policy that is appropriate to the field of research. Editors should adopt systems to encourage appropriate authorship and discourage guest and ghost authors.

6.  The submission system

Electronic submissions usually include standard communications to authors, reviewers and other editors. If these are specific to the journal (rather than used throughout the publisher) editors should review them to ensure that they reflect current practices, are consistent with the Instructions to Authors, and are clear. Getting standard letters reviewed by other editors, editorial staff or a language editor may also help improve them and ensure they are clear.

7.  Relationship with reviewers

Editors should provide guidance to reviewers on everything that is expected of them. This guidance should be regularly updated and should refer or link to the COPE Code of Conduct and Best Practice Guidelines. Editors should consider including the following points:

Reviews should be conducted objectively.

Personal criticism of the author is inappropriate.

Reviewers should express their views clearly with supporting arguments and references as necessary and not be defamatory or libellous.

Reviewers should declare any competing interests.

Reviewers should decline to review manuscripts in which they have conflicts of interest resulting from competitive, collaborative, or other relationships or connections with any of the authors, companies, or institutions connected to the papers.

Reviewers should respect the confidentiality of material supplied to them and should not discuss unpublished manuscripts with colleagues or use the information in their own work.

If a reviewer wants to pass a review request onto a colleague, they should get the editor’s permission beforehand.

Journals should have systems for assessing the performance of reviewers and removing from the database those whose performance is not acceptable. Editors should have systems to ensure that peer reviewers’ identities are protected - unless they have an open review system that is declared to authors and reviewers. Reviewers should be asked to address ethical aspects of the submission such as:

Has the author published this research before?

Has the author plagiarised another publication?

Is the research ethical and have the appropriate approvals/consent been obtained?

Is there any indication that the data has been fabricated or inappropriately manipulated?

Have the authors declared all relevant competing interests?

8.  The peer-review process

Editors should adopt a peer-review process that is appropriate for their journal/field of work and resources/systems available. Editors should think about the number of reviewers used, whether review is anonymous or signed, whether author names and affiliations are masked, and whether reviewers complete checklists/forms. Editors should have systems to ensure that material submitted to their journal remains confidential while under review. They should also ensure that peer review is undertaken in a timely fashion so that authors do not experience undue delays. This will usually involve monitoring the process regularly and trying to increase efficiency and prevent delays.

9.  About editors publish in their own journal

Editors should not be denied the ability to publish in their own journal, but they must not exploit their position. The journal must have a procedure for handling submissions from the editor or members of the editorial board that ensures that peer review is handled independently of the author/editor. This process should be detailed once the paper is published.

10. Editorial independence/relation with publisher/journal owner (eg academic/professional society)

The relationship of editors to publishers and journal owners is often complex but should always be based on the principle of editorial independence. Not with standing the economic and political realities of their journals, editors should select submissions on the basis of their quality and suitability for readers rather than for immediate financial, political  or personal  gain.

11. Responding to possible misconduct/inappropriate behaviour and dealing with complaints

The COPE Code of Conduct  states  that  editors  have a responsibility for pursuing cases of suspected misconduct even in submissions they do not intend to publish. It is important that editors act politely, fairly but firmly at all times.

If editors  have concerns about plagiarism, data fabrication, or an authorship dispute you should (if possible) involve other editors (preferably the one who was involved directly in dealing with the manuscript) and inform the publisher. It is essential to handle serious cases appropriately because they may have important implications for the individuals involved and may even have legal and financial implications for the journal. Editors should always be willing to publish corrections, clarifications, retractions (with COPE guidance on retraction) and apologies when needed. Prompt retraction of a seriously flawed article should not be viewed as an admission of failure on the part of the journal but as a responsible action to safeguard the academic record.