Editorial Policies

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Peer Review Process

Single-blind peer reviews (reviewers are blind and the authors are not).

 

Open Access Policy

This journal provides immediate open access to its content on the principle that making research freely available to the public supports a greater global exchange of knowledge.

 

Archiving

This journal utilizes the LOCKSS system to create a distributed archiving system among participating libraries and permits those libraries to create permanent archives of the journal for purposes of preservation and restoration. More...

 

Publication Ethics

CODE OF CONDUCT FOR JOURNAL PUBLISHERS

CODE OF CONDUCT AND BEST PRACTICE GUIDELINES FOR JOURNAL EDITORS

COPE ETHICAL GUIDELINES FOR PEER REVIEWERS

CODE OF CONDUCT AND BEST PRACTICE GUIDELINES FOR AUTHORS

These guidelines follow the guidelines of the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) and are available to use under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs license http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/.

CODE OF CONDUCT FOR JOURNAL PUBLISHERS

Publishers should:
•      Define the relationship between publisher, editor and other parties in a contract
•      Respect privacy (for example, for research participants, for authors, for peer reviewers)
•      Protect intellectual property and copyright
•      Foster editorial independence
Publishers should work with journal editors to:
•      Set journal policies appropriately and aim to meet those policies, particularly with respect to:
– Editorial independence
– Research ethics, including confidentiality, consent, and the special requirements for human and animal research
– Authorship
– Transparency and integrity (for example, conflicts of interest, research funding, reporting standards
– Peer review and the role of the editorial team beyond that of the journal editor
– Appeals and complaints
•      Communicate journal policies (for example, to authors, readers, peer reviewers)
•      Review journal policies periodically, particularly with respect to new recommendations from the COPE
•      Code of Conduct for Editors and the COPE Best Practice Guidelines
•      Maintain the integrity of the academic record
•      Assist the parties (for example, institutions, grant funders, governing bodies) responsible for the investigation of suspected research and publication misconduct and, where possible, facilitate in the resolution of these cases
•      Publish corrections, clarifications, and retractions
•      Publish content on a timely basis

CODE OF CONDUCT AND BEST PRACTICE GUIDELINES FOR JOURNAL EDITORS

1. General duties and responsibilities of editors
1.1. Editors should be accountable for everything published in their journals.
This means the editors should
1.2. strive to meet the needs of readers and authors;
1.3. strive to constantly improve their journal;
1.4. have processes in place to assure the quality of the material they publish;
1.5. champion freedom of expression;
1.6. maintain the integrity of the academic record;
1.7. preclude business needs from compromising intellectual and ethical standards;
1.8. always be willing to publish corrections, clarifications, retractions and apologies when needed.
Best practice for editors would include
· actively seeking the views of authors, readers, reviewers and editorial board members about ways of improving their journal’s processes
· encouraging and being aware of research into peer review and publishing and reassessing their journal’s processes in the light of new findings
· working to persuade their publisher to provide appropriate resources, guidance from experts (e.g. designers, lawyers)
· supporting initiatives designed to reduce research and publication misconduct
· supporting initiatives to educate researchers about publication ethics
· assessing the effects of their journal policies on author and reviewer behavior and revising policies, as required, to encourage responsible behavior and discourage misconduct
· ensuring that any press releases issued by their journal reflect the message of the reported article and put it into context
2. Relations with readers
2.1. 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.
Best practice for editors would include:
· ensuring that all published reports and reviews of research have been reviewed by suitably qualified reviewers (including statistical review where appropriate)
· ensuring that non-peer-reviewed sections of their journal are clearly identified
· adopting processes that encourage accuracy, completeness and clarity of research reporting including technical editing and the use of appropriate guidelines and checklists (e.g. MIAME,1 CONSORT2)
· considering developing a transparency policy to encourage maximum disclosure about the provenance of non-research articles3
· adopting authorship or contributorship systems that promote good practice (i.e. so that listings accurately reflect who did the work)4 and discourage misconduct (e.g. ghost and guest authors)
· informing readers about steps taken to ensure that submissions from members of the journal’s staff or editorial board receive an objective and unbiased evaluation

3. Relations with authors
3.1. 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. 3.2. Editors should not reverse decisions to accept submissions unless serious problems are identified with the submission.
3.3. New editors should not overturn decisions to publish submissions made by the previous editor unless serious problems are identified.
3.4. A description of peer review processes should be published, and editors should be ready to justify any important deviation from the described processes.
3.5. Journals should have a declared mechanism for authors to appeal against editorial decisions.
3.6. 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.
3.7. Editors should provide guidance about criteria for authorship and/or who should be listed as a contributor following the standards within the relevant field.
Best practice for editors would include:
· reviewing author instructions regularly and providing links to relevant guidelines (e.g. ICMJE5
, Responsible research publication: international standards for authors6)
· publishing relevant competing interests for all contributors and publishing corrections if competing interests are revealed after publication
· ensuring that appropriate reviewers are selected for submissions (i.e. individuals who are able to judge the work and are free from disqualifying competing interests)
· respecting requests from authors that an individual should not review their submission, if these are well-reasoned and practicable
· being guided by the COPE flowcharts (http://publicationethics.org/flowcharts) in cases of suspected misconduct or disputed authorship
· publishing details of how they handle cases of suspected misconduct (e.g. with links to the COPE flowcharts)
· publishing submission and acceptance dates for articles

4. Relations with reviewers
4.1. 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.
4.2. Editors should require reviewers to disclose any potential competing interests before agreeing to review a submission.
4.3. 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.
Best practice for editors would include:
· encouraging reviewers to comment on ethical questions and possible research and publication misconduct raised by submissions (e.g. unethical research design, insufficient detail on patient consent or protection of research subjects (including animals), inappropriate data manipulation and presentation)
· encouraging reviewers to comment on the originality of submissions and to be alert to redundant publication and plagiarism
· considering providing reviewers with tools to detect related publications (e.g. links to cited references and bibliographic searches)
· sending reviewers’ comments to authors in their entirety unless they contain offensive or libellous remarks
· seeking to acknowledge the contribution of reviewers to the journal
· encouraging academic institutions to recognize peer review activities as part of the scholarly process
· monitoring the performance of peer reviewers and taking steps to ensure this is of high standard
· developing and maintaining a database of suitable reviewers and updating this on the basis of reviewer performance
· ceasing to use reviewers who consistently produce discourteous, poor quality or late reviews
· ensuring that the reviewer database reflects the community for their journal and adding new reviewers as needed
· using a wide range of sources (not just personal contacts) to identify potential new reviewers (e.g. author suggestions, bibliographic databases)
· following the COPE flowchart in cases of suspected reviewer misconduct
5. Relations with editorial board members
5.1. Editors should provide new editorial board members with guidelines on everything that is expected of them and should keep existing members updated on new policies and developments.
Best practice for editors would include:
· having policies in place for handling submissions from editorial board members to ensure unbiased review
· identifying suitably qualified editorial board members who can actively contribute to the development and good management of the journal
· regularly reviewing the composition of the editorial board
— providing clear guidance to editorial board members about their expected functions and duties, which might include:
— acting as ambassadors for the journal
— supporting and promoting the journal
— seeking out the best authors and best work (e.g. from meeting abstracts) and actively encouraging submissions
— reviewing submissions to the journal
— accepting commissions to write editorials, reviews and commentaries on papers in their specialist area
— attending and contributing to editorial board meetings
· consulting editorial board members periodically (e.g. once a year) to gauge their opinions about the running of the journal, informing them of any changes to journal policies and identifying future challenges.

6. Relations with journal owners and publishers
6.1. The relationship of editors to publishers and owners is often complex but should be based firmly on the principle of editorial independence.
6.2. Editors should make decisions on which articles to publish based on quality and suitability for the journal and without interference from the journal owner/publisher.
6.3. Editors should have a written contract(s) setting out their relationship with the journal’s owner and/or publisher.
6.4. The terms of this contract should be in line with the COPE Code of Conduct for Journal Editors.
Best practice for editors would include:
· establishing mechanisms to handle disagreements between themselves and the journal owner/publisher with due process7
· communicating regularly with their journal’s owner and publisher
7. Editorial and peer review processes
7.1. Editors should strive to ensure that peer review at their journal is fair, unbiased and timely.
7.2. Editors should have systems to ensure that material submitted to their journal remains confidential while under review.
Best practice for editors would include:
· ensuring that people involved with the editorial process (including themselves) receive adequate training and keep abreast of the latest guidelines, recommendations and evidence about peer review and journal management
· keeping informed about research into peer review and technological advances
· adopting peer review methods best suited for their journal and the research community it serves
· reviewing peer review practices periodically to see if improvement is possible
· referring troubling cases to COPE, especially when questions arise that are not addressed by the COPE flowcharts, or new types of publication misconduct are suspected
· considering the appointment of an ombudsperson to adjudicate in complaints that cannot be resolved internally

8. Quality assurance
8.1. 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.
Best practice for editors would include:
· having systems in place to detect falsified data (e.g. inappropriately manipulated photographic images or plagiarised text) either for routine use or when suspicions are raised
· basing decisions about journal house style on relevant evidence of factors that raise the quality of reporting (e.g. adopting structured abstracts, applying guidance such as CONSORT2) rather than simply on aesthetic grounds or personal preference
9. Protecting individual data
9.1. 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 or professional interactions (e.g. between doctors and patients). 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). It may be possible to publish individual information without explicit consent if public interest considerations outweigh possible harms, it is impossible to obtain consent and a reasonable individual would be unlikely to object to publication.
Best practice for editors would include:
· publishing their policy on publishing individual data (e.g. identifiable personal details or images) and explaining this clearly to authors
Note that consent to take part in research or undergo treatment is not the same as consent to publish personal details, images or quotations.
10. Encouraging ethical research (e.g. research involving humans or animals)
10.1. Editors should endeavour to ensure that research they publish was carried out according to the relevant internationally accepted guidelines (e.g. the Declaration of Helsinki8 for clinical research, the AERA and BERA guidelines for educational research9-11).
10.2. Editors should seek assurances that all research has been approved by an appropriate body (e.g. research ethics committee, institutional review board) where one exists. However, editors should recognise that such approval does not guarantee that the research is ethical.

Best practice for editors would include:
· being prepared to request evidence of ethical research approval and to question authors about ethical aspects (such as how research participant consent was obtained or what methods were employed to minimize animal suffering) if concerns are raised or clarifications are needed
· ensuring that reports of clinical trials cite compliance with the Declaration of Helsinki8, Good Clinical Practice12 and other relevant guidelines to safeguard participants
· ensuring that reports of experiments on, or studies of, animals cite compliance with the US Department of Health and Human Services Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals13 or other relevant guidelines
· appointing a journal ethics advisor or panel to advise on specific cases and review journal policies periodically
11. Dealing with possible misconduct
11.1. 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.
11.2. Editors should not simply reject papers that raise concerns about possible misconduct. They are ethically obliged to pursue alleged cases.
11.3. Editors should follow the COPE flowcharts14 where applicable.
11.4. 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.
11.5. 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.
12. Ensuring the integrity of the academic record
12.1. Errors, inaccurate or misleading statements must be corrected promptly and with due prominence.
12.2. Editors should follow the COPE guidelines on retractions15.

Best practice for editors would include:
· taking steps to reduce covert redundant publication (e.g. by requiring all clinical trials to be registered)16
· ensuring that published material is securely archived (e.g. via online permanent repositories, such as PubMed Central)17
· having systems in place to give authors the opportunity to make original research articles freely available
13. Intellectual property
13.1. Editors should be alert to intellectual property issues and work with their publisher to handle potential breaches of intellectual property laws and conventions.
Best practice for editors would include:
· adopting systems for detecting plagiarism (e.g. software, searching for similar titles) in submitted items (either routinely or when suspicions are raised)
· supporting authors whose copyright has been breached or who have been the victims of plagiarism
· being prepared to work with their publisher to defend authors’ rights and pursue offenders (e.g. by requesting retractions or removal of material from websites) irrespective of whether their journal holds the copyright
14. Encouraging debate
14.1. Editors should encourage and be willing to consider cogent criticisms of work published in their journal.
14.2. Authors of criticised material should be given the opportunity to respond.
14.3. Studies reporting negative results should not be excluded.
Best practice for editors would include:
· being open to research that challenges previous work published in the journal
15. Complaints
15.1. Editors should respond promptly to complaints and should ensure there is a way for dissatisfied complainants to take complaints further. This mechanism should be made clear in the journal and should include information on how to refer unresolved matters to COPE.
15.2. Editors should follow the procedure set out in the COPE flowchart on complaints.

16. Commercial considerations
16.1. 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).
16.2. Editors should have declared policies on advertising in relation to the content of the journal and on processes for publishing sponsored supplements.
16.3. 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.
Best practice for editors would include:
· publishing a general description of their journal’s income sources (e.g. the proportions received from display advertising, reprint sales, sponsored supplements, page charges, etc.)
· ensuring that the peer review process for sponsored supplements is the same as that used for the main journal
· ensuring that items in sponsored supplements are accepted solely on the basis of academic merit and interest to readers and decisions about such supplements are not influenced by commercial considerations
17. Conflicts of interest
17.1. Editors should have systems for managing their own conflicts of interest as well as those of their staff, authors, reviewers and editorial board members.
17.2. Journals should have a declared process for handling submissions from the editors, employees or members of the editorial board to ensure unbiased review
Best practice for editors would include:
· publishing lists of relevant interests (financial, academic and other kinds) of all editorial staff and members of editorial boards (which should be updated at least annually)

COPE ETHICAL GUIDELINES FOR PEER REVIEWERS

Peer review in all its form plays an important role in ensuring the integrity of the scholarly record. The process depends to a large extent on trust, and requires that everyone involved behaves responsibly and ethically. Peer reviewers play a central and critical part in the peer-review process, but too often come to the role without any guidance and may be unaware of their ethical obligations. The COPE Ethical Guidelines for Peer Reviewers set out the basic principles and standards to which all peer reviewers should adhere during the peer-review process. It is hoped they will provide helpful guidance to researchers, be a reference for journals and editors in guiding their reviewers, and act as an educational resource for institutions in training their students and researchers.

Basic principles to which peer reviewers should adhere
Peer reviewers should:
•only agree to review manuscripts for which they have the subject expertise required to carry out a proper assessment and which they can assess in a timely manner
•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 journal 
•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
•declare all potential conflicting interests, seeking advice from the journal if they are unsure whether something constitutes a relevant interest
•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 
•be objective and constructive in their reviews, refraining from being hostile or inflammatory and from making libellous or derogatory personal comments
•acknowledge that peer review is largely a reciprocal endeavour and undertake to carry out their fair share of reviewing and in a timely manner
•provide journals with personal and professional information that is accurate and a true representation of their expertise
•recognize that impersonation of another individual during the review process is considered serious misconduct
Expectations during the peer-review process
On being approached to review
Peer reviewers should:
•respond in a reasonable time-frame, especially if they cannot do the review, and without intentional delay.
•declare if they do not have the subject expertise required to carry out the review or if they are able to assess only part of the manuscript, outlining clearly the areas for which they have the relevant expertise.
•only agree to review a manuscript if they are fairly confident they can return a review within the proposed or mutually agreed time-frame, informing the journal promptly if they require an extension.
•declare any potentially conflicting or competing interests (which may, for example, be personal, financial, intellectual, professional, political or religious), seeking advice from the journal if they are unsure whether something constitutes a relevant interest.
•follow journals’ policies on situations they consider to represent a conflict to reviewing. If no guidance is provided, they should inform the journal if: they work at the same institution as any of the authors (or will be joining that institution or are applying for a job there); they are or have been recent (e.g. within the past 3 years) mentors, mentees, close collaborators or joint grant holders; they have a close personal relationship with any of the authors.
•review afresh any manuscript they have previously reviewed for another journal as it may have changed between the two submissions and the journals’ criteria for evaluation and acceptance may be different.
•ensure suggestions for alternative reviewers are based on suitability and not influenced by personal considerations or made with the intention of the manuscript receiving a specific outcome (either positive or negative).
•not agree to review a manuscript just to gain sight of it with no intention of submitting a review.
•decline to review if they feel unable to provide a fair and unbiased review.
•decline to review if they have been involved with any of the work in the manuscript or its reporting. 
•decline to review if asked to review a manuscript that is very similar to one they have in preparation or under consideration at another journal.
•decline to review if they have issues with the peer-review model used by a journal (e.g. it uses open review and releases the reviewers’ names to the authors) that would either affect their review or cause it to be invalidated because of their inability to comply with the journal’s review policies
During review
Peer reviewers should:
•notify the journal immediately and seek advice if they discover either a conflicting interest that wasn’t apparent when they agreed to the review or anything that might prevent them providing a fair and unbiased review.
•refrain from looking at the manuscript and associated material while awaiting instructions from a journal on issues that might cause the request to review to be rescinded. 
•read the manuscript, ancillary material (e.g. reviewer instructions, required ethics and policy statements, supplemental data files) and journal instructions thoroughly, getting back to the journal if anything is not clear and requesting any missing or incomplete items they need to carry out a full review.
•notify the journal as soon as possible if they find they do not have the expertise to assess all aspects of the manuscript; they shouldn’t wait until submitting their review as this will unduly delay the review process.
•not involve anyone else in the review of a manuscript, including junior researchers they are mentoring, without first obtaining permission from the journal; the names of any individuals who have helped them with the review should be included with the returned review so that they are associated with the manuscript in the journal’s records and can also receive due credit for their efforts. 
•keep all manuscript and review details confidential. 
•contact the journal if circumstances arise that will prevent them from submitting a timely review, providing an accurate estimate of the time they will need to do a review if still asked to do so.
•in the case of double-blind review, if they suspect the identity of the author(s) notify the journal if this knowledge raises any potential conflict of interest.
•notify the journal immediately if they come across any irregularities, have concerns about ethical aspects of the work, are aware of substantial similarity between the manuscript and a concurrent submission to another journal or a published article, or suspect that misconduct may have occurred during either the research or the writing and submission of the manuscript; reviewers should, however, keep their concerns confidential and not personally investigate further unless the journal asks for further information or advice.
•not intentionally prolong the review process, either by delaying the submission of their review or by requesting unnecessary additional information from the journal or author.
•ensure their review is based on the merits of the work and not influenced, either positively or negatively, by any personal, financial, or other conflicting considerations or by intellectual biases.
•not contact the authors directly without the permission of the journal.
When preparing the report
Peer reviewers should:
•bear in mind that the editor is looking to them for subject knowledge, good judgement, and an honest and fair assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of the work and the manuscript.
•make clear at the start of their review if they have been asked to address only specific parts or aspects of a manuscript and indicate which these are.
•follow journals’ instructions on the specific feedback that is required of them and, unless there are good reasons not to, the way this should be organized.
•be objective and constructive in their reviews and provide feedback that will help the authors to improve their manuscript.
•not make derogatory personal comments or unfounded accusations.
•be specific in their criticisms, and provide evidence with appropriate references to substantiate general statements such as, ‘this work has been done before’, to help editors in their evaluation and decision and in fairness to the authors.
•remember it is the authors’ paper and not attempt to rewrite it to their own preferred style if it is basically sound and clear; suggestions for changes that improve clarity are, however, important.
•be aware of the sensitivities surrounding language issues that are due to the authors writing in a language that is not their own, and phrase the feedback appropriately and with due respect. 
•make clear which suggested additional investigations are essential to support claims made in the manuscript under consideration and which will just strengthen or extend the work.
•not prepare their report in such a way or include comments that suggest the review has been done by another person.
•not prepare their report in a way that reflects badly or unfairly on another person.
•not make unfair negative comments or include unjustified criticisms of any competitors’ work that is mentioned in the manuscript.
•ensure their comments and recommendations for the editor are consistent with their report for the authors; most feedback should be put in the report for the authors.
•confidential comments to the editor should not be a place for denigration or false accusation, done in the knowledge that the authors will not see these comments.
•not suggest that authors include citations to the reviewer’s (or their associates’) work merely to increase the reviewer’s (or their associates’) citation count or to enhance the visibility of their or their associates’ work; suggestions must be based on valid academic or technological reasons.
•determine whether the journal allows them to sign their reviews and, if it does, decide as they feel comfortable doing.
•if they are the editor handling a manuscript and decide themselves to provide a review of that manuscript, do this transparently and not under the guise of an anonymous review if the journal operates blind review; providing a review for a manuscript being handled by another editor at the journal can be treated as any other review.

Expectations post review
Peer reviewers should:
•continue to keep details of the manuscript and its review confidential.
•respond promptly if contacted by a journal about matters related to their review of a manuscript and provide the information required. 
•contact the journal if anything relevant comes to light after they have submitted their review that might affect their original feedback and recommendations.
•read the reviews from the other reviewers, if these are provided by the journal, to improve their own understanding of the topic or the decision reached.
•try to accommodate requests from journals to review revisions or resubmissions of manuscripts they have reviewed.

CODE OF CONDUCT AND BEST PRACTICE GUIDELINES FOR AUTHORS

1 Soundness and reliability
1.1 The research being reported should have been conducted in an ethical and responsible manner and follow all relevant legislation.
1.2 The research being reported should be sound and carefully executed.
1.3 Researchers should use appropriate methods of data analysis and display (and, if needed, seek and follow specialist advice on this).
1.4 Authors should take collective responsibility for their work and for the content of their publications. Researchers should check their publications carefully at all stages to ensure methods and findings are reported accurately. Authors should carefully check calculations, data presentations, typescripts/submissions and proofs.  
2 Honesty
2.1 Researchers should present their results honestly and without fabrication,
falsification or inappropriate data manipulation. Research images (e.g. micrographs, X-rays, pictures of electrophoresis gels) should not be modified in a misleading way.
2.2 Researchers should strive to describe their methods and to present their findings clearly and unambiguously. Researchers should follow applicable reporting guidelines. Publications should provide sufficient detail to permit experiments to be repeated by other researchers.
2.3 Reports of research should be complete. They should not omit inconvenient, inconsistent or inexplicable findings or results that do not support the authors’ or sponsors’ hypothesis or interpretation.
2.4 Research funders and sponsors should not be able to veto publication of findings that do not favour their product or position. Researchers should not enter agreements that permit the research sponsor to veto or control the publication of the findings (unless there are exceptional circumstances, such as research classified by governments because of security implications).
2.5 Authors should alert the editor promptly if they discover an error in any submitted, accepted or published work. Authors should cooperate with editors in issuing corrections or retractions when required.
2.6 Authors should represent the work of others accurately in citations and quotations.
2.7 Authors should not copy references from other publications if they have not
read the cited work.
3 Balance
3.1 New findings should be presented in the context of previous research. The work of others should be fairly represented. Scholarly reviews and syntheses of existing research should be complete, balanced, and should include findings regardless of whether they support the hypothesis or interpretation being proposed. Editorials or opinion pieces presenting a single viewpoint or argument should be clearly distinguished from scholarly reviews.
3.2 Study limitations should be addressed in publications.
4 Originality
4.1 Authors should adhere to publication requirements that submitted work is original and has not been published elsewhere in any language. Work should not be submitted concurrently to more than one publication unless the editors have agreed to co-publication. If articles are co-published this fact should be made clear to readers.
4.2 Applicable copyright laws and conventions should be followed. Copyright material (e.g. tables, figures or extensive quotations) should be reproduced only with appropriate permission and acknowledgement.
4.3 Relevant previous work and publications, both by other researchers and the authors’ own, should be properly acknowledged and referenced. The primary literature should be cited where possible.
4.4 Data, text, figures or ideas originated by other researchers should be properly acknowledged and should not be presented as if they were the authors’ own. Original wording taken directly from publications by other researchers should appear in quotation marks with the appropriate citations.
4.5 Authors should inform editors if findings have been published previously or if multiple reports or multiple analyses of a single data set are under consideration for publication elsewhere. Authors should provide copies of related publications or work submitted to other journals.
4.6 Multiple publications arising from a single research project should be clearly identified as such and the primary publication should be referenced. Translations and adaptations for different audiences should be clearly identified as such, should acknowledge the original source, and should respect relevant copyright conventions and permission requirements. If in doubt, authors should seek permission from the original publisher before republishing any work.
5 Transparency
5.1 All sources of research funding, including direct and indirect financial support, supply of equipment or materials, and other support (such as specialist statistical or writing assistance) should be disclosed.
5.2 Authors should disclose the role of the research funder(s) or sponsor (if any) in the research design, execution, analysis, interpretation and reporting.
5.3 Authors should disclose relevant financial and non-financial interests and relationships that might be considered likely to affect the interpretation of their findings or which editors, reviewers or readers might reasonably wish to know. This includes any relationship to the journal, for example if editors publish their own research in their own journal. In addition, authors should follow journal and institutional requirements for disclosing competing interests.
6 Appropriate authorship and acknowledgement
6.1 The research literature serves as a record not only of what has been discovered but also of who made the discovery. The authorship of research publications should therefore accurately reflect individuals’ contributions to the work and its reporting.
6.2 In cases where major contributors are listed as authors while those who made less substantial, or purely technical, contributions to the research or to the publication are listed in an acknowledgement section, the criteria for authorship and acknowledgement should be agreed at the start of the project. Ideally, authorship criteria within a particular field should be agreed, published and consistently applied by research institutions, professional and academic societies, and funders. While journal editors should publish and promote accepted authorship criteria appropriate to their field, they cannot be expected to adjudicate in authorship disputes. Responsibility for the correct attribution of authorship lies with authors themselves working under the guidance of their institution. Research institutions should promote and uphold fair and accepted standards of authorship and acknowledgement. When required, institutions should adjudicate in authorship disputes and should ensure that due process is followed.
6.3 Researchers should ensure that only those individuals who meet authorship criteria (i.e. made a substantial contribution to the work) are rewarded with authorship and that deserving authors are not omitted. Institutions and journal editors should encourage practices that prevent guest, gift, and ghost authorship.
6.4 All authors should agree to be listed and should approve the submitted and accepted versions of the publication. Any change to the author list should be approved by all authors including any who have been removed from the list. The corresponding author should act as a point of contact between the editor and the other authors and should keep co-authors informed and involve them in major decisions about the publication (e.g. responding to reviewers’ comments).
6.5 Authors should not use acknowledgements misleadingly to imply a contribution or endorsement by individuals who have not, in fact, been involved with the work or given an endorsement.
7 Accountability and responsibility
7.1 All authors should have read and be familiar with the reported work and should ensure that publications follow the principles set out in these guidelines. In most cases, authors will be expected to take joint responsibility for the integrity of the research and its reporting. However, if authors take responsibility only for certain aspects of the research and its reporting, this should be specified in the publication.
7.2 Authors should work with the editor or publisher to correct their work promptly if errors or omissions are discovered after publication.
7.3 Authors should abide by relevant conventions, requirements, and regulations to make materials, reagents, software or datasets available to other researchers who request them. Researchers, institutions, and funders should have clear policies for handling such requests. Authors must also follow relevant journal standards. While proper acknowledgement is expected, researchers should not demand authorship as a condition for sharing materials.
7.4 Authors should respond appropriately to post-publication comments and published correspondence. They should attempt to answer correspondents’ questions and supply clarification or additional details where needed.
8 Adherence to peer review and publication conventions
8.1 Authors should follow publishers’ requirements that work is not submitted to more than one publication for consideration at the same time.
8.2 Authors should inform the editor if they withdraw their work from review, or choose not to respond to reviewer comments after receiving a conditional acceptance.
8.3 Authors should respond to reviewers’ comments in a professional and timely manner.
8.4 Authors should respect publishers’ requests for press embargos and should not generally allow their findings to be reported in the press if they have been accepted for publication (but not yet published) in a scholarly publication. Authors and their institutions should liaise and cooperate with publishers to coordinate media activity (e.g. press releases and press conferences) around publication. Press releases should accurately reflect the work and should not include statements that go further than the research findings.
9 Responsible reporting of research involving humans or animals
9.1 Appropriate approval, licensing or registration should be obtained before the research begins and details should be provided in the report (e.g. Institutional Review Board, Research Ethics Committee approval, national licensing authorities for the use of animals).
9.2 If requested by editors, authors should supply evidence that reported research received the appropriate approval and was carried out ethically (e.g. copies of approvals, licences, participant consent forms).  
9.3 Researchers should not generally publish or share identifiable individual data collected in the course of research without specific consent from the individual (or their representative). Researchers should remember that many scholarly journals are now freely available on the internet, and should therefore be mindful of the risk of causing danger or upset to unintended readers (e.g. research participants or their families who recognise themselves from case studies, descriptions, images or pedigrees).
9.4 The appropriate statistical analyses should be determined at the start of the study and a data analysis plan for the prespecified outcomes should be prepared and followed. Secondary or post hoc analyses should be distinguished from primary analyses and those set out in the data analysis plan.  
9.5 Researchers should publish all meaningful research results that might contribute to understanding. In particular, there is an ethical responsibility to publish the findings of all clinical trials. The publication of unsuccessful studies or experiments that reject a hypothesis may help prevent others from wasting time and resources on similar projects. If findings from small studies and those that fail to reach statistically significant results can be combined to produce more useful information (e.g. by meta-analysis) then such findings should be published.
9.6 Authors should supply research protocols to journal editors if requested (e.g. for clinical trials) so that reviewers and editors can compare the research report to the protocol to check that it was carried out as planned and that no relevant details have been omitted. Researchers should follow relevant requirements for clinical trial registration and should include the trial registration number in all publications arising from the trial.



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