PUBLISHING ETHICS

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RESPONSIBILITIES OF AUTHORS

Authors are encouraged to comply with the following requirements of good scientific practice.

Multiple or redundant publication

Authors should avoid submitting the same manuscript to more than one journal. In addition, authors should refrain from submitting a manuscript which is either a partial or a full copy of previously published material to avoid self-plagiarism. Exceptions to this rule can be applied in cases when a new work provides an expansion of previously published work. Also, when a paper was presented in form of an abstract or part of a published lecture, thesis or handbook for students, the authors can submit a manuscript based on those materials.

Research that consists of multiple studies should not be split up into several parts in order to increase the quantity of submitted manuscripts. In cases the data from a manuscript partially overlap with other publications of the authors, they are required to acknowledge this in their text, and offer a reasonable explanation for how the current work contributes to knowledge in the field.

Originality

The authors should ensure that their work is entirely original and that no data, text, or theories by others are presented without acknowledging the source as a reference in the paper. Proper acknowledgement includes citing the publications that have influenced the reported work, using quotation marks when copying material word for word, and securing permissions for using copyrighted material. Any form of plagiarism (from copying an article and presenting it as the author’s own paper to copying significant parts of another author’s work without properly citing it) constitutes a form of unethical behavior and it is unacceptable.

Reporting standards and data access

Authors should present an accurate description of their work, with no fabricated or manipulated data in order to support their hypotheses. Considering this, authors should consider uploading their data files on data storage platforms in order to provide access to their work. Also, all manuscripts should include sufficient details and references to allow other researchers to replicate their work.

Authorship

Authorship should reflect the contribution to the conception, design, execution and/or interpretation of the data from the reported study. All authors with a significant contribution should be acknowledged as authors, and in cases in which others significantly contributed in a certain aspect related to the paper, they should be recognized in the acknowledgement section. The corresponding author should make sure that all co-authors have seen and approved the final version of the paper before its submission. All persons listed as authors share the responsibility for the accuracy of the information presented in the manuscript.

Authors are advised to consider carefully the list and/or order of authors before submitting their work. Any changes of the authorship (addition, deletion or rearrangement of authors), after the manuscript was submitted must be signaled to the Editor with an explanation regarding the request (all authors must agree with the change).

Compliance with ethical standards

All submissions should comply with the following ethical standards:

  • Disclosure of potential conflicts of interest. Conflict of interest is defined as a divergence between personal interests (competing interests) and responsibilities of scientific and publishing activities, in which the latter might be influenced by competing interests. Conflict of interest could arise from: employment or consultancy fees, stock ownership, paid testimony, patent registration, grants, or other funding sources. Such conflicts of interest should be disclosed, and the authors should present the influence of sponsors in the study design, data collection and interpretation of the findings (if no such involvement existed, than this should be specified).
  • Research involving human and/or animal participants. Research involving human and animal subjects should be conducted in compliance with relevant institutional guidelines, and authors are required to have obtained ethical approval for their study from an appropriate institutional committee. Authors should ensure that all work with human participants was carried out according to The Code of Ethics of the World Medical Association (Declaration of Helsinki) for experiments involving humans (https://www.wma.net/policies-post/wma-declaration-of-helsinki-ethical-principles-for-medical-research-involving-human-subjects). All animal experiments should be carried out in compliance with either the EU Directive 2010/63/EU on the protection of animals used for scientific purposes (http://ec.europa.eu/environment/chemicals/lab_animals/legislation_en.htm), or the U.S. Public Health Service Policy on Humane Care and Use of Laboratory Animals (https://grants.nih.gov/grants/olaw/references/phspolicylabanimals.pdf).
  • Informed consent. Informed consent should be obtained prior to the inclusion in the study and authors should include in their manuscript a statement regarding the procedure for obtaining participants’ informed consent. All identifying details such as names, dates of birth, and other identity information should not be published in writing or as photographs, unless the information is relevant for scientific purposes and the participant (or parent/guardian) gave written informed consent for disclosing personal information. 

Notification of errors

When an author discovers a significant inaccuracy in their own published work, the author has the obligation to notify the journal’s editor. In such circumstances, depending on the inaccuracy the editor will either decide to publish acorrection, or to retract the published material.

RESPONSIBILITIES OF REVIEWERS

Contribution to the Editor’s decision

The peer review process represents an essential part of improving a manuscript and preparing it for publication. Considering this, the reviewers are requested to treat authors as they would like to be treated themselves. We encourage that all criticism should be described using polite, constructive language and reviewers should refrain from any comments which could be construed as a personal attack. If one of the selected reviewers feels that prompt reviewing is impossible due to previous engagements, he/she should notify the editor and decline to participate in the review process. Similarly, when a selected reviewer feels unqualified to review the manuscript, he/she is advised to decline the invitation to review.

Confidentiality

Manuscripts submitted for review are treated as confidential documents, meaning that reviewers are not allowed to share this information with anyone. Unpublished materials should not be used by the reviewers in their own research without obtaining permission from the author. Also, the use of any privileged information obtained during the peer review process for personal advantage is forbidden.

Reviewer’s conduct during peer review

A reviewer should pay increased attention to potential ethical issues and should bring up any such concerns to the attention of the editor. Such ethical issues might include substantial overlap between the manuscript and previously published paper/s. Also, any observation made by the reviewer regarding proper citation of previous research should be accompanied by naming the relevant reference.

Reviews should be conducted objectively, and reviewers should consider any personal bias or conflict of interest before accepting or in the process of reviewing a paper. Referees are required to express their opinions clearly with supporting arguments and if applicable to explicitly suggest ways to amend the text. 

RESPONSIBILITIES OF THE EDITOR

Ensuring unbiased peer review

The editor is under the obligation to ensure that each peer review process is conducted fairly and is unbiased. All manuscript should be reviewed by at least two external independent reviewers. If needed, the editor can request additional opinions in order to make an informed editorial decision. The editor will select for each manuscript reviewers with relevant expertise for the topic of the manuscript. In cases of conflicting interests or any suggestions for self-citations made by the reviewers, the editor must determine whether their review is in any way biased.

Fairness of decision

The editor is required to evaluate a manuscript based on its contribution to the field and its content without regard to race, gender, sexual orientation, religious belief, ethnic origin, citizenship, or political philosophy of the authors.

The editor should make sure that both the reviewers and the authors have a clear understanding of what is expected of them, and that all communication between the editor and authors/reviewers is conducted using the journal’s email address.

Journal metrics

The editor is under the obligation to refrain from any attempts to influence the journal’s ranking by requesting the inclusion of specific references such as previously published articles in the journal or in other journals, or inclusion of the editor’s own articles, products or services. Exceptions to this rule apply when there is a genuine scholarly reason for the request to include certain references.

Confidentiality

The editor is responsible for ensuring the confidentiality of all materials submitted for review, such as author’s and reviewer’s identities. The content of an unpublished work which is subject to peer review cannot be used in the editor’s own research without the express written consent of the author. Also, information and ideas obtained during the peer review process must be confidential and not used for the editor’s personal advantage.

Monitoring the journal’s published work

The editor has the obligation to respond to and investigate any allegations of suspected misconduct. In such circumstances the editor will contact the author, but may also decide to further communicate on the matter with relevant institutions. When convincing evidence of misconduct ispresented, the editor will coordinate with the publisher to ensure prompt publication of a correction, retraction, or any other correction to the record.