The author, journal editor, and peer-reviewer have responsibilities to meet expected Publication Ethics* at all stages in their involvement from submission to publication of an article. These responsibilities are outlined below.
Peer review by independent scientists provides advice to the editors and staff of journals, and is an essential component of the scientific process. The journal employs “double blind” review. Reviewers’ names and authors’ names are kept confidential and may only be disclosed to journal Editorial Board members and the staff of the journal office. Unbiased consideration is given to all manuscripts offered for publication regardless of the race, gender, religious belief, ethnic origin, citizenship, political philosophy, sexual orientation, age or reputation of the authors.
> Adopt and follow reasonable procedures in the event of complaints of an ethical or conflict nature.
> Give authors a reasonable opportunity to respond to any complaints.
> All complaints should be investigated no matter when the original publication was approved.
> Documentation associated with any such complaints should be retained.
> To contribute to the decision-making process, and to assist in improving the quality of the article by reviewing the manuscript objectively, in a timely manner.
> To maintain the confidentiality of any information supplied by the editor or author.
> To explain the judgments so that authors can understand the basis of the comments and judgments.
> To not retain or copy the manuscript.
> To alert the editor to any published or submitted content that is substantially similar to that under review.
> To inform the editor and the journal office if unable to review an article or can do so only with some delay.
> To not delay the peer review process unnecessarily, either deliberately or inadvertently.
> To point out relevant work that has not been cited, and use citations to explain where elements of the work have been previously reported.
> Be aware of and comply with best practice in publication ethics, specifically with regard to authorship, dual submission, plagiarism, figure manipulation, competing interests, and compliance with standards of research ethics.
> Limit authorship to those that have made a significant contribution to conception, design, execution, or interpretation of the reported study.
> Maintain accurate records of data associated with submitted manuscripts, and supply or provide access to these data upon reasonable request.
> Where appropriate and where allowed by employer, funding body and others who might have an interest, deposit data in a suitable repository or storage location for sharing and further use by others.
> Confirm/assert that the manuscript as submitted is not under consideration or accepted for publication elsewhere.
> Additional participants such as language editors may be recognized in the acknowledgments section.
> Ensure that any studies involving human or animal subjects conform to national, local, and institutional laws and requirements, and confirm that approval has been sought and obtained where appropriate. 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). Authors should obtain express permission from human subjects and respect their privacy.
> Promptly notify the journal editor or publisher if a significant error in their publication is identified. Cooperate with the editor and publisher to publish an erratum, addendum, corrigendum notice, or to retract the article where this is deemed necessary.
> To ensure that all named authors have approved the submitted version of the manuscript, agree to its submission and are willing to take appropriate responsibility for it.
> All authors should be consulted about any subsequent changes to authorship (e.g. the list of authors) during the publication process, and it should be made clear to the journal that they have given their consent with written confirmation.
> Ensure that good practice is maintained to the standards outlined above.
> Vigorously investigate allegations of publication misconduct both before and after publication.
> We reserve the right to contact authors' institutions, funders, or regulatory bodies if needed.
> If we find conclusive evidence of misconduct, we will take steps to correct the scientific record, which may include issuing a correction or retraction.
Conflicts of interest
> Articles should include a full list of the current institutional affiliations of all authors, both academic and corporate. We also encourage authors to provide ORCID identifiers for each named author on submission.
> All sources of financial support for the project should be disclosed in the article when submitting their article.
> All authors and co-authors are required to disclose any potential conflict of interest when submitting their article (e.g. employment, consulting fees, research contracts, stock ownership, patent licenses, honoraria, advisory affiliations, etc.). If the article is subsequently accepted for publication, this information should be included in an acknowledgments section.
> Reviewers should contact the editor and the journal office to declare any potential conflicts of interest in advance of reviewing an article (financial, institutional, collaborative or other relationships between the reviewer and author), and if necessary, withdraw the services for that manuscript.
> Minor conflicts do not disqualify a reviewer from reporting on an article but will betaken into account when considering the reviewers’ recommendations. Major conflicts of interest do disqualify a reviewer.
Authors have a responsibility to acknowledge the work of others used in their research and to cite publications that have influenced the direction and course of their study. Information obtained in private correspondence or conversation should only be used with the explicit permission of the individuals involved. Information obtained whilst providing confidential services, such as refereeing research articles or grant applications, should not be used without permission of the original author.
All sources for the article must be clearly disclosed and permissions obtained from the original authors (and original publishers if they hold the copyright) for any figures or significant extracts that are to be reproduced or quoted. (Collection of such permissions is the responsibility of the authors.)
Submitted articles must be the authors’ own work. Plagiarism constitutes unethical scientific behavior and is never acceptable. Plagiarism ranges from the unreferenced use of others’ ideas to submission of a complete article under 'new' authorship.
Duplicate publication (sometimes called 'self-plagiarism') is the production of multiple articles with the same, or essentially the same, content by the same authors and is viewed as unacceptable. Submitted research articles must be novel and original.
In the case of articles that expand upon previously published conference proceedings, or conference write-ups that discuss work already published in an earlier article, some limited exceptions to this rule may apply. However, in these cases authors should consult with the journal office before submission. In all instances, articles must clearly cite their sources and present some new contribution to the published literature otherwise such articles will be rejected.
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.
It is unethical to submit the same, or essentially the same, article to a second primary research journal whilst it remains under active consideration by another.
To aid us in detecting any submissions that do not meet the above requirements, we regularly use plagiarism-detection software to screen articles.
Use of third-party materials (image permissions)
Articles may occasionally include images or figures created by a third-party (i.e., a non-author). Express permission must be received from the copyright holder prior to publication. The copyright holder, who could be a publisher, corporation, or individual, must give a written permission. Permission is only needed if the copyright holder is not an author on the article.
The journal will not consider any article or component of an article that has been published or is under consideration for publication elsewhere in any language. Distribution on the internet and conference proceedings may be considered prior publication and may compromise the originality of the article, although we will accept submissions of articles first made available on not-for-profit preprint servers, such as ArXiv, bioRxiv, and ChinaXiv. Please contact the journal office with questions regarding this policy or allowable postings.
Procedures for dealing with unethical behavior
Identification of unethical behavior
> Misconduct and unethical behavior may be identified and brought to the attention of the editor and publisher at any time, by anyone.
> Misconduct and unethical behavior may include, but are not limited to concerns about the integrity of published work, handling of retraction, plagiarism, conflict of interest, or peer reviewer manipulation.
> Whoever informs the editor or publisher of such conduct should provide sufficient information and evidence in order for an investigation to be initiated.
> All allegations should be taken seriously and treated in the same way until a successful decision or conclusion is reached.
> An initial decision should be made by the editor, who should consult with or seek advice from the publisher if appropriate.
> Evidence should be gathered while avoiding spreading any allegations beyond those who need to know.
> Minor misconduct might be dealt with without the need to consult more widely.
> The author should be given the opportunity to respond to any allegations.
Serious misconduct might require that the employers of the accused be notified. The editor or the journal office, in consultation with the publisher and the editor in chief, should make the decision whether or not to involve the employers, either by examining the available evidence themselves or by further consultation with a limited number of experts.
Outcomes (in increasing order of severity; may be applied separately or in conjunction)
> Informing or educating the author or reviewer where there appears to be a misunderstanding or misapplication of acceptable standards.
> A more strongly worded letter to the author or reviewer covering the misconduct and as a warning to future behavior.
> Publication of a formal notice detailing the misconduct.
> Publication of an editorial detailing the misconduct.
> A formal letter to the head of the author's or reviewer's department or funding agency.
> Formal retraction or withdrawal of a publication from the journal, in conjunction with informing the head of the author or reviewer's department, Abstracting & Indexing services and the readership of the publication.
> Imposition of a formal embargo on contributions from an individual for a defined period.
> Reporting the case and outcome to a professional organization or higher authority for further investigation and action.
*In drafting this Publication Ethics, we refer to the publication ethics documents from American Association for the Advancement of Science, American Institute of Mathematical Sciences, and Institute of Physics.