One of the foundations of the scientific profession is the acceptance by its members of a "code of conduct" which outlines desired behaviour and obligations of members of the profession to each other and the public. Such a code of conduct seeks to maximise the benefits of science to society and the profession.
There are certain responsibilities that editors, authors and referees have to maintain the high ethical standard relating to the publication of manuscripts in scientific journals.
This document outlines these responsibilities.
- Editors (including Editorial Board members)
Editors have the following responsibilities:
2.1. To acknowledge receipt of submitted manuscripts within a few days of receipt and to ensure the efficient, fair and timely review process of submitted manuscripts.
2.2. To ensure that submitted manuscripts are handled in a confidential manner, with no details being disclosed to anyone, with the exception of the referees, without the permission of the author, until a decision has been taken as to whether the manuscript is to be published.
2.3. To make the final decision concerning acceptance or rejection of a manuscript.
2.4. To decide to accept or reject a manuscript for publication with reference only to the manuscript’s importance, originality and clarity, and its relevance to the journal.
2.5. To respect the intellectual independence of authors.
2.6. To make known any conflicts of interest that might arise. Specifically, in cases where an editor is an author of a submitted manuscript, the manuscript must be passed to another editor for independent peer review.
2.7. To consider the use of an author's suggested referees for his/her submitted article, but to ensure that the suggestions do not lead to a positive bias (e.g. co-authors of previous publications, mentor). However, the editor maintains the right to use referees of his/her own choice.
2.8. Not to use referees which an author has requested not to be consulted, unless the editor reasonably considers there to be a significant over-riding interest in so doing.
2.9. To ensure the confidentiality of the names and other details of referees; adjudication and appeal referees may be informed of the names of prior referees, if appropriate.
2.10. To respond to any suggestions of scientific misconduct, usually through consultation with the author. This may require the publication of a formal 'retraction' or correction.
2.11. To deal fairly with an author’s appeal against the rejection of a submitted manuscript.
2.12. To comply with data protection regulations, as appropriate.
There is no universally agreed definition of authorship. As a minimum, authors should take responsibility for a particular section of the study. The award of authorship should balance intellectual contributions to the conception, design, analysis and writing of the study against the collection of data and other routine work. If there is no task that can reasonably be attributed to a particular individual, then that individual should not be credited with authorship. All authors must take public responsibility for the content of their paper. The multidisciplinary nature of much research can make this difficult, but this may be resolved by the disclosure of individual contributions.
Authors have the following responsibilities:
3.1. To gather and interpret data in an honest way. Editors, referees, readers and publishers have the right to assume that submitted (and published) manuscripts do not contain scientific dishonesty and/or fraud comprising among others fictitious data, plagiarised material, reference omissions, false priority statements, "hidden" multiple publication of the same data and incorrect authorship. Authors must not breach any copyright.
3.2. To present a concise and accurate report of their research and an objective discussion of its significance.
3.3. To give due recognition to published work relating to their submitted manuscript by way of correct reference and citation. All sources should be disclosed, and if a significant amount of other people's material is to be used, permission must be sought by the author in accordance with copyright law.
3.4. (a) To avoid undue fragmentation of their work into multiple manuscripts. Editors have the right to reject submitted articles on the grounds of undue fragmentation. In particular, a piece of work should not be split into a number of manuscripts for publication as Communications.
(b) Not to engage in redundant publication, which occurs when two or more papers, without full cross reference, share the same hypothesis, data, discussion points, or conclusions.
Previous publication of an abstract or preprint of the proceedings of meetings does not preclude subsequent submission for publication, but full disclosure should be made at the time of submission. Re-publication of a paper in another language may be acceptable, provided that there is full and prominent disclosure of its original source at the time of submission.
3.5. To consider publishing related manuscripts in the same journal or a small group of journals, as this can be of benefit to readers.
3.6. To inform the editor of related manuscripts under consideration for publication by the same author in any journal, on submission of their current manuscript. Authors may be requested to provide copies of these related manuscripts, and details of their present status.
3.7. To ensure that a manuscript is submitted for publication in only one journal at a time. It is not acceptable for an author to submit a manuscript (or manuscripts describing essentially the same matter) to more than one journal at a time, or for an author to submit a manuscript to one journal and a co-author to submit another manuscript with essentially the same content to another journal. It is not acceptable for an author to submit a manuscript (or manuscripts describing essentially the same matter) to more than one journal at a time. A manuscript which is a full paper report of a published communication may be submitted for publication; however the author has the responsibility to inform the editor of the previously published communication.
3.8. To ensure that their submitted articles contain no personal criticism of other scientists.
Criticism of the work of another scientist may, however, be justified. An article may not contain any defamatory or otherwise actionable material.
3.9. To give due acknowledgement to all workers contributing to the work. Those who have contributed significantly to the research should be listed as co-authors. On submission of the manuscript, the corresponding author attests to the fact that those named as co-authors have agreed to its submission for publication and accepts the responsibility for having properly included all (and only) co-authors. The corresponding author signs a copyright licence on behalf of all the authors.
3.10. To declare all sources of funding for the work in the manuscript, and also to declare any conflict of interest.
3.11. To identify clearly in the manuscript any unusual hazards inherent in the use of chemicals, procedures or equipment in the investigation.
3.12. In cases where a study involves the use of live animals or human subjects, to include in the Methods/Experimental section of the manuscript a statement that all experiments were performed in compliance with the relevant laws and institutional guidelines, and to state the institutional committee(s) that have approved the experiments. To include a statement that informed consent was obtained for any experimentation with human subjects. Referees may be asked to comment specifically on any cases in which concerns arise.
3.13. Not to suggest referees with whom the author has current collaborations to avoid positive bias.
Referees have the following responsibilities:
4.1. To treat the manuscript as confidential. The editor must be informed if the referee consults a colleague about the manuscript.
4.2. To return/destroy/erase the manuscript and to inform the editor should they be unqualified to review the manuscript, or lack the time to review the manuscript, without undue delay.
4.3. To judge the manuscript objectively and in a timely fashion. Referees should not make personal criticism in their reviews.
4.4. To return the manuscript without review to the editor if there is a conflict of interest.
Specifically, Referees should not review manuscripts authored or co-authored by a person with whom the referee has a close personal or professional relationship, if this relationship could be reasonably thought to bias the review.
4.5. To explain and support their judgements so that editors and authors may understand the basis of their comments, and to provide reference to published work, where appropriate.
4.6. To inform the editor of any similarity between the submitted manuscript and another either published or under consideration by another journal to the best of their knowledge.
4.7. To ensure that all unpublished data, information, interpretation and discussion in a submitted article remain confidential and not to use reported work in unpublished, submitted articles for their own research.
4.8. To alert the editor if a manuscript contains plagiarised material or falsified data to the best of their knowledge.
4.9. Not to retain or copy the submitted manuscript in any form; to comply with data protection regulations, as appropriate.
4.10. To make known any conflicts of interest that might arise.
- Examples of Scientific Misconduct or Ethical Violations
Scientific misconduct in publishing includes but is not limited to
- Fraud: fabricating a report of research or suppressing or altering data
- Duplicate submission: submission of the same article to two separate journals before a final decision has been taken on the paper by the Editor of the journal to which the paper was first submitted.
- Duplicate submissions of highly related papers without the necessary cross-referencing.
- Duplicate publication: publication of the same article first in one journal and subsequently again in another journal without proper reference and permission.
- Inadequate citing: Failure to adequately cite related work of others.
- Plagiarism: taking material from another's work and submitting it as one's own.
- Self-plagiarism: republishing one's own material that has previously been published elsewhere in the primary literature without citing the earlier publication.
If such acts of scientific misconduct are revealed, the editors may impose sanctions on the authors. Such sanctions could range from an immediate rejection of the paper in question, a severe warning to the author as regards his/her future conduct up to a ban from submitting manuscripts for a certain period. The editors may alert editors of similar journals - also by other publishers - and communicate the type of ethical violation, the names of the authors and the sanctions applied.
All the correspondence referring to a particular case should be archived for 10. years. Decisions as to what sanctions to take are in the hands of the Editors. In the most difficult cases, members of the respective editorial boards may be called as advisors ensuring that the process does not become too time-consuming and drawn out.
In the preparation of these Ethical Guidelines sources used: Journal of Analytical Chemistry, 2007, vol. 62, No. 4, pp. 441–444.