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Editorial Principles

1 Accountability and responsibility for journal content
Editors have to take responsibility for everything they publish and should have procedures and policies in place to ensure the quality of the material they publish and maintain the integrity of the published record (see paragraphs 4-8).
2 Editorial independence and integrity
An important part of the responsibility to make fair and unbiased decisions is the upholding of the principle of editorial independence and integrity.
Editorial freedom, or independence, is the concept that editors-in-chief have full authority over the editorial content of their journal and the timing of publication of that content. Journal owners should not interfere in the evaluation, selection, or editing of individual articles either directly or by creating an environment that strongly influences decisions. Editors should base decisions on the validity of the work and its importance to the journal’s readers not on the commercial success of the journal. Editors should be free to express critical but responsible views about all aspects of medicine without fear of retribution, even if these views conflict with the commercial goals of the publisher. Editors and editors’ organizations have the obligation to support the concept of editorial freedom and to draw major transgressions of such freedom to the attention of the international medical, academic, and lay communities.
2.1 Separating decision-making from commercial considerations
Editors should make decisions on academic merit alone and take full responsibility for their decisions. Processes must be in place to separate commercial activities within a journal from editorial processes and decisions. Editors should take an active interest in the publisher’s pricing policies and strive for wide and affordable accessibility of the material they publish.
Sponsored supplements must undergo the same rigorous quality control and peer review as any other content for the journal. Decisions on such material must be made in the same way as any other journal content. The sponsorship and role of the sponsor must be clearly declared to readers.
Advertisements need to be checked so that they follow journal guidelines, should be clearly distinguishable from other content, and should not in any way be linked to scholarly content.
2.2 Editors’ relationship to the journal publisher or owner
Editors should ideally have a written contract setting out the terms and conditions of their appointment with the journal publisher or owner. The principle of editorial independence should be clearly stated in this contract. Journal publishers and owners should not have any role in decisions on content for commercial or political reasons. Publishers should not dismiss an editor because of any journal content unless there was gross editorial misconduct or an independent investigation has concluded that the editor’s decision to publish was against the journal’s scholarly mission.
2.3 Journal metrics and decision-making
The editor of a journal is the person responsible for its entire content. Owners and editors have a common endeavor—publication of a reliable, readable journal produced with due respect for the stated aims of the journal and for costs. Owners and editors, however, have different functions. Owners have the right to appoint and dismiss editors and to make important business decisions in which editors should be involved to the fullest extent possible. Editors must have full authority for determining the editorial content of the journal. The concept of editorial freedom should be resolutely defended by editors even to the extent of their placing their positions at stake. To secure this freedom in practice, the editor should have direct access to the highest level of ownership, not to a delegated manager.
Editors should not attempt to inappropriately influence their journal’s ranking by artificially increasing any journal metric. For example, it is inappropriate to demand that references to that journal’s articles are included except for genuine scholarly reasons. In general, editors should ensure that papers are reviewed on purely scholarly grounds and that authors are not pressured to cite specific publications for non- scholarly reasons.
3 Editorial confidentiality
3.1 Authors’ material
If a journal operates a system where peer reviewers are chosen by editors (rather than posting papers for all to comment as a pre-print version), editors must protect the confidentiality of authors’ material and remind reviewers to do so as well. In general, editors should not share submitted papers with editors of other journals, unless with the authors’ agreement or in cases of alleged misconduct (see below). Editors are generally under no obligation to provide material to lawyers for court cases. Editors should not give any indication of a paper’s status with the journal to anyone other than the authors. Web-based submission systems must be run in a way that prevents unauthorised access.
In the case of a misconduct investigation, it may be necessary to disclose material to third parties (e.g., an institutional investigation committee or other editors).
3.2 Reviewers
Editors should protect reviewers’ identities unless operating an open peer review system. However, if reviewers wish to disclose their names, this should be permitted.
If there is alleged or suspected reviewer misconduct it may be necessary to disclose a reviewer’s name to a third party.
Unbiased, independent, critical assessment is an intrinsic part of all scholarly work, including the scientific process. Peer review is the critical assessment of manuscripts submitted to journals by experts who are not part of the editorial staff. Peer review can therefore be viewed as an important extension of the scientific process. Although its actual value has been little studied and is widely debated, peer review helps editors decide which manuscripts are suitable for their journals and helps authors and editors to improve the quality of reporting. A peer-reviewed journal submits most of its published research articles for outside review. The number and kinds of manuscripts sent for review, the number of reviewers, the reviewing procedures, and the use made of the reviewers’ opinions may vary. In the interests of transparency, each journal should publicly disclose its policies in its Instructions to Authors.
Editors may avoid inviting certain reviewers by request of authors; however, the decision will be left to editor’s discretion.
4 General editorial policies
4.1 Encourage maximum transparency and complete and honest reporting
To advance knowledge in scholarly fields, it is important to understand why particular work was done, how it was planned and conducted and by whom, and what it adds to current knowledge. To achieve this understanding, maximum transparency and complete and honest reporting are crucial.
4.2 Authorship and responsibility
Journals should have a clear policy on authorship that follows the standards within the relevant field. They should give guidance in their information for authors on what is expected of an author and, if there are different authorship conventions within a field, they should state which they adhere to.
For multidisciplinary and collaborative research, it should be apparent to readers who has done what and who takes responsibility for the conduct and validity of which aspect of the research. Each part of the work should have at least one author who takes responsibility for its validity. For example, individual contributions and responsibilities could be stated in a contributor section. All authors are expected to have contributed significantly to the paper and to be familiar with its entire content and ideally, this should be declared in an authorship statement submitted to the journal.
When there are undisputed changes in authorship for appropriate reasons, editors should require that all authors (including any whose names are being removed from an author list) agree these in writing. Authorship disputes (i.e., disagreements on who should or should not be an author before or after publication) cannot be adjudicated by editors and should be resolved at institutional level or through other appropriate independent bodies for both published and unpublished papers. Editors should then act on the findings, for example by correcting authorship in published papers.
Journals should have a publicly declared policy on how papers submitted by editors or editorial board members are handled.
Authors should identify individuals who provide writing or other assistance and disclose the funding source for this assistance. Investigators must disclose potential conflicts to study participants and should state in the manuscript whether they have done so. Editors also need to decide whether to publish information disclosed by authors about potential conflicts. If doubt exists, it is best to err on the side of publication. Submitted manuscripts that are found to include citations whose primary purpose is to increase the number of citations to a given author’s work, or to articles published in a particular journal, will incur citation manipulation sanctions.
4.3 Conflicts of interest and role of the funding source
Scientists have an ethical obligation to submit creditable research results for publication. Moreover, as the persons directly responsible for their work, researchers should not enter into agreements that interfere with their access to the data and their ability to analyze them independently, and to prepare and publish manuscripts. Authors should describe the role of the study sponsor, if any, in study design; collection, analysis, and interpretation of data; writing the report; and the decision to submit the report for publication. If the supporting source had no such involvement, the authors should so state. Biases potentially introduced when sponsors are directly involved in research are analogous to methodological biases. Editors should have policies that require all authors to declare any relevant financial and non-financial conflicts of interest and publish at least those that might influence a reader’s perception of a paper, alongside the paper. The funding source of the research should be declared and published, and the role of the funding source in the conception, conduct, analysis, and reporting of the research should be stated and published. Editors should make it clear in their information for authors if in certain sections of the journal (e.g., commissioned commentaries or review articles) certain conflicts of interest preclude authorship.
4.4 Full and honest reporting and adherence to reporting guidelines
Among the most important responsibilities of editors is to maintain a high standard in the scholarly literature. Although standards differ among journals, editors should work to ensure that all published papers make a substantial new contribution to their field. Editors should discourage so-called ‘salami publications’ (i.e., publication of the minimum publishable unit of research), avoid duplicate or redundant publication unless it is fully declared and acceptable to all (e.g., publication in a different language with cross-referencing), and encourage authors to place their work in the context of previous work (i.e., to state why this work was necessary/done, what this work adds or why a replication of previous work was required, and what readers should take away from it).
Journals should adopt policies that encourage full and honest reporting, for example, by requiring authors in fields where it is standard to submit protocols or study plans, and, where they exist, to provide evidence of adherence to relevant reporting guidelines. Although devised to improve reporting, adherence to reporting guidelines also makes it easier for editors, reviewers, and readers to judge the actual conduct of the research.
Digital image files, figures, and tables should adhere to the appropriate standards in the field. Images should not be inappropriately altered from the original or present findings in a misleading way.
Editors might also consider screening for plagiarism, duplicate or redundant publication by using anti-plagiarism software, or for image manipulation. If plagiarism or fraudulent image manipulation is detected, this should be pursued with the authors and relevant institutions (see paragraph on how to handle misconduct: 5.2)
4.5 Overlapping Publications
4.5.1 Duplicate Submission
The journal will not consider manuscripts that are simultaneously being considered by other journals. Among the principal considerations that have led to this policy are: 1) the potential for disagreement when two (or more) journals claim the right to publish a manuscript that has been submitted simultaneously to more than one; and 2) the possibility that two or more journals will unknowingly and unnecessarily undertake the work of peer review, edit the same manuscript, and publish the same article.
4.5.2 Redundant Publication
Redundant (or duplicate) publication is publication of a paper that overlaps substantially with one already published in print or electronic media. Readers of primary source periodicals, whether print or electronic, deserve to be able to trust that what they are reading is original unless there is a clear statement that the author and editor are intentionally republishing an article. The bases of this position are international copyright laws, ethical conduct, and cost-effective use of resources. Duplicate publication of original research is particularly problematic, since it can result in inadvertent double counting or inappropriate weighting of the results of a single study, which distorts the available evidence. Most journals do not wish to receive papers on work that has already been reported in large part in a published article or is contained in another paper that has been submitted or accepted for publication elsewhere, in print or in electronic media. This policy does not preclude the journal considering a paper that has been rejected by another journal, or a complete report that follows publication of a preliminary report, such as an abstract or poster displayed at a professional meeting. It also does not prevent journals from considering a paper that has been presented at a scientific meeting but was not published in full or that is being considered for publication in a proceedings or similar format. Brief press reports of scheduled meetings are not usually regarded as breaches of this rule, but they may be if additional data or copies of tables and figures amplify such reports. When submitting a paper, the author must always make a complete statement to the editor about all submissions and previous reports (including meeting presentations and posting of results in registries) that might be regarded as redundant or duplicate publication. The author must alert the editor if the manuscript includes subjects about which the authors have published a previous report or have submitted a related report to another publication. Any such report must be referred to and referenced in the new paper. Copies of such material should be included with the submitted manuscript to help the editor decide how to handle the matter.
If redundant or duplicate publication is attempted or occurs without such notification, authors should expect editorial action to be taken. At the least, prompt rejection of the submitted manuscript should be expected. If the editor was not aware of the violations and the article has already been published, then a notice of redundant or duplicate publication will probably be published with or without the author’s explanation or approval. Preliminary reporting to public media, governmental agencies, or manufacturers of scientific information described in a paper or a letter to the editor that has been accepted but not yet published violates the policies of many journals. Such reporting may be warranted when the paper or letter describes major therapeutic advances or public health hazards, such as serious adverse effects of drugs, vaccines, other biological products, or medicinal devices, or reportable diseases. This reporting should not jeopardize publication, but should be discussed with and agreed upon by the editor in advance.
4.5.3 Competing Manuscripts Based on the Same Study
Publication of manuscripts to air the disputes of coinvestigators may waste journal space and confuse readers. On the other hand, if editors knowingly publish a manuscript written by only some of a collaborating team, they could be denying the rest of the team their legitimate coauthorship rights and journal readers access to legitimate differences of opinion about the interpretation of a study.
Two kinds of competing submissions are considered: submissions by coworkers who disagree on the analysis and interpretation of their study, and submissions by coworkers who disagree on what the facts are and which data should be reported. Setting aside the unresolved question of ownership of the data, the following general observations may help editors and others address such problems. Differences in Analysis or Interpretation If the dispute centers on the analysis or interpretation of data, the authors should submit a manuscript that clearly presents both versions. The difference of opinion should be explained in a cover letter. The normal process of peer and editorial review may help the authors to resolve their disagreement regarding analysis or interpretation. If the dispute cannot be resolved and the study merits publication, both versions should be published. Options include publishing two papers on the same study, or a single paper with two analyses or interpretations. In such cases, it would be appropriate for the editor to publish a statement outlining the disagreement and the journal’s involvement in attempts to resolve it. Differences in Reported Methods or Results If the dispute centers on differing opinions of what was actually done or observed during the study, the journal editor should refuse publication until the disagreement is resolved. Peer review cannot be expected to resolve such problems. If there are allegations of dishonesty or fraud, editors should inform the appropriate authorities; authors should be notified of an editor’s intention to report a suspicion of research misconduct.
4.5.4 Competing Manuscripts Based on the Same Database
Editors sometimes receive manuscripts from separate research groups that have analyzed the same data set (for example, from a public database). The manuscripts may differ in their analytic methods, conclusions, or both. Each manuscript should be considered separately. If interpretation of the data is very similar, it is reasonable but not mandatory for editors to give preference to the manuscript that was received first.
4.5.5 Correspondence
The corresponding author/guarantor has primary responsibility for correspondence with the journal.
Journals should provide the readership with a mechanism for submitting comments, questions, or criticisms about published articles, as well as brief reports and commentary unrelated to previously published articles. This probably but not necessarily takes the form of a correspondence section or column. The authors of articles discussed in correspondence should be given an opportunity to respond, preferably in the same issue in which the original correspondence appears. Authors of correspondence should be asked to declare any competing or conflicting interests.
Published correspondence may be edited for length, grammatical correctness, and journal style. Alternatively, editors may choose to publish unedited correspondence, for example in rapid response sections on the Internet. The journal should declare its editorial practices in this regard. Authors should approve editorial changes that alter the substance or tone of a letter or response. In all instances, editors must make an effort to screen out discourteous, inaccurate, or libelous statements and should not allow ad hominem arguments intended to discredit opinions or findings.
Although editors have the prerogative to reject correspondence that is irrelevant, uninteresting, or lacking cogency, they have a responsibility to allow a range of opinions to be expressed. The correspondence column should not be used merely to promote the journal’s or the editors’ point of view.
In the interests of fairness and to keep correspondence within manageable proportions, journals may want to set time limits for responding to published material and for debate on a given topic. Journals should also decide whether they would notify authors when correspondence bearing on their published work is going to appear in standard or rapid-response sections. Journals should also set policy with regard to the archiving of unedited correspondence that appears online. These policies should be published both in print and electronic versions of the journal.
5 Responding to criticisms and concerns
Reaction and response to published research by other researchers is an important part of scholarly debate in most fields and should generally be encouraged. In some fields, journals can facilitate this debate by publishing readers’ responses. Criticisms may be part of a general scholarly debate but can also highlight transgressions of research or publication integrity.
5.1 Ensuring integrity of the published record – corrections
When genuine errors in published work are pointed out by readers, authors, or editors, which do not render the work invalid, a correction (or erratum) should be published as soon as possible. The online version of the paper may be corrected with a date of correction and a link to the printed erratum. If the error renders the work or substantial parts of it invalid, the paper should be retracted with an explanation as to the reason for retraction (i.e., honest error).
5.2 Ensuring the integrity of the published record – suspected research or publication misconduct
If serious concerns are raised by readers, reviewers, or others, about the conduct, validity, or reporting of academic work, editors should initially contact the authors (ideally all authors) and allow them to respond to the concerns. If that response is unsatisfactory, editors should take this to the institutional level (see below). In rare cases, when concerns are very serious and the published work is likely to influence clinical practice or public health, editors should consider informing readers about these concerns, for example by issuing an ‘expression of concern’, while the investigation is ongoing. Once an investigation is concluded, the appropriate action needs to be taken by editors with an accompanying comment that explains the findings of the investigation. Editors should also respond to findings from national research integrity organizations that indicate misconduct relating to a paper published in their journal. Editors can themselves decide to retract a paper if they are convinced that serious misconduct has happened even if an investigation by an institution or national body does not recommend it.
Editors should respond to all allegations or suspicions of research or publication misconduct raised by readers, reviewers, or other editors. Editors are often the first recipients of information about such concerns and should act, even in the case of a paper that has not been accepted or has already been rejected. Beyond the specific responsibility for their journal’s publications, editors have a collective responsibility for the research record and should act whenever they become aware of potential misconduct if at all possible. Cases of possible plagiarism or duplicate/redundant publication can be assessed by editors themselves. However, in most other cases, editors should request an investigation by the institution or other appropriate bodies (after seeking an explanation from the authors first and if that explanation is unsatisfactory).
Retracted papers should be retained online, and they should be prominently marked as a retraction in all online versions, including the PDF, for the benefit of future readers.
For further guidance on specific allegations and suggested actions, such as retractions, see the COPE flowcharts and retraction guidelines (http://publicationethics.org/flowcharts; http://publicationethics.org/files/u661/Retractions_COPE_gline_final_3_Sept_09__2_.pdf).
5.3 Encourage scholarly debate
Journals should consider the best mechanism by which readers can discuss papers, voice criticisms, and add to the debate (in many fields this is done via a print or on-line correspondence section). Authors may contribute to the debate by being allowed to respond to comments and criticisms where relevant. Such scholarly debate about published work should happen in a timely manner. Editors should clearly distinguish between criticisms of the limitations of a study and criticisms that raise the possibility of research misconduct. Any criticisms that raise the possibility of misconduct should not just be published but should be further investigated even if they are received a long time after publication.
6 Editorial policies relevant only to journals that publish research in humans or animals
6.1 Critically assess and require a high standard of ethical conduct of research
Especially in biomedical research but also in social sciences and humanities, ethical conduct of research is paramount in the protection of humans and animals. Ethical oversight, appropriate consent procedures, and adherence to relevant laws are required from authors. Editors need to be vigilant to concerns in this area.
6.2 Ethics approval and ethical conduct
Editors should generally require approval of a study by an ethics committee (or institutional review board) and the assurance that it was conducted according to the Declaration of Helsinki for medical research in humans but, in addition, should be alert to areas of concern in the ethical conduct of research. This may mean that a paper is sent to peer reviewers with particular expertise in this area, to the journal’s ethics committee if there is one, or that editors require further reassurances or evidence from authors or their institutions.
Papers may be rejected on ethical grounds even if the research had ethics committee approval.
6.3 Consent (to take part in research)
If research is done in humans, editors should ensure that a statement on the consent procedure is included in the paper. In most cases, written informed consent is the required norm. If there is any concern about the consent procedure, if the research is done in vulnerable groups, or if there are doubts about the ethical conduct, editors should ask to see the consent form and enquire further from authors, exactly how consent was obtained.
Patients have a right to privacy that should not be violated without informed consent. Identifying information, including names, initials, or hospital numbers, should not be published in written descriptions, photographs, or pedigrees unless the information is essential for scientific purposes and the patient (or parent or guardian) gives written informed consent for publication. Informed consent for this purpose requires that an identifiable patient be shown the manuscript to be published. Authors should disclose to these patients whether any potential identifiable material might be available via the Internet as well as in print after publication. Patient consent should be written and archived either with the journal, the authors, or both, as dictated by local regulations or laws. Applicable laws vary from locale to locale, and journals should establish their own policies with legal guidance.
6.4 Consent (for publication)
For all case reports, small case series, and images of people, editors should require the authors to have obtained explicit consent for publication (which is different from consent to take part in research). This consent should inform participants which journal the work will be published in, make it clear that, although all efforts will be made to remove unnecessary identifiers, complete anonymity is not possible, and ideally state that the person described has seen and agreed with the submitted paper. Editors must not disclose information about manuscripts (including their receipt, content, status in the reviewing process, criticism by reviewers, or ultimate fate) to anyone other than the authors and reviewers. This includes requests to use the materials for legal proceedings.
The signed consent form should be kept with the patient file rather than sent to the journal (to maximize data protection and confidentiality, see paragraph 6.3). There may be exceptions where it is not possible to obtain consent, for example when the person has died. In such cases, a careful consideration about possible harm is needed and out of courtesy attempts should be made to obtain assent from relatives. In very rare cases, an important public health message may justify publication without consent if it is not possible despite all efforts to obtain consent and the benefit of publication outweighs the possible harm.
Manuscripts must be reviewed with due respect for authors’ confidentiality. In submitting their manuscripts for review, authors entrust editors with the results of their scientific work and creative effort, on which their reputation and career may depend. Authors’ rights may be violated by disclosure of the confidential details during review of their manuscript. Reviewers also have rights to confidentiality, which must be respected by the editor. Confidentiality may have to be breached if dishonesty or fraud is alleged but otherwise must be honored.
Opinions differ on whether reviewers should remain anonymous. Authors should consult the Information for Authors of the journal to which they have chosen to submit a manuscript to determine whether reviews are anonymous. When comments are not signed, the reviewers’ identity must not be revealed to the author or anyone else without the reviewers’ permission.
6.5 Data protection and confidentiality
Editors should critically assess any potential breaches of data protection and patient confidentiality. This includes requiring properly informed consent for the actual research presented, consent for publication where applicable, and having editorial policies that comply with guidelines on patient confidentiality.
6.6 Adherence to relevant laws and best practice guidelines for ethical conduct
Editors should require authors to adhere to relevant national and international laws and best practice guidelines where applicable, for example when undertaking animal research. Editors should encourage registration of clinical trials.
7 Editorial Processes
7.1 Ensuring a fair and appropriate peer review process
One of the most important responsibilities of editors is organizing and using peer review fairly and wisely. Editors should explain their peer review processes in the information for authors and also indicate which parts of the journal are peer reviewed.
Editors should consider seriously for publication any carefully done study of an important question, relevant to their readers, whether the results for the primary or any additional outcome are statistically significant. Failure to submit or publish findings because of lack of statistical significance is an important cause of publication bias.
7.2 Decision whether to review
Editors may reject a paper without peer review when it is deemed unsuitable for the journal’s readers or is of poor quality. This decision should be made in a fair and unbiased way. The criteria used to make this decision should be made explicit. The decision not to send a paper for peer review should only be based on the academic content of the paper, and should not be influenced by the nature of the authors or the host institution.
7.3 Interaction with peer reviewers
Editors should use appropriate peer reviewers for papers that are considered for publication by selecting people with sufficient expertise and avoiding those with conflicts of interest. Editors should ensure that reviews are received in a timely manner.
Peer reviewers should be told what is expected of them and should be informed about any changes in editorial policies. In particular, peer reviewers should be asked to assess research and publication ethics issues (i.e., whether they think the research was done and reported ethically, or if they have any suspicions of plagiarism, fabrication, falsification, or redundant publication). Editors should have a policy to request a formal conflict of interest declaration from peer reviewers and should ask peer reviewers to inform them about any such conflict of interest at the earliest opportunity so that they can make a decision on whether an unbiased review is possible. Certain conflicts of interest may disqualify a peer reviewer. Editors should stress confidentiality of the material to peer reviewers and should require peer reviewers to inform them when they ask a colleague for help with a review or if they mentor a more junior colleague in conducting peer review. Editors should ideally have a mechanism to monitor the quality and timeliness of peer review and to provide feedback to reviewers.
7.4 Reviewer misconduct
Editors must take reviewer misconduct seriously and pursue any allegation of breach of confidentiality, non-declaration of conflicts of interest (financial or non-financial), inappropriate use of confidential material, or delay of peer review for competitive advantage. Allegations of serious reviewer misconduct, such as plagiarism, should be taken to the institutional level (for further guidance see: http://publicationethics.org/files/u2/07_Reviewer_misconduct.pdf).
7.5 Interaction with authors
Editors should make it clear to authors what the role of the peer reviewer is because this may vary from journal to journal. Some editors regard peer reviewers as advisors and may not necessarily follow (or even ask for) reviewers’ recommendations on acceptance or rejection. Correspondence from editors is usually with the corresponding author, who should guarantee to involve co-authors at all stages. Communicating with all authors at first submission and at final acceptance stage can be helpful to ensure all authors are aware of the submission and have approved the publication. Normally, editors should pass on all peer reviewers’ comments in their entirety. However, in exceptional cases, it may be necessary to exclude parts of a review, if it, for example, contains libellous or offensive remarks. It is important, however, that such editorial discretion is not inappropriately used to suppress inconvenient comments.
There should always be good reasons, which are clearly communicated to authors, if additional reviewers are sought at a late stage in the process.
The final editorial decision and reasons for this should be clearly communicated to authors and reviewers. If a paper is rejected, editors should ideally have an appeals process. Editors, however, are not obliged to overturn their decision.
8 Editorial decision-making
Editors are in a powerful position by making decisions on publications, which makes it very important that this process is as fair and unbiased as possible, and is in accordance with the academic vision of the particular journal.
8.1 Editorial and journal processes
All editorial processes should be made clear in the information for authors. In particular, it should be stated what is expected of authors, which types of papers are published, and how papers are handled by the journal. All editors should be fully familiar with the journal policies, vision, and scope. The final responsibility for all decisions rests with the editor-in-chief.
8.2 Editorial conflicts of interest
Editors should not be involved in decisions about papers in which they have a conflict of interest, for example if they work or have worked in the same institution and collaborated with the authors, if they own stock in a particular company, or if they have a personal relationship with the authors. Journals should have a defined process for handling such papers. Journals should also have a process in place to handle papers submitted by editors or editorial board members to ensure unbiased and independent handling of such papers. This process should be stated in the information for authors. Editorial conflicts of interests should be declared, ideally publicly.
8.3 Copyright
The journal will ask authors to transfer copyright to the journal. Editors should make their position on copyright transfer clear to authors and to others who might be interested in using editorial content from their journals. The copyright status of articles in a given journal can vary: Some content cannot be copyrighted (for example, articles written by employees of the U.S. and some other governments in the course of their work); editors may agree to waive copyright on others; and still others may be protected under serial rights (that is, use in publications other than journals, including electronic publications, is permitted).


KSBB Research Ethics Guideline

 Article 1 (Objective)


The objective of this provision is to establish research ethics of the Korean society for Biotechnology and Bioengineering (KSBB) for its members and to prescribe the basic matters related to the constitution and operation of the Research Ethics Committee (“the committee” hereinafter).


Article 2 (Definitions)


Research frauds refer to forgeries, falsifications, plagiarisms, dual publications, improper inclusion or exclusion of authors, etc., as seen in research proposals, performances, result reports, presentations, etc. Relevant definitions are provided below.


2.1. Forgery: Refers to the act of forging non-existent data or findings.


2.2. Falsification: Refers to the act of distorting research contents or results by fabricating, transforming, deleting or adding the data willfully.


2.3. Plagiarism: Refers to the act of representing others’ work as one’s own. Included is the case of self-plagiarism of using identical ideas or data in subsequent publications.


2.4. Dual publications: Refers to publishing identical research contents in different academic journals twice or more.


2.5. Improper inclusion or exclusion of authors: Refers to not qualifying, without reasonable reason, a person who has contributed to research contents or results in scientific or technical terms for authorship, or to qualifying a person who has not contributed to them in scientific or technical terms for authorship.


2.6. Act of proposing, forcing or threatening another person to commit fraudulent acts.


2.7. Other acts that seriously out of line with the scope normally acceptable in academic research.



Article 3 (Functions of the committee)


The committee deliberates and votes for the following issues related to research ethics of researchers who have been supported by research funds from academic-industrial cooperation projects (“research funding” hereinafter) through the KSBB.


3.1. Education and establishment of research ethics


3.2. Prevention and investigation of research misconduct


3.3. Protection of informants and maintaining confidentiality


Article 4 (Organization of the committee)


The committee comprises nine members, including president of the society. President of the society becomes the committee chairman. Secretaries and committee members can be appointed by the chairman among the society members for a one-year office term.


Article 5 (Committee meetings)


5.1. The chairman summons a meeting whenever deemed necessary.


5.2. A resolution shall be made with the participation of more than a half of registered members and the approval of a half (50%) of the participants.


5.3. If deemed necessary, the committee can invite relevant staff to participate the committee meetings.


5.4. In principle, committee meetings shall be held confidentially. However, a documentary resolution can be made for a minor agenda.



Article 6 (Investigation of research misconduct)

6.1. The committee shall investigate potential irregularities if there is a request or a significant suspicion of research misconduct.


6.2. The chairman can implement a preliminary investigation.



Article 7 (Organization of the investigation committee)


7.1. The committee shall summon an investigation committee meeting immediately upon a receipt of the request for the research misconduct investigation.


7.2. The investigation committee consists of three to seven committee members, and over a half of them should be professionals with expertise and experience in the relevant research field.


7.3. Members with conflicting interests in the investigated case cannot be appointed to the investigation committee.



Article 8 (Duties of the investigation committee)


8.1. The investigation committee can summon for attendance to the informants of irregularities, person(s) of investigation, witnesses, and testifiers, as well as request the submission of relevant materials.


8.2. If the subject of investigation refuses to attend the requested meeting or to submit relevant materials, he or she may be presumed to accept the charge(s).


8.3. The investigation committee can take applicable action to prevent loss, damage, concealment, or falsification of evidence or research records.


8.4. The investigation committee can take action to confiscate and keep relevant materials under the approval of the head of the corresponding research institute.


8.5. The investigation committee should be careful not to cause unreasonable treatment or disadvantage to the informants of irregularities or subjects of investigation.


8.6. The investigation committee should report the results of the deliberation to the Research Ethics Committee.



Article 9 (Period of prescription)


9.1. Research misconduct cases recognized within at least 5 years after the irregularities were initially notified will be investigated by the Research Ethics Committee.


9.2. In cases when research misconduct cases cause serious threats to public welfare or safety, or when research irregularities are continuously employed for grant applications or further research performances, a full-scale investigation will be launched.



Article 10 (Exclusion, Exception, Refrainment)


10.1. Under the circumstance when fairness cannot be ensured from certain committee members, the informant of irregularities or the paper contributor may file an exception against him or her, and, if accepted, the concerned person shall be excerpted from relevant investigation.


10.2. If a committee member is a directly interested party in the research paper at stake, he or she shall be excluded from the investigation procedure.


10.3. A committee member may refrain from the investigation if there is a justifiable reason for not being able to conduct an unbiased investigation (see 10.1 and 10.2).



Article 11 (Guarantee of the opportunity to state an opinion)


The investigation committee should provide the subject of the investigation with an opportunity to submit his or her opinions or explanations in response to the corresponding suspicion.



Article 12 (Penalties)


12.1. The committee shall make a decision confirming that the acts of the person(s) under investigation in connection to the investigated matters is a research misconduct case by concurrence of more than 2/3 of the members present as a quorum is present at the meeting.


12.2. When a decision is made confirming the case of research misconduct, the committee can sanction the author with applicable punishment. This can include one of the following:
1) Retraction or deletion of the research paper where research misconduct has been identified;
2) Suspension of membership owned by the relevant individual;
3) Notification of relevant organizations or institutions about the incident.


12.3. The committee can also disqualify or suspend anyone who intentionally or mistakenly makes a report that proves different from the established truth, or who distributes false information.



Article 13 (Notification of results)


The committee chairman shall immediately submit a written notification of the investigation results to the concerned persons, including the informant(s) of irregularities and paper contributor.



Article 14 (Administrative protest)


Within 20 days from the result notification, the informant of irregularities and/or paper contributor may file in a written disclaimer against the decision of the committee.



Article 15 (Confidentiality)


15.1. The committee shall be careful not to infringe on honor and rights of the claimed author until the inspection and verification of irregularities is finalized.


15.2. Investigation details shall be kept strictly confidential, and the committee may only disclose relevant information in accordance with the resolution of the investigation committee.


15.3. All investigators shall not disclose any confidential information obtained directly or indirectly while engaging in investigatory work, even after the termination of his or her office term.



Article 16 (Cost)


The costs required for the committee operation will be provided within the budget scope.



Article 17 (Guideline for the operation)


Other detailed provisions or guidelines required for the committee operation can be determined by the chairman through the deliberation of the committee.


These regulations shall be effective as of May 16, 2008. 




Responsible research publication: international standards for authors


• Summary

• The research being reported should have been conducted in an ethical and responsible manner and should comply with all relevant legislation.

• Researchers should present their results clearly, honestly, and without fabrication, falsification or inappropriate data manipulation.

• Researchers should strive to describe their methods clearly and unambiguously so that their findings can be confirmed by others.

• Researchers should adhere to publication requirements that submitted work is original, is not plagiarised, and has not been published elsewhere.

• Authors should take collective responsibility for submitted and published work.

• The authorship of research publications should accurately reflect individuals’ contributions to the work and its reporting.

• Funding sources and relevant conflicts of interest should be disclosed.



1. Definition of terms


Research frauds refer to forgeries, falsifications, plagiarisms, dual publications, improper inclusion or exclusion of authors, etc, as seen in the proposals, performances, result reports, presentations, etc. of the research. Their details are as follows:


1.1. Forgery: Refers to the act of forging non-existent data or findings.


1.2. Falsification: Refers to the act of distorting research contents or results by fabricating, transforming, deleting or adding the data willfully.


1.3. Plagiarism: Refers to the act of representing others’ work as one’s own. Included is the case of self-plagiarism of using identical ideas or data in subsequent publications.


1.4. Dual publications: Refers to publishing identical research contents in different academic journals twice or more.


1.5. Improper inclusion or exclusion of authors: Refers to not qualifying, without reasonable reason, a person who has contributed to research contents or results in scientific or technical terms for authorship, or to qualifying a person who has not contributed to them in scientific or technical terms for authorship.


1.6. Act of proposing, forcing or threatening another person to commit fraudulent acts.


1.7. Other acts that seriously out of line with the scope normally acceptable in academic research.



2. Soundness and reliability


2.1 The research being reported should have been conducted in an ethical and responsible manner and follow all relevant legislation.


2.2 The research being reported should be sound and carefully executed.


2.3 Researchers should use appropriate methods of data analysis and display (and, if needed, seek and follow specialist advice on this).


2.4 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.



3. Honesty


3.1 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.


3.2 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.


3.3 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.


3.4 Research funders and sponsors should not be able to veto publication of findings that do not favor 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).


3.5 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.


3.6 Authors should represent the work of others accurately in citations and quotations.


3.7 Authors should not copy references from other publications if they have not read the cited work.



4. Balance


4.1 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.


4.2 Study limitations should be addressed in publications.



5. Originality


5.1 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.


5.2 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.


5.3 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.


5.4 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.


5.5 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.


5.6 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.


5.7 The priority of the primary publication is respected by a publication interval of at least 1 week (unless specifically negotiated otherwise by both editors).


5.8 The paper for secondary publication is intended for a different group of readers; an abbreviated version could be sufficient.


5.9 The secondary version faithfully reflects the data and interpretations of the primary version.


5.10 The footnote on the title page of the secondary version informs readers, peers, and documenting agencies that the paper has been published in whole or in part and states the primary reference. A suitable footnote might read: “This article is based on a study first reported in the [title of journal, with full reference].” Permission for such secondary publication should be free of charge.


5.11 The title of the secondary publication should indicate that it is a secondary publication (complete republication, abridged republication, complete translation, or abridged translation) of a primary publication.



6. Transparency

6.1 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.


6.2 Authors should disclose the role of the research funder(s) or sponsor (if any) in the research design, execution, analysis, interpretation and reporting.


6.3 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.



7. Appropriate authorship and acknowledgement

7.1 Authorship credit should be based on 1) substantial contributions to conception and design, acquisition of data, or analysis and interpretation of data; 2) drafting the article or revising it critically for important intellectual content; and 3) final approval of the version to be published. Authors should meet conditions 1, 2, and 3.


7.2 When a large, multicenter group has conducted the work, the group should identify the individuals who accept direct responsibility for the manuscript. These individuals should fully meet the criteria for authorship/contributorship defined above and editors will ask these individuals to complete journal-specific author and conflict-of-interest disclosure forms. When submitting a manuscript authored by a group, the corresponding author should clearly indicate the preferred citation and identify all individual authors as well as the group name. Journals generally list other members of the group in the Acknowledgments. The NLM indexes the group name and the names of individuals the group has identified as being directly responsible for the manuscript; it also lists the names of collaborators if they are listed in Acknowledgments.


7.3 Acquisition of funding, collection of data, or general supervision of the research group alone does not constitute authorship.


7.4 All persons designated as authors should qualify for authorship, and all those who qualify should be listed.


7.5 Each author should have participated sufficiently in the work to take public responsibility for appropriate portions of the content.


7.6 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.


7.7 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.


7.8 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.



• guest authors are those who do not meet accepted authorship criteria but are listed because of their seniority, reputation or supposed influence

• gift authors are those who do not meet accepted authorship criteria but are listed as a personal favour or in return for payment

• ghost authors are those who meet authorship criteria but are not listed


7.9 All contributors who do not meet the criteria for authorship should be listed in an acknowledgments section.


7.10 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).


7.11 The corresponding author shall represent all authors in answering for data accuracy, evaluating exact contribution of each author, certifying approval of all authors for the submitted draft and handling all correspondences and questions.


7.12 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.



8. Accountability and responsibility

8.1 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.


8.2 Authors should work with the editor or publisher to correct their work promptly if errors or omissions are discovered after publication.


8.3 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.


8.4 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.




9. Adherence to peer review and publication conventions

9.1 Authors should follow publishers’ requirements that work is not submitted to more than one publication for consideration at the same time.


9.2 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.


9.3 Authors should respond to reviewers’ comments in a professional and timely manner.


9.4 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.




10. Responsible reporting of research involving humans or animals

10.1 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).


10.2 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, licenses, participant consent forms).


10.3 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 recognize themselves from case studies, descriptions, images or pedigrees).


10.4 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.


10.5 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.


10.6 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.