Introduction | Duties and Responsibilities of Editors | Duties and Responsibilities of Authors | Duties and Responsibilities of Reviewers | Copyright and Licensing | Handling publication malpractice or research misconduct | References
The concept of scholarly publication started in 1665 and the first peer reviewed journal was published in 1731.Today we are in the era of digital management of scholarly journal publications. The most vital component in the era of the scholarly communication system is that it acts as a building block in the development of a coherent and a respective network of knowledge. Hence, it is very crucial to lay down standards of expected ethical behaviour by all parties involved in the act of publishing.
This policy serves the purpose of ensuring the best publishing practices for everyone involved in the scholarly publishing process.
The publication ethics and malpractice statements are made with reference from the Code of Conduct and Best Practice Guidelines for Journal Editors of the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE).
2.1 Chief responsibilities
i. The Chief Editors and/or Editors are responsible for the publication decisions of all manuscripts submitted to the journal. These decisions to accept or reject a paper will be based solely on the validity, originality, and novelty of research works, as well as the relevance of the paper to the scope of the journal. Also, Editors should ensure all published materials are securely archived and the Publisher will provide the relevant digital support as needed.
ii. The Chief Editors and/or Editors shall be responsible to evaluate manuscripts fairly and solely on their intellectual merit and to ensure confidentiality of manuscripts and has the responsibility to decide when and which articles are to be published.
2.2 Editors with the Publisher
i. Editors work and collaborate with the Publisher to constantly improve the journal, revise the journal policies whenever required, and assure the quality of the materials published in the journal. Editors will independently decide whether to accept or reject a manuscript based on its quality and relevance to the scope of the journal.
ii. The Chief Editors, Editors, and members of the editorial board establish mechanisms to deal with any disagreements, dispute, or conflict between themselves and other stakeholders. Chief Editors should assist and support the Publisher to ensure proper investigation of any suspected misconducts for both published and unpublished papers, including, considering the responses from those suspected of misconduct to ensure a fair and unbiased investigation. Chief Editors also work and collaborate with the Publisher to handle potential breaches of intellectual property, laws, and related issues.
2.3 Editors with Authors
i. Editors should strive to fulfil the needs of authors and consider their views for journal process and management improvement.
ii. Editors should check for any research and publication misconducts by the authors. Editors should also ensure all manuscripts submitted and accepted are checked for plagiarized and fabricated contents (including plagiarized texts and inappropriately altered images). The Journal uses plagiarism-detection software to check for potential plagiarism or duplication of work in all manuscripts.
iii. Editors shall check and verify that the authors acknowledge any research funding/grants and written informed consent for publication involving human data, research permits, animal, and human ethic committee agreement forms, etc., for their submitted articles (if applicable).
iv. Editors should ensure publishing guidelines and author instructions are available to the authors. Editors should send the peer reviewer(s) reports to the authors in their entirety unless these reports contain offensive or discourteous statements. They should also allow authors to respond to the reviewers' comments.
2.4 Editors with Reviewers
i. Editors will ensure all published articles have been reviewed in timely manner and is done by unbiased and qualified or appropriate reviewers with relevant expertise and free from disqualifying competing interests. Editors should maintain a database of suitable reviewers and remove reviewers who consistently submit poor quality reviewer reports.
ii. Editors may guide reviewers on the preparation of reviewer report. They should also require that the reviewers handle the manuscripts as confidential documents and without disclosure to the third party. Editors should also inform the reviewers of the need to declare any potential conflict of interests (if applicable). They should also ensure freedom of expression by the reviewers, especially on issues related to publication ethics and misconducts, manuscript originality and validity, etc.
iii. Reviewers have the liabilities to disclose any competing interest before agreeing to review a submission and may refuse to review any submission due to a conflict of interest or inadequate knowledge.
iv. Reviewers are also obliged to review all submissions objectively, fairly and professionally, reveal any ethical misconduct encountered while reviewing to the Chief Editor for further action and should ensure the originality of a submission and be alert to any plagiarism and redundant publication.
v. Reviewers must not discuss the content of the submission without permission and adhere to the time allocated for the review process. They can make an application request for an extension to review the submission, and this depends on the discretion of the Chief Editor or Editor(s) to approve or not.
2.5 Editors with Editorial Board Members
i. Chief Editors should identify qualified editorial board members who can actively contribute to high standard journal processing and management. Comprehensive and clear guidelines with precise terms of references should be provided to the editorial board members about their expected roles and duties. Chief Editors and/or Editors should consult the editorial board members about the improvement of the journal processing and managements, challenges, and future directions.
ii. Chief Editors and/or Editors should ensure adequate training and technologies related to the editorial processing are provided to relevant members of the editorial board (including themselves).
iii. The Board Members shall actively contribute to the development and the greater good of the journal and act as ambassadors for the journal. They have to continuously support and promote the journal and also review any work assigned to them.
2.6 Disclosure and Conflicts of Interests
i. The Chief Editors and/or Editors are not allowed to disclose any information in the manuscript that is being reviewed to others or use the information from research data described in the manuscript for personal benefits.
ii. The Chief Editors and/or Editors should avoid any business needs and commercial considerations that may compromise the intellectual and ethical standards of the article publication of their journal. A conflict of interest may exist when the Chief Editors and/or Editors has a financial or personal interest that could affect his/her professional judgement on the manuscript. In this event, the Chief Editors and/or Editors hereby should disclose the conflict of interest and shall take reasonable steps to secure and withhold themselves from making any editorial decision for those manuscripts.
iii. The Chief Editors and/or Editors may submit manuscripts to their journal for publication consideration. However, they should declare this in their manuscripts. They cannot be involved in the reviewing process and should avoid making editorial decisions related to their manuscript.
2.7 Timeliness of the Publication Process
The Chief Editors and/or Editors must monitor the turnaround time for each publishing step from manuscript receipt to publication or rejection. They need to ensure the timeliness of publication in each issue. They must track reviewers' and editors' performance, the backlog of accepted manuscripts, and provide prompt responses and decisions for manuscripts.
2.8 Errata, Retractions and Clarifications
The Journal follows the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE) recommendation to address the errata, retractions and clarifications https://www.icmje.org/recommendations/browse/publishing-and-editorial-issues/corrections-and-version-control.html
i. The Journal will publish errata or corrections, clarifications, or retractions of any materials when needed and as quickly as possible if competing interests are detected after publication.
ii. A direct link between the original article and the errata or the corrected articles will be provided for all online journals.
The Journal considers an author as the one who has significantly or substantially contributed to the experimentation and interpretation of the data, in addition to writing the manuscript for publication. All those who have made substantial contributions should be listed as co-authors. All co-authors who have contributed appropriate portions of the content must agree to the manuscript submission. Any requests for addition or removal of the author(s) before/after publication must seek approval of the Chief Editors/Editors. The corresponding authors must ensure that all the authors have agreed and approved the manuscript submission to the journal.
3.2 Author Responsibilities
i. Authors should state their results clearly, honestly, and without fabrication, falsification, or inappropriate data manipulation. The methods used in the work should be clearly and unambiguously described so that the findings can be repeated and confirmed by other researchers.
ii. Authors are responsible to inform the Chief Editor or the Publisher for any inaccuracy of data in their published work so that correction or retraction of article can be done.
iii. Authors are responsible to ensure only new and original work is submitted.
iv. Authors must not reproduce work that has been previously published in other journals and discourage multiple submissions that are being reviewed or considered by other journals simultaneously.
v. Authors are allowed to publish their work elsewhere after receiving a formal rejection from the journal or if their request to withdraw their work is officially accepted by the journal.
vi. Authors should make significant contributions and be held accountable for any shortcoming in their work.
3.3 Research Misconduct
i. Copying, stealing, fabricating, or manipulating intellectual properties of another person constitute acts of plagiarism whereas fabrication and falsification are considered fraud or research misconduct. It is incumbent on all authors to refrain from acts of plagiarism, fabrication, or falsification associated with the submitted manuscript (see Section 6.0 for details).
ii. Any plagiarism, fraud or research misconduct will be reported to the Journal Chief Editors. An investigation into any plagiarism, fraud or research misconduct, or publication malpractices will be done by the Journal Chief Editors with the assistance of the Publisher.
3.4 Image Manipulation
i. Manipulation of images may lead to manipulation of results and compromise the image integrity. It is prohibited to enhance, obscure, move, remove, or introduce a specific feature within an image. Exception and acceptable manipulation include manipulating images for improved clarity such as adjustments of brightness, contrast or colour balance as long as they do not obscure or eliminate information present in the original material. An act of wrongdoing in manipulating images which could be seen or detected as scientific ethical abuse will not be accepted and will be action will be taken accordingly.
ii. Any submitted digital images with suspected manipulations or has been manipulated, this matter will be referred to the Chief Editors/Editors. Primary data may be requested from the authors concerned for comparison with the submitted digital images. Any images/data proven to have been manipulated may be considered as research misconduct. An investigation will be carried out by the Journal and may result in rejection of the manuscript by the journals (see Section 6.0 for details).
3.5 Multiple, Redundant or Concurrent Publications
i. In the case of authors using published figures, data and/or copyrighted materials in the submitted manuscript, it is the responsibility of authors and corresponding authors to:
a. acknowledge the sources in the manuscript.
b. obtain permission from the original publisher; and
c. cite the original article and acknowledge the copyright holder in the figure/table caption.
ii. Upon submission of the manuscript, the author(s) must confirm and agree that no similar work has been or will be submitted or published elsewhere in any language (exception – preprint servers).
iii. The author is not permitted to submit or publish concurrently the same essential research manuscript in more than one journal of primary publication. This is considered as unethical behaviour.
iv. Notwithstanding, the author is allowed to submit or publish a similar manuscript in form of abstract or as part of a published lecture or academic thesis.
3.6 Disclosure and Conflicts of Interest
i. Transparency is vital in scientific research and publication. A conflict of interest may exist when an author, financial or grant supporter, stock owner, patent-licensing owner, editor, or the reviewer has a financial or personal interest that could affect his/her professional judgement or influence his/her actions.
ii. Failure of the author(s) to declare any financial or personal conflicts may undermine the credibility of the journal. Thus, all authors are expected to disclose any conflict of interest during the submission of their manuscripts.
3.7 Availability of Materials and Data Access
i. Upon acceptance of publication, all authors must agree that sample materials and data described in the article are to be made available to the scientific community for non-commercial purposes. Such sample materials and data may include but are not limited to, biological samples, sequence data, images, statistical data, etc.
ii. Manuscripts must contain sufficient details, and necessary materials or information must be made available upon request to enable the research work that can be repeated by other researchers. However, the legitimate interests of the authors will be protected with appropriate agreements to restrict the field of use of sample materials or data that have been made available.
3.8 Biosecurity, Animal Use and Research Permit
i. The Journal discourages any use of infectious agents or their derivatives that could potentially be used as biological weapons, and contrary to the welfare of mankind. Members of the Journal Editorial Board will evaluate any manuscript that may have raised such issues.
ii. Any experiment or research conducted must comply with all current laws of the country or countries involved. Authors describing experimental studies involving animals/human in their manuscripts must obtain approval from their respective Institutional Animal/Human Ethics Committee before manuscript submission and this document must be made available upon request. Misconduct in animal use will result in revocation of the submitted manuscript.
iii. Authors describing research which involves biological resources or collection of biological samples in their manuscripts must obtain research permits from their respective local or state government department (such as Forest Department, Fishery Department, etc.). Permit number or approval reference number (if any) must be listed in the methods section of the manuscript.
iv. Authors should include a statement in the manuscript that informed consent obtained for implementation with human subjects and the privacy right of human subjects must always be observed.
3.9 Reporting Guidelines
The authors must follow the reporting guidelines as per the ICMJE instructions:
For Randomized Controlled Trials - CONSORT flowchart along with checklist to be submitted
For Observational Studies - STROBE
For Systematic Reviews & Meta-analyses - PRISMA flowchart to be submitted
For Diagnostic Accuracy Studies - STARD
For Systematic reviews and meta-analyses - QUOROM
For Case Reports - CARE
Other good sources for reporting guidelines are
NLM's Research Reporting Guidelines and Initiatives
3.10 Article-processing charges (APC)
There are no article processing charges for publication of an article in the journal.
Journal doesn’t charge any fee for the scientific review of the article. Nonetheless, if an article has been approved for publication post review but not moved into the preproduction stage, there will be no charges for withdrawal. In case, the article has been moved further to preproduction post review, withdrawal charges will be applicable as follows:
1. Submissions from India: INR 2500
2. Submissions from outside India: USD 52
3.11 Reviewer suggestions
The journal follows double-blind peer-review process. Authors are welcome to suggest suitable reviewers to review their submitted manuscript. Authors may also request to exclude individuals from reviewing their manuscript due to possible conflict of interest. However, the decision on the reviewers is made by the journal editors.
3.12 Confidential process
All the communication between the authors and the journal must be treated as confidential, including email communication, reviewers' reports, etc. Authors are restricted from posting any confidential materials on any website or published materials, without prior permission from the journal, regardless of the submission is published or rejected.
4.1 Peer Review Ethics
i. The journal follows a double-blind peer-review process. Chief Editor/Editors will select and appoint potential reviewers (two independent external reviewers) who are expected to have related expertise or have the suitable expertise on the relevant field, willing to give full cooperation and commitment and time for reviewing an assigned manuscript to ensure high standards of peer-reviewing. The comments given by the reviewers will be used to assist the Chief Editor/Editors in deciding on the publication and to guide the authors in improving the overall quality of their manuscripts.
ii. Reviewers should review all submissions objectively, fairly, and professionally. When proposing acceptance of a manuscript, the reviewer must ensure that the manuscript meets these criteria: original and significance, research work is of importance to research community in the related field, interesting to scientists in other related fields, and provide evidence for its conclusions. Reviewers should also ensure that the methods are adequately explained, all relevant works are cited properly.
iii. Reviewers should avoid giving comments or statements that are offensive, libellous or discourteous. Reviewers are to abide by the guidelines set by the journals for the scope, content and quality of review and comply with the journal publication policy by the Publisher.
iv. Reviewers should follow the deadline given to review an assigned manuscript. Typically, a manuscript should be reviewed by the reviewer within two weeks. Any extension of reviewing duration must be approved by the Editors concerned. Reviewers may be requested by Editors to review or to give further advice on a revised manuscript.
v. Reviewers should maintain the confidentiality of the peer-review process. All the communication between the reviewers and the journal editors, as well as any manuscript received by the reviewer, must be treated confidentially, and must not at any stage be disclosed or discussed with anyone.
4.2 Disclosure and Conflict of Interest
i. A conflict of interest may exist when a reviewer has a financial or personal interest that could affect his/her professional judgement on the manuscript. Potential reviewers who conduct their research works which are conflicting or competing with the authors will not be appointed.
ii. A potential reviewer must disclose any potential financial or personal conflict (if any) to the Editors before agreeing to review a manuscript. Editors will decide whether to cease the use of reviewers who have such potential conflict of interest.
iii. A reviewer may opt to refuse to review any submission due to a conflict of interest or inadequate knowledge.
Authors retain the copyright of the articles. Authors grant the Publisher an exclusive license to publish their original research papers and to reproduce, recreate, extract, and distribute worldwide in various languages, forms, formats, and media. However, the authors can make certain uses of their work for educational purposes (such as presentations, dissertations, lecture notes, etc.) and/or for further dissemination (such as authors' personal and institution websites and databases, etc.), so long as not for commercial purposes, without first requiring permission from the Publisher.
All the articles are published under the terms of the CC-BY-NC 4.0 license (Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License) which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, for non-commercial purposes, provided the original work is properly cited. Under Creative Commons, authors retain copyright in their articles.
6.1 Definition of Publication Malpractice or Research Misconduct
ii. The Journal adopts the definition of research misconduct by the United States Public Health Service Policies on Research Misconduct-42 CFR Part 93 (June 2005) as the following:
“Research misconduct means fabrication, falsification, or plagiarism in proposing, performing, or reviewing research, or in reporting research results.
a. Fabrication is making up data or results and recording or reporting them.
b. Falsification is manipulating research materials, equipment, or processes, or changing or omitting data or results such that the research is not accurately represented in the research record.
c. Plagiarism is the appropriation of another person's ideas, process, results, or words without giving appropriate credit.
d. Research misconduct does not include honest error or differences of opinion”
ii. The Journal also adopts the Code of Conduct and Best Practice Guidelines for Journal Editors and Journal Publisher in COPE, WAME and ICMJE in this policy.
6.2 Provision for Action
i. Any research misconduct, complaints, and other related matters should be addressed to the Journal Chief Editors.
ii. The Journal follows the Ethical Oversight Flowcharts in COPE's Core Practices when handling an allegation of any research misconduct/publication malpractice. The flowcharts include step-by-step guideline to handle ethical issues related to redundant (duplicate) publication, plagiarism, fabricated data in a submitted manuscript or published article, authorship problems, undisclosed conflict of interest in a submitted manuscript or published article, an ethical problem, reviewer misconduct, etc.
iii. The requirements for findings of research misconduct include:
a. The allegation be proven by compelling evidence for a significant departure in the research work or publication practices
b. The research misconduct is committed intentionally and/or recklessly
iv. For refutations of published articles related to fabricated data or other research misconduct or ethical problem, a copy will be sent to the corresponding authors for signed comments, they will be peer-reviewed, and where possible, by the same reviewers. The journal may bring the attention of research work misconduct to the authors' institution asking for an investigation to ensure the integrity of the published data.
v. For clear plagiarism (unattributed used a large portion of text/data) in a submitted manuscript, a copy of evidence will be sent to the corresponding authors for signed comments. If the author response is unsatisfactory or guilt admitted, the submission will either be rejected or revised. For clear plagiarism in a published article, this will result in either retraction or corrigendum (see Section 6.3).
vi. The respondent has access to all materials related to the allegation, its assessment, investigation, and decision.
vii. The findings and decision of publication malpractice or research misconduct may be appealed by the respondent. An appeal must be filed within 30 days after the decision is made and notified to the respondent.
6.3 Erratum, Corrigendum, Retractions and Addendums
Journal will make amendments or correction of errors for peer-reviewed articles which have been previously published. The amendments can be in the form of erratum (or notification of error made by the journal), corrigendum (or notification of error made by authors), retraction (or notification of departure of research work or invalid work in a previously published article) or addendum (notification of additional information about a published article).