We publish journals with a view to serve various purposes which include but not limited to just peer review, broad distribution, branding and authority, portability and creation of the archive of a body of literature....
There is considerable variation in the publication process, ethics, and rules followed by different scientific publishers. Thus, there was a need to standardize these procedures at all levels. This led to the formation of the Committee on Publication Ethics (CoPE) in 1997. The CoPE guidelines were developed to address the ambiguities and establish uniform guidelines for the publication process to prevent misconduct and ensure integrity at all stages of research.
These guidelines provide a basic framework for investigators to encourage ethical research and are updated at regular intervals, based on the inputs from users.
The CoPE guidelines address the following issues:
A. Study Design and Ethical approval
A carefully designed and planned study design that is ethically sound and contributes meaningfully to the field of research qualifies as good research. Anything which is not up to the standards, is considered misconduct.
1. All laboratory and clinical studies should follow proper protocol. Every pilot study needs to have an appropriate rationale.
2. The research should aim to answer an important research question and/or address a research gap.
3. The protocols must be agreeable to everyone involved in the research.
4. The final protocol should be included in the research records.
5. The precise roles of all team members should be clearly defined in the beginning. Issues like authorship and publication should also be addressed.
6. Optimum participant number will ensure accurate statistical calculations.
7. A well-constituted ethics committee should be approached for formal and documented ethical approval for all studies that involve people, medical records, and anonymized human tissues.
8. The Nuffield Council on Bioethics outlines the highest ethical standards to be followed for all studies involving human tissues.
9. Every research study warrants informed consent from all participants. In cases where this is not possible, approval should be sought from a well-constituted ethics committee.
10. All research trials should follow international guidelines, such as those established by the Council for International Organizations of Medical Sciences (CIOMS).
11. If the experiments involve animals, they need to be fully compliant with the local and national regulatory and ethical principles and local licensing arrangements. The international standards, however, may be different.
12. Precise supervision as well as regular monitoring by the principle investigator is needed at all stages of the research to ensure strict quality control. All records need to be maintained for at least 15 years.
B. Data Analyses
All the collected data should be appropriately analyzed. Inappropriate analysis may not be considered as a malpractice, but data fabrication and falsification are considered unethical.
1. All the methods that are used for data collection and analysis should be clearly explained. The inclusion and exclusion criteria need to be well defined.
2. All methodology, equipment, and procedures need to be explained well enough for readers to replicate them in future trials. In particular, any new or less-known methods should be explained descriptively.
3. If any subgroup has to be analyzed after study completion, such analysis may be accepted, provided that it is disclosed.
4. Any potential/actual bias should be mentioned in the Results and Discussion section of the manuscript with an explanation regarding measures that were taken to minimize the confounding effects.
Any person who is named the “main author” assumes complete responsibility of the manuscript in part or whole.
1. The author(s) should actively contribute to all aspects of the study, from conception to data publication.
2. Author contribution, financial support, and acknowledgements need to be clarified and documented clearly and accurately to prevent ambiguity and potential dispute.
3. All authors are responsible for the manuscript contents and any discrepancies therein.
4. Authors must be fully aware of the publisher’s policies to ensure complete compliance.
D. Conflicts of Interest
Conflicts of interest can affect the judgment of the authors, reviewers, and editors. If such a study is published, it may make the reader feel misled and beguiled.
1. Such interests must be disclosed to the editors by all those involved in the publication, including the researchers, authors, and reviewers.
2. Any editor involved in the study should drop out of the review team of that manuscript to ensure a fair review process.
E. Peer Review
Generally, peer reviewers are not a part of the in-house editorial team but are field experts who provide valuable inputs as external experts. Each publisher has a different working model. Some may disclose the names of their peer reviewers along with their full or edited report, while some may not.
1. Authors may recommend suitable reviewers from their field. However, the editors are not obligated to select these reviewers.
2. All the peer reviewers need to maintain confidentiality.
3. The reviewers are not to retain or copy the manuscripts.
4. The data, arguments, results, or interpretations should not be used by the reviewers or editors, without prior permission from the authors.
5. The reports provided by the reviewers should be quick, accurate, unbiased, and respectful.
6. If any misconduct is suspected, the reviewers should notify the editor confidentially.
7. The journals should have clear norms for their peer review, selection, and appeals processes.
8. Journals should provide regular analysis of their rates of acceptance of manuscripts and average publication time.
F. Redundant Publication
Redundant publication occurs when the same study is published fully or in parts in two different journals, without proper cross referencing.
1. Previously published studies should not be republished.
2. If an abstract of the study has been published, the entire paper can be published later, but full disclosure must be made at the time of submission.
3. The same paper can be re-published in another language, provided a full disclosure is made at the time of submission.
4. Any related or similar papers, even if in a different language, need to be disclosed by the authors during manuscript submission.
Plagiarism refers to the use of data from another published or unpublished scientific work without due acknowledgment of the author.
1. All relevant references and citations should be provided. If a large amount of the previously published work is being used, prior permissions from the original author are required.
H. Media Relations
The media has started taking a keen interest in the latest advancements in medical, technical, and engineering research. Many scientific professionals and journalists attend scientific meetings held by research organizations and publication houses where preliminary research findings are discussed.
They then publish these findings prematurely, which may not be desirable.
1. If the authors are approached by the media and/or publication house(s), they should give a balanced report about their findings, clearly stating what is actual evidence and what is speculation.
2. Publication of the research findings in the mass media and a peer-reviewed journal simultaneously proves that there is enough data and evidence to support the research. This will appease the informed and critical readers.
3. If this is not feasible, the authors should make sure that the journalists produce an accurate report. They should avoid giving out data other than what is required.
4. In the case of clinical trials, before publishing the findings in the media, results should be shared with the study participants, especially if they are clinically significant.
5. The organizers of scientific meetings should give prior intimation to the authors if journalists are expected to attend it.
6. The publishers should inform the authors about their media policies.
Copyright and License Agreements
A copyright gives exclusive rights to the owner on their original work. In order to use or allow the use of copyrighted material, a copyright license agreement should be drafted to maintain written records. This agreement allows the use of copyrighted material in any desired manner.
Scientific Misconduct, Expression of Concern, and Retraction
There are standard codes of conduct and behavior that need to be followed while publishing scientific work. Any violations in this behavior are deemed scientific misconduct. This may include data fabrication, data falsification, as well as failure to disclose conflict of interest and plagiarism.
If scientific misconduct is suspected or if there are concerns regarding the overall integrity of the study in the submitted manuscripts, the editor should initiate appropriate procedures, inform the concerned authorities, and may choose to publish an expression of concern. If there is an investigation at the author’s institution, the editor should keep track of the investigation outcomes, inform the readers about it, and if misconduct is proven, initiate a retraction of the article.
The following are some additional publication guidelines from Madridge Publishers:
1. Abstracts are brief summaries of the main paper. They allow the reader to understand the purpose, methodology, and important study findings.
Abstracts improve the visibility of the actual paper since they are freely available. While submitting the abstracts, define each point separately, such as introduction, methodology, results, and conclusion.
2. The authors should strictly adhere to the prescribed author guidelines. Any manuscript found to have discrepancies will be sent back for revision or may be completely withdrawn.
3. The time taken for publication may be up to 45 days from the date of submission. If there are any exceptional circumstances, where the paper needs publishing on an urgent basis, please mention this in the covering email. The editor may review and decide whether to accelerate the process.
4. The authors may get either of the two responses from the reviewers after manuscript submission:
a) Revise and Resubmit (R&R) means that there are some flaws or discrepancies in the paper and if revised, it may be published. Publication is not guaranteed, but it is not an outright rejection
b) Accepted, subject to revision: meaning, if changes are made as per mentioned by the reviewers and editors, the article will be accepted.
5. In case revisions are suggested, the authors may submit the revised article within 2 weeks to 6 months, depending on the amount of changes required. The same will be mentioned by the editor in his letter.
6. Authors should refrain from sending the paper directly to the editor.
7. An article which is innovative, clear, and well-written will always be appreciated.
8. If an article has been rejected, authors should abstain from sending an email to the editor immediately. The editor/reviewer comments can be used to understand the reason for rejection and the feedback can be used constructively for future work. All correspondence to the editor should be polite and respectful.
9. Authors are not permitted to submit/publish the same paper in multiple journals.
10. Authors are expected to follow all the submission guidelines. The submitted manuscript should be as polished as possible to minimize the processing time.
Madridge publishers are committed to excellence. Maintaining authenticity and integrity of the published articles is our priority. We pride ourselves on our high standards of quality and focus regarding the publication of original and innovative papers, with no margin for compromise on ethical standards.