Publication Ethics

Editorship

PAGEPress bly supports the mission of the COPE Code of Conduct and Best Practice Guidelines for Journal Editors; all individuals collaborating with PAGEPress are bly invited to comply with this mission.

Ethics

All research articles published by PAGEPress journals are subject to rigorous ethical standards. Our journals endorse the Code of Conduct of the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE), as well as the COPE International Standards for Editors and Authors Guidelines. The Editorial Board of each journal is responsible for the form the peer review process will take; therefore, all authors in the biomedical field must adhere to the Uniform Requirements for Manuscripts Submitted to Biomedical Journals. PAGEPress endorses the World Association of Medical Editors (WAME) Policy Statement on Geopolitical Intrusion on Editorial Decisions, too.

Principles of Transparency and Best Practice in Scholarly Publishing

The Principles of Transparency and Best Practice in Scholarly Publishing should apply to all published content, including special issues and conference proceedings. Where practices deviate from the standards outlined, editors must transparently communicate the procedures that the journal follows.
These principles also acknowledge that publishers and editors are responsible for promoting accessibility, diversity, equity, and inclusivity in all aspects of the publication. Editorial decisions should be based on scholarly merit. They should not be affected by the origins of the manuscript, including the nationality, ethnicity, political beliefs, race, or religion of the authors. Journals should ensure no policies create an exclusionary environment for anyone wanting to engage with the journal and should regularly assess their policies for inclusivity.

Plagiarism

The Editorial Board of our journals will immediately screen all articles submitted for publication in that journal. All submissions we receive are checked for plagiarism by using online available tools. Any suspected misconduct ends up with a quick rejection and is then reported to the European Network of Research Integrity Offices and to the US Office of Research Integrity. The European Federation of Academies of Sciences and Humanities (ALLEA) released a European Code of Conduct on Research Integrity, which is fully supported by our journals. All authors submitting papers to our journals are required to adopt these policies.

Below some online resources to help you in understanding plagiarism:

Conflict of Interest

Conflict of interest exists when an author (or the author's institution), reviewer, or editor has financial or personal relationships that inappropriately influence (bias) his or her actions (such relationships are also known as dual commitments, competing interests, or competing loyalties). These relationships vary from negligible to great potential for influencing judgment. Not all relationships represent true conflict of interest. On the other hand, the potential for conflict of interest can exist regardless of whether an individual believes that the relationship affects his or her scientific judgment. Financial relationships (such as employment, consultancies, stock ownership, honoraria, and paid expert testimony) are the most easily identifiable conflicts of interest and the most likely to undermine the credibility of the journal, the authors, and of science itself. However, conflicts can occur for other reasons, such as personal relationships, academic competition, and intellectual passion.

All participants in the peer-review and publication process must disclose all relationships that could be viewed as potential conflicts of interest. Disclosure of such relationships is also important in connection with editorials and review articles, because it can be more difficult to detect bias in these types of publications than in reports of original research. Editors may use information disclosed in conflict-of-interest and financial-interest statements as a basis for editorial decisions.

When authors submit a manuscript, whether an article or a letter, they are responsible for disclosing all financial and personal relationships that might bias their work. To prevent ambiguity, authors must state explicitly whether potential conflicts do or do not exist. Authors should do so in the manuscript on a conflict-of-interest notification page, providing additional detail, if necessary, in a cover letter that accompanies the manuscript. Increasingly, individual studies receive funding from commercial firms, private foundations, and government. The conditions of this funding have the potential to bias and otherwise discredit the research.

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 may request that authors of a study funded by an agency with a proprietary or financial interest in the outcome sign a statement, such as "I had full access to all of the data in this study and I take complete responsibility for the integrity of the data and the accuracy of the data analysis." Editors should be encouraged to review copies of the protocol and/or contracts associated with project-specific studies before accepting such studies for publication. Editors may choose not to consider an article if a sponsor has asserted control over the authors' right to publish.

Reviewers must disclose to editors any conflicts of interest that could bias their opinions of the manuscript, and they should recuse themselves from reviewing specific manuscripts if the potential for bias exists. As in the case of authors, silence on the part of reviewers concerning potential conflicts may mean either that conflicts exist and the reviewer has failed to disclose them or conflicts do not exist. Reviewers must therefore also be asked to state explicitly whether conflicts do or do not exist. Reviewers must not use knowledge of the work, before its publication, to further their own interests.

Editors who make final decisions about manuscripts must have no personal, professional, or financial involvement in any of the issues they might judge. Other members of the editorial staff, if they participate in editorial decisions, must provide editors with a current description of their financial interests (as they might relate to editorial judgments) and recuse themselves from any decisions in which a conflict of interest exists.

Informed Consent

PAGEPress journals strictly follow the ICMJE Protection of Research Participants policy.
Where authors wish to include case details, other personal information, or images of patients or other individuals in a PAGEPress publication, appropriate consents, permissions, and releases must be obtained.
Patients have a right to privacy that should not be violated without informed consent. When informed consent has been obtained, editors may request authors to provide a copy before making the editorial decision. Authors can find a template for the Informed Consent here.

It is the author's responsibility to ensure that:

  • each individual, or the individual's legal guardian or other people with legal authority to act on the individual's behalf, who appears in any video, recording, photograph, image, illustration, or case report (or in any other identifiable form), is made aware in advance of:
  • the fact that such photographs are being taken or such video, recording, photograph, image, illustration, or report is being made, and
  • all the purposes for which such photographs are being taken or such video, or recording, Individuals should also be informed that individual images from such works or products may be discoverable through search engines.

That individual, legal guardian, or person with legal authority must provide written consent that is explicit and fully informed.

If such consent is conditional (for example, adopting measures to prevent personal identification of the person concerned), PAGEPress must be made aware of all such conditions in writing. Individuals must be informed that once the material has been published, such consent cannot be revoked. Written consents must be retained by the author, and copies of the consents or evidence of such consents must be provided to PAGEPress upon request, but these should not be sent to PAGEPress unless specifically requested in writing.

  • The written consent form meets all of the requirements of all applicable Data Protection and Privacy Laws. Particular care should be taken to obtain fully informed consent without coercion when children are involved, when an individual has cognitive or intellectual disabilities, when an individual's head or face appears, when an individual's name or other personal details are mentioned, or when other vulnerable groups or individuals are mentioned.
  • If the parents or guardians of a child disagree on the use of images of that child, consent should be deemed not to have been given, and the images should not be used. To reduce the risk of images being used inappropriately, only images of children dressed appropriately should be used.
  • Even if consent has been obtained, care must be taken to ensure that the portrayal and captioning of the individual in question are respectful and do not come across as demeaning.
  • Special precautions should also be taken when there is a possibility of extensive media coverage of a specific case report, so that the individual is fully informed of the potential extent of the publicity and can make an informed decision about participation.

Particular considerations

  • The names, initials, hospital or social security numbers, dates of birth, or other personal or identifying information of patients and research subjects should not be used.
  • Images of patients or research subjects should not be used unless the information is required for scientific purposes and explicit permission has been granted as part of the consent process. Even if consent has been granted, identifying information should be omitted if it is not required.
  • If identifying characteristics are changed to protect anonymity, authors must ensure that the changes do not distort scientific meaning.

Images that are unidentifiable

  • Formal consents are not required for the use of completely anonymized images from which the individual cannot be identified, such as x-rays, ultrasound images, pathology slides, or laparoscopic images, as long as they do not contain any identifying marks and are not accompanied by text that could identify the individual in question. Although formal consent is not required, the author should inform the patient that their images will be used in a scientific publication as a matter of good practice and courtesy.
  • While details that could identify a patient or allow a patient to identify himself or herself should be removed from case reports, complete anonymity cannot always be guaranteed, so informed consent should be obtained for all case reports. This also applies to case reports involving deceased people, where consent should be obtained from the individual's nominated representative(s) if it was not provided by the individual. If consent has not been obtained, simply using eye bars or blurring the individual's face to anonymize a photograph is generally insufficient.

Confidentiality

Manuscripts must be reviewed while maintaining the authors' confidentiality. When authors submit manuscripts for review, they are entrusting editors with the results of their scientific and creative work, on which their reputation and career may rely. The disclosure of confidential details during the review of an author's manuscript may violate their rights. Reviewers have the right to confidentiality, which the editor must respect. Confidentiality may have to be violated if dishonesty or fraud is suspected, but it must otherwise be respected. Editors must not reveal information about manuscripts to anyone other than the authors and reviewers (including their receipt, content, status in the reviewing process, reviewer criticism, or ultimate fate). This includes requests for the materials to be used in legal proceedings.

Role of the funding source

Authors are requested to identify who provided financial support for the conduct of the research and/or preparation of the article and to briefly describe the role of the sponsor(s), if any, in study design; in the collection, analysis and interpretation of data; in the writing of the report; and in the decision to submit the article for publication. If the funding source(s) had no such involvement, it is recommended to state this.

Obligation to Register Clinical Trials

The ICMJE believes that it is important to foster a comprehensive, publicly available database of clinical trials. The ICMJE defines a clinical trial as any research project that prospectively assigns human subjects to intervention or concurrent comparison or control groups to study the cause-and-effect relationship between a medical intervention and a health outcome. Medical interventions include drugs, surgical procedures, devices, behavioral treatments, process-of-care changes, etc. Our journals require, as a condition of consideration for publication, registration in a public trials registry. The journal considers a trial for publication only if it has been registered before the enrollment of the first patient. The journal does not advocate one particular registry, but requires authors to register their trial in a registry that meets several criteria. The registry must be accessible to the public at no charge. It must be open to all prospective registrants and managed by a non-profit organization. There must be a mechanism to ensure the validity of the registration data, and the registry should be electronically searchable. An acceptable registry must include a minimum of data elements (http://www.icmje.org/about-icmje/faqs/clinical-trials-registration/). For example, ClinicalTrials.gov (http://www.clinicaltrials.gov), sponsored by the United States National Library of Medicine, meets these requirements.

Protection of Human Subjects and Animals in Research

When reporting experiments on human subjects, authors should indicate whether the procedures followed were in accordance with the ethical standards of the responsible committee on human experimentation (institutional and national) and with the Helsinki Declaration of 1975, as revised in 2013. If doubt exists whether the research was conducted in accordance with the Helsinki Declaration, the authors must explain the rationale for their approach and demonstrate that the institutional review body explicitly approved the doubtful aspects of the study. An Informed Consent statement is always required from patients involved in any experiments. When reporting experiments on animals, authors should indicate whether the institutional and national guide for the care and use of laboratory animals was followed.  Further guidance on animal research ethics is available from the World Medical Association (2016 revision). When reporting experiments on ecosystems involving non-native species, Authors are bound to ensure compliance with the institutional and national guide for the preservation of native biodiversity.

Appealing editorial decisions

Editors have broad discretion in deciding whether an article is a good fit for their journal. Many manuscripts are rejected with a very general statement of the reason for the rejection. These decisions are not subject to formal appeal unless the author believes the decision to reject the manuscript was based on a mistake in the article's review, in which case the author may appeal the decision by providing the Editor with a detailed written description of the error they believe occurred.
If an author believes that a publication ethics violation influenced the decision on their manuscript, the author may contact the publisher with a detailed written description of their concern and supporting information.
The Editor-in-Chief (or Handling Editor) considers the authors' argument, the reviewer reports, and decides whether:

  • the decision to reject should stand;
  • whether another independent opinion is required;
  • or whether the appeal should be considered.

The decision is communicated to the complainant, along with an explanation if necessary. Appeals decisions are final, and new submissions take precedence over appeals.

Citations

Citing and referencing appropriate and relevant literature is a necessary component of scholarly publishing, and it is a shared responsibility among all parties involved (authors, editors, peer reviewers). Authors must avoid excessive and inappropriate self-citation, as well as author group prearrangements to inappropriately cite each other's work, coordinated efforts among several authors to collectively self-cite, and gratuitous and unnecessary citation of articles published in the journal to which the paper has been submitted, as this can be considered citation manipulation, a type of misconduct.
Editors and peer reviewers should not request citations from authors unless there is a compelling scholarly reason to do so.
Citation manipulation will result in the article being rejected, and the authors' institutions may be notified. Similarly, authors should report to the publisher any attempt by peer-reviewers or editors to encourage such practices.

When preparing their manuscript, authors should keep the following guidelines in mind:

  • A citation should be used for any statement in the manuscript that relies on external sources of information (i.e., not the authors' own new ideas, findings, or general knowledge).
  • Derivations of original work should not be cited by authors. For example, rather than citing a review article that cites an original work, they should cite the original work.
  • Authors should make certain that their citations are correct (i.e. they should ensure the citation supports the statement made in their manuscript and should not misrepresent another work by citing it if it does not support the point the authors wish to make).
  • Authors should avoid citing sources they have not read.
  • Authors should not preferentially cite their own or the publications of their friends, peers, or institutions.
  • Authors should avoid citing only work from a single country.
  • Authors should not cite too many sources to support a single point.
  • Wherever possible, authors should cite sources that have been peer reviewed.
  • Advertisements or advertorial material should not be cited by authors.

Reviewer Suggestions / Exclusions

When submitting their manuscripts, authors are encouraged to suggest suitable reviewers and/or request the exclusion of specific individuals. When recommending reviewers, authors should ensure that they are completely independent and have no ties to the work in any way. It is bly advised to suggest a diverse group of reviewers from various countries and institutions. When suggesting reviewers, the Corresponding Author must include an institutional email address for each suggested reviewer, or, if this is not possible, other means of verifying the identity in the submission letter, such as a link to a personal homepage, a link to the publication record, or a researcher or author ID. Please keep in mind that while the Journal may not use your suggestions, they are greatly appreciated and may help with the peer review process.

Availability of data and materials

The reproducibility of scientific claims is essential for the credibility of published research. The data from which results and conclusions are drawn is at the heart of research claims. Scientific claims can be difficult (if not impossible) to replicate without access to the original data. Mandatory data availability statements compile information on the availability of data associated with the manuscript, such as whether the data is in repositories, available on request, included with supplementary information, or included with figure source data files.

Post-publication corrections

Every article published by a PAGEPress journal, or a journal published by PAGEPress on behalf of a scholarly society, whether in print or online, constitutes the Version of Record (VoR): the final, definitive, and citable version in the scholarly record (see NISO, 2008).
The VoR includes:

  • The paper, revised and accepted following peer review, in its final form, including the abstract, text, references, bibliography, and all accompanying tables, illustrations, data.
  • Any additional materials.

Recognizing a published article as a finalized VoR establishes the expectation that it can be relied upon as accurate, complete, and citable. Wherever possible it is our policy to maintain the integrity of the Version of Record in accordance with STM Association guidelines:  “Articles that have been published should remain extant, exact, and unaltered to the maximum extent possible” - STM Guidelines on Preservation of the Objective Record of Science

It is sometimes necessary to make changes to the Version of Record after an article has been published. This will be done after careful consideration by the Editor who is also supported by PAGEPress staff to ensure any necessary changes are made in accordance with guidance from the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE).

Corrections, Expressions of Concern, and Retractions

Any necessary changes will be accompanied with a post-publication notice that will be permanently linked to the original article, ensuring that readers are fully informed of any required changes. This could be a Correction notice, an Expression of Concern or a Retraction. The goal of this mechanism for making permanent and transparent changes is to protect the scholarly record's integrity.
All corrections, expressions of concern, and retraction notices are made available at the time of publication.
We use these notices to address the following issues, as discussed further below:

  • Errors that affect an article's interpretation or indexing
  • Concerns about the journal's policies and standards
  • Concerns about the publication's integrity, dependability, and/or validity

In responding to concerns about PAGEPress publications, we adhere to our journals' policies, publication criteria, and editorial standards, as well as ICMJE and COPE guidelines where applicable.
PAGEPress collaborates with journal Editors on cases involving serious ethics or integrity concerns after publication, including those warranting an Expression of Concern or Retraction.
If you wish to notify PAGEPress of an error in your publication that may require a correction, please send an email to the journal directly with the relevant details (article citation and DOI, description of the error).

Corrections

We publish corrections to PAGEPress articles when it is necessary to correct an error or omission that may affect the interpretation of the article, but where the scholarly integrity of the article remains intact (e.g., mislabeling of a figure, missing key information on funding or competing interests of the authors). PAGEPress may also issue a correction to address an error in the publication's metadata (for example, a misspelled author's name or errors in the competing interests, funding, or data availability statement).
Typically, a correction notice will appear as a post-publication notice linked to the original PAGEPress article, with following actions:

  • Add a footnote to the published Version of Record displaying the electronic link to the correction notice.
  • Paginate and make available the correction notice in the online issue of the journal, electronically linked back to the published Version of Record.

Corrections for typographical errors or other minor issues that do not have a significant impact on the scientific integrity, understanding, or indexability of the article will not be published.

Retractions

As discussed in COPE's Retraction Guidelines, Retraction is a mechanism for correcting the literature and informing readers of major concerns about the integrity, validity, or reliability of an article. If the Editors determine that unresolved issues in our discussions with the authors warrant retraction in accordance with COPE guidelines, PAGEPress will retract the article. Authors and institutions may request that their articles be retracted if their reasons meet the retraction criteria.
If a major error (e.g., in the analysis or methods) invalidates the article's conclusions, or if research misconduct or publication misconduct has occurred, a retraction notice will be issued (e.g., research without required ethical approvals, fabricated data, manipulated images, plagiarism, duplicate publication, etc.). When a decision is made to retract an article, PAGEPress will:

  • Add a "retracted" watermark to the published article.
  • Issue a separate retraction statement, titled 'Retraction: "[article title]", with a link to the retracted article.
  • The retraction statement will be paginated and made available in the journal's online issue.

Expressions of Concern

Expressions of Concern are notices published at the discretion of the Editors to alert readers of serious concerns about published work. In most cases, PAGEPress will complete the case's follow-up before publishing a notice; however, in some cases, an Expression of Concern may be published as an interim notice while PAGEPress or another entity investigates an issue. If we complete our follow-up process and issues remain unresolved, an Expression of Concern may be used to resolve a post-publication case. Expressions of Concern are written by PAGEPress staff and/or the journal's Editor(s)-in-Chief. When published, an Expression of Concern is posted on the relevant journal's webpage and linked to the article's publication record, similar to a correction. An Expression of Concern has no effect on the linked research article's publication status. Following the publication of an Expression of Concern, the same article or the Expression of Concern itself may be corrected or retracted, depending on the editors' assessment of information, data, and/or materials received in subsequent discussions.
Before publishing an Expression of Concern, PAGEPress attempts to notify the authors of the affected article, but does not require their approval or agreement.
The Expression of Concern will be linked back to the published article it relates to.