This Journal is always a team effort. Handling research integrity and publishing ethics issues relating to journals is no exception. These issues also may give rise to or involve legal issues. We suggest that journals refer to these guidelines when establishing policies and procedures and as an initial point of reference when issues arise.
As a first step to addressing any issue we suggest that editors, publishers, and other journal team members discuss the concerns raised. We suggest that these discussions happen before taking any further action, and that legal advice is sought where needed and in particular where issues involve potential defamation, breach of contract, privacy, or copyright infringement.
The editor and any editorial staff must not disclose any information about a submitted manuscript to anyone other than the corresponding author, reviewers, potential reviewers, other editorial advisers, and the publisher, as appropriate. Journal adopts the committee on publication ethics ICMJE code of conduct and best practice guidelines for journal editors on publication ethics.
The peer-reviewing process assists the editor and the editorial board in making editorial decisions and may also serve the author in improving the paper. Any selected referee who feels unqualified to review the research reported in a manuscript or knows that its prompt review will be impossible should notify the editor and withdraw from the review process. Any manuscripts received for review must be treated as confidential documents. They must not be disclosed to or discussed with others except as authorized by the editor.
Standards of objectivity:
Reviews should be conducted objectively. Personal criticism of the author is inappropriate. Referees should express their views clearly with supporting arguments.
Reviewers should identify cases in which relevant published work referred to in the paper has not been cited in the reference section. They should point out whether observations or arguments derived from other publications are accompanied by the respective source. Reviewers will notify the editor of any substantial similarity or overlap between the manuscript under consideration and any other published paper of which they have personal knowledge.
Authors of original research reports should present an accurate account of the work performed as well as an objective discussion of its significance. Underlying data should be represented accurately in the paper. A paper should contain sufficient detail and references to permit others to replicate the work. Fraudulent or knowingly inaccurate statements constitute unethical behaviour and are unacceptable.
Data access and retention:
Authors could be asked to provide the raw data of their study together with the paper for editorial review and should be prepared to make the data publicly available if practicable. In any event, authors should ensure accessibility of such data to other competent professionals for at least ten years after publication (preferably via an institutional or subject-based data repository or other data centre), provided that the confidentiality of the participants can be protected and legal rights concerning proprietary data do not preclude their release.