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Publication ethics

Daath Voyage strongly recommends journal editors to adhere to the principles of COPE, committing to investigate allegations of misconduct and to ensure the integrity of research.

The publication of an article in a peer-reviewed journal is an essential building block in the development of a coherent and respected network of knowledge. It is a direct reflection of the quality of the work of the authors and the institutions that support them. It is therefore important to agree upon standards of expected ethical behavior for all contributors involved in the act of publishing: the author, the journal editor, the peer reviewer and the publisher of journal.

Ethical issues

Six fundamental ethical issues have been defined, and procedures for responding to misconduct have been outlined below.  Each ethical issue is followed by recommended actions as advised by COPE for Journal Editor and when available additional reading has been added. 

To help discover potential misconduct in the form of plagiarism or duplicate/redundant at submission stage, always contact your Publishing Editor if you are confronted with an ethical issue.

Data fabrication: This concerns the making up of research findings.

Data falsification: Manipulating research data with the intention of giving a false impression. This includes manipulating images, removing outliers or “inconvenient” results, changing, adding or omitting data points, etc.

With regard to image manipulation it is allowed to technically improve images for readability. Proper technical manipulation refers to adjusting the contrast and/or brightness or color balance if it is applied to the complete digital image (and not parts of the image). Any technical manipulation by the author should be notified in the cover letter to the Journal Editor upon submission. Improper technical manipulation refers to obscuring, enhancing, deleting and/or introducing new elements into an image. Generally, if an author’s figures are questionable, it is suggested to request the original data from the authors.

Duplicate submission / publication: This refers to the practice of submitting the same study to two journals or publishing more or less the same study in two journals. These submissions/publications can be nearly simultaneous or years later.

Redundant publication (also described as ‘salami publishing’): this refers to the situation that one study is split into several parts and submitted to two or more journals. Or the findings have previously been published elsewhere without proper cross-referencing, permission or justification. “Self-plagiarism” is considered a form of redundant publication. It concerns recycling or borrowing content from previous work without citation. This practice is widespread and might be unintentional. Transparency by the author on the use of previously published work usually provides the necessary information to make an assessment on whether it is deliberate or unintentional.

Note! Translations of articles without proper permission or notification and resubmission of previously published Open Access articles are considered duplications.

Points meant for reviewing the case consider the following factors:

  • Author seniority. Junior authors may be asked to paraphrase the copied text if it is believed that they are genuinely not aware that copying phrases is inappropriate. It is expected that a senior author should know better.
  • Cultural background could be an indication for potentially different behaviors concerning the amount of copying which could be seen as plagiarism.

The following listing is designed to make reviewer aware of the various possibilities concerning plagiarism:

  • Verbatim copying of another’s work and submitting it as one’s own.
  • Verbatim copying of significant portions of text from a single source.
  • Mixing verbatim copied material from multiple sources (“patchwork copying”). This could range from 1 or 2 paragraphs to significant portions consisting of several paragraphs.
  • Changing key words and phrases but retaining the essential content of the source as a framework.
  • Rephrasing of the text’s original wording and/or structure and submitting it as one’s own.
  • Mixing slightly rephrased material from multiple sources and presenting what has been published already as new.
  • The work is cited, but the cited portions are not clearly identified. This can be combined with copied parts of text without citation.

However for review papers the above is not directly applicable. Review papers are expected to give a summary of existing literature. Authors should use their own words with exception of properly quoted and/or cited texts and the work should include a new interpretation.

Authorship Issues

COPE has written an article with advice on how to spot potential authorship problems.

Most authorship problems have to do with authorship without the author’s knowledge and unacknowledged authorship. For more information; see http://www.icmje.org.

Undeclared conflict of interest (CoI)

A conflict of interest is a situation in which financial or other personal considerations from authors or reviewers have the potential to compromise or bias professional judgment and objectivity. Authors and reviewers should declare all conflicts of interest relevant to the work under consideration (i.e. relationships, both financial and personal, that might interfere with the interpretation of the work) to avoid the potential for bias.

Correcting the literature

In some cases it might be necessary to correct the literature in order to maintain the integrity of the research literature. The COPE Retraction Guidelines describe exactly when and which option should be used.

Erratum – Journal Editor should consider issuing an erratum if:

  • a small portion of an otherwise reliable publication proves to be misleading (especially because of honest error)
  • the author/contributor list is incorrect

Retraction Note– Journal Editor should consider retracting a publication if:

  • there is clear evidence that the findings are unreliable, either as a result of misconduct or honest error
  • the findings have previously been published elsewhere without proper cross-referencing, permission or justification
  • it constitutes plagiarism
  • it reports unethical research

The text for retraction notes can be submitted/written by the author(s), Journal editor, or jointly.

Expression of Concern– Journal Editor should consider issuing an expression of concern if:

  • there is inconclusive evidence of research or publication misconduct by the authors
  • there is evidence that the findings are unreliable but the authors’ institution will not investigate the case
  • it is believed that an investigation into alleged misconduct related to the publication either has not been, or would not be, fair and impartial or conclusive.

Should an author be banned for malpractice?

Banning is not a policy endorsed by COPE. COPE advises that the matter of punishment should reside with the author’s institute. Publishers are expected to correct the literature. It is however Daath Voyage's view that in exceptional cases (e.g. in cases of repeat offenders or authors using abusive language) the Editor-in-Chief/Editorial Board has the right to refuse to review/accept papers from these authors.

For more information see The Code of Conduct and Best Practice Guidelines for Journal Editors and/or see visit the COPE website: www.publicationethics.org