Publication Ethics

ETHICS IN PUBLISHING

RDA/RDRF and its editorial board thrive to achieve the publication of articles by researchers and scholars. All articles submitted to RDA/RDRF are screened properly for any plagiarized content.

On the following pages, RDA/RDRF provides practical guidance to Journal Editors and Society which helps manage the repercussions potentially arising from publishing work which could be in breach with the codes of conduct.

INTRODUCTION

Researchers should conduct their research from research proposal to publication in line with best practices and codes of conduct of relevant professional bodies and/or national and international regulatory bodies. In rare cases it is possible that ethical issues or misconduct could be encountered in your journal when research is submitted for publication.

Important! We advise you to contact RDA/RDRF Publishing Editor if you are dealing with a (potential) case of publishing misconduct.

Almost every step in the publishing process involves important ethical principles. Having clear statements on these issues can encourage responsible publication practices.

A clear description of ethical principles will help manage author expectations and will help manage situations that may arise if these statements have not been adhered to by authors. Below you will find a few of the most important ethical principles.

 

CLEAR GUIDELINES ON SUBMISSION OF THE WORK

 

  • that the work has not been published before (except in the form of an abstract or as part of a published lecture, review or thesis)

  • that the work is not under consideration elsewhere

  • that copyright has not been breached in seeking its publication

  • that the publication has been approved by all co-authors and responsible authorities at the institute or organization where the work has been carried out

GUIDELINES ON WHAT CONSTITUTES AUTHORSHIP AND HOW CHANGES TO AUTHORSHIP PROPOSED ARE HANDLED.

Although there is no universal definition of what constitutes authorship it is generally believed that authors should be identified by the research group as having contributed sufficiently to the scientific work, who are accountable for their part of the work, and who critically reviewed and approved the final manuscript. Criteria: Authoring, Drafting, Reviewing, Approving.

DESCRIPTION OF THE PEER REVIEW PROCESS

Peer review is fundamental in ensuring the integrity of the scientific publication process and can flag potential misconduct at an early stage.

COPE has developed ethical guidelines for peer reviewers which can be used as a reference for providing guidance to peer reviewers.

For more information see COPE Ethical Guidelines for Peer Reviewers.

 

ETHICAL ISSUES AND WHAT TO DO WHEN YOU ARE ENCOUNTERING POSSIBLE MISCONDUCT?

It should be noted there are two distinct situations: serious scientific fraud or errors. Errors could be due to negligence (for example statistical errors) or honest errors which are part of the normal course of doing research. It is therefore important to treat potential cases with care as academic careers could be at risk.

Five Steps To Follow When Encountering Possible Misconduct:

  • Remain a neutral player and treat all potential misconduct cases confidentially

  • Keep records of written communication including the allegation and the evidence of the complainant

  • Raise the issue with the accused (co-)author in a timely manner

  • Assess what exactly has happened (fact finding) and be transparent and final about decisions

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.

Plagiarism occurs when someone presents the work of others (data, text, or theories) as if it was his/her own without proper acknowledgment. There are different degrees of plagiarism.

The severity is dependent on various factors: extent of copied material, originality of copied material, position/context/type of material and referencing/attribution of the material used.

 

References

COPE Committee on Publication Ethics

Council of Science Editors, CSE's White Paper on Promoting Integrity in Scientific Journal Publications, 2012, 3.4 Digital Images and Misconduct

Fanelli D, How many scientists fabricate and falsify research? A systematic review and meta-analysis of survey data, PLoS ONE (2009), May 4(5): e5738

Rossner M, Yamada KM, What's in a picture? The temptation of image manipulation, The Journal of Cell Biology (2004), July 166(1): 11-15

Springer guide on how to interpret results using iThenticate Software

The Office of Research Integrity, Newsletter, Volume 21, No.1, December 2012

The Scientific Research Society, Inc, Honor in Science, 1986, USA

Wager E, How should editors respond to plagiarism? COPE discussion paper, 26th April 2011

WAME World Association of Medical Editors, Publication Ethics Policies for Medical Journals

Bosch X, Hernández C, Pericas, JM, Doti P, Maruŝić A, Misconduct Policies in High-Impact Biomedical Journals, PLoS One (2012), December 7(12): e51928

 

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