Submitted work must comply with these policies, which are based on the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) guidelines on good publication and comply with their Code of Conduct.
ETHICS APPROVAL FOR PAPERS SUBMITTED TO “CCE”
The Editors aim to ensure that all articles published in “CCE” meet internationally accepted ethical standards. To achieve this, we evaluate the ethical aspects of submitted work that involves human or animal subjects. We require that authors submitting a paper provide the date, approval number or code and or name of the approving committee on all work submitted to “CCE”.
If ethical concerns are raised, we will require full disclosure of ethical aspects of a study (such as copies of the consent forms) and we may, at our discretion conduct a formal or informal ethical review of the study whether or not it meets acceptable standards for publication. Results of this review may be shared with the authors, and if concerns are identified they will be passed along to the authors’ institution(s).
Editorial appraisal of ethical issues goes beyond simply deciding whether human subjects in a study gave fully informed consent, although this is one very important issue to consider. The Editors will judge whether the overall design and conduct of each piece of work is morally justifiable. If a study is deemed unethical, it will be rejected whether or not the findings were judged to be of importance.
Patient confidentiality and consent to publication
“CCE” requires that authors use the BMJ guidelines on patient consent to publication: http://resources.bmj.com/bmj/about-bmj/advisory-panels/ethics-committee/.
Manuscripts concerned with human studies must contain statements indicating that informed, written consent has been obtained, that studies have been performed according to the Declaration of Helsinki, and that the procedures have been approved by a local ethics committee. If individuals might be identified from a publication (e.g. from images) authors must obtain explicit consent from the individual.
Manuscripts describing studies involving animals should comply with local/national guidelines governing the use of experimental animals and must contain a statement indicating that the procedures have been approved by the appropriate regulatory body.
SERIOUS RESEARCH MISCONDUCT
Very rarely, the Editors may have cause to suspect serious research misconduct, based on comments received or his/her own review of a paper. In this case, the article in question will be held in abeyance until this matter is resolved. The Editors will contact authors and any appropriate third party to ascertain whether the grounds for investigation are justified. If serious research misconduct is discovered, the Editors will contact the authors’ institutions after rejecting the paper.
Despite vigorous peer-review, it is possible that a paper that is fraudulent in some manner may be published. If this is discovered, it will immediately be retracted and appropriate steps will be taken to notify readers of “CCE”, and the authors’ institution. Retractions will include the word ‘Retraction’ in the title, so that they are identified as such on indexing systems, for example, PubMed.
In any case of serious research misconduct, all authors of such an article will be banned from future publication in “CCE”.
Plagiarism and falsification of data
“CCE” carefully scrutinises all papers for evidence of plagiarism and falsified data using CrossCheck software. This encompasses multiple submission, redundant publication , self-plagiarism, reviewer misconduct, changes to authorship after publication due to discovery of ghost authors, deliberate omission of funding or competing interest information.
Manipulation of images
“CCE” follows the guidelines and procedures established by the Council of Science Editors for digital imaging data. Please note the following in particular:
• Images cannot be modified to change the overall appearance or appearance of any specific feature.
• Adjustments of brightness and contrast or colour balance are acceptable but must be applied to the entire image.
• Features cannot be obscured and any rearrangements must be explicitly indicated by the insertion of dividing lines.
• Images will be examined for any indication of improper modifications. The final acceptance of all manuscripts is contingent on any concerns raised in our review of the figures being resolved.
HONEST ERRORS – PUBLICATION OF CORRECTIONS
“CCE” has a duty to publish corrections (errata) when errors could affect the interpretation of data or information, whatever the cause of the error (i.e. arising from author or publisher errors).
HANDLING EDITORS’ CONFLICTS OF INTEREST AND PUBLICATIONS BY THE EDITORS OR EDITORIAL BOARD
Editors or Editorial Board members are never involved in editorial decisions about their own work. “CCE” editors, Editorial Board members and other editorial staff (including peer reviewers) withdraw from discussions about submissions where any circumstances might prevent him/her offering unbiased editorial decisions. When making editorial decisions about peer reviewed articles where an editor is an author or is acknowledged as a contributor, affected editors or staff members exclude themselves and are not involved in the publication decision. When editors are presented with papers where their own interests may impair their ability to make an unbiased editorial decision, he/she deputises decisions about the paper to a suitably qualified individual.
EDITORS’ DUTY OF CONFIDENTIALITY TO AUTHORS
The Editors of “CCE” treat all submitted manuscripts as confidential documents, which means they will not divulge information about a manuscript to anyone without the authors’ permission. During the process of manuscript review, the following people may also have access to manuscripts:
• Editors and editorial staff.
• External reviewers, including statisticians and experts in trial methods.
• Third parties (the only occasion when details about a manuscript might be passed to a third party without the authors’ permission if there is reason to suggest serious research misconduct—see above).
REPORTING CLINICAL TRIALS CONDUCTED BY PHARMACEUTICAL COMPANIES
Clinical trials should be registered and publications must include the registration number and name of the trial register. If these are not available, please provide an explanation. Please ensure that clinical trials sponsored by pharmaceutical companies follow the guidelines on good publication practice. These guidelines aim to ensure that such trials are published in a responsible and ethical manner. The guidelines cover companies’ responsibility to endeavour to publish results of all studies, companies’ relations with investigators, measures to prevent redundant or premature publication, methods to improve trial identification and the role of professional medical writers.
1. Graf C, Wagner E, Bowman A, Fiack S, Scott-Lichter D, Robinson A. Best Practice Guidelines on Publication Ethics: a Publisher’s Perspective. Int J Clin Pract 2007; 61(Suppl. 152): 1–26.
2. http://resources.bmj.com/bmj/authors/editorial-policies (accessed on 29 June 2010).