AboutScience is committed to a transparent, fair and objective peer review process with the aim of publishing unbiased and ethically selected articles. We expect our authors, reviewers and editors to follow ethical guidelines to maintain an accurate and transparent academic record.
Authors retain copyright of their work and all articles are published under the Creative Commons NonCommercial 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC 4.0).
This document outlines the most relevant aspects of ethical issues but are not exhaustive. AboutOpen follows COPE’s guidelines for handling potentially unethical behaviour by authors, reviewers or editors andwe encourage authors, reviewers and editors to refer to the COPE website and guidelines for further guidance.
In case of concerns raised by readers we will investigate using procedures recommended by COPE and wherever possible they will be resolved by the editorial board. We expect our authors to respond responsibly to any allegation made against them.
Research integrity is a broad term which identifies different types of unethical behaviour during the research and publication process. In AboutOpen authors are required to warrant, during the submission process, that their study and the submitted article meets all integrity criteria which are outlined below.
A breach in research integrity may result in the article being rejected.
Research misconduct is defined as fabrication, falsification, or plagiarism in proposing, performing, or reviewing research, or in reporting research results. Inappropriate image manipulation is a recognized form of data fabrication or falsification.
Theft or misappropriation of intellectual property and/or the substantial unattributed textual copying of another's work constitutes plagiarism. This journal systematically employs iThenticate, a plagiarism detection and prevention software designed to ensure the originality of written work before publication. Manuscripts proved to include plagiarized content will be rejected. Authors must avoid duplicate publication, which is reproducing verbatim content from their other publications.
Authorship should be based on the following four criteria and all listed authors must meet all criteria:
- Substantial contributions to the conception or design of the work; or the acquisition, analysis, or interpretation of data for the work; AND
- Drafting the work or revising it critically for important intellectual content; AND
- Final approval of the version to be published; AND
- Agreement to be accountable for all aspects of the work in ensuring that questions related to the accuracy or integrity of any part of the work are appropriately investigated and resolved.
We encourage our authors to register to ORCID, the Open Reseracher and Contributor ID, which provides a unique identifier for researchers, helping to correctly disambiguate and attribute each contribution to them. Click here to find out more on ORCID ID or to register.
Data availability. Authors must ensure that original research data remain available after publication through appropriate archiving.
Competing interests. Authors, Reviewers and Editors are required to disclose any conflict of interest (that is financial or personal relationships or affiliations that could influence their work) and sources of financial and material support received.
When human subjects are involved in a study it is suggested that journals require authors to provide a statement identifying the ethics committee that approved the study (I.R.B. approval), and that the study conforms to recognized standards (e.g. Declaration of Helsinki; European Medicines Agency Guidelines for Good Clinical Practice). These standards encourage authors to conduct studies in a way that ensures adequate steps have been taken to minimize risks to participants and to protect their confidentiality.
Whenever a study or case report includes data or images which could identify a patient, explicit written consent for publication (which is different from consent to take part in research) must be obtained and included in the submitted article. In case of minors, the consent must be signed by a parent or guardian.
When organ transplantation is described in the article author should state that they adhered to the Declaration of Instanbul, which specifically addresses delicate subjects relative to organ supply.
When animals are involved in research, authors should ensure that these were conducted according to animal research reporting standards:
- ARRIVE reporting guidelines;
- US authors should conform to the "Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals”, "Policy on Humane Care and Use of Laboratory Animals," and "Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals.";
- UK authors should conform to UK legislation under the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 Amendment Regulations (SI 2012/3039);
- European authors outside the UK should conform to Directive 2010/63/EU.)
Research reporting guidelines are intended to guide authors to provide enough information for editors, peer reviewers and readers to understand how the research was performed and to judge whether the findings are likely to be reliable.
The EQUATOR Network provides detailed study-specific guidelines. The key guidelines are:
- CONSORT | Randomised controlled trials (RCTs):
- PRISMA | meta-analysis of clinical trials
- MOOSE | meta-analysis of observational studies, observational studies in epidemiology
- STROBE | Observational studies in epidemiology
- STARD | Diagnostic accuracy studies
- SQUIRE | Quality improvement studies
- CHEERS | For cost effectiveness analysis
The term publication ethics identifies the ethical approach applied to the entire submission, peer review, publication and post publication process required to handle a journal ethically and transparently, including publishing corrections and retractions if required.
- Ensure that ethical policies are applied as needed, in a consistent manner
- Ensure that the review process is handled confidentially
- Assess the activity of their reviewers providing useful feedback on their reviewing activity
- Ensure the transparency of the peer review process
- Ensure that reasons for immediate rejection are explicit
- The decision not to send a paper for peer review should only be based on the academic content of the paper
- Declare editorial conflict of interest
- be honest, polite, professional and constructive in their comments to the authors.
- identify and comment on major strengths and weaknesses of study design and methodology
- comment on ethical concerns raised by the study, or any possible evidence of low standards of scientific conduct.
- provide the author with useful suggestions for improvement of the manuscript
- provide the editor with the proper context and perspective to make a decision
- assess research and publication ethics issues Declare their conflict of interest
- Report accurate data and a precise account of the research performed.
- Provide access to the data used for their submitted article
- Submit only original work and refrain from duplicate submission/publication
- Ensure that all authors who participated in the study are appropriately listed and ensure that all listed authors meet authorship criteria
- Disclose any form of conflict of interest or financial support in their manuscript
- Participate in the review process responding promptly to reviewers comments
- Notify the Journal immediately should any error or inaccuracy be reported in their manuscript and collaborate to correct or retract the paper
The Publisher should:
- Safeguard authors against unethical behavior
- Respond timely to queries and concerns from authors, reviewers and editors
- In case of reported misconduct, take action to seek clarity on the situation and to amend the article
- Should authors report errors in their published work, publish errata as soon as possible
For appeals against an editorial decision, please send an email to the Editor in Chief (Giulio Zuanetti, firstname.lastname@example.org), indicating clearly your concerns, documenting as appropriate your case.
Corrections and Retractions
Errata may be required in case an article has been published with major errors: it must cite the original article and report relevant amendments.
A retraction may be required for major faults in the manuscript: this can be authored either by the authors of the original article or by the Editor and should clearly report the reasons for article retraction, as well as including a complete citation to the original, retracted article. Retractions must be published in a numbered page of the journal to ensure appropriate indexing.
Letters to the Editor and letters in reply are intended to present opinions or comments on articles published in the Journal. Refer to content type for detailed specifications.