The Journal follows the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) regulations and supports and endorses the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE) Recommendations for Conducting, Editing, Reporting, and Publication of Scholarly Work in Medical Journals as well as the GPP3 guidelines regarding authorship.
Submission of a manuscript to the journal implies that all authors have read and agreed to its content and that the manuscript conforms to the journal’s policies.
Affiliations must be an accurate reflection of where the study was approved and/or supported and/or conducted. For non-research articles, the affiliation should be listed as the place the author(s) was based at the time of submission. Misrepresentation of affiliation is a form of misconduct and the journal will deal with such cases by contacting all relevant institutions to assist with our investigation.
Appeals and complaints
All complaints, concerns, or appeals regarding authorship issues or the peer-review process, including concerns raised post-publication, should be addressed to the Editors-in-Chief, who shall investigate the claims by first, requesting information from all parties involved and second, proposing a course of action in line with academic ethical principles as outlined by the Committee on Publishing Ethics; (COPE) . Submissions can be halted in the review or publication process until the issues are resolved. In situations when Editors-in-Chief are involved in the complaint, the Editorial Board members, led by the most senior member, investigate the claims and propose a course of action.
Individuals who participated in the development of a manuscript but do not qualify as an author should be acknowledged. Organizations that provided support in terms of funding and/or other resources should also be acknowledged.
Research and non-research articles must cite relevant, timely, and verified literature (peer-reviewed, where appropriate) to support any claims made in the article. You must avoid excessive and inappropriate self-citation or prearrangements among author groups to inappropriately cite each other’s work, as this can be considered a form of misconduct called citation manipulation. Read the COPE guidance on citation manipulation. If you’re the author of a non-research article (e.g. a Review or Opinion), you should ensure the references you cite are relevant and provide a fair and balanced overview of the current state of research or scholarly work on the topic. Your references should not be unfairly biased toward a particular research group, organization, or journal. If you are unsure about whether to cite a source, you should contact the journal editorial office for advice.
Conflicts of Interest/Competing interests
You and all of your co-authors must declare any competing interests relevant to, or which can be perceived to be relevant to the article:
- A competing interest can occur where you (or your employer, sponsor or family/friends) have a financial, commercial, legal, or professional relationship with other organizations, or with the people working with them which could influence the research or interpretation of the results.
- Competing interests can be financial or non-financial in nature. To ensure transparency, you must also declare any associations which can be perceived by others as a competing interest.
Sponsorship of clinical trials
Authors employed by pharmaceutical companies or other organizations which sponsor clinical trials must declare this as a competing interest. Authors should adhere to the Good Publication Practice guidelines for pharmaceutical companies (GPP3), which guide to ensure responsible and ethical standards are maintained.
Corrections, expressions of concern, and retractions
Corrections may be made to a published article with the authorization of the editor of the journal. Editors will decide the magnitude of the corrections. Minor corrections are made directly to the original article. However, in cases of major corrections, the original article will remain unchanged, while the corrected version will also be published. Both the original and corrected versions will be linked to each other. A statement indicating the reason for the major change to the article will also be published. When necessary, the retraction of articles will be done according toCOPE retraction guidelines.
Consent for Publication
For all manuscripts that include details or images relating to an individual person, written informed consent for the publication of these details must be obtained from that person (or their parent or legal guardian in the case of children under 18). The consent must be for publication of their details under the Creative Commons Attribution License 4.0 (such that they will be freely available on the internet). If the person has died, consent for publication must be obtained from their next of kin. The manuscript must include a statement that written informed consent for publication was obtained. Authors can use the consent form to obtain consent for publication or a consent form from their own institution or region if appropriate. The consent form must state that the details/images will be freely available on the internet and may be seen by the general public. The consent form must be made available to the Editor if requested and will be treated confidentially.
A submitted manuscript is confidential material. Academic Journals will not disclose submitted manuscripts to anyone except individuals who partake in the processing and preparation of the manuscript for publication (if accepted). These individuals include editorial staff, corresponding authors, potential reviewers, actual reviewers, and editors. However, in suspected cases of misconduct, a manuscript may be revealed to members of the Academic Journals’ ethics committees and institutions/organizations that may require it for resolution of misconduct. Academic Journals shall follow the appropriate COPE flowcharts wherever necessary.
Where deliberate action has been taken to inappropriately manipulate or fabricate data. This is considered a serious form of misconduct and is designed to mislead others and damage the integrity of the scholarly record with wide-reaching and long-term consequences. When submitting a manuscript to the journal, authors must ensure all data contained within their manuscript is accurate and correctly represents their work. To help assist the journal with manuscript evaluation, authors are expected to retain all raw data represented in their manuscripts. If the original data cannot be produced on request, acceptance of a manuscript or published paper may be declined or retracted.
Desk rejection policy
- The topic / scope of the study is not relevant to the field of the Journal.
- There are publication ethics problems, non-adherence to international standard guidelines, and plagiarism (set at a similarity index of higher than 20 percent).
- The topic does not have sufficient impact, nor does it sufficiently contribute new knowledge to the field.
- There are flaws in the study design.
- The objective of the study is not clearly stated.
- The study organization is problematic and/or certain components are missing.
- There are problems in writing or series infelicities of in the style of grammar.
- The manuscript does not follow the submission guideline of the Journal.
Authors are required to declare upon submission that the manuscript is not under consideration elsewhere, and as such, detection of a duplicate submission or publication is typically considered a deliberate act. This includes articles previously published in another language. For acceptable forms of secondary submissions or publications (e.g., an article translated into English), in accordance with ICMJE guidance, authors must seek permission from the publisher and copyright holder of the original article and must inform the Editor of the receiving journal about the history of the original article. It must also be made clear to readers that the article is a translated version, with a citation provided to the original article.
The journal requires that authors declare all sources of funding including financial support in their manuscript. The authors should describe the role of the sponsor(s), if any, in any of the stages from study design to submission of the manuscript for publication. They should also state if the sponsor(s) had no such involvement. Please ensure that this information is accurate and in accordance with your funder’s requirements.
Images and figures
You should only use images and figures in your article if they are relevant and valuable to the work reported. Please refrain from adding content of this type which is purely illustrative and does not add value to the scholarly work. As a warranty in the Journal Author Publishing Agreement you make with us, you must obtain necessary written permission to include material in your article that is owned and held in copyright by a third party, including – but not limited to – any proprietary text, illustration, table, or other material, including data, audio, video, film stills, screenshots, musical notation, and any supplemental material
The journal takes all forms of misconduct seriously and will take all necessary action, in accordance with COPE guidelines , to protect the integrity of the scholarly record.
Examples of misconduct include (but are not limited to):
- Affiliation misrepresentation
- Breaches in copyright/use of third-party material without appropriate permissions
- Citation manipulation
- Duplicate submission/publication
- “Ethics dumping”
- Image or data manipulation/fabrication
- Peer review manipulation
- Undisclosed competing interests
- Unethical research
Manuscripts that are found to have been published elsewhere, or to be under review elsewhere, will incur duplicate submission/publication sanctions. If authors have used their own previously published work, or work that is currently under review, as the basis for a submitted manuscript, they are required to cite the previous work and indicate how their submitted manuscript offers novel contributions beyond those of the previous work.
Submitted manuscripts that are found to include citations whose primary purpose is to increase the number of citations to a given author’s work, or to articles published in a particular journal, will incur citation manipulation sanctions.
Data Fabrication and Falsification
Submitted manuscripts that are found to have either fabricated or falsified experimental results, including the manipulation of images, will incur data fabrication and falsification sanctions.
Improper Author Contribution or Attribution
All listed authors must have made a significant scientific contribution to the research in the manuscript and approved all its claims. It is important to list everyone who made a significant scientific contribution, including students and laboratory technicians.
Redundant publications involve the inappropriate division of study outcomes into several articles.
Misconduct constitutes a violation of this editorial policy, journal policies, publication ethics, or any applicable guidelines/policies specified by COPE, WAME, ICMJE, and STM. Any other activities that threaten/compromise the integrity of the research/publication process are potential misconduct. Suspected cases of misconduct will be investigated according to COPE guidelines.
Open Access Policy
Every peer-reviewed research article appearing in this journal will be published open access. This means that the article is universally and freely accessible via the internet in perpetuity, in an easily readable format immediately after publication. A CC user license manages the reuse of the article. All articles will be published under the following license:
The journal and its editorial board fully adhere to and comply with the policies and principles of the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE).
Duties of Editors
The editorial board of the journal is responsible for deciding which of the articles submitted to the journal should be published. Members of the board confer and refer to reviewer recommendations in making this decision, constrained by legal requirements related to libel, copyright infringement, and plagiarism. Editorial decisions are not affected by the origins of the manuscript, including the nationality, ethnicity, political beliefs, race, or religion of the authors.
Confidentiality, disclosure, and conflicts of interest
During the review process, editors must not disclose information about a submitted manuscript to anyone other than the corresponding author, reviewers, potential reviewers, and other editorial advisers. Unpublished materials disclosed in a submitted manuscript must not be used in an editor's, reviewer’s, or any other reader’s own research without the express written consent of the author. Readers should be informed about who has funded the research or other scholarly work and whether the funders had any role in the research and its publication and, if so, what this was.
Editors strive to ensure that peer review at the journal is fair, unbiased, and timely. The journal has established policies for handling submissions from editorial board members to ensure unbiased review. Author instructions provide guidance about the criteria for authorship.
The Journal encourages reviewers to comment on ethical questions and possible misconduct raised by submissions (e.g. unethical research design, and inappropriate data manipulation), and to be alert to redundant publication and plagiarism. Reviewers’ comments should be sent to authors in their entirety unless they contain offensive or libelous remarks. Contributions of reviewers to the journal are regularly acknowledged and cease to use reviewers who consistently produce discourteous, poor quality, or late reviews.
Editors should take all reasonable steps to ensure the quality of the material they publish, recognizing that different sections have different aims and standards. Editors should seek assurances that the research they publish has been approved by an appropriate body (e.g. research ethics committee, institutional review board) where one exists. Editors should be alert to intellectual property issues and work with their publishers to handle potential breaches of laws and conventions. Errors, inaccurate, or misleading statements must be corrected promptly and with due prominence.
Duties of Reviewers
Contribution to editorial decisions
Reviewers assist the editorial board in making editorial decisions. Reviews should be conducted objectively, and observations should be formulated clearly with supporting arguments so that authors can use them for improving the paper. Personal criticism of the author is inappropriate.
Qualification of reviewers
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 excuse himself from the review process. Reviewers should not consider manuscripts in which they have conflicts of interest resulting from competitive, collaborative, or other relationships or connections with any of the authors, companies, or institutions connected to the papers.
Any manuscripts received for review must be treated as confidential documents. Privileged information or ideas obtained through peer review must be kept confidential and not used for personal advantage.
Acknowledgment of sources
Reviewers should identify relevant published work that has not been cited by the authors. References to the ideas of others should be accompanied by the relevant citation. A reviewer should also call to the editor's attention any substantial similarity or overlap between the manuscript under consideration and any other published paper of which they have personal knowledge.
Duties of Authors
Authors of reports of original research 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. Authors should be prepared to provide public access to raw data in connection with a paper and retain such data for at least two years after publication. Fraudulent or knowingly inaccurate statements constitute unethical behavior and are unacceptable.
Originality, plagiarism, and concurrent publication
Authors should ensure their work is entirely original and that any work and/or words of others have been appropriately acknowledged. Plagiarism in all its forms constitutes unethical publishing behavior and is unacceptable. Submitting essentially the same manuscript to more than one journal concurrently constitutes unethical publishing behavior and is unacceptable.
Disclosure and conflicts of interest
All authors should disclose in their manuscript any financial or other substantive conflicts of interest that might be construed to influence the results or interpretation of their manuscript. All sources of financial support for the project should be disclosed.
Authorship of the paper
The corresponding author should ensure that all appropriate co-authors and no inappropriate co-authors are included in the paper and that all co-authors have seen and approved the final version of the paper and have agreed to its submission for publication. All those who have made significant contributions should be listed as co-authors. Others who have participated in certain substantive aspects of the research project should be acknowledged or listed as contributors.
Fundamental errors in published works
When an author discovers a significant error or inaccuracy in the published work, it is the author’s obligation to promptly notify the journal editor and work with the editor to retract or correct the paper.
Peer review process
All manuscripts are subjected to peer review and are expected to meet the standards of academic excellence. If approved by the editor, submissions will be considered by peer reviewers, whose identities will remain anonymous to the authors and vice versa, identities of authors will remain anonymous to the reviewers (Double-blind peer review). The decision regarding the acceptance or rejection of a manuscript is the responsibility of the editorial board and is based on the recommendations of the reviewers (peer-reviewed process).
Our Research Integrity team will occasionally seek advice outside standard peer review, for example, on submissions with serious ethical, security, biosecurity, or societal implications. We may consult experts and the academic editor before deciding on appropriate actions, including but not limited to recruiting reviewers with specific expertise, assessment by additional editors, and declining to further consider a submission.
The journal has a strict policy against plagiarism, where the journal does not tolerate using others’ ideas, words, or work without acknowledgment. Submissions containing plagiarism in whole or part, duplicate and redundant publication, or self-plagiarism (same or a different language), will be rejected. The Preprint archive will not be considered a duplicate publication. The corresponding author is responsible for the manuscript through and after the evaluation and publication process with the authority to act on behalf of all co-authors. All submitted manuscripts are checked for plagiarism using professional plagiarism-checking software. Submitted manuscripts with an unacceptable similarity index resulting from plagiarism are rejected immediately.
Research ethics and consent
Studies in humans and animals
If the work involves the use of human subjects, the author should ensure that the work described has been carried out in accordance with The Code of Ethics of the World Medical Association(Declaration of Helsinki) for experiments involving humans. The manuscript should be in line with the Recommendations for the Conduct, Reporting, Editing and Publication of Scholarly Work in Medical Journals and aim for the inclusion of representative human populations (sex, age, and ethnicity) as per those recommendations. The terms sex and gender should be used correctly.
Authors should include a statement in the manuscript that informed consent was obtained for experimentation with human subjects. The privacy rights of human subjects must always be observed.
All animal experiments should comply with the ARRIVE guidelines and should be carried out in accordance with the U.K. Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act, 1986 and associated guidelines, EU Directive 2010/63/EU for animal experiments, or the National Research Council's Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animalsand the authors should clearly indicate in the manuscript that such guidelines have been followed. The sex of animals must be indicated, and where appropriate, the influence (or association) of sex on the results of the study.
Patients have a right to privacy that should not be violated without informed consent. Identifying information, including names, initials, or hospital numbers, should not be published in written descriptions, photographs, or pedigrees unless the information is essential for scientific purposes and the patient (or parent or guardian) gives written informed consent for publication. Informed consent for this purpose requires that an identifiable patient be shown the manuscript to be published. Authors should disclose to these patients whether any potentially identifiable material might be available via the Internet as well as in print after publication. Patient consent should be written and archived either with the journal, the authors, or both, as dictated by local regulations or laws. Nonessential identifying details should be omitted. Informed consent should be obtained if there is any doubt that anonymity can be maintained. For example, masking the eye region in photographs of patients is inadequate protection of anonymity. If identifying characteristics are altered to protect anonymity, such as in genetic pedigrees, authors should provide assurance, and editors should so note, that such alterations do not distort scientific meaning. When informed consent has been obtained, it should be indicated in the published article.
Standards of reporting
Research should be communicated in a way that supports verification and reproducibility, and as such, we encourage authors to provide comprehensive descriptions of their research rationale, protocol, methodology, and analysis.
Use of third-party material
You must obtain the necessary permission to reuse third-party material in your article. These materials may include – but are not limited to – text, illustration, photographs, tables, data, audio, video, film stills, screenshots, or musical notation.
The use of short extracts of text and some other types of material is usually permitted, on a limited basis, for the purposes of criticism and review without securing formal permission. If you wish to include any material in your paper for which you do not hold copyright, and which is not covered by this informal agreement, you will need to obtain written permission from the copyright owner prior to submission.