1. Publication Ethics Statement
Ethical standards for publication exist to ensure high-quality scientific publications, public trust in scientific findings, and that people receive credit for their ideas. AccScience Publishing (henceforth called “ASP”) fully adhere to the Code of Conduct and Best Practice Guidelines of Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE).
2. Research Ethics and Consent
2.1. Research Involving Human Subjects
All studies involving human subjects must be in accordance with the Helsinki Declaration (https://www.wma.net/policies-post/wma-declaration-of-helsinki-ethical-principles-for-medical-research-involving-human-subjects/) and seek approval to conduct the study from an independent local, regional, or national review body (e.g., ethics committee, institutional review board, etc.). Such approval, including the names of the ethics committee, institutional review board, etc., must be listed in a declaration statement of Ethical Approval and Consent to Participate in the manuscript. If the study is judged exempt from ethics approval, related information (e.g., name of the ethics committee granting the exemption and the reason for the exemption) must be listed. Further documentation on ethics should also be prepared, as editors may request more detailed information. Manuscripts with suspected ethical problems will be investigated according to COPE Guidelines (https://publicationethics.org/guidance/Flowcharts).
2.2. Consent to Participate
For all studies involving human subjects, informed consent to participate in the studies must be obtained from participants, or their parents or legal guardians for children under 16. Statements regarding consent to participate should be included in a declaration statement of Ethical Approval and Consent to Participate in the manuscript. If informed consent is not required, the name of the ethics committee granting the exemption and the reason for the exemption must be listed. If any ethical violation is found at any stage of publication, the issue will be investigated seriously based on COPE Guidelines (https://publicationethics.org/guidance/Flowcharts).
2.3. Consent for Publication
All articles published by ASP are freely available on the Internet. All manuscripts that include individual participants' data in any form (i.e., details, images, videos, etc.) will not be published without Consent for Publication obtained from that person(s), or for children, their parents or legal guardians. If the person has died, Consent for Publication must be obtained from the next of kin. Authors must add a declaration statement of Consent for Publication in the manuscript, specifying written informed consent for publication has been obtained.
2.4. Trial Registration
ASP requires all authors to register all relevant clinical trials that are reported in manuscripts submitted. ASP follows the World Health Organization (WHO) (https://www.who.int/clinical-trials-registry-platform)’s definition of clinical trials: “A clinical trial is any research study that prospectively assigns human participants or groups of humans to one or more health-related interventions to evaluate the effects on health outcomes. Interventions include but are not restricted to drugs, cells, other biological products, surgical procedures, radiologic procedures, devices, behavioral treatments, process-of-care changes, preventive care, etc.”.
In line with International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE) recommendation, ASP requires the registration of clinical trials in a public trial registry at or before the time of first patient enrollment. ASP accepts publicly accessible registration in any registry that is a primary register of the WHO International Clinical Trials Registry Platform (https://www.who.int/clinical-trials-registry-platform) or in ClinicalTrials.gov (https://clinicaltrials.gov/). The trial registration number should be listed at the end of the Abstract section.
Secondary data analyses of primary (parent) clinical trials should not be registered as a new clinical trial, but rather reference the trial registration number of the primary trial.
Editors of ASP journals will consider carefully whether studies failed to register or had an incomplete trial registration. Because of the importance of prospective trial registration, if there is an exception to this policy, trials must be registered and the authors should indicate in the publication when registration was completed and why it was delayed. Editors will publish a statement indicating why an exception was allowed. Please note such exceptions should be rare, and authors failing to prospectively register a trial risk its inadmissibility to ASP journals.
Authors who are not sure whether they need trial registration may refer to ICMJE FAQs (https://www.icmje.org/about-icmje/faqs/clinical-trials-registration/) for further information.
2.5. Research Involving Animals
Experimental research on animals should be approved by an appropriate ethics committee and must comply with institutional, national, or international guidelines. ASP encourages authors to comply with the AALAS Guidelines (https://www.aalas.org/iacuc/laws-policies-guidelines), the ARRIVE Guidelines (https://www.nc3rs.org.uk/arrive-guidelines), and/or the ICLAS Guidelines (https://iclas.org/guidelines-for-researchers/), and obtain prior approval from the relevant ethics committee. Manuscripts must include a statement indicating that the study has been approved by the relevant ethical committee and the whole research process complies with ethical guidelines. If a study is granted an exemption from requiring ethics approval, the name of the ethics committee granting the exemption and the reason(s) for the exemption should be detailed. Editors will take account of animal welfare issues and reserve the right to reject a manuscript, especially if the research involves protocols that are inconsistent with commonly accepted norms of animal research.
2.6. Research Involving Cell Lines
Authors must describe what cell lines are used and their origin so that the research can be reproduced. For established cell lines, the provenance should be stated and references must also be given to either a published paper or to a commercial source. For de novo cell lines derived from human tissue, appropriate approval from an institutional review board or equivalent ethical committee, and consent from the donor or next of kin, should be obtained. Such statements should be listed on the Declaration section of Ethical Approval and Consent to Participate in the manuscript.
Further information is available from the International Cell Line Authentication Committee (ICLAC). (https://iclac.org/) ASP recommends that authors check the NCBI (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/) database for misidentification and contamination of human cell lines.
2.7. Research Involving Plants
Experimental research on plants (either cultivated or wild), including collection of plant material, must comply with institutional, national, or international guidelines. Field studies should be conducted in accordance with local legislation, and the manuscript should include a statement specifying the appropriate permissions and/or licenses. ASP recommends that authors comply with the IUCN Policy Statement on Research Involving Species at Risk of Extinction (https://portals.iucn.org/library/efiles/documents/PP-003-En.pdf) and the Convention on the Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (https://cites.org/eng).
For each submitted manuscript, supporting genetic information and origin must be provided for plants that were utilized. For research manuscripts involving rare and non-model plants (other than, e.g., Arabidopsis thaliana, Nicotiana benthamiana, Oriza sativa, or many other typical model plants), voucher specimens must be deposited in a public herbarium or other public collections providing access to deposited materials.
3. Questionable Research Practice and Unethical Behavior
ASP makes all reasonable efforts to investigate publication misconduct, including but is not limited to:
Data fabrication and falsification
Data fabrication means the researcher did not actually do the study, but made up data. Data falsification means the researcher did the experiment, but then changed some of the data. Both of these practices make people distrust scientists. If the public is mistrustful of science then it will be less willing to provide funding support.
Irregular manipulation includes: Introduction, enhancement, moving, or removing features from the original image; Grouping of images that should be presented separately; Modifying the contrast, brightness, or color balance to obscure, eliminate, or enhance some information.
Presenting material, including results, ideas, and text, from someone else’s work as one's own. Also self-plagiarism: copying significant content from one’s own previous publications. Some reuse of text from the authors’ own (cited) work may be appropriate in an introduction or experimental section, but there should not be substantial overlap in the main discussion.
Submission of closely related papers without appropriate cross-referencing; failure to give due credit to prior work; deliberately neglecting to cite/discuss related work (including one’s own) to increase the apparent novelty of the results.
It is unethical to submit the same manuscript to more than one journal at the same time. Doing this wastes the time of editors and peer reviewers, and can damage the reputation of journals if published in more than one.
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. Don’t forget to list everyone who made a significant scientific contribution, including students and laboratory technicians. The International Committee of Medical Journal Editors has detailed guidelines on authorship that are useful for scientists in all fields.
ASP reserves the right to contact the authors’ institution(s) to investigate possible publication misconduct if the editors find conclusive evidence of misconduct before or after publication. ASP has a partnership with iThenticate, which is the most trusted similarity checker. It is used to analyze received manuscripts to avoid plagiarism to the greatest extent possible. When plagiarism becomes evident after publication, we will retract the original publication or require modifications, depending on the degree of plagiarism, context within the published article, and its impact on the overall integrity of the published study. Journal editors will act under the relevant COPE guidelines.
4. Ethical Guidelines for Authors
4.1. Authors are responsible for the soundness and reliability of the manuscript, and must cooperate with the Editorial Office when original pictures and data, and other proof materials are required.
4.2. The authorship of research publications should accurately reflect the contributions of each individual to the study. Four basic criteria must be met collectively to be credited as an author:
- Substantial contributions to the conception or design of the work, or the acquisition, analysis, or interpretation of data for the work;
- Drafting the work or revising it critically for important intellectual content;
- Final approval of the version to be published;
- 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.
Those who do not meet all four criteria (such as those who provide purely technical, or financial and material contributions to the work) should not be rewarded with authorship, but be listed in the Acknowledgment section.
4.3. The corresponding author is the one who takes primary responsibility for communicating with journal editors during manuscript processing, before and after publication, and typically ensures that all the journal's requirements are satisfied properly. This includes ensuring that all authors have agreed to be so listed and have approved submission of the manuscript to the journal, providing details of authorship, ethical committee approval and clinical trial registration documents, gathering conflict of interest forms, etc. In general, only one corresponding author is allowed. For multi-center trials or multidisciplinary studies, the list of clinicians and researchers is typically published with more corresponding authors. These additional authors should be academically responsible to different institutions or research groups.
4.4. The order of authorship should be a joint decision of the co-authors based on their contributions, and be agreed by all authors. Any changes to the author and/or institution lists should be approved by the responsible author (first author and/or corresponding author), and a formal proposal approved by all authors must be submitted to the Editorial Office to elucidate the reason(s).
4.5. Authors who contribute equally to the work should be identified at the time of submission. The number of first co-authors is generally not more than two. In the case of multi-center trials or multidisciplinary studies where there are indeed more than two first co-authors, then the list may be as appropriate for the situation. Those added to the list beyond two should come from different institutions or research groups.
4.6. For reporting clinical trials, the authors should follow relevant guidelines (such as the Consolidated Standards of Reporting Trials (CONSORT)for the reporting of randomized controlled trials, Transparent Reporting of Evaluations with Nonrandomized Designs (TREND) for the reporting standards of non-randomized evaluations of behavioral and public health interventions, Strengthening the Reporting of Observational Studies in Epidemiology (STROBE) for the conduct and dissemination of observational studies, the Standards of Reporting Diagnostic Accuracy Studies (STARD).
4.7. In cases of clinical trial studies (randomized controlled studies, cohort studies, case-control studies, case reports, studies conducted on human subjects, or samples taken from the human body, even psychological and social studies involving questionnaires), the authors, in principle, should register the study in the WHO International Clinical Trials Registryand provide the registration number in the manuscript.
4.8. The authors should declare any possible financial and/or non-financial conflicts of interestin the title page & back matter, and cover letter, as well as confirm this point when submitting their manuscript in the submission system. If no conflicts of interest exist, authors need to state “The authors declare no conflicts of interest”. In case of a conflict of interest, all economic interests that may have an impact on the results of their research (e.g., a commercial interest relationship with a company; a company providing funds for the experimental design and implementation, data processing, article writing; etc.) must be declared.
4.9. The authors must identify the organizations, institutions, or people who provided financial support for conducting the research and/or preparing the article at the time of submission.
4.10. If an author disagrees with the results of the peer reviews and the editor's decision, that author may submit a written challenge and make detailed interpretations and explanations for disagreeing with the reviewers’suggestions/editor's decision to the Editorial Office. The editor will then review this response and decide whether the reviewers made an error in judgement, or additional peer review is necessary. The editor’s decision at this point is final.
4.11. Authorship changes are not allowed after a manuscript is officially accepted after peer-review.
4.12. Authors are not allowed to revise data, figures, and key results during proofreading.
4.13. When an author discovers a significant error or inaccuracy in his/her own published work, it is the author’s obligation to promptly notify the journal editor or publisher and to cooperate with the editor to retract or correct the manuscript in the form of an erratum.
5. Ethical Guidelines for Reviewers
Reviewers are persons assisting in the evaluation of a manuscript with regard to its potential publication by the Publisher, wherein the person is considered an expert in the relevant field and is not employed by the Publisher. Reviewers have the following responsibilities:
5.1. To treat the manuscript and the review process as confidential:
5.1.a) The editor must be consulted before involving additional parties in reviewing the manuscript. The individual invited by the editor is fully responsible for the content of the review.
5.1.b) Neither the identity of the reviewer nor any other details of the review process may be revealed to third parties.
5.1.c) No part of the content of submitted, unpublished articles (data, information, interpretation, and discussion) may be shared with others.
5.1.d) The submitted manuscript may not be retained in any form after review is complete; reviewers must comply with data protection regulations as appropriate.
5.2. Not to use information (data, interpretation, and discussion) gained in confidence from submitted, unpublished articles for their own research.
5.3. To inform the editor without undue delay should they be unqualified or otherwise unable to review the manuscript.
5.4. To inform the editor if a conflict of interest becomes apparent at any point in the process. If in doubt, check with the editor. Potential conflicts of interest include but are not restricted to:
5.4.a) Cases where the reviewer has a close personal or professional relationship with any of the authors, for example, they are former supervisor or student, or a recent/frequent co-author or collaboration partner.
5.4.b) Cases where there is direct competition between the work reported and a current project the reviewer is involved with.
5.5. To review the manuscript in a timely fashion; the editor should be informed immediately if the reviewer is no longer able to review the manuscript or more time is needed.
5.6. To evaluate the work (including the Supporting Information) carefully and objectively; reviewers should explain and support their judgements, providing reference to published work where appropriate. References should be suggested based solely on relevance to the presented work.
5.7. To keep their comments to the author polite and professional, focusing on the content of the manuscript and avoiding personal criticism.
5.8. To inform the editor of any similarity between the submitted manuscript and work that is already published or under consideration at other journals.
5.9. To alert the editor if there is any indication of potential ethical problems, including:
5.9.a) Any kind of scientific misconduct, for example, plagiarism or data manipulation.
5.9.b) Ethical concerns regarding animal experiments or studies involving human subjects
5.9.c) Inadequately discussed hazards or dual-use concerns, that is, potential for the reported work to be misused in such a way as poses a threat to public health or safety.
6. Ethical Guidelines for Editors
Editors may be professional in-house editors or active researchers who take on an editorial role on behalf of the Publisher, and they make the final decision regarding the acceptance or rejection of a submitted manuscript. The following responsibilities also apply to Editorial Board members where relevant.
Editors of Scientific Journals have the following responsibilities:
6.1. To base editorial decisions on the scientific merits of the work, without regard to institutional affiliation, nationality, race, gender, age, or other personal circumstances of the authors.
6.2. To make every effort to ensure a fair and timely evaluation/review process for submitted manuscripts.
6.3. To ensure that submitted manuscripts are handled in a confidential manner. No details should be disclosed to anyone except the reviewers without permission from the author, except where required as part of a formal investigation into allegations of unethical behavior.
6.4. To make known any conflicts of interest that might arise. This is especially important where the editor is an active researcher:
6.4.a) Where the editor is an author of a submitted manuscript, the manuscript must be passed to another editor for independent review.
6.4.b) Where the author is a current or former colleague and/or a frequent collaborator of the editor, the manuscript must be passed to a different editor for handling.
6.4.c) The editor may not use work reported in unpublished submitted manuscripts for their own work, and if the topic is too close to one of their own projects, the manuscript must be passed to a different editor for handling.
6.5. To choose reviewers carefully to ensure a fair review process:
6.5.a) Author-suggested reviewers should be used with caution to avoid positive bias (e.g., co-authors of previous publications or former supervisors/students should be avoided).
6.5.b) Contact details of author-suggested reviewers should be independently verified to ensure the integrity of the peer-review process.
6.5.c) The editor maintains the right to use reviewers of his/her own choice.
6.5.d) Specific named reviewers opposed by the authors should not be used unless there is a significant over-riding interest in doing so.
6.6. To ensure that the names and other details of reviewers are kept confidential. In exceptional circumstances, e.g., where ethical misconduct is suspected, adjudication reviewers may be informed of the names of prior reviewers.
6.7. To give fair and careful consideration to appeals against editorial decisions.
6.8. To comply with data protection regulations, as appropriate.
6.9. To follow up on any indications or allegations of questionable research practice. See section 3 “Questionable Research Practice and Unethical Behavior”.
7.Appeals and complaints
7.1. Appeal against a rejection
If you wish to ask the Editor or Editorial Board to reconsider a rejection of a manuscript, you should, in the first instance, contact the Editor through the instructions on the journal website. These are considered appeals, which, by policy, must take second place to the normal workload. In practice, this means that decisions on appeals often take several weeks. Only one appeal is permitted for each manuscript. Final decisions on appeals will be made by the Editorial Board Member handling the paper or the Editor.
In general, an appeal against a rejection decision on a manuscript will only be considered if:
the authors can demonstrate that an error that determined the final decision has been made - by a referee or the Editors - during review
if important additional data can be provided
if a convincing case of bias in the process can be demonstrated
Authors who wish to appeal an editorial decision should submit a formal letter of appeal to the journal by contacting the journal editorial office. Include the manuscript tracking number in the email subject line and the appeal letter.
If appeals are successful, then authors will be given instructions on how to proceed. If an appeal merits further consideration, the Editor may send the authors' response and the revised paper out for further peer review.
For all other feedback and complaints, please check individual journal’s ‘About’ pages for more information.
Complaints about our processes or about publication ethics will in the first instance be handled by the Editor responsible for the journal. If the Editor is the subject of the complaint, please approach the editorial and publishing management team by email to email@example.com.
For complaints about processes, such as time taken for review, the Editor will review and respond to the complainant's concerns. This feedback will be provided to relevant stakeholders to guide improvements to processes and procedures.
For complaints about publication ethics or scientific content, the Editor will follow guidelines published by the Committee on Publication Ethics. The Editor may request advice from the ASP Research Integrity Group on difficult or complicated cases. The Editor then decides on a course of action and provides feedback to the complainant.
If the complainant remains dissatisfied with the handling of their complaint, it will be escalated to the journal's editorial and publishing management team for investigation. If no publishing contact is identified send the query to firstname.lastname@example.org.