Management Issues in Healthcare System conforms to the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE). In addition, the Canadian Journal of Medicine follows the ICMJE’s Recommendations for the Conduct, Reporting, Editing and Publication of Scholarly Work in Medical Journals, the World Association of Medical Editors (WAME), the Council of Science Editors (CSE), and National Information Standards Organization (NISO).
COPE Core practices
COPE Best Practice Guidelines for Journal Editors
(1) General duties and responsibilities
• actively seek the views of authors, readers, reviewers and editorial board members about ways of improving their journal’s processes
• encourage and be aware of research into peer review and ‘journalology’ and reassess journal processes in the light of new findings
• work to persuade their publishers to provide them with appropriate resources, guidance from experts (e.g. designers, lawyers) and adequate training to perform their role in a professional manner and raise the quality of their journal
• support initiatives designed to reduce academic misconduct
• support initiatives to educate researchers about publication ethics
• assess the effects of their journal policies on author and reviewer behaviour and revise policies, as required, to encourage responsible behaviour and discourage misconduct
• ensure that any press releases issued by the journal reflect the message of the reported article and put it into context
(2) Relations with readers
• ensure that all published reports of research have been reviewed by suitably qualified reviewers (e.g. including statistical review where appropriate)
• ensure that non-peer-reviewed sections of their journal are clearly identified
• adopt processes that encourage accuracy, completeness and clarity of research reporting (e.g. technical editing, use of CONSORT checklist for randomised trials)
• consider developing a transparency policy to encourage maximum disclosure about the provenance of nonresearch articles
• adopt authorship or contributorship systems that promote good practice (i.e. so that listings accurately reflect who did the work) and discourage misconduct (e.g. ghost and guest authors)
• inform readers about steps taken to ensure that submissions from members of the journal’s staff or editorial board receive an objective and unbiased evaluation
(3) Relations with authors
• publish clear instructions in their journals about submission and what they expect from authors
• provide guidance about criteria for authorship and/or who should be listed as a contributor
• review author instructions regularly and provide links to relevant guidelines (e.g. ICMJE, COPE)
• require all contributors to disclose relevant competing interests and publish corrections if competing interests are revealed after publication
• ensure that appropriate reviewers are selected for submissions (i.e. individuals who are able to judge the work and are free from disqualifying competing interests)
• respect requests from authors that an individual should not review their submission, if these are well-reasoned.
• be guided by the COPE flowcharts in cases of suspected misconduct or disputed authorship
• publish details of how they handle cases of suspected misconduct (e.g. with links to the COPE flowcharts)
(4) Relations with reviewers
• provide clear advice to reviewers (which should be straightforward and regularly updated)
• require reviewers to disclose any potential competing interests before agreeing to review a submission
• encourage reviewers to comment on ethical questions and possible research misconduct raised by submissions, (e.g. unethical research design, insufficient detail on patient consent or protection of research subjects, including animals)
• encourage reviewers to ensure the originality of submissions and be alert to redundant publication and plagiarism
• consider providing reviewers with tools to detect related publications (e.g. links to cited references and bibliographic searches)
• seek to acknowledge the contribution of reviewers to the journal
• encourage academic institutions to recognise peer-review activities as part of the scholarly process
• monitor the performance of peer reviewers and take steps to ensure this is of high quality
• develop and maintain a database of suitable reviewers, and update this on the basis of reviewer performance
• remove from the journal’s database any reviewers who consistently produce discourteous, poor quality or late reviews
• seek to add new reviewers to the database to replace those who have been removed (because of poor performance or other reasons)
• ensure that the reviewer database reflects the academic community for their journal (e.g. by auditing the database in terms of reviewer age, gender, location, etc.)
• use a wide range of sources (not just personal contacts) to identify potential new reviewers (e.g. author suggestions, bibliographic databases)
• follow the COPE flowchart in cases of suspected reviewer misconduct
(5) Relations with editorial board members
• identify suitably qualified editorial board members who can actively contribute to the development and good management of the journal
• appoint editorial board members for a fixed term of office (e.g. three years)
• provide clear guidance to editorial board members about their expected functions and duties, these might include:
◊ acting as ambassadors for the journal
◊ supporting and promoting the journal
◊ seeking out the best authors and best work (e.g. from meeting abstracts) and actively encouraging submissions
◊ reviewing submissions to the journal
◊ accepting commissions to write editorials, reviews and commentaries on papers in their specialist area
◊ attending and contributing to editorial board meetings
• consult editorial board members regularly (at least once a year) to gauge their opinions about the running of the journal, inform them of any changes to journal policies, and identify future challenges
(6) Relations with journal owners and publishers
• establish mechanisms to handle disagreements between themselves and the journal owner/publisher with due process
• have a written contract(s) setting out their relationship with the journal’s owner and/or publisher (the terms of this contract should be in line with the COPE Code of Conduct)
• communicate regularly with their journal’s owners and publishers
(7) Editorial and peer-review processes
• ensure that people involved with the editorial process (including themselves) receive adequate training and keep abreast of the latest guidelines, recommendations and evidence about peer review and journal management
• keep informed about research into peer review and technological advances
• adopt peer-review methods best suited for their journal and the research community it serves
• review peer-review practices periodically to see if improvement is possible
• refer troubling cases to COPE, especially when questions arise that are not addressed by the COPE flow charts, or new types of publication misconduct are suspected
• consider appointing an ombudsperson to adjudicate in complaints that cannot be resolved internally
(8) Quality assurance
• have systems in place to detect falsified data, e.g. manipulated photographic images or plagiarised text (either for routine use or when suspicions are raised)
• base decisions about journal house style on relevant evidence of factors that raise the quality of reporting (e.g. adopting structured abstracts, applying guidance such as CONSORT) rather than simply on aesthetic grounds or personal preference
(9) Protecting individual data
• publish their policy on publishing individual data (e.g. identifiable patient details or images) and explain this clearly to authors
(10) Encouraging academic integrity
• request evidence of ethical research approval for all relevant submissions and be prepared to question authors about aspects such as how patient consent was obtained or what methods were employed to minimize animal suffering
• ensure that reports of clinical trials cite compliance with the Declaration of Helsinki, Good Clinical Practice and other relevant guidelines to safeguard participants
• ensure that reports of experiments on, or studies of, animals cite compliance with the US Department of Health and Human Services Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals or other relevant guidelines
• consider appointing a journal ethics panel to advise on specific cases and review journal policies periodically
(11) Ensuring the integrity of the academic record
• take steps to reduce covert redundant publication, e.g. by requiring all clinical trials to be registered
• ensure that published material is securely archived (e.g. via online permanent repositories, such as PubMed Central)
• have systems in place to give authors the opportunity to make original research articles freely available
(12) Intellectual property
• adopt systems for detecting plagiarism (e.g. software, searching for similar titles) in submitted items (either routinely or when suspicions are raised)
• support authors whose copyright has been breached or who have been the victims of plagiarism
• be prepared to defend authors’ rights and pursue offenders (e.g. by requesting retractions or removal of material from websites) irrespective of whether their journal holds the copyright
(13) Commercial considerations
• have policies and systems in place to ensure that commercial considerations do not affect editorial decisions (e.g. advertising departments should operate independently from editorial departments)
• publish a description of their journal’s income sources (e.g. the proportions received from display advertising, reprint sales, special supplements, page charges, etc.)
• ensure that the peer-review process for sponsored supplements is the same as that used for the main journal
• ensure that items in sponsored supplements are accepted solely on the basis of academic merit and interest to readers and is not influenced by commercial considerations
(14) Conflicts of interest
• publish lists of relevant interests (financial, academic and other kinds) of all editorial staff and members of editorial boards (which should be updated at least annually)
• adopt suitable policies for handling submissions from themselves, employees or members of the editorial board to ensure unbiased review (and have these set out in writing)
COPE Best Practice Guidelines for Journal Reviewers
Peer review in all its form plays an important role in ensuring the integrity of the scholarly record. The process depends to a large extent on trust, and requires that everyone involved behaves responsibly and ethically. Peer reviewers play a central and critical part in the peer-review process, but too often come to the role without any guidance and may be unaware of their ethical obligations. The COPE Ethical Guidelines for Peer Reviewers set out the basic principles and standards to which all peer reviewers should adhere during the peer-review process. It is hoped they will provide helpful guidance to researchers, be a reference for journals and editors in guiding their reviewers, and act as an educational resource for institutions in training their students and researchers.
(1) Basic principles to which peer reviewers should adhere
Peer reviewers should:
• only agree to review manuscripts for which they have the subject expertise required to carry out a proper assessment and which they can assess in a timely manner
• respect the confidentiality of peer review and not reveal any details of a manuscript or its review, during or after the peer-review process, beyond those that are released by the journal
• not use information obtained during the peer-review process for their own or any other person’s or organization’s advantage, or to disadvantage or discredit others
• declare all potential conflicting interests, seeking advice from the journal if they are unsure whether something constitutes a relevant interest
• not allow their reviews to be influenced by the origins of a manuscript, by the nationality, religious or political beliefs, gender or other characteristics of the authors, or by commercial considerations
• be objective and constructive in their reviews, refraining from being hostile or inflammatory and from making libellous or derogatory personal comments
• acknowledge that peer review is largely a reciprocal endeavour and undertake to carry out their fair share of reviewing and in a timely manner
• provide journals with personal and professional information that is accurate and a true representation of their expertise
• recognize that impersonation of another individual during the review process is considered serious misconduct
(2) Expectations during the peer-review process
On being approached to review
Peer reviewers should:
• respond in a reasonable time-frame, especially if they cannot do the review, and without intentional delay.
• declare if they do not have the subject expertise required to carry out the review or if they are able to assess only part of the manuscript, outlining clearly the areas for which they have the relevant expertise.
• only agree to review a manuscript if they are fairly confident they can return a review within the proposed or mutually agreed time-frame, informing the journal promptly if they require an extension.
• declare any potentially conflicting or competing interests (which may, for example, be personal, financial, intellectual, professional, political or religious), seeking advice from the journal if they are unsure whether something constitutes a relevant interest.
• follow journals’ policies on situations they consider to represent a conflict to reviewing. If no guidance is provided, they should inform the journal if: they work at the same institution as any of the authors (or will be joining that institution or are applying for a job there); they are or have been recent (e.g. within the past 3 years) mentors, mentees, close collaborators or joint grant holders; they have a close personal relationship with any of the authors.
• review afresh any manuscript they have previously reviewed for another journal as it may have changed between the two submissions and the journals’ criteria for evaluation and acceptance may be different.
• ensure suggestions for alternative reviewers are based on suitability and not influenced by personal considerations or made with the intention of the manuscript receiving a specific outcome (either positive or negative).
• not agree to review a manuscript just to gain sight of it with no intention of submitting a review.
• decline to review if they feel unable to provide a fair and unbiased review.
• decline to review if they have been involved with any of the work in the manuscript or its reporting.
• decline to review if asked to review a manuscript that is very similar to one they have in preparation or under consideration at another journal.
• decline to review if they have issues with the peer-review model used by a journal (e.g. it uses open review and releases the reviewers’ names to the authors) that would either affect their review or cause it to be invalidated because of their inability to comply with the journal’s review policies
Peer reviewers should:
• notify the journal immediately and seek advice if they discover either a conflicting interest that wasn’t apparent when they agreed to the review or anything that might prevent them providing a fair and unbiased review.
• refrain from looking at the manuscript and associated material while awaiting instructions from a journal on issues that might cause the request to review to be rescinded.
• read the manuscript, ancillary material (e.g. reviewer instructions, required ethics and policy statements, supplemental data files) and journal instructions thoroughly, getting back to the journal if anything is not clear and requesting any missing or incomplete items they need to carry out a full review.
• notify the journal as soon as possible if they find they do not have the expertise to assess all aspects of the manuscript; they shouldn’t wait until submitting their review as this will unduly delay the review process.
• not involve anyone else in the review of a manuscript, including junior researchers they are mentoring, without first obtaining permission from the journal; the names of any individuals who have helped them with the review should be included with the returned review so that they are associated with the manuscript in the journal’s records and can also receive due credit for their efforts.
• keep all manuscript and review details confidential.
• contact the journal if circumstances arise that will prevent them from submitting a timely review, providing an accurate estimate of the time they will need to do a review if still asked to do so.
• in the case of double-blind review, if they suspect the identity of the author(s) notify the journal if this knowledge raises any potential conflict of interest.
• notify the journal immediately if they come across any irregularities, have concerns about ethical aspects of the work, are aware of substantial similarity between the manuscript and a concurrent submission to another journal or a published article, or suspect that misconduct may have occurred during either the research or the writing and submission of the manuscript; reviewers should, however, keep their concerns confidential and not personally investigate further unless the journal asks for further information or advice.
• not intentionally prolong the review process, either by delaying the submission of their review or by requesting unnecessary additional information from the journal or author.
• ensure their review is based on the merits of the work and not influenced, either positively or negatively, by any personal, financial, or other conflicting considerations or by intellectual biases.
• not contact the authors directly without the permission of the journal.
When preparing the report
Peer reviewers should:
• bear in mind that the editor is looking to them for subject knowledge, good judgement, and an honest and fair assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of the work and the manuscript.
• make clear at the start of their review if they have been asked to address only specific parts or aspects of a manuscript and indicate which these are.
• follow journals’ instructions on the specific feedback that is required of them and, unless there are good reasons not to, the way this should be organized.
• be objective and constructive in their reviews and provide feedback that will help the authors to improve their manuscript.
• not make derogatory personal comments or unfounded accusations.
• be specific in their criticisms, and provide evidence with appropriate references to substantiate general statements such as, ‘this work has been done before’, to help editors in their evaluation and decision and in fairness to the authors.
• remember it is the authors’ paper and not attempt to rewrite it to their own preferred style if it is basically sound and clear; suggestions for changes that improve clarity are, however, important.
• be aware of the sensitivities surrounding language issues that are due to the authors writing in a language that is not their own, and phrase the feedback appropriately and with due respect.
• make clear which suggested additional investigations are essential to support claims made in the manuscript under consideration and which will just strengthen or extend the work.
• not prepare their report in such a way or include comments that suggest the review has been done by another person.
• not prepare their report in a way that reflects badly or unfairly on another person.
• not make unfair negative comments or include unjustified criticisms of any competitors’ work that is mentioned in the manuscript.
• ensure their comments and recommendations for the editor are consistent with their report for the authors; most feedback should be put in the report for the authors.
• confidential comments to the editor should not be a place for denigration or false accusation, done in the knowledge that the authors will not see these comments.
• not suggest that authors include citations to the reviewer’s (or their associates’) work merely to increase the reviewer’s (or their associates’) citation count or to enhance the visibility of their or their associates’ work; suggestions must be based on valid academic or technological reasons.
• determine whether the journal allows them to sign their reviews and, if it does, decide as they feel comfortable doing.
• if they are the editor handling a manuscript and decide themselves to provide a review of that manuscript, do this transparently and not under the guise of an anonymous review if the journal operates blind review; providing a review for a manuscript being handled by another editor at the journal can be treated as any other review.
(3) Expectations post review
Peer reviewers should:
• continue to keep details of the manuscript and its review confidential.
• respond promptly if contacted by a journal about matters related to their review of a manuscript and provide the information required.
• contact the journal if anything relevant comes to light after they have submitted their review that might affect their original feedback and recommendations.
• read the reviews from the other reviewers, if these are provided by the journal, to improve their own understanding of the topic or the decision reached.
• try to accommodate requests from journals to review revisions or resubmissions of manuscripts they have reviewed.
COPE Best Practice Guidelines for Journal Authors
Duties of Authors
(1) Reporting standards
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. A paper should contain sufficient detail and references to permit others to replicate the work. Fraudulent or knowingly inaccurate statements constitute unethical behavior and are unacceptable. Review and professional publication articles should also be accurate and objective, and editorial opinion works should be clearly identified as such.
(2) Data Access and Retention
Authors may be asked to provide the raw data in connection with a paper for editorial review, and should be prepared to provide public access to such data, if practicable, and should in any event be prepared to retain such data for a reasonable time after publication.
(3) Originality and Plagiarism
The authors should ensure that they have written entirely original works, and if the authors have used the work and/or words of others, that this has been appropriately cited or quoted. Plagiarism takes many forms, from passing off another''s paper as the author''s own paper, to copying or paraphrasing substantial parts of another''s paper (without attribution), to claiming results from research conducted by others. Plagiarism in all its forms constitutes unethical publishing behavior and is unacceptable.
(4) Multiple, Redundant or Concurrent Publication
An author should not in general publish manuscripts describing essentially the same research in more than one journal or primary publication. Submitting the same manuscript to more than one journal concurrently constitutes unethical publishing behavior and is unacceptable.
(5) Acknowledgement of Sources
Proper acknowledgment of the work of others must always be given. Authors should cite publications that have been influential in determining the nature of the reported work. Information obtained privately, as in conversation, correspondence, or discussion with third parties, must not be used or reported without explicit, written permission from the source. Information obtained in the course of confidential services, such as refereeing manuscripts or grant applications, must not be used without the explicit written permission of the author of the work involved in these services.
(6) Authorship of the Paper
Authorship should be limited to those who have made a significant contribution to the conception, design, execution, or interpretation of the reported study. All those who have made significant contributions should be listed as co-authors. Where there are others who have participated in certain substantive aspects of the research project, they should be acknowledged or listed as contributors. The corresponding author should ensure that all appropriate co-authors and no inappropriate co-authors are included on 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.
(7) Hazards and Human or Animal Subjects
If the work involves chemicals, procedures or equipment that have any unusual hazards inherent in their use, the author must clearly identify these in the manuscript. If the work involves the use of animal or human subjects, the author should ensure that the manuscript contains a statement that all procedures were performed in compliance with relevant laws and institutional guidelines and that the appropriate institutional committee(s) have approved them. 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.
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; Uniform Requirements for manuscripts submitted to Biomedical journals. 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 Institutes of Health guide for the care and use of Laboratory animals (NIH Publications No. 8023, revised 1978) and the authors should clearly indicate in the manuscript that such guidelines have been followed.
(8) Conflict of interest
All authors, including those without competing interests to declare, should provide the relevant information to the corresponding author (which, where relevant, may specify they have nothing to declare). Corresponding authors, on behalf of all the authors of a submission, must disclose disclose any conflicts of interest that might be construed to influence the results or their interpretation in the manuscript. Examples of potential conflicts of interest that should be disclosed include financial ones such as honoraria, educational grants or other funding, participation in speakers’ bureaus, membership, employment, consultancies, stock ownership, or other equity interest, and paid expert testimony or patent-licensing arrangements, as well as non-financial ones such as personal or professional relationships, affiliations, knowledge or beliefs in the subject matter or materials discussed in the manuscript. All sources of financial support for the work should be disclosed (including the grant number or other reference number if any). Potential conflicts of interest should be disclosed at the earliest stage possible. All authors, including those without competing interests to declare, should provide the relevant information to the corresponding author (which, where relevant, may specify they have nothing to declare).
(9) Submission declaration and verification
Submission of an article implies that the work described has not been published previously (except in the form of an abstract, a published lecture or academic thesis, see also ''''Multiple, redundant or concurrent publication'''' for more information), that it is not under consideration for publication elsewhere, that its publication is approved by all authors and tacitly or explicitly by the responsible authorities where the work was carried out, and that, if accepted, it will not be published elsewhere in the same form, in English or in any other language, including electronically without the written consent of the copyright-holder.
(10) Fundamental errors in published works
When authors discover significant errors or inaccuracies in their own published work, it is their obligation to promptly notify the journal’s editors or publisher and cooperate with them to either correct the paper in the form of an erratum or to retract the paper. If the editors or publisher learns from a third party that a published work contains a significant error or inaccuracy, then it is the authors’ obligation to promptly correct or retract the paper or provide evidence to the journal editors of the correctness of the paper.
COPE Retraction Guidelines are formal COPE policy and are intended to advise editors and publishers on expected practices when considering whether a retraction is appropriate, and how to issue a retraction.
Editors should consider retracting a publication if:
• They have clear evidence that the findings are unreliable, either as a result of major error (eg, miscalculation or experimental error), or as a result of fabrication (eg, of data) or falsification (eg, image manipulation)
• It constitutes plagiarism
• The findings have previously been published elsewhere without proper attribution to previous sources
or disclosure to the editor, permission to republish, or justification (ie, cases of redundant publication)
• It contains material or data without authorisation for use
• Copyright has been infringed or there is some other serious legal issue (eg, libel, privacy)
• It reports unethical research
• It has been published solely on the basis of a compromised or manipulated peer review process
• The author(s) failed to disclose a major competing interest (aka, conflict of interest) that, in the view of the editor, would have unduly affected interpretations of the work or recommendations by editors and peer reviewers.
Notices of retraction should:
• Be linked to the retracted article wherever possible (ie, in all online versions)
• Clearly identify the retracted article (eg, by including the title and authors in the retraction heading
or citing the retracted article)
• Be clearly identified as a retraction (ie, distinct from other types of correction or comment)
• Be published promptly to minimise harmful effects
• Be freely available to all readers (ie, not behind access barriers or available only to subscribers)
• State who is retracting the article
• State the reason(s) for retraction
• Be objective, factual, and avoid inflammatory language.
Retractions are not usually appropriate if:
• The authorship is disputed but there is no reason to doubt the validity of the findings
• The main findings of the work are still reliable and correction could sufficiently address errors or concerns
• An editor has inconclusive evidence to support retraction, or is awaiting additional information
such as from an institutional investigation (for information about expressions of concern see
• Author conflicts of interest have been reported to the journal after publication, but in the editor’s view these are not likely to have influenced interpretations or recommendations, or the conclusions of the article.
Actions Taken for the Violations of Ethics of Publications
The following actions must be taken according to rules, set by the Committee on ethics of publications, and in accordance with the specific of the educed violations, if:
- suspect fabricated data in a submitted manuscript
- the reviewer suspects that the submitted manuscript does not disclose a conflict of interest (Col)
- Corresponding author requests addition of extra author before publication
- Corresponding author requests removal of author before publication
- Request for addition of extra author after publication
- Request for removal of author after publication
- Suspect guest, ghost or gift authorship
- Advice on how to spot authorship problems
- suspect plagiarism in the published article
- suspect the presence of the forged data of the published article
- suspect a presence unexposed at the conflict of interests in the published article
- consider that a reviewer appropriated an authorial scientific idea or data
- wish to get advices in relation to the exposure of problems of authorship