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Principles of transparency and best practice in scholarly publishing

In June, the Committee on Publication Ethics, the Directory of Open Access Journals, the Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association and the World Association of Medical Editors provided an update to their joint “principles of transparency and best practice for scholarly publications” and to clarify that these principles form part of the criteria on which membership applications will be evaluated.

The principles are outlined below – and may well help authors and other professionals involved in medical publications to select credible journals for their manuscript articles – and to avoid predatory journals. For further details, see here.

Principles of Transparency

    1. Peer review process
      Journal content must be clearly marked as whether peer reviewed or not. Peer review is defined as obtaining advice on individual manuscripts from reviewers expert in the field who are not part of the journal’s editorial staff. This process, as well as any policies related to the journal’s peer review procedures, shall be clearly described on the journal’s Web site.
    2. Governing Body
      Journals shall have editorial boards or other governing bodies whose members are recognized experts in the subject areas included within the journal’s scope. The full names and affiliations of the journal’s editors shall be provided on the journal’s Web site.
    3. Editorial team/contact information
      Journals shall provide the full names and affiliations of the journal’s editors on the journal’s Web site as well as contact information for the editorial office.
    4. Author fees
      Any fees or charges that are required for manuscript processing and/or publishing materials in the journal shall be clearly stated in a place that is easy for potential authors to find prior to submitting their manuscripts for review or explained to authors before they begin preparing their manuscript for submission.
    5. Copyright
      Copyright and licensing information shall be clearly described on the journal’s Web site, and licensing terms shall be indicated on all published articles, both HTML and PDFs.
    6. Process for identification of and dealing with allegations of research misconduct
      Publishers and editors shall take reasonable steps to identify and prevent the publication of papers where research misconduct has occurred, including plagiarism, citation manipulation, and data falsification/fabrication, among others. In no case shall a journal or its editors encourage such misconduct, or knowingly allow such misconduct to take place. In the event that a journal’s publisher or editors are made aware of any allegation of research misconduct relating to a published article in their journal – the publisher or editor shall follow COPE’s guidelines (or equivalent) in dealing with allegations.
    7. Ownership and management
      Information about the ownership and/or management of a journal shall be clearly indicated on the journal’s Web site. Publishers shall not use organizational or journal names that would mislead potential authors and editors ´ about the nature of the journal’s owner.
    8. Web site
      A journal’s Web site, including the text that it contains, shall demonstrate that care has been taken to ensure high ethical and professional standards. It must not contain misleading information, including any attempt to mimic another journal/publisher’s site.
    9. Name of journal
      The Journal name shall be unique and not be one that is easily confused with another journal or that might mislead potential authors and readers about the Journal’s origin or association with other journals.
    10. Conflicts of interest
      A journal shall have clear policies on handling potential conflicts of interest of editors, authors, and reviewers and the policies should be clearly stated.
    11. Access
      The way(s) in which the journal and individual articles are available to readers and whether there are associated subscription or pay per view fees shall be stated.
    12. Revenue sources
      Business models or revenue sources (eg, author fees, subscriptions, advertising, reprints, institutional support, and organizational support) shall be clearly stated or otherwise evident on the journal’s Web site.
    13. Advertising
      Journals shall state their advertising policy if relevant, including what types of ads will be considered, who makes decisions regarding accepting ads and whether they are linked to content or reader behavior (online only) or are displayed at random.
    14. Publishing schedule
      The periodicity at which a journal publishes shall be clearly indicated.
    15. Archiving
      A journal’s plan for electronic backup and preservation of access to the journal content (for example, access to main articles via CLOCKSS or PubMedCentral) in the event a journal is no longer published shall be clearly indicated.
    16. Direct marketing
      Any direct marketing activities, including solicitation of manuscripts that are conducted on behalf of the journal, shall be appropriate, well targeted, and unobtrusive.

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Ryan co-runs Aspire Scientific, a dynamic, forward-thinking medical writing agency. Ryan has a passion for innovation, science and ethical communication.

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