The publication of an article in a peer-reviewed journal constitutes an essential contributor to the development of knowledge. It also reflects the quality of work of the authors and the institutions they represent. Peer-reviewed articles support and embody the scientific method. Thus, there is an urgent need to set the standards of an expected ethical behavior of all parties involved in the process of publishing: the author, the editor, the reviewer, the publisher and the society concentrated around scientific journals.
The Statement of the Medical Communications regarding Publication Ethics and Publication Malpractice has been issued based on the guidelines developed by the Committee on Publications Ethics (COPE) and available at www.publicationethics.org, and the guidelines of Elsevier publishing house.
It is the journal’s consistent policy to improve the journal constantly through publishing the highest quality original scientific articles using a fair and ethical selection and peer-reviewing of submitted manuscripts.
Decision Regarding Publishing
The final decision as to whether a given paper will be peer-reviewed and then published in the journal lies with the Editor-in-Chief. Once the Editor-in-Chief or Associate Editors have determined that the submitted manuscript is suitable for review (in particular that it meets the requirements provided in Instructions for Authors), a double-blind review model is applied, i.e. the identity of the reviewers is not revealed to the authors and vice versa – the reviewers do not know the identity of the authors and the remaining reviewers.
The decision is made based on the content of the paper, the analysis of the veracity of the presented results and once all concerns regarding possible breach of copyright, libel or plagiarism have been dispelled. The decision, communicated to the authors without delay, involves opinions from Associate Editors, peer reviewers and, if necessary, consultation with the journal’s Editorial Board.
Editors shall be willing to publish corrections, clarifications and apologies, and to withdraw (retract) an article if its authors are in breach of copyright, have committed libel or plagiarism.
“Fair Play” Principle
Race, gender, sexual orientation, origin, citizenship, political or religious beliefs of the authors of the papers submitted for publication shall not have any effect on their evaluation by the Editor-in-Chief and Associate Editors.
Editors shall keep all information regarding the manuscripts provided by their authors confidential. Manuscript-specific information must not be discussed or revealed in any way to a third party – it will remain known only to the Editor-in-Chief, Associate Editors, Managing Editors and the reviewers selected for the review of the given manuscript.
Conflict of Interest Disclosure
Editors shall remain objective and not allow personal beliefs or professional or institutional interests to influence their opinion whether a given manuscript is suitable for publishing or not. Also, they must not use the information included in the submitted articles for personal research purposes without a prior expressed consent of the authors. In case of a conflict of interest arising from competition, cooperation or any other relations with either of the authors or institutions related to a given manuscript, an Associate Editor or other member of the journal’s Editorial Board shall assume the competence of the Editor-in-Chief in deciding whether the paper will be published or not. Editors shall be obliged to disclose any such conflict of interest and to publish a respective post-factum explanation in case when such conflict has been found to exist. Other actions are also possible, namely publishing a correction or a retraction.
If an author decides to appeal the decision to not publish their manuscript, the final decision in this respect rests with the Editor-in-Chief. Having consulted the Associate Editors and the reviewers involved with the review of a given manuscript, the Editor-in-Chief may change the original decision to reject the manuscript for publication.
Corrections and Retraction
The online version of the paper may be corrected by editors, yet the date of correction must be provided. If following publication a significant error is found in the paper or its substantial portions are deemed invalid, the article should be retracted with an explanation of the reason for the retraction (fraud, error, plagiarism or so called “redundant publication”). Such retraction may also be considered if the published article is found to contain confidential information acquired by the author from a third party and unfairly used in the paper.
The decision to retract a paper rests with the Editor-in-Chief after consultations with other editors (Associate Editors, the Editorial Board) as well as the reviewers involved in the review.
Requirements Regarding Submission of Manuscripts
When submitting a paper to the journal published by Medical Communications, authors shall enclose the Cover Letter, in which they represent that their manuscript does not breach copyright of any person and that is has not been published or is being considered for publication elsewhere. They are also to provide precise information regarding the contribution of particular coauthors to the manuscript.
For previously published graphic elements submitted to editors (tables, figures), authors must provide permission to republish from the owner of copyright.
Instructions for authors regarding the preparation and the submission of a manuscript are available in the hard copy form and on the journal’s website.
The publisher does not charge publication fees (article processing charges, article submission charges).
Only the authors’ proper original manuscripts may be submitted for publication, otherwise being rejected or retracted (based on an unethical behavior of the authors following publishing). Any form of plagiarism is unacceptable, including claiming the work, words, data, theoretical concepts and conclusions of others or self-plagiarism – republishing portions of the author’s previous works in order to present them as new ideas. Submitting a paper for publication in more than one journal at once shall be deemed unethical and damnable.
The work and words of other authors must be properly cited. Authors should also reference all sources of their inspiration, including the published articles that contributed to the creation of the manuscript.
Exceptionally, it is possible to reprint or translate a previously published article, yet such work must be properly marked and the consent of the owner of copyright is required.
Authorship of Manuscripts
Only those who have made a major contribution to a paper may be deemed its authors. In the Cover Letter particular coauthors shall determine the type and extent of their contribution in the preparation of the manuscript. The names and the role of those who have assisted with the research/publication, but are not considered as authors, should be mentioned in the “Acknowledgement” section.
The journal’s editors shall publicize and condemn all reveled cases of ghostwriting, i.e. failure to reveal in the manuscript the extent of contribution of persons who have virtually contributed to its creation, and the cases of quest authorship, i.e. attributing the authorship to those whose contribution has been minor or almost non-existent.
See also: Editorial Policy/Authorship
Authors must acknowledge sources of all provided data and reference in the article text all relevant prior work.
Authors shall be obliged to present their results in a transparent, accurate and fair manner – submitted manuscripts must contain only the data, statistical analysis and results that are believed to be accurate. Premeditated publication of inaccurate or unverified results is considered unethical and unacceptable.
Conflict of Interest Disclosure
Authors are expected to disclose – in the Cover Letter – and in the final part of the article, any potential conflict of interest (financial or of a different nature) that might affect the results or their interpretation. Authors should also ensure that no contractual relations or proprietary considerations exist that would compromise the publication of a submitted manuscript.
Errors after Publication
If authors become aware of an error or inaccuracy after the manuscript has been published, they should immediately notify editors so that a correction/retraction can be made.
Reviewers shall keep all unpublished manuscripts and related materials confidential. Manuscripts can only be made available to others upon the permission of editors or the publication staff.
During the review process reviewers shall do their utmost to assess the quality of the reviewed paper objectively and accurately. Comments and opinions provided by reviewers that are returned to authors should be impartial, clear and concise.
If a reviewer does not feel qualified enough to evaluate a given manuscript, they may decline to review it.
Reviewers of manuscripts submitted to the journal’s published by Medical Communications are volunteers believed to have other employment commitments. Therefore, prior to engaging themselves in the review process, they should make sure they will be able to complete the review within a specified time frame. Otherwise, they should decline to review the manuscript. They are expected by the journal’s publication staff to submit the review within 2–3 weeks following the day of taking up the task. If reviewers need additional time, they should inform the Managing Editor or the Editor-in-Chief immediately about the delay. Reviewers may decline to review a manuscript without providing any reason.
Conflict of Interest Disclosure
The author of an article and its reviewer should not maintain any close relations, either personal (family ties) or professional (hierarchy). If a reviewer finds that evaluating a given manuscript is in conflict with their interest, their obligation is to decline to review. The conflict of interest can be of a competitive, financial, or collaborative nature – on a personal, company, or institutional area. The reviewers must not use the information included in the manuscript they read for a personal gain.
Any interaction or relationship between author and reviewer that could be construed as a conflict of interest should be disclosed in writing to the Editor-in-Chief along with the refusal to review.
If during the reading of a manuscript the reviewer realizes that another author’s intellectual property has been infringed, they shall notify the Managing Editor who will in turn notify their superior. The Editor-in-Chief, either himself/herself or through his/her designee, shall make the final decision regarding the publication of the paper.
Reviewers should identify and show the authors all sources and published works they deems crucial that have not been mentioned and cited in the paper.
Comments to Authors
Reviewers shall at all times provide comments to authors and the publication staff keeping in mind that their common effort enhances the quality of the reviewed manuscript. It is their responsibility to provide authors, through the publication staff, with clear, constructive and detailed comments regarding the reviewed work. This principle also applies to manuscripts the reviewers find not suitable for publication. Providing authors only with the information on conclusions drawn from the review, and in particular the failure to inform them about essential drawbacks, even if their paper has been positively assessed, is reprehensible.