These Best Practice Guidelines on Publication Ethics describe Wiley-Blackwell's position on the major ethical principles of academic publishing and consider factors that may foster ethical behavior or create problems. The aims are to encourage discussion, to initiate changes where they are needed, and to provide practical guidance, in the form of Best Practice Statements, to inform these changes.
"This is an excellent document. It addresses both broad ethical issues and practical points that we have all come against throughout editorial work"
Panos Vostanis, Editor, Child & Adolescent Mental Health
"It is impressive. I particularly like the 'Best Practice' sections. I think it will be a valuable resource"
Bruce Baum, Senior Editor, Oral Diseases
"Covers most of the issues that we normally address and has raised some ideas for improving some of our codes of practice".
Carol Huxley, Managing Editor, The Journal of Physiology
Best Practice Guidelines on Publication Ethics: A Publisher's Perspective is reproduced with permission from International Journal of Clinical Practice
Graf C, Wager E, Bowman A et al. Int J Clin Pract 2007; 61 (s152):126.
You can read the abstract and download the PDF from Wiley Online Library by clicking here.
Wiley-Blackwell, the world's leading partner for societies, works with over 700 academic societies. We recognize the importance of developing the highest ethical standards, and we are committed to promoting ethical publication practices across Wiley-Blackwell journals.
Academic publishing depends, to a great extent, on trust. Editors trust peer reviewers to provide fair assessments, authors trust editors to select appropriate peer reviewers, and readers put their trust in the peer-review process. Academic publishing also occurs in an environment of powerful intellectual, financial, and sometimes political interests that may collide or compete. Good decisions and strong editorial processes designed to manage these interests will foster a sustainable and efficient publishing system, which will benefit academic societies, journal editors, authors, research funders, readers, and publishers. Good publication practices do not develop by chance, and will become established only if they are actively promoted.
Top1.2 Wiley-Blackwell Guidelines on Publication Ethics and Best Practice
This document presents the Wiley-Blackwell position on the major ethical principles of academic publishing and considers factors that may foster ethical behavior or create problems. The aims are to encourage discussion, to initiate changes where they are needed, and to provide practical guidance, in the form of Best Practice Statements, to inform these changes.
These guidelines have been written to offer Wiley-Blackwell journal editors and academic society partners a framework for developing and implementing their own publication ethics policies and systems. We recommend that editors adapt and adopt these guidelines to best fit the needs of their own particular publishing environment.
Top1.3 Implementing change: How Wiley-Blackwell will help
The ideas presented in this document may prompt editors to review or update their policies and processes. Wiley-Blackwell will assist editors of Wiley-Blackwell journals in the review process, and will help them to update their policies and processes according to their decisions.
In some sectors, notably medicine, the debate about publication ethics is moving rapidly. In response, and at suitable intervals, we will update our guidance.
The general principles of publication ethics are grouped and discussed under broad themes. Statements of principle are followed by factors that may affect them. The order of the sections does not imply a hierarchy of importance (see table of contents).
The Wiley-Blackwell Publication Ethics Group is Alyson Bowman, Suzan Fiack, Chris Graf, Andrew Robinson and Allen Stevens. We would like to thank Liz Wager (Publications Consultant, Sideview) for her assistance and consultancy in the development of this document, the Committee on Publication Ethics for the use of its flowcharts, and our panel of 25 reviewers for their insight.
Best Practice Guidelines on Publication Ethics: A Publisher's Perspective is reproduced with permission from International Journal of Clinical Practice
Graf C, Wager E, Bowman A et al. Int J Clin Pract 2007; 61 (s152):126.
You can read the abstract and download the PDF from Online Library by clicking here.
This document presents the Wiley-Blackwell position on the major ethical principles of academic publishing and considers factors that may foster ethical behavior or create problems. The aims are to encourage discussion, to initiate changes where they are needed, and to provide practical guidance, in the form of Best Practice statements, to inform these changes.
Top3.2 Who did the work?
The list of authors should accurately reflect who did the work. All published work should be attributed to one or more authors.
Top3.3 Has the work been published before?
Most journals wish to consider only work that has not been published elsewhere. One reason for this is that the scientific literature can be skewed by redundant publication, with important consequences, for example, if results are inadvertently included more than once into meta-analyses. Both journal editors and readers have a right to know whether research has been published previously.
4.1 Research misconduct
If editors suspect research misconduct (for example, data fabrication, falsification or plagiarism) they should attempt to ensure that this is properly investigated by the appropriate authorities.
Top4.2 Protecting the rights of research participants/subjects
Editors should create publication policies that promote ethical and responsible research practices.
Where individual human subjects or case studies are discussed (for example, as in medicine, psychology, criminology) journals should protect confidentiality and should not permit publication of items that might upset or harm participants/subjects, or breach confidentiality of, for example, the doctor patient relationship.
Top4.3 Respecting cultures and heritage
Editors should exercise sensitivity when publishing images of objects that might have cultural significance or cause offence (for example, Australian aboriginal remains held in museums, religious texts, historical events). It may be acceptable to publish images of human remains (for example, Egyptian mummies, Roman remains) so long as these considerations are respected, despite the fact that for archaeological specimens it is impossible to obtain consent from the individual or their descendents.
Top4.4 Informing readers about research and publication misconduct
Editors should inform readers if ethical breaches have occurred. Wiley-Blackwell has published general advice on publishing retractions.
Top5.1 Peer-review systems
Editors have a responsibility for ensuring the peer-review process is fair and should aim to minimize bias.
Top5.2 Peer reviewer selection and performance
Editors have a responsibility to ensure a high standard of objective, unbiased, and timely peer review.
Authors have a right to appeal editorial decisions.
Top5.4 Conflicts of interest
Editors, authors, and peer reviewers have a responsibility to disclose interests that might appear to affect their ability to present or review data objectively. These include relevant financial (for example patent ownership, stock ownership, consultancies, speaker's fees), personal, political, intellectual, or religious interests.
'Financial conflicts may be the easiest to identify but they may not be the most influential.' Horton R. Lancet 1997;349:1112-13.
'We want to try to have a policy that covers all conflicts of interest. Other sources of conflict are personal, political, academic, and religious, and we believe that these may be just as potent as financial conflicts.' Smith R. BMJ 1994;308:4.
Top5.5 Editorial independence
Editorial independence should be respected. Journal owners (both learned societies and publishers) should not interfere with editorial decisions. The relationship between the editor and the journal owner and publisher should be set out in a formal contract and an appeal mechanism for disputes should be established.
Editors, journal owners, and publishers should establish processes that minimize the risk of editorial decisions being influenced by commercial, academic, personal or political factors.
Journal editors have a responsibility to ensure the accuracy of the material they publish.
Top5.7 Academic debate
Journals should encourage academic debate.
Editors should pursue cases of suspected misconduct that become apparent during the peer-review and publication processes, to the extent and in the ways defined in this document in the 'Promoting research integrity' section. Editors should first work with the authors, the journal owners and/or the journal publishers (at Wiley-Blackwell this is via the journal publishing manager or editor), referring to information from the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE), the Council of Science Editors (CSE), or another appropriate body if further advice is needed.
Journals should promote responsible publication practices in their instructions for authors.
Wiley-Blackwell has published general advice on misconduct and the available sanctions (including plagiarism, dealing with research misconduct, and irregularities within the content of an article, including dual publication, libel, slander and obscenity).
7.1 Plagiarism and copyright
Journal editors and readers have a right to expect that submitted work is the author's own, that it has not been plagiarized (i.e. taken from other authors without permission, if permission is required) and that copyright has not been breached (for example, if figures or tables are reproduced).
Top7.2 Protecting intellectual property
Journal owners and authors have a right to protect their intellectual property.
Top7.3 Peer reviewer conduct and intellectual property
Authors are entitled to expect that peer reviewers or other individuals privy to the work an author submits to a journal will not steal their research ideas or plagiarize their work.
These Best Practice Statements are designed to provide practical guidance for editors (and authors) wishing to develop their own approaches to publication ethics. We recommend that editors adapt and adopt the suggestions outlined below to best fit the needs of their own particular publishing environment. We will help editors of Wiley-Blackwell journals to incorporate the suggestions they choose into their editorial policies and processes.
8.1 Best Practice: Transparency
Sources of funding for research or publication should always be disclosed. Editors should state this directly in their editorial policy. Authors should routinely include information about research funding in all papers they prepare for publication. Where a clinical trial registration number is available, this should be included.
Top8.2 Best Practice: Authorship and acknowledgement
The International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE) provides a definition of authorship that is applicable beyond the medical sector. Wiley-Blackwell recommends that journal editors consider adopting the ICMJE authorship criteria as part of their editorial policy. The ICMJE authorship criteria state 'authorship credit should be based on 1) substantial contributions to conception and design, or acquisition of data, or analysis and interpretation of data; 2) drafting the article or revising it critically for important intellectual content; and 3) final approval of the version to be published. Authors should meet conditions 1, 2, and 3.'
Wiley-Blackwell recommends that editors ask authors to submit a short description of all contributions to their manuscript. Each author's contribution should be described in brief. Authors of research papers should state whether they had complete access to the study data that support the publication. Contributors who do not qualify as authors should also be listed and their particular contribution described. This information should appear as an acknowledgement.
Sample authorship description/acknowledgement
Drs A, B and C designed and conducted the study, including patient recruitment, data collection, and data analysis. Dr A prepared the manuscript draft with important intellectual input from Drs B and C. All authors approved the final manuscript. [Insert name of organization] provided funding for the study, statistical support in analyzing the data with input from Drs A, B and C, and also provided funding for editorial support. Drs A, B and C had complete access to the study data. We would like to thank Dr D for her editorial support during preparation of this manuscript.
The Wiley-Blackwell Exclusive License Form, the OnlineOpen Form, or the Copyright Assignment form, one of which must be submitted before publication in any Wiley-Blackwell journal, requires the corresponding author to state that written authorization for publication of the article has been received by the corresponding author from all co-authors.
Top8.3 Best Practice: Collecting authorship information
For research papers, authorship should be decided at the study launch. Policing authorship is beyond the responsibilities of an editor. Editors should demand transparent and complete descriptions of who has contributed to a paper.
Editors should employ appropriate systems to inform contributors about authorship criteria (if used) and/or to obtain accurate information about individuals' contributions. Wiley-Blackwell can advise Wiley-Blackwell editors about how best to do this, and the Wiley-Blackwell electronic submission system can be used to explain authorship criteria, and to collect and manage authorship information efficiently.
Editors should ask authors to submit, as part of their initial submission package, a statement that all individuals listed as authors meet the appropriate authorship criteria, that nobody who qualifies for authorship has been omitted from the list, and that contributors and their funding sources have been properly acknowledged, and that authors and contributors have approved the acknowledgement of their contribution.
Top8.4 Best Practice: Attributing authorship to a group
The International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE) provides guidance for instances where a number of authors report on behalf of a larger group of investigators. This guidance is applicable outside the medical sector. Wiley-Blackwell recommends that editors adopt the ICMJE policy. ICMJE guidance states: 'When a large, multi-center group has conducted the work, the group should identify the individuals who accept direct responsibility for the manuscript. These individuals should fully meet the criteria for authorship defined above... When submitting a group author manuscript, the corresponding author should clearly indicate the preferred citation and should clearly identify all individual authors as well as the group name.' The individual authors who accept direct responsibility for the manuscript should list the members of the larger authorship group in an appendix to their acknowledgements.
Top8.5 Best Practice: Redundant (multiple) publication
Journal instructions should clearly explain what is, and what is not, considered to be prior publication. Abstracts and posters at conferences, results presented at meetings (for example, to inform investigators or participants about findings), results databases (data without interpretation, discussion, context or conclusions in the form of tables and text to describe data/information where this is not easily presented in tabular form) are not considered by Wiley-Blackwell to be prior publication.
Journals may choose to accept (i.e. consider 'not redundant') the re-publication of materials that have been accurately translated from an original publication in a different language. Journals that translate and publish material that has been published elsewhere should ensure that they have appropriate permission(s), should indicate clearly that the material has been translated and re-published, and should indicate clearly the original source of the material. Editors may request copies of related publications if they are concerned about overlap and possible redundancy. Re-publishing in the same language as primary publication with the aim of serving different audiences is more difficult to justify when primary publication is electronic and therefore easily accessible, but if editors feel that this is appropriate they should follow the same steps as for translation.
Editors should ensure that sub-group analyses, meta- and secondary analyses are clearly identified as analyses of data that has already been published, that they refer directly to the primary source, and that (if available) they include the clinical trial registration number from the primary publication.
The Wiley-Blackwell Exclusive License Form, the OnlineOpen Form, or the Copyright Assignment form, one of which must be submitted before publication in any Wiley-Blackwell journal, requires signature from the corresponding author to warrant that the article is an original work, has not been published before and is not being considered for publication elsewhere in its final form either in printed or electronic form.
Some questions and answers about duplicate publication
Q.'I am considering joining two of my fellow journal editors in writing a joint editorial about plagiarism and academic disputes. It would be published simultaneously in three journals.'
A.This is appropriate multiple publication. Multiple publication helps convey the strength of the (important) message. Each editorial should refer to the others, as references and in a direct statement.
Q.'We publish abstracts from specialist societies, then often get the full paper a few months later.'
A. This isnot duplicate publication. Abstracts do not present full results/analysis.
Q.'Our Chinese edition has translated papers from the main journal a few months after the original was published.'
A. This could be appropriate re-publication. Translated papers should make it clear (perhaps in their titles) that they are translated from a primary source, and they should refer directly to the primary source (in their abstract and their text, as a reference, and as a footnote).
Top8.6 Best Practice: Registering clinical trials
Since 2005, some medical journals (notably those edited by members of the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors [ICMJE]) have made registration in a publicly accessible trial register a requirement for publishing clinical trials. The World Health Organization (WHO), in May 2006, 'urged research institutions and companies to register all medical studies that test treatments on human beings'. ICMJE allowed authors a grace period for registration of new or ongoing trials; this grace period ended September 2005. WHO states that 'all clinical trials should be registered at inception', i.e. prospectively before patients/subjects are enrolled, using the complete 20 criteria described by its International Clinical Trials Registry Platform (link).
Wiley-Blackwell recommends that editors of medical journals require that the clinical trials they consider for publication are registered in free, public clinical trial registries (for example, www.clinicaltrials.gov, http://clinicaltrials-dev.ifpma.org/, http://isrctn.org/) before publication. Editors may choose to allow authors submitting to their journals a grace period in which ongoing or completed trials can be registered. Editors should develop policies about trial registration that suit their own particular publishing environment, and should make their policies about trial registration clear to prospective authors. Even if editors decide that prospective registration is not made compulsory for their journal, journals should encourage clear trial identification and should have a policy for including the clinical trial registration number and name of the trial register within the publication, and perhaps should adapt their electronic submission process to collect this information.
Sample wording for statement in instructions for authors
[Insert journal name] requires that the clinical trials submitted for its consideration are registered in a publicly accessible database. Authors should include the name of the trial register and their clinical trial registration number at the end of their abstract. If you wish the editor[s] to consider an unregistered trial please explain briefly why the trial has not been registered.
Top8.7 Best Practice: Protecting research subjects, patients and experimental animals
Policing the standards of human or animal research is beyond the responsibilities of an editor. Even so, medical journals can encourage authors to follow the highest standards and may consider requiring, for example, statements from authors that trials conformed to Good Clinical Practice (for example, US Food and Drug Administration Good Clinical Practice in FDA-Regulated Clinical Trials; UK Medicines Research Council Guidelines for Good Clinical Practice in Clinical Trials) and/or the World Medical Association Declaration of Helsinki.
Journals should ask authors to state that the study they are submitting was approved by the relevant research ethics committee or institutional review board. If human participants were involved, manuscripts must be accompanied by a statement that the experiments were undertaken with the understanding and appropriate informed consent of each. If experimental animals were used, the materials and methods (experimental procedures) section must clearly indicate that appropriate measures were taken to minimize pain or discomfort, and details of animal care should be provided. Wiley-Blackwell suggests that all these standards are defined by the lead investigator's national standards.
Editors should reserve the right to reject papers if there is doubt whether appropriate procedures have been followed. If a paper has been submitted from a country where there is no ethics committee, institutional review board, or similar review and approval, editors should use their own experience to judge whether the paper should be published. If the decision is made to publish a paper under these circumstances a short statement should be included to explain the situation.
Top8.8 Best Practice: Respecting confidentiality
In the majority of cases, editors should only consider publishing information and images from individual participants/subjects or patients where the authors have obtained the individual's explicit consent. Exceptional cases may arise where gaining the individual's explicit consent is not possible but where publishing an individual's information or image can be demonstrated to have a genuine public health interest. In cases like this, before taking any action editors should seek and follow council from the journal owner, Wiley-Blackwell and/or legal professionals.
In the case of technical images (for example, radiographs, micrographs) editors should ensure that all information that could identify the subject has been removed from the image.
Top8.9 Best Practice: Publishing work from a journal's own staff
When making editorial decisions about peer reviewed articles where an editor is an author or is acknowledged as a contributor, journals should have mechanisms that ensure that the affected editors or staff members exclude themselves and are not involved in the publication decision. In these cases, a short statement explaining the process used to make the editorial decision should be included. When editors are presented with papers where their own interests may impair their ability to make an unbiased editorial decision, they should deputize decisions about the paper to a suitably qualified individual. See 'Conflicts of interest'.
Top8.10 Best Practice: Timing of publication
Editors should aim to ensure timely peer review and publication for papers they receive, especially where, to the extent that this can be predicted, findings may have important implications. Authors should be aware that priority publication is most likely for papers that, as judged by the journal's editorial staff, may have important implications. The timing of publication may also be influenced by themed issues or if editors group submissions on a similar topic which, inevitably, prevents them from being published in the order that articles were accepted. Online publication prior to print publication (Wiley-Blackwell OnlineEarly publication, or OnlineAccepted publication) can provide the fastest route to publication and, therefore, to placing research (and other) information in the public domain.
Top8.11 Best Practice: Conflicts of interest
Editors should adopt a policy about conflicts of interest that best suits their particular publishing environment, and should describe this in their editorial policy. Editors should adapt their submission processes to encourage submission by authors of the required information. For example, Wiley-Blackwell can configure a journal's online submission system to identify submissions without required information, and can return these submissions to authors with an explanation that their submission cannot be processed without completed information.
Editors should require statements about conflicts of interest from authors. Editors should explain that these statements should provide information about financial (for example patent ownership, stock ownership, consultancies, speaker's fees), personal, political, intellectual, or religious interests relevant to the area of research or discussion. Research or publication funding is considered separately (see 'Who funded the work?').
Editors should describe the detail that they require from conflict of interest statements, including the period that these statements should cover (3 years is suggested, but relevant conflicts of interest that are older should not be neglected). When describing financial information, the purpose of the funding received should be described by funding organization (for example, travel grant and speaker's fees received from [name of organization]). Editors could consider using bands (for example, per year, bands for financial disclosures of USD10,000 or the equivalent of <5% and >5% of an author's gross income from the previous year) for authors to describe the level of relevant funding and from which organizations this has been received, or to describe the amount of relevant stocks and shares that they own (not including stocks and shares owned as part of a general, non-specific portfolio).
Wiley-Blackwell recommends that editors publish the minimum amount of information that will provide context and transparency for readers: the sources and types of funding received by the authors. Editors should always publish a statement to describe authors' conflicts of interest or, alternatively, a statement that confirms the absence of conflicts of interest. If there is doubt about whether conflicts are relevant, it is prudent to disclose. Authors should routinely provide a statement of conflicts of interest (or lack thereof), whether or not a journal requests this statement.
[Name of individual] has received fees for serving as a speaker, a consultant and an advisory board member for [names of organizations], and has received research funding from [names of organization]. [Name of individual] is an employee of [Name of organization]. [Name of individual] owns stocks and shares in [name of organization]. [Name of individual] owns patent [patent identification and brief description].
It is good practice for journal editors, board members and staff (if involved with decisions about publication) to make and regularly update disclosures (either in the journal or via its website) about their relevant interests.
Top8.12 Best Practice: Commercial issues
Wiley-Blackwell does not allow its sales teams to become involved with the editorial decision making process.
The extent of the editorial information available to the sales team and the timing of its disclosure to them will be agreed for each journal with the relevant academic society partners and journal editors. Sales teams may only use this information after editorial decisions are finalized, to provide accurate and timely information to their potential customers. The positions available for advertising in a journal (for example, within or adjacent to an article, or collected in 'wells' within the journal) will be agreed for each journal with the relevant academic society partners and journal editors. Whether it is permissible to sell reprints of OnlineEarly papers (i.e. papers published online prior to print publication) will be agreed for each journal with the relevant academic society partners and journal editors.
Top8.13 Best Practice: Supplements and other funded publications
Journals may choose to publish supplements, special issues, sections, or similar materials that are funded by a third-party organization, for example a company, society or charity (the supporter or sometimes sponsor). The content of funded items must align with the purpose of the journal. Journals should consider describing their policy for funded items, should always present readers with the name(s) of the organization(s) funding the publication, and should consider making statements at the beginning and at relevant points within the funded item, including:
Wiley-Blackwell recommends that journals appoint co-editors (including the individual who proposed the initial idea for the funded material and a second individual appointed by the journal) as standard procedure for all funded materials. This enables editorial decisions to be easily deputized as should be the case when one editor is an author or is acknowledged as a contributor to a particular article, or when one editor is presented with papers where their own interests may impair their ability to make an unbiased editorial decision. A short statement explaining the process used to make editorial decisions should be included.
Journals should not permit funding organizations to make decisions beyond those about which publications they choose to fund and the extent of the funding. Decisions about the selection of authors and about the selection and editing of contents to be presented in funded publications should be made by the editor (or co-editors) of the funded publication.
Wiley-Blackwell reserves the right not to publish any funded publication that does not comply with the requirements defined for the journal to which the manuscript or supplement has been submitted.
Top8.14 Best Practice: Protecting intellectual property
Wiley-Blackwell is legally required to have explicit authority to publish any article. The societies we partner with decide which copyright arrangement they require from the options we provide, a brief and abridged description of which is provided in the bullets below. Wiley-Blackwell recommends the Exclusive License Form (ELF) system (for a sample form click here). For more information visit the Wiley-Blackwell Copyright FAQs page: click here .
Top8.15 Best Practice: Errata, Retractions, Expressions of concern
Journals have a duty to publish corrections (errata) when errors could affect the interpretation of data or information, whatever the cause of the error (i.e. arising from author errors or from editorial mishaps). Likewise, journals should publish 'retractions' if work is proven to be fraudulent, or 'expressions of concern' if editors have well-founded suspicions of misconduct.
9.1 Flowcharts 1a), 1b),1c), 1d) 'Changes in authorship' from Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE).
9.2 Flowcharts 2a), 2b) 'What to do if you suspect redundant (duplicate) publication' from Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE).
9.3 Flowcharts 3a), 3b) 'What to do if you suspect fabricated data' from Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE).
9.4 Flowcharts 4a), 4b) 'What to do if you suspect plagiarism' from Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE).
9.6 Flowchart 6 'How to handle appeals'
9.7 Flowchart 7 'What to do if someone complains about your journal'.
If you are an editor of a Wiley-Blackwell journal and have a specific publication ethics query your first port of call should be your Wiley-Blackwell Journal Publishing Manager.
For all other queries please contact the Wiley-Blackwell Publication Ethics helpdesk:
For a template that you can use when you want additions to specific items in your instructions to authors or on-line submission systems, click here.