Ethical Practice and Research Misconduct

Publication Ethics and Research Misconduct 

Publication of an article in an academic peer-reviewed journal serves several functions, one of which is to validate and preserve the “minutes” of research. It is therefore of immense importance that these “minutes” are accurate and trustworthy. The act of publishing involves many parties, each of which plays an important role in achieving these aims. It therefore follows that the author, the journal editor, the peer-reviewer, the publisher and the owner of Society-owned journals have responsibilities to meet expected ethical standards at all stages in their involvement from submission to publication of an article. 

Focus on Sciences is committed to meeting and upholding standards of ethical behavior at all stages of the publication process. We follow closely the industry associations, such as the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE), International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICJME) and World Association of Medical Editors (WAME), that set standards and provide guidelines for best practices in order to meet these requirements. Below is a summary of our key expectations of editors, peer-reviewers and authors.

 1. ETHICAL EXPECTATIONS

Publication and authorship

  1. All submitted manuscripts to this journal are subject to strict peer-review process by at least three reviewers that are experts in the area of applied biotechnology.
  2. The factors that are taken into account in review are relevance, soundness, significance, originality, readability and language.
  3. The possible decisions include acceptance, acceptance with revisions, or rejection.
  4. If authors are encouraged to revise and resubmit a submission, there is no guarantee that the revised submission will be accepted.
  5. Rejected manuscripts will not be re-reviewed.
  6. The manuscript acceptance is constrained by such legal requirements as shall then be in force regarding libel, copyright infringement and plagiarism.
  7. No research can be included in more than one publication.

Authors' responsibilities

  1. Authors must certify that their manuscripts are their original work.
  2. Authors must certify that the manuscript has not previously been published elsewhere.
  3. Authors must certify that the manuscript is not currently being considered for publication elsewhere.
  4. Authors must participate in the peer review process.
  5. Authors are obliged to provide retractions or corrections of mistakes.
  6. All Authors mentioned in the paper must have significantly contributed to the research.
  7. Authors must state that all data in the paper are real and authentic.
  8. Authors must notify the editors of any conflicts of interest.
  9. Authors must identify all sources used in the creation of their manuscript.
  10. Authors must report any errors they discover in their published paper to the editors.

Reviewers' responsibilities

  1. Reviewers should keep all information regarding papers confidential and treat them as privileged information.
  2. Reviews should be conducted objectively, with no personal criticism of the author
  3. Reviewers should express their views clearly with supporting arguments
  4. Reviewers should identify relevant published work that has not been cited by the authors.
  5. Reviewers should also call to the editor- in-chief's attention any substantial similarity or overlap between the manuscript under consideration and any other published paper of which they have personal knowledge.
  6. Reviewers should not review manuscripts in which they have conflicts of interest resulting from competitive, collaborative, or other relationships or connections with any of the authors, companies, or institutions connected to the papers.

Editors' responsibilities

  1. Editors have complete responsibility and authority to reject/accept an article.
  2. Editors are responsible for the contents and overall quality of the publication.
  3. Editors should always consider the needs of the authors and the readers when attempting to improve the publication.
  4. Editors should guarantee the quality of the papers and the integrity of the academic record.
  5. Editors should publish errata pages or make corrections when needed.
  6. Editors should have a clear picture of a research's funding sources.
  7. Editors should base their decisions solely one the papers' importance, originality, clarity and relevance to publication's scope.
  8. Editors should not reverse their decisions nor overturn the ones of previous editors without serious reason.
  9. Editors should preserve the anonymity of reviewers.
  10. Editors should ensure that all research material they publish conforms to internationally accepted ethical guidelines.
  11. Editors should only accept a paper when reasonably certain.
  12. Editors should act if they suspect misconduct, whether a paper is published or unpublished, and make all reasonable attempts to persist in obtaining a resolution to the problem.
  13. Editors should not reject papers based on suspicions, they should have proof of misconduct.
  14. Editors should not allow any conflicts of interest between staff, authors, reviewers and board members.

2. PROCEDURES FOR DEALING WITH UNETHICAL BEHAVIOUR

 Identification of unethical behavior

Misconduct and unethical behavior may be identified and brought to the attention of the editor and publisher at any time, by anyone.

Misconduct and unethical behavior may include, but need not be limited to, examples as outlined above.

Whoever informs the editor or publisher of such conduct should provide sufficient information and evidence in order for an investigation to be initiated. All allegations should be taken seriously and treated in the same way, until a successful decision or conclusion is reached.

Investigation

  • An initial decision should be taken by the editor, who should consult with or seek advice from the publisher, if appropriate.
  • Evidence should be gathered, while avoiding spreading any allegations beyond those who need to know.

Minor breaches

  • Minor misconduct might be dealt with without the need to consult more widely. In any event, the author should be given the opportunity to respond to any allegations.

Serious breaches

  • Serious misconduct might require that the employers of the accused be notified. The editor, in consultation with the publisher or Society as appropriate, should make the decision whether or not to involve the employers, either by examining the available evidence themselves or by further consultation with a limited number of experts.

Outcomes (in increasing order of severity; may be applied separately or in conjunction)

  • Informing or educating the author or reviewer where there appears to be a misunderstanding or misapplication of acceptable standards.
  • A more strongly worded letter to the author or reviewer covering the misconduct and as a warning to future behavior.
  • Publication of a formal notice detailing the misconduct.
  • Publication of an editorial detailing the misconduct.
  • A formal letter to the head of the author’s or reviewer’s department or funding agency.
  • Formal retraction or withdrawal of a publication from the journal, in conjunction with informing the head of the author or reviewer’s department, Abstracting & Indexing services and the readership of the publication.
  • Imposition of a formal embargo on contributions from an individual for a defined period.
  • Reporting the case and outcome to a professional organization or higher authority for further investigation and action.

PUBLISHING ETHICS ISSUES

  1. All editorial members, reviewers and authors must confirm and obey rules defined by COPE.
  2. Corresponding author is the main owner of the article so she/he can withdraw the article when it is incomplete (before entering the review process or when a revision is asked for).
  3. Authors cannot make major changes in the article after acceptance without a serious reason.
  4. All editorial members and authors must will to publish any kind of corrections honestly and completely.
  5. Any notes of plagiarism, fraudulent data or any other kinds of fraud must be reported completely to COPE.

Plagiarism Policies

Focus on Sciences journal use iThenticate software to avoid plagiarism in published papers. This web-based software rate the manuscripts with precent. For exaple if a manuscript has 20% plagiarism it means that 20% of the manuscript's words and sentences comming from another sources that are suspected for plagiarism.

The policy of this journal in facing with plagiarism is as below table:

Precent of Plaqiarism in iThenticate report

Decision

More than 40%

Reject without external peer review

Between 40%-30%

Editor will decide about the submission

Between 30%-20%

Author should rephrase and paraphrase the suspected sentences

Below 20%

Manuscript will enter the external peer review

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