Dealing with unethical behaviour
Anyone may inform the Editor-in-Chief or Editorial Board at any time of suspected unethical behaviour or any type of misconduct by giving the necessary credible information/evidence to start an investigation.
- Editor-in-Chief makes the decision regarding the initiation of an investigation.
- During an investigation, any evidence should be treated as confidential and only made available to those strictly involved in the process.
- The accused will always be given the chance to respond to any charges made against them.
- If it is judged at the end of the investigation that misconduct has occurred, then it will be classified as either minor or serious.
Minor misconduct (with no influence on the integrity of the paper and the journal, for example, when it comes to misunderstanding or wrong application of publishing standards) will be dealt directly with authors and reviewers without involving any other parties. Outcomes include:
- Sending a warning letter to authors and/or reviewers.
- Publishing correction of a paper, e.g. when sources properly quoted in the text are omitted from the reference list.
- Publishing an erratum, e.g. if the error was made by editorial staff.
In the case of major misconduct the Editorial Board may adopt different measures:
- Publication of a formal announcement or editorial describing the misconduct.
- Informing officially the author's/reviewer's affiliating institution.
- The formal, announced retraction of publications from the journal in accordance with the Retraction Policy;
- A ban on submissions from an individual for a defined period.
- Referring a case to a professional organization or legal authority for further investigation and action.
The above actions may be taken separately or jointly. If necessary, in the process of resolving the case relevant expert organizations, bodies, or individuals may be consulted.
When dealing with unethical behaviour, the Editorial Board will rely on the guidelines and recommendations provided by the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE).