Code of Conduct for Journal Editors
Editors have responsibility of everything published in their journals. The ethical responsibilities for journal editors are based upon COPE code of conduct for Journal Editors which are summarized as under:
General Duties and Responsibilities
Editors are responsible and answerable for anything that is published in their journal. They should strive to maintain and upheaval the academic quality of their journal and ensure that high quality research material is published which cater to needs of both readers and authors. To ensure this they should remain in contact with multiple stakeholders such as authors, reviewers, readers, editorial board and publishers to seek their views in this regard. The integrity of academic record, intellectual quality of published work and ethical standards of the journal should remain priority over and above the business needs. Best practices in this regard means editors persuade the publishers for ample resources and guidance from lawyers while also support appropriate systems to reduce publishing misconduct. The paper submission and acceptance process should assure quality of the material published while the journal should have processes to publish corrections, retractions, clarifications and apologies when needed. The editor should remain abridged with latest research into peer-review and publishing processes and ethical case studies integrating all into one seamless peer review publication process with flow from submission to publication/revision/rejection. Freedom of expression should be a ubiquitous policy in scholarly research.
Relationship with Stakeholders
Relationship with Readers
It is ethical responsibility of editor to present a high quality, transparent and use-full piece of academic information in their journals to the readers. The readers should be aware of the integrity of the research they find in form of articles. Separate sections should be established for non-peer review and non-research articles so that they do not get mixed up with peer reviewed research papers. To ensure readers are aware of process by which manuscripts are selected for publications, TheAPRA have highlighted the peer review process in the form of a flowchart. Our journals have taken necessary steps to ensure that submitted manuscript are handled and evaluated objectively and impartially.
Relationship with Authors
Authors are the main contributors of the scholarly information published in the journals. They have the right to an impartial and objective review of their submitted research work. Therefore, we believe that it is obligation of editors to ensure that decision to accept or reject a paper should be on merit with defined criterion such as quality, originality, significance, clarity, validity and relevance to the journal. We have advices our editors to recommend another journal of TheAPRA if they receive a submission not relevant to their journal. It is ethical obligation of the editors to provide a detailed and updated authors guidelines (including ethical guidelines), establish a transparent, timely and impartial mechanism of peer-review, selecting the most suitable reviewers, not to reverse decision of accepted submission until severe ethical and/or technical issues are identified, establish a mechanism to appeal against editorial decisions, well-defined mechanism of handling cases of author’s grievances and cases of suspected misconduct (guided by COPE flowcharts and existing case studies).
Relations with Reviewers
Peer review is the process by which experts thoroughly and critically analyze the research paper submitted by an author. It is the most credible and widely accepted process to select an author’s research for publication in a journal. It also gives authors an opportunity to improve their quality of publication as reviewers often give recommendations for improvement before a submitted manuscript is accepted for publication. According to COPE best practices guidelines, editors should provide a complete guidance to the reviewers regarding the journals scope, ethical policies, confidentiality of manuscript and everything that is expected of them in the review process. Since TheAPRA journals uses double blind peer-review (identity of reviewers and authors are hidden from each other), it is duty of editors to ensure that identities of reviewers remain anonymous. We also advise editors to encourage reviewers to evaluate manuscripts for originality (e.g. plagiarism, theft of data, redundant publications) and ethical misconduct. Editors should show vigilance to develop and consistently update a database of suitable reviewers based upon their performance.
Relations with Editorial Board
Editors should provide clear guidance to the editorial board members regarding the scope and policies of the journal and what is their expected functions and duties. Some of the functions of editorial board members include academic support, scholarly contributions, promotion, representation, reviewer, writing editorials and commentaries, participating in board meetings and provide their opinions and ideas for the improvement of the journal. An editor may request an editorial board member or constitute a committee comprising of editorial board members to decide upon matters of ethical misconduct. The editor is responsible for the composition of the editorial board and must act in accordance to the best interest of all stakeholders in this regard.
Relations with TheAPRA
We, at TheAPRA believe in providing editorial independence (which means editors have total responsibility, authority and accountability for the published content of the journal) to our editors and expect them to make independent and on-merit decisions regarding publication which are based on the merits and suitability for the journal. Our editors are in written contract with us which are in line with COPE code of conduct for journal editors. We expect our editors to freely communicate us any issues they are facing regarding journal management, software, hosting, and such as. We also expect our editors to understand our business and marketing needs so that we can operate a sustainable and growing business entity. (Mechanism to handle disagreement between The Editors of the journal and TheAPRA)
Responsibility of Editorial Processes
Editorial and peer-review process is the backbone of a journal management. Editors are expected to devise an editorial and peer-review mechanism which ensures confidential, fair, impartial and timely reviews. The best practice in this regard would be to keep abreast of the latest technological and methodological advances and expert guidance into peer-review process, adopting the best suited method for their journal, is flexible to implement improvements, eradicate weaknesses and provide adequate trainings to the people involved in editorial and peer-review process. We suggest our editors to refer to COPE (flowcharts/case studies / direct contact) if publication misconducts are suspected. It is their responsibility to maintain the standard and integrity of their journal publications. A system should be defined to identify plagiarism, falsified data and redundant submissions. They should define a house style which enhance the standard of reporting and best suited to aims and scope of the journal.
Protection of Individual Data
Editors have obligations to obey laws on confidentiality of data and individual. It is necessary to obtain consent for publication from people who are identifiable in a manuscript. However, in specific cases, if research is based on topic which is in public interest, it is impossible to obtain consent, or the author(s) believe that individual is unlikely to object to publication; the clause of consent may be relaxed.
Research Involving Humans/Animals
We encourage editors to ensure that research which involves human and animal subjects are approved from either an institutional review board or research ethics committee. They should also ensure that research is carried out according to internationally accepted guidelines (e.g. the Declaration of Helsinki for clinical research or the code of ethics of the American Educational Research Association (AERA) ethics for educational research.
Dealing with Potential Cases of Misconduct
It is ethical duty of the editors to take action if they are suspicious towards ethical issues in a manuscript (published or under-review) or if an allegation of misconduct is brought to their notice. Their responsibility towards ethical misconduct is not limited to reject manuscript under question, they are obliged to make reasonable efforts to investigate the alleged misconducts in order to find out the truth and determine the type and severity of misconduct, if any. First they should seek a response form the author(s) of the manuscript. If they are not satisfied with the authors perspective, they should pursue the institute author (s) have indicated affiliation with. In investigating the alleged misconducts, they should follow COPE guidelines available in the forms of flowcharts and case studies.
Managing Conflict of Interests
We encourage editors to publish a list of financial, academic or other kinds of vested interests of themselves, their editorial staff and member of editorial boards. This list should be updated regularly (at least annually). Editors should also declare on their websites the process to handle reviews of manuscript without any bias.
Integrity of Academic Record
Anything that is published in a journal is assumed to be a scientific literature and is often cited as a reference for future development of knowledge. TheAPRA considers it obligatory for editors to take prompt actions to correct errors, inaccurate information, and misleading statement in published manuscripts. Editors should also give their best to identify and reduce possibility of redundant publication.
Commercial vs. Academic Interest
TheAPRA aims to develop a knowledge society and a platform to provide solutions to the critical challenges faced by humanity in the digital age. We encourage our editors to set up policies and system so that commercial considerations do not affect editorial decision. Our marketing and promotion department is independent from editorial department and do not exert any influence on editors. However, we also encourage our editors to keep in mind that journals need to be financially sustainable so that they can bear their own managerial and operational cost. Therefore, we encourage a minimal fee as article processing charges which will be split between the journal management and TheAPRA according to the pre-determined ratio.