Ethical misconduct is a growing problem in the world of research publications. As a publisher TheAPRA vow to uphold highest standards of scholarly ethics. For this reason, we have opted to be a member of COPE (Committee on Publication Ethics), the most detailed guidelines for ethical practices and standards for research publications. According to COPE, we expect our authors, editors, and reviewers to adhere to the ethical policies, which provides comprehensive ethical guidelines to the authors, editors, reviewers, and publishers. They also provide specific details on how to handle cases of research and publication misconduct. TheAPRA takes it very seriously to enforce these ethical policies in true spirit along with a rigorous blind peer-review. Our editors are trained to handle data integrity and falsification, authorship issues, plagiarism and similar issues if they arise. There is a zero-tolerance policy in cases of ethical violations.
We also acknowledge that ethical malpractice is not always intentional, but incidents like high plagiarism, redundant publications, or copyright infringement may occur due to lack of knowledge. That is why we have made the best effort to explain many aspects of publication ethics. We analyzed any submitted paper and a suspected case of ethical misconducted in line with COPE core practices which covers the following aspects:
- Procedures to handle allegations of misconduct pre-and post-publication.
- Policy about authorship and contributing authors.
- Complaint handling procedures
- Conflict of interest
- Data collection and reporting standards and reproducibility of data.
- Ethical oversight includes consent to publish, research involving humans and animals, handling confidential data and marketing best practices.
- Policies of intellectual property safeguard.
- Internal procedures to manage the journal.
- A peer-review process and its transparency
- The mechanism for debate upon, correction and retraction of papers after their publication.
You can also download these publication ethics in PDF format. For more details, one can refer to the website COPE.
It is highly unethical to fabricate, falsify and report selective data to manipulate the results to mislead and deceive the readers. We recommend the authors of original research to maintain a record of any data analysis conducted on data collected from experimentation, survey, interview or other primary and secondary before submission. At any point during the publication process, reviewers or editors can ask authors for the research data and analysis results. After the publication, the authors should keep research data saved for a reasonable amount of time and made available on request. Authors must report results such that they should reflect an accurate account of analysis performed on data, and there should be an objective discussion of the significance.
Theft of someone else's data or fabrication of data is unacceptable, and the submitted manuscript will be rejected if any such case is proven and the author is not able to justify SLR-M and TheAPRA reserves all the rights not to accept any further submission from the author(s) and send a formal complaint to the parent institute if there is undeniable evidence of data fabrication/falsification/theft.
Plagiarism and Acknowledgement of Sources
Plagiarism is a subjective term which takes many forms such as presenting someone else's research paper, research idea or research results as one's own or copying/paraphrasing a substantial portion of another manuscript without reference. Submitted manuscripts may be checked for similarity using Turnitin software. Turnitin checks submission against millions of published articles, institutional repositories and internet sources for overlapping and text similarity. A similarity index of greater than 15% from multiple sources and greater than 5% from a single source is unacceptable. The editor reserves the right to either reject a submitted manuscript or request a revision if plagiarism is detected.
An integral part of scholarly research is to acknowledge and credit the work of others. While drafting the manuscript, enough details and references should be included so that sources of information are given valid credited and others can track them. It is unacceptable and highly unethical to present someone else's idea and information from a source, making it appear one's own. Any information that has been obtained privately (conversation, discussion or correspondence) or obtained from confidential sources (e.g. financial grant sources, refereeing manuscripts) must never be reported without the written consent of the third party. Similarly, it is unethical and prohibited to reproduce tables and graphics from another source without written permission of the copyrights holder.
Authorship is an essential aspect of publication as it is directly related to the credit of research work and responsibility and accountability of the published paper. Authorship for a manuscript should be based upon substantial intellectual contribution to the research work. We only recognize individuals like authors, not any agency or institute as an author. All those made a significant contribution to the paper should be enlisted as co-authors. TheAPRA authorship based on one or more of the following contributions:
- Conceived the research idea and planned the research
- Conducted a literature survey and developed framework
- Data collection
- Data entry
- Data analysis
- Interpretation of analysis results
- Drafting manuscript
- Critically analyzing and revising the draft
- Overall supervision of the research project (must be involved in multiple stages mentioned above, need to justify if more than one co-author identify as supervisors)
- Any other significant contribution
Every article should have a corresponding author responsible for the submission and all the correspondence during the review and publication process. All names of corresponding author and contributing authors and their order of appearance should ideally be decided before submitting the manuscript. Any addition, deletion or change in the order of authorship after submission will be entertained case to case basis with the corresponding author providing sufficient proof to why this is important (for instance need to include an author for the sake of revisions after peer review or a contributing author decides to withdraw from the research project).
All the contributing authors(s) should
- Agree to be responsible and accountable for the accuracy and integrity of all aspects of published research.
- Be able to identify which co-author is responsible for which part of the research work.
- Should have faith in the integrity of co-authors
- Have reviewed the final version of the paper before submission and before publications.
- Make sure that there is no ghost author, which means that a potential contributor is left out in the list of authorship
- Ensure that there is no guest author, which means that a non-contributing individual is added as a co-author.
Disclosure of Conflict of Interest
When authors submit a manuscript (any type), they must honestly disclose any conflict of interest that could have influenced their research. These conflicts of interests (COIs) can be financial support/grants, commercial interests, legal or professional relationships with other organizations or individuals, that might influence the study's results or interpretation. Any financial grant or another funding source must be acknowledged within the manuscript. Potential entities that can cause COI may include but not limited to: consultancies, employers, interest groups, financial grants, patents, royalties and stock ownership. In case authors do not have any COI, they must also mention that in the manuscript using this statement "The author(s) declare no conflict of interest for this research". If the authors fail to disclose COI at the time of submission, and there is an actual or potential effect on interpretation of the results, the manuscript may be returned or rejected.
Redundant and Con-current Publications/Self-Plagiarism
Publishing manuscripts in multiple journals with almost similar research frameworks and research results without proper citation is strongly discouraged and lies under self-plagiarism. This practice leads to repetition in the scholarly literature and can lead to skewed results of a meta-analysis. However, authors may use the data collected from a larger body of data set for research frameworks that are essentially different, and multiple manuscripts have their specific contributions to the existing literature. Similarly sending the same manuscript to multiple journals is also ethical malpractice and may result in rejection or backlisting of the author.
The journal editor will thoroughly investigate any suspected cases of self-plagiarism in a submitted manuscript and may request the author(s) for a logical explanation of the potential overlap. If the explanation is not satisfactory, the manuscript may be rejected. In repeated incidents, SLR-M/TheAPRA may opt not to accept any further submissions from the author(s).
Human and Animal Subjects
All studies involving human subjects require documented review and approval from an institutional review board or ethics committee. In case researchers do not have access to these ethical bodies, they should strictly adhere to principles outlined in the Declaration of Helsinki. The researchers must obtain informed consent from all participants above 16 years of age and their guardians/next of kin if below 16 years. In case an informed consent is not possible (such as an observation study), the review board must decide if this procedure is ethically acceptable. All these steps must be documented in the manuscript. Similarly, a study involving animal must also be ethically and legally approved by the relevant committee, and the name of the approving authority must be mentioned in the manuscript. Any use of chemicals, experimental procedures or equipment that may prove hazardous must be documented in the manuscript.
Ready to submit your paper? Your ethics checklist
Before you submit, make sure you've:
- Read the journal's instructions for authors, and checked and followed any instructions regarding data sets, ethics approval, or statements.
- Named all authors on the paper, and the online submission form.
- I referenced all material in the text clearly and thoroughly.
- Carefully checked data and included any supplemental data required by the journal.
- He declared any relevant interests of the journal.
- We obtained (written) permission to reuse any figures, tables, and data sets.
- Only submitted the paper to one journal at a time.
- Finally, notify all the co-authors once you have submitted the paper.
Code of Conduct for Journal Editors
Editors have the 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 their journal's academic quality and ensure that high quality research material is published, which cater to the 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 the academic record, the intellectual quality of published work, and the journal's ethical standards should remain a priority over and above the business needs. Best practices in this regard mean 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 the 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 the latest research into peer-review and publishing processes and ethical case studies integrating all into one seamless peer-review publication process with the 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 the ethical responsibility of the editor to present a high quality, transparent and use-full piece of academic information to the readers. The readers should be aware of the integrity of the research they find in the form of articles. Separate sections should be established for non-peer review and non-research articles not to get mixed up with peer-reviewed research papers. To ensure readers are aware of how manuscripts are selected for publications, TheAPRA has highlighted the peer review process in the form of a flowchart. Our journals have taken necessary steps to ensure that the submitted manuscript is handled and evaluated objectively and impartially.
Relationship with Authors
Authors are the main contributors to 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 a disagreement between The Editors of the journal and TheAPRA)
Responsibility of Editorial Processes
Editorial and peer-review process is the backbone of a SLR-M. 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.
The 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 SLR-M and TheAPRA according to the pre-determined ratio.
Complaints are part and parcel of running a journal. It is a way for stake holders (especially authors and readers) to provide feedback to the editor for the improvement of journals. Editors should set a proper mechanism for receiving and responding promptly to the complaints. We encourage our editors to clearly highlight an email address on the landing page of the journal and check it regularly so that they can respond to the complaints within a short time. Moreover, we also expect our editors to make their best effort to solve these complaints as soon as possible. TheAPRA has also provided an email address Info@theapra.org if the complainant is dissatisfied and wants to take complaint further.