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OUP statement on publication ethics

As a leading publisher of high-quality scholarly journals, OUP is committed to maintaining the highest standards of publication ethics and to supporting ethical research practices. OUP is a member of the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) (http://publicationethics.org/) and adheres to the COPE Code of Conduct for Journal Publishers. We encourage journal editors to follow the COPE Code of Conduct for Journal Editors and to refer reviewers to the COPE Ethical Guidelines for Peer Reviewers as appropriate. Allegations of misconduct will be investigated in accordance with the COPE Best Practice Guidelines as far as is practicable. If notified of a potential breach of publication ethics, we encourage journal editors and staff to inform their OUP contact as soon as possible. OUP staff are trained on how to proceed with investigations into allegations of ethical misconduct and will seek legal counsel when necessary.

We take publication ethics very seriously. Many of the journals we publish have individual ethical policies, and we encourage authors to check the relevant journal website for details prior to submission.  OUP supports its journal editorial teams and authors providing best practice guidelines in the following key areas:

Authorship

Article submission

Conflict of interest

Fair editing and peer review

Promoting ethical research

Authorship

OUP expects all published articles to contain clear and accurate attribution of authorship. It is the responsibility of the author to ensure that all authors that contributed to the work are fairly acknowledged and that the published author list accurately reflects individual contributions. Where authorship disputes arise, OUP encourages journal editorial teams to follow the COPE guidelines detailed here. Where authors employ the services of third party agencies prior to submission, for instance in language editing or manuscript formatting/preparation, they must ensure that all services comply with the following guidelines.
 

a. Attribution and acknowledgement

OUP supports the ICMJE definitions of authorship as published here. Some journals publish their own definitions of authorship – check the journal submission guidelines or editorial policy for details. Definitions of what constitutes authorship vary by journal, research area, or article type but typically authorship is confined to those who have made a significant contribution to the design and execution of the work described. Many journals now take the extra step of emailing named authors at the point of submission (usually via the journal submission system) to confirm participation. Some journals may require a short description of each authors’ contribution to be included with the submitted files or as part of the acknowledgements section of an article.
 

b. Changes in authorship

Requests for changes to authorship must be directed to the journal editor or administrator – check individual journal websites for contact details. Requests should be dealt with fairly and in accordance with the relevant COPE guidelines (detailed below) and/or the published policy of the individual journal.Changes in authorship will only be permitted where valid reasons are provided and all authors are in agreement with the change. Post-publication changes to authorship will typically be made via a published correction.

c. ‘Ghost,’ ‘guest,’ or ‘gift’ authorship

OUP considers all forms of ghost, guest, and gift authorship to be unethical and works closely with editors and publishing partners to take a firm stance against such practices. Any allegation of ghost, guest, or gift authorship will be investigated in accordance with the COPE guidelines listed here. Where such practices are identified the authors in question will be removed from an article through a post-publication correction or erratum. In addition the journal may choose to notify the institutional or local ethics committee for the authors in question.

‘Ghost’ authorship refers to the practice of using a non-named author to write or prepare an article for publication. Ghost authors are typically (but not exclusively) paid sponsors, employees, junior researchers, or external academic affiliates.
 

‘Guest’ or ‘gift’ authorship refers to the practice of naming an individual that made little or no contribution to a study as an author on an article. Gift authors are typically (but not exclusively) senior researchers, affiliated researchers, friends, or colleagues of the principle author. There are also organisations that offer gift authorship for a fee.

Article submission

OUP takes every effort to ensure that editors, peer reviewers, and journal administrators treat all submissions respectfully, in confidence, and in accordance with COPE ethical guidelines. OUP expects that all individuals submitting manuscripts to OUP-published journals abide by established publishing standards and ethics. In proven cases of misconduct, the action taken will vary by journal and by context, but could result in one or more of the following:
 

  • Retraction of published work.
  • Publication of a correction or statement of concern.
  • Refusal of future submission.
  • Notification of misconduct sent to an author’s local institution, superior, and/or ethics committee.

a. Redundant publication (dual submission or publication)

OUP-published journals evaluate submissions on the understanding that they have not been previously published in or simultaneously submitted to another journal. We encourage all OUP-published journals to investigate allegations of redundant publication thoroughly and in accordance with COPE guidelines detailed here. We also encourage editors and journal administrators to keep a clear record of all communications between authors, editors, and peer reviewers regarding the submissions they handle. These records are carefully stored and may be used to facilitate investigations into possible cases of misconduct. Where necessary we will contact and/or co-operate with other publishers and journals to identify cases of redundant publication.
 

b. Plagiarism

OUP journals evaluate submissions on the understanding that they are the original work of the author(s). We expect that references made in a manuscript or article to another person’s work or idea will be credited appropriately. Equally we expect authors to gain all appropriate permissions prior to publication. Guidelines on when permissions are required and how to seek permissions are available here OUP is a signatory of the STM Permissions Guidelines (detailed here), which may lower any permissions fees.

Re-use of text, data, figures, or images without appropriate acknowledgment or permission is considered plagiarism, as is the paraphrasing of text, concepts, and ideas. All allegations of plagiarism are investigated thoroughly and in accordance with COPE guidelines detailed here. Many journals now systematically run submitted papers through plagiarism-detection software to identify possible cases. Journals will typically stipulate how they employ such software - whether systematically or selectively - in their submission guidelines.
 

c. Defamation

Whilst striving to promote freedom of expression wherever possible, OUP aims to avoid publishing anything that harms the reputation of an individual, business, group, or organization unless it can be proven to be true. We take all possible measures to ensure that published work is free of any text that is, or may be considered to be libellous, slanderous, or defamatory.

Conflict of interest

OUP is committed to transparency in areas of potential conflict of interest. We encourage our journals, editors and partner societies to publish and regularly review policies on Conflict of Interest as they relate to authors, editors and peer reviewers.
 

a. Authors

Conflict of interest exists when an author’s private interests might be seen as influencing the objectivity of research or experiment, to the point that a reasonable observer might wonder if the individual’s behaviour or judgement was motivated by considerations of his or her competing interests. It is the responsibility of a manuscript’s corresponding author to confirm if co-authors hold any conflict of interest.  The corresponding author may be required to co-ordinate completion of written forms from each co-author and submit these to the editor or journal administrator prior to acceptance.  The following should also be declared, either through the Acknowledgements section of the manuscript or at the point of submission:

  • All sources of research funding, including direct and indirect financial support, supply of equipment, or materials (including specialist statistical or writing assistance).
  • The role of the research funder(s) or sponsor(s), if any, in the research design, execution, analysis, interpretation, and reporting.
  • Any relevant financial and non-financial interests and relationships that might be considered likely to affect the interpretation of their findings or that editors, reviewers, or readers might reasonably wish to know. These might include, but are not limited to, patent or stock ownership, membership on a company’s board of directors, membership of an advisory board or committee for a company, consultancy for a company, or receipt of speaker’s fees from a company.

When considering whether to declare a conflicting interest or connection we encourage authors to consider how they would answer the following question: Is there any arrangement that would embarrass you or any of your co-authors if it was to emerge after publication and you had not declared it?

 

b. Editors

OUP expects its journal editors to declarecompeting interests at the point of agreeing their position and update them annually. OUP’s standard editor agreement obliges the editor to declare any potential conflict of interest that might arise during the term of editorship prior to entry into any agreement or position.

Editors are required to recuse themselves from individual manuscripts if they themselves have a potential conflict of interest and to avoid creating potential conflicts of interest through assignment of handling editors or peer reviewers.

 

c. Referees

We encourage editors and journal administrators to consider potential conflicts of interest when assigning reviewers. Some journals include wording in their invitation to review stating that acceptance of the invitation implies no financial or competing interest.  Where a reviewer declares potential conflict of interest the editor should select alternative reviewers. Failure to declare conflict of interest may result in removal of the reviewer from the journal database.

Fair editing and peer review

OUP encourages all participants in the publishing process to adhere to established principles of ethical publishing. This extends from authors to journal editors, reviewers, journal administrators, and publishing staff.

 

a. Editorial independence

Editors have full editorial independence. Although OUP and any publishing partners may discuss strategy, process, and policy with editors, we will never knowingly exert pressure on editors to accept manuscripts for commercial or political reasons. We do, however, expect and encourage OUP-published journals to have clearly defined processes and policies for the handling of contributions by the editor or members of the editorial board to ensure that, where appropriate, these submissions receive an equivalent level of peer review to any other submission.

 

b. Peer review and reviewer conduct

OUP supports and refers its editors to the COPE Ethical Guidelines for Peer Reviewers. OUP does not support one system of peer review over another (e.g. single-blind, double-blind, open) but encourages journals to publish their review procedure as part of their submission guidelines, for instance:

Manuscripts are reviewed by two independent experts in the relevant area. The reviewers make a scientific assessment and a recommendation to the editors. Reviewers remain unknown to authors. The Handling editor considers the manuscript and the reviewers’ comments before making a final decision either to accept, accept with revision or to reject a manuscript.

 

c. Confidentiality

Unless otherwise specified, OUP expects editors and reviewers to handle all submissions in confidence. If a reviewer wishes to delegate the review or seek the opinion of a colleague on a specific aspect of the paper, they are expected to clear this with the editor in the first instance.

Any suggestion that an editor or reviewer is appropriating ideas from a manuscript they handled for a journal will be thoroughly investigated in accordance with the following COPE guidelines: http://publicationethics.org/files/u7140/Appropriated.pdf

 

d. Peer review fraud

Some journals provide the option for submitting authors to suggest preferred reviewers. It is the responsibility of the lead author to ensure that only genuine reviewers and reviewer contact details are put forward. Any suspected or alleged instances of authors submitting fabricated reviewer details will be thoroughly investigated. If such allegations are proven, the article in question will be immediately rejected or, if already published, retracted. The journal would typically notify the authors’ institutional or local ethics council and may also impose a ban on further submissions from the author group.

Promoting ethical research

As a department of Oxford University, it is part of OUP’s mission to promote the highest standards of research through its publishing activities. Ensuring that the research we publish is conducted in a fair and ethical manner is integral to this. We publish across multiple research areas, many of which have their own standards and methods of governing research practice.

Wherever appropriate, we expect published research based on human subjects to provide the name of the local ethics committee that approved the study (or confirmation that such approval is not needed) and/or to state how the study conforms to recognised standards (e.g. declaration of Helsinki or US Federal Policy for the Protection of Human Subjects). OUP encourages journals and handling editors to return any manuscripts describing studies not meeting acceptable criteria.

The following list details OUP’s approach to the most common areas of research integrity.
 

a. Patient confidentiality

Journals publishing studies using human subjects should ensure that a patient's right to privacy has not been infringed without prior consent. We encourage journals to follow the ICMJE guidelines for reporting on human subjects. For publication of material that contains detailed patient information about a living individual, it is compulsory for a signed patient consent to be obtained. Any identifier that might reveal a patient’s identity must be removed (i.e., x-rays, MRIs, charts, photographs, etc.). Written informed consent is required from any potentially identifiable patient or legal representative, and should be presented in either the Methods section or the Acknowledgements.

 

b. Animal experimentation

Where animals are used in research we expect them to have been treated in a humane manner and in line with the ARRIVE guidelines. The International Council for Laboratory Animal Science has published guidelines specifically for editors and Reviewers on how to handle submissions involving animal research. OUP supports these guidelines and, wherever possible, encourages editors and society partners to adopt them. Authors may be required to provide evidence that they obtained ethical and /or legal approval prior to conducting the research.

 

c. Registering clinical trials

All clinical trials should be registered prospectively in publically accessible databases (e.g. www.clinicaltrials.gov and www.clinicaltrialsregister.eu) and manuscripts should include registration numbers and the name of the register. Some journals may require clinical trials to be reported according to CONSORT guidelines.

 

d. Falsification and fabrication

Submitted papers found to include false or fabricated data prior to publication will be returned to the author immediately with a request for an explanation. If no explanation is received or if the explanation provided is considered unsatisfactory, the journal will notify the authors’ institution, local ethical committee, or superior. The journal may also refuse to accept further submissions from the author for a defined period.
 

Examples of data falsification or fabrication include: image manipulation; cropping of gels/images to change context; omission of selected data; or making-up data sets. Some journals employ image manipulation software to detect evidence of falsification in submitted manuscripts. OUP recognises that falsification is not always deliberate and will encourage its journals and publishing partners to consider each case on its terms.

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