Ethical misconduct is a growing problem in the world of research publications. As a publisher Readers Insight vow to uphold the 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. We expect our authors, editors, and reviewers to adhere to the ethical policies which are in accordance to COPE 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. Readers Insight 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 the cases of 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 infringement of copyrights may occur due to lack of knowledge. That is why we have made our best effort to explain below many aspects of publication ethics. We analyze any submitted paper and suspected case of ethical misconduct 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 such as 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
- The 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 in order to manipulate the results with the intent to mislead and deceive the readers. We recommend the authors of original research 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/or analysis results. After the publication, the authors should keep research data saved for a reasonable amount of time and made it available on request. It is the duty of authors to 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 provide justification. Journal management and Readers' Insight Publisher 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 that 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 similarity in text. 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 original sources of information are given true credited and others are able to track them. It is unacceptable and highly unethical to present someone else’s idea and information from a source making it appear as 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 a third party. Similarly, it is unethical and prohibited to reproduce tables and graphics from another source without the written permission of the copyrights holder.
Authorship is an important aspect of publication as it is directly related to the credit of research work as well as the 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 authors. All those made significant contribution to the paper should be enlisted as co-authors. Readers Insight suggests authorship on the basis of one or more of the following contributions:
- Conceived the research idea and planned the research
- Conducted 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 who is responsible for the submission and all the correspondence during the review and publication process. All names of corresponding authors and contributing authors and their order of appearance should ideally be decided before submission of 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
- Make sure 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 are required to honestly disclose any conflict of interest which could have influence their research. These conflicts of interests (COIs) can be financial supports/grants, commercial interests, legal or professional relationships with other organizations or individuals, that might influence the results or interpretation of the study. Any financial grant or other funding sources must be acknowledged within the manuscript. Potential entities that can cause COI may include but are 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 the interpretation of the results, the manuscript may be returned or rejected.
Redundant and Con-current Publications/Self-Plagiarism
Publishing manuscripts in multiple journals which have almost similar research frameworks and research results without proper citation is strongly discouraged and lies under the category of 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 has their own 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 editor of the journal will thoroughly investigate any suspected cases of self-plagiarism in a submitted manuscript and may request author(s) for a logical explanation of the potential overlap. If the explanation is not satisfactory, the manuscript may be rejected. In repeated incidents, journal management/readers insight 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 who are above 16 years of age and from their guardians/next of kin if below 16 years. In case 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 animals must also be ethically and legally approved by the pertinent 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 to be hazardous, must be clearly 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.
- Referenced all material in the text clearly and thoroughly.
- Carefully checked data and included any supplemental data required by the journal.
- Declared any relevant interests to the journal.
- 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 for everything published in their journals. The ethical responsibilities for journal editors are based upon the 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 caters 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 ethical standards of the journal 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 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 editors to present a high-quality, transparent and useful 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 the process by which manuscripts are selected for publications, Readers Insight has highlighted the peer review process in the form of a flowchart. Our journals have taken the necessary steps to ensure that submitted manuscripts are 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 the obligation of editors to ensure that decision to accept or reject a paper should be on merit with defined criteria such as quality, originality, significance, clarity, validity, and relevance to the journal. We have advised our editors to recommend another journal of Readers Insight if they receive a submission not relevant to their journal. It is an ethical obligation of the editors to provide detailed and updated authors guidelines (including ethical guidelines), establish a transparent, timely, and impartial mechanism of peer-review, selecting the most suitable reviewers, not reverse the 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 complete guidance to the reviewers regarding the journal's scope, ethical policies, the confidentiality of the manuscript, and everything that is expected of them in the review process. Since reader's insight journals use double-blind peer-review (identity of reviewers and authors are hidden from each other), it is the duty of editors to ensure that the 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, reviewing, 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 with the best interest of all stakeholders in this regard.
Relations with Readers Insight
We, at Readers Insight, 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 a written contract with us which is in line with the COPE code of conduct for journal editors. We expect our editors to freely communicate to us any issues they are facing regarding journal management, software, hosting, and such. 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 Readers Insight)
Responsibility of Editorial Processes
The Editorial and peer-review process is the backbone of 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 training to the people involved in the editorial and peer-review process. We suggest our editors refer to COPE (flowcharts/case studies / direct contact) if publication misconduct is 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 that enhances the standard of reporting and is best suited to the aims and scope of the journal.
Protection of Individual Data
Editors have obligations to obey laws on the confidentiality of data and individuals. 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 a topic that is in the 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 that involves human and animal subjects is approved by 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 an ethical duty of the editors to take action if they are suspicious of 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 the manuscript under question, they are obliged to make reasonable efforts to investigate the alleged misconduct in order to find out the truth and determine the type and severity of misconduct if any. First, they should seek a response from the author(s) of the manuscript. If they are not satisfied with the author's perspective, they should pursue the institute author (s) has indicated an affiliation with. In investigating the alleged misconducts, they should follow COPE guidelines available in the form 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 manuscripts without any bias.
The integrity of Academic Record
Anything that is published in a journal is assumed to be scientific literature and is often cited as a reference for future development of knowledge. Readers Insight 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 the possibility of redundant publication.
Commercial vs. Academic Interest
Readers Insight 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 systems so that commercial considerations do not affect editorial decisions. Our marketing and promotion department is independent of the editorial department and does 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 costs. Therefore, we encourage a minimal fee as article processing charges which will be split between the journal management and Readers Insight according to the pre-determined ratio.
Complaints are part and parcel of running a journal. It is a way for stakeholders (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. Readers Insight has also provided an email address email@example.com if the complainant is dissatisfied and wants to take the complaint further.