Ethics and Code of Conduct
All Pluto Journals abide by the Ethics and Code of Conduct as set out below by COPE, The Committee of Publications Ethics:
General duties and responsibilities of editors
1.1. Editors should be accountable for everything published in their journals
This means the editors should
1.2. strive to meet the needs of readers and authors;
1.3. strive to constantly improve their journal;
1.4. have processes in place to assure the quality of the material they publish;
1.5. champion freedom of expression;
1.6. maintain the integrity of the academic record;
1.7. preclude business needs from compromising intellectual and ethical standards;
1.8. always be willing to publish corrections, clarifications, retractions and apologies when needed.
2. Relations with readers
2.1. Readers should be informed about who has funded research or other scholarly work and whether the funders had any role in the research and its publication and, if so, what this was.
3. Relations with authors
3.1. Editors’ decisions to accept or reject a paper for publication should be based on the paper’s importance, originality and clarity, and the study’s validity and its relevance to the remit of the journal.
3.2. Editors should not reverse decisions to accept submissions unless serious problems are identified with the submission.
3.3. New editors should not overturn decisions to publish submissions made by the previous editor unless serious problems are identified.
3.4. A description of peer review processes should be published, and editors should be ready to justify any important deviation from the described processes.
3.5. Journals should have a declared mechanism for authors to appeal against editorial decisions.
3.6. Editors should publish guidance to authors on everything that is expected of them. This guidance should be regularly updated and should refer or link to this code.
3.7. Editors should provide guidance about criteria for authorship and/or who should be listed as a contributor following the standards within the relevant field.
4. Relations with editors
4.1. Editors should provide guidance to reviewers on everything that is expected of them including the need to handle submitted material in confidence. This guidance should be regularly updated and should refer or link to this code.
4.2. Editors should require reviewers to disclose any potential competing interests before agreeing to review a submission.
4.3. Editors should have systems to ensure that peer reviewers’ identities are protected unless they use an open review system that is declared to authors and reviewers.
5. Relations with editorial board members
5.1. Editors should provide new editorial board members with guidelines on everything that is expected of them and should keep existing members updated on new policies and developments.
6. Relations with journal owners and publishers
6.1. The relationship of editors to publishers and owners is often complex but should be based firmly on the principle of editorial independence.
6.2. Editors should make decisions on which articles to publish based on quality and suitability for the journal and without interference from the journal owner/publisher.om the journal owner/publisher.
6.3. Editors should have a written contract(s) setting out their relationship with the journal’s owner and/or publisher.
6.4. The terms of this contract should be in line with the COPE Code of Conduct for Journal Editors.
7. Editorial and peer review processes
7.1. Editors should strive to ensure that peer review at their journal is fair, unbiased and timely.
7.2. Editors should have systems to ensure that material submitted to their journal remains confidential while under review.
8. Editorial and peer review processes
8.1. Editors should take all reasonable steps to ensure the quality of the material they publish, recognising that journals and sections within journals will have different aims and standards.
9. Protecting individual data
9.1. Editors must obey laws on confidentiality in their own jurisdiction. Regardless of local statutes, however, they should always protect the confidentiality of individual information obtained in the course of research or professional interactions (e.g. between doctors and patients). It is therefore almost always necessary to obtain written informed consent for publication from people who might recognise themselves or be identified by others (e.g. from case reports or photographs). It may be possible to publish individual information without explicit consent if public interest considerations outweigh possible harms, it is impossible to obtain consent and a reasonable individual would be unlikely to object to publication.
10. Encouraging ethical research (e.g. research involving humans or animals)
10.1. Editors should endeavour to ensure that research they publish was carried out according to the relevant internationally accepted guidelines (e.g. the Declaration of Helsinki8 for clinical research, the AERA and BERA guidelines for educational research9, 10).
10.2. Editors should seek assurances that all research has been approved by an appropriate body (e.g. research ethics committee, institutional review board) where one exists. However, editors should recognise that such approval does not guarantee that the research is ethical.
11. Dealing with possible misconduct
11.1. Editors have a duty to act if they suspect misconduct or if an allegation of misconduct is brought to them. This duty extends to both published and unpublished papers.
11.2. Editors should not simply reject papers that raise concerns about possible misconduct. They are ethically obliged to pursue alleged cases.
11.3. Editors should follow the COPE flowcharts13 where applicable.
11.4. Editors should first seek a response from those suspected of misconduct. If they are not satisfied with the response, they should ask the relevant employers, or institution, or some appropriate body (perhaps a regulatory body or national research integrity organization) to investigate.
11.5. Editors should make all reasonable efforts to ensure that a proper investigation into alleged misconduct is conducted; if this does not happen, editors should make all reasonable attempts to persist in obtaining a resolution to the problem. This is an onerous but important duty.
12. Ensuring the integrity of the academic record
12.1. Errors, inaccurate or misleading statements must be corrected promptly and with due prominence.
12.2. Editors should follow the COPE guidelines on retractions1
13. Intellectual property
Editors should be alert to intellectual property issues and work with their publisher to handle potential breaches of intellectual property laws and conventions.
14. Encouraging debate
14.1. Editors should encourage and be willing to consider cogent criticisms of work published in their journal.
14.2. Authors of criticised material should be given the opportunity to respond.
14.3. Studies reporting negative results should not be excluded.
15.1. Editors should respond promptly to complaints and should ensure there is a way for dissatisfied complainants to take complaints further. This mechanism should be made clear in the journal and should include information on how to refer unresolved matters to COPE.
15.2. Editors should follow the procedure set out in the COPE flowchart on complaints
16. Commercial considerations
16.1. Journals should have policies and systems in place to ensure that commercial considerations do not affect editorial decisions (e.g. advertising departments should operate independently from editorial departments).
16.2. Editors should have declared policies on advertising in relation to the content of the journal and on processes for publishing sponsored supplements.
16.3. Reprints should be published as they appear in the journal unless a correction needs to be included in which case it should be clearly identified.
17. Conflicts of interest
17.1. Editors should have systems for managing their own conflicts of interest as well as those of their staff, authors, reviewers and editorial board members.
17.2. Journals should have a declared process for handling submissions from the editors, employees or members of the editorial board to ensure unbiased review.