Publishing ethics


This journal usually requires a minimum of two independent peer reviewers to peer review manuscripts for consideration in the journal.

This journal uses a single-blind peer review model. This means that the identities of the peer reviewers is kept hidden. Please check the journal’s peer review information [link to: Peer review information tab] for full details of this process and any policy exceptions.


Any article affiliations should represent the institution(s) at which the research presented was conducted and/or supported and/or approved. For non-research content, any affiliations should represent the institution(s) with which each author is currently affiliated. Knowingly providing false or fraudulent affiliation information is a form of misconduct, and may lead to article retraction.


All authors listed on any papers submitted to this journal must be in agreement that the authors listed would all be considered authors according to disciplinary norms, and that no authors who would reasonably be considered an author have been excluded.

The following are qualifying criteria for authorship*

  1. Substantial contributions to the conception or design of the work; or the acquisition, analysis, or interpretation of data for the work; and/or
  2. Drafting the work or revising it critically for important intellectual content; and/or
  3. Final approval of the version to be published; and
  4. Agreement to be accountable for all aspects of the work and to ensure that questions related to the accuracy or integrity of any part of the work are appropriately investigated and resolved.

*These criteria are based on the ICJME guidelines on authorship. Although they were developed for medical journals, they provide a useful framework on which to base decisions on authorship which can be applied to non-medical fields.

The corresponding author is responsible for communicating with co-authors.

The corresponding author’s specific responsibilities include:

  • Manuscript correction and proofreading. Handling the revisions and re-submission of revised manuscripts up to the acceptance of the manuscripts.
  • Agreeing to and signing the Author Publishing Agreement on behalf of relevant co-authors and/or arranging for any third-party copyright owners’ signature.
  • Arranging for payment of an APC (article processing charge).
  • Acting on behalf of all co-authors in responding to queries from all sources post-publication, including questions relating to publishing ethics, reuse of content, or the availability of data, materials, resources etc.

Authorship statements should be transparent about who contributed to the work and in what capacity.


This journal adheres to Cambridge University’s definition of plagiarism. Plagiarism is defined as ‘using someone else’s ideas, words, data, or other material produced by them without acknowledgement.’ Plagiarism can occur in respect to all types of sources and media, including:

  • text, illustrations, musical quotations, extended mathematical derivations, computer code, etc.
  • material downloaded from websites or drawn from manuscripts or other media
  • published and unpublished material, including lectures, presentations, and grey literature

We do not tolerate plagiarism in any of our publications, and we reserve the right to check all submissions through appropriate plagiarism checking tools. Submissions containing suspected plagiarism, in whole or part, will be rejected.

Duplicate, redundant publication, and text recycling

Duplicate or redundant publication occurs when a work, or substantial parts of a work, is published more than once by the author(s) of the work without appropriate cross-referencing or justification for the overlap. This can be in the same or a different language. We do not support substantial overlap between publications, unless:

  • it is felt that editorially this will strengthen the academic discourse; and
  • we have clear approval from the original publication; and
  • we include citation of the original source.

Text recycling, also known as self-plagiarism, is when an author re-uses sections of text from their own previous publications without proper attribution. This is distinct from redundant or duplicate publication which refers to larger scale repeated publication of text or data with at least one author in common. This journal will follow COPE guidelines [link: Web_A29298_COPE_Text_Recycling.pdf (] on text recycling when assessing acceptability of text recycling in a given manuscript. These factors that will be considered are:

  • How much text is recycled
  • Where in the article the text recycling occurs
  • Whether the source of the recycled text has been acknowledged
  • Whether the article is a research or non-research article
  • Whether there is a breach of copyright
  • In some circumstances, cultural norms at the time and place of publication.

Where text recycling is deemed unacceptable, a submitted manuscript may be rejected.

Any manuscript based on a thesis should be a reworking of the material in the thesis and written to conform to this journal’s style guide. When quoting from the thesis or reusing figures, authors should avoid self-plagiarism by citing and referencing any extracts copied or adapted from the thesis appropriately. If a thesis was published by a publisher and is publicly accessible, permission may be required from the thesis publisher before submitting to a journal. The relevant editor should be informed that the manuscript draws on a thesis in the cover letter.

Disclosure of interests and funding

Competing interests are situations that could be perceived to exert an undue influence on the presentation, review or publication of a piece of work. These may be financial, non-financial, professional, contractual or personal in nature. Conflicts of Interest do not necessarily mean that an author’s work has been compromised. All authors must include a competing interest declaration in accordance with this journal’s author instructions. This declaration will be subject to editorial review and may be published in the article.

Peer reviewers are expected to declare any competing interests arising at any point during the peer review process. The editor will review the competing interest and work with the reviewer to mitigate the competing interest. Where a reviewer’s competing interest is too significant to mitigate, the reviewer should recuse themselves from reviewing.

Libel, defamation and freedom of expression

Freedom of expression is critical to us as academic publishers, but we do not support publishing false statements that harm the reputation of individuals, groups, or organisations. Authors should contact the editor if they have concerns about potentially libellous content in their own manuscripts or any publications.

Questionable research practices and research misconduct

Image Manipulation

Where research data are collected or presented as images, modifying these images can sometimes misrepresent the results obtained or their significance. We recognise that there can be legitimate reasons for modifying images, but we expect authors to avoid modifying images where this leads to the falsification, fabrication, or misrepresentation of their results. Any allegation or finding of image manipulation will be investigated and acted on in accordance with COPE guidance, and may lead to a correction, retraction, or other notice being applied to the article.

Fraudulent Research and Research Misconduct 

Where an allegation of research misconduct is made to the journal by an author, reader or peer reviewer, the journal’s first concern is the integrity of content it has published. The editor will work in line with COPE guidance, and appropriate institutions or organisations, to investigate the allegation. Any publication found to include fraudulent or unethical research or research which violates the journal’s policies may be retracted or have an appropriate correction or expression of concern issued.

Occasionally, as part of an investigation into an allegation of data or image manipulation, the editor may ask to see the raw data related to the data or images presented in the authors’ manuscript or publication. In order to support or carry out a misconduct investigation, this journal may also be required to share information about a submission or publication, including peer reviews, with third parties. This journal reserves the right to alert and/or involve an author’s employer, funder, or other responsible body in the event of a misconduct investigation, and to share information such as may be necessary to support an investigation.

Corrections and Retractions


Minor changes such as those which would likely occur during copyediting, typesetting or proofreading may be made on accepted manuscripts, but will not normally be made to papers unless they impact the interpretation of the article.


This journal will consider retractions in line with COPE’s Retraction Guidelines*.

Retractions are usually reserved for articles that are so seriously flawed that their findings or conclusions should not be relied upon, or that contain substantial plagiarism or life-endangering content or report unethical research.

*Note that the list of reasons to retract in COPE’s guidelines is not exclusive. The editor may retract a publication for any reason that irreversibly undermines the article’s validity or integrity.