Section contributed by Jeanette Hatherill and Andrea Kosavic
Journal managers and editors play an important role in establishing and solidifying the reputation of a journal. In previous sections of this book, we looked at how you can increase your visibility and demonstrate the impact of your journal. This section will focus on the work required to create a journal with a dedicated commitment to the ethical publishing practices.
Each player in the research ecosystem from funders, to institutional ethics boards, to researchers must follow certain guidelines and norms when it comes to the ethical conduct of research. Journals are no different and there exist many resources to assist journals establish processes to ensure high standards of ethical integrity in publishing.
The Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) has established a code of conduct and best practices guidelines for both editors and for publishers as well as worksheets on dealing with issues of misconduct. The code of conduct and guidelines document for editors is a particularly rich resource that outlines baseline requirements to adhere to their code of conduct as well as more aspirational best practices guidelines that could be used to spur discussion and outline future areas of development. It covers the responsibilities of editors with regard to accountability in journal processes, quality assurance, and maintaining the scholarly record; in their relationship to readers, authors, reviewers, and editorial board members; and dealing with issues of misconduct and complaints. The code of conduct for publishers outlines the responsibilities for publishers in supporting editors to comply with the COPE guidelines as well as additional responsibilities specific to publishers. Finally, they offer a series of flowcharts for editors to follow when dealing with common required changes to the scholarly record such as changes to authorship, as well as how to deal with suspected cases of research or publishing misconduct including conflict of interest, fabricated data, plagiarism and more. COPE provides access to these documents and many more resources to support editors and publishers in ethical publishing in the resources section of their website. Journals that follow COPE code of conduct may join as members for access to additional resources including an auditing tool.
The International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE) has created a set of Recommendations for the Conduct, Reporting, Editing, and Publication of Scholarly work in Medical Journals. These recommendations are intended generally for authors submitting to member journals, but the ICMJE highly encourages that other journals adopt these recommendations in their instructions to authors as many of them are applicable outside the medical domain. Of particular interest to editors and publishers who may be establishing the reputation of their journal are the sections on journal owners and editorial freedom and publishing and editorial issues. Like the COPE code of conduct, the ICMJE recommendations contain a wealth of guidance for editors on dealing with common issues in publishing such as corrections, retractions, republications and version control as well dealing with scientific misconduct and retraction, but they also include recommendations on dealing ethically with correspondence; fees and sponsorship or partnership; irregular publishing such as supplements, theme issues, and special series; and recommendations on ethical considerations for advertising and the media. The latest version of their recommendations can be found on their website, which also provides a conflict of interest disclosure form for download.