Publication Ethics and Malpractice Statement

 

This statement is derived from the Committee on Publication Ethics [COPE] Guidelines on Good Publication Practice. The Plan Journal will be here referenced as “TPJ.” In this statement, for “editor” it is intended the TPJ Editor-in-Chief.

 

GUIDELINES ON STUDY & RESEARCH

 

1. Study Design and Ethical Approval

 

Definition
Good research should be well justified, well planned, appropriately designed, and ethically approved. To conduct research to a lower standard may constitute misconduct.

 

Action

(1) Laboratory research should be driven by protocol; pilot studies should have a written rationale.

(2) Research protocols should seek to answer specific questions, rather than just collect data.

(3) Protocols must be carefully agreed by all contributors and collaborators, including, if appropriate, the participants.

(4) The final protocol should form part of the research record.

(5) Early agreement on the precise roles of the contributors and collaborators, and on matters of authorship and publication, is advised.

(6) Statistical issues should be considered early in study design to ensure there are neither too few nor too many participants.

(7) Formal and documented ethical approval from an appropriately constituted research ethics committee is required for all studies involving people, medical records, and anonymised human tissues.

(8) When participants are unable to give fully informed consent, research should follow international guidelines, such as those of the Council for International Organizations of Medical Sciences (CIOMS).

(9) Animal experiments require full compliance with local, national, ethical, and regulatory principles, and local licensing arrangements. International standards vary.

(10) Formal supervision, usually the responsibility of the principal investigator, should be provided for all research projects: this must include quality control, and the frequent review and long term retention (may be up to 15 years) of all records and primary outputs.

 

2. Data Analysis

 

Definition

Data should be appropriately analysed, but inappropriate analysis does not necessarily amount to misconduct. Fabrication and falsification of data do constitute misconduct.

 

Action

(1) All sources and methods used to obtain and analyse data, including any electronic pre-process- ing, should be fully disclosed; detailed explanations should be provided for any exclusions.

(2) Methods of analysis must be explained in detail, and referenced, if they are not in common use.

(3) The post hoc analysis of subgroups is acceptable, as long as this is disclosed. Failure to disclose that the analysis was post hoc is unacceptable.

(4) The discussion section of a paper should mention any issues of bias which have been considered, and explain how they have been dealt with in the design and interpretation of the study.

 

ON SUSMISSION & REVIEW FOR PUBLICATION

 

3. Authorship

 

Definition

There is no universally agreed definition of authorship. As a minimum, authors should take responsibility for a particular section of the study.

 

Action

(1) The award of authorship should balance intellectual contributions to the conception, design, analysis and writing of the study against the collection of data and other routine work. If there is no task that can reasonably be attributed to a particular individual, then that individual should not be credited with authorship.

(2) To avoid disputes over attribution of academic credit, it is helpful to decide early on in the planning of a research project who will be credited as authors, as contributors, and who will be acknowledged.

(3) All authors must take public responsibility for the content of their paper. The multidisciplinary nature of much research can make this difficult, but this can be resolved by the disclosure of individual contributions.

 

4. Conflicts of Interest

 

Definition

Conflicts of interest comprise those which may not be fully apparent and which may influence the judgment of author, reviewers, and editors. They have been described as those which, when revealed later, would make a reasonable reader feel misled or deceived. They may be personal, commercial, political, academic or financial. “Financial” interests may include employment, research funding, stock or share ownership, payment for lectures or travel, consultancies and company support for staff.

 

Action

(1) Such interests, where relevant, must be declared to editors by researchers, authors, and reviewers.

(2) TPJ editors will also disclose relevant conflicts of interest to their readers. When warranted, editors shall withdraw from the review and selection process for the relevant submission.

 

5. Peer Review

 

Definition

Peer reviewers are external experts chosen by TPJ editors to provide written opinions, with the aim of improving the study and provide recommendations to the editors regarding the value for publication of the manuscript. The TPJ uses a double-blind peer review process, by which the authors do not know the identity of the reviewers of their manuscript, nor do the reviewers know the identity of their reviewers.

 

Action

(1) The duty of confidentiality in the assessment of a manuscript must be maintained by expert reviewers, and this extends to reviewers’ colleagues who may be asked (with the editor’s permission) to give opinions on specific sections.

(2) Reviewers and editors shall not make any use of the data, arguments, or interpretations, unless they have the authors’ permission.

(3) Reviewers shall provide speedy, accurate, courteous, unbiased and justifiable reports.

(4) If reviewers suspect misconduct, they should write in confidence to the editor.

 

6. Redundant Publication

 

Definition

Redundant publication occurs when two or more papers, without full cross reference, share the same hypothesis, data, discussion points, or conclusions.

 

Action

(1) Published studies do not need to be repeated unless further confirmation is required.

(2) Previous publication of an abstract during the proceedings of meetings does not preclude subsequent submission for publication, but full disclosure should be made at the time of submission.

(3) Re-publication of a paper in another language is acceptable, provided that there is full and prominent disclosure of its original source at the time of submission.

(4) At the time of submission, authors should disclose details of related papers, even if in a different language, and similar papers in press.

 

7. Plagiarism

 

Definition

Plagiarism ranges from the unreferenced use of others’ published and unpublished ideas, including research grant applications, to submission under “new” authorship of a complete paper, sometimes in a different language. It may occur at any stage of planning, research, writing, or publication: it applies to print and electronic versions.

 

Action

All sources should be disclosed, and if large amounts of other people’s written or illustrative material is to be used, permission must be sought.

 

8. Duties of Editors

 

Definition

TPJ editors are the stewards of the journal and they provide direction for it. They shall consider and balance the interests of many constituents of the TPJ, including readers, authors, staff, owners, editorial board members, advertisers and the media.

 

Actions

(1) TPJ editors’ decisions to accept or reject a paper for publication are based on the criteria indicated in the mission statement of the journal.

(2) Studies that challenge previous work published in the journal will be given an especially sympathetic hearing.

(3) Studies reporting negative results will not be excluded.

(4) All original studies (unless those contributions expressly solicited by the editor or by highly renowned authors) will be peer reviewed before publication, taking into full account possible bias due to related or conflicting interests. All manuscripts that go through a successful peer-review (still constituting the vast majority of the journal contents) are clearly marked as “peer-reviewed.”

(5) TPJ editors shall treat all submitted papers as confidential.

(6) When a published paper is subsequently found to contain major flaws, the editors will correct the record prominently and promptly.

 

9. Media Relations

 

Definition

Design research findings are of increasing interest to the print and broadcast media. Journalists may attend scientific meetings at which preliminary research findings are presented, leading to their premature publication in the mass media.

 

Action

(1) Authors approached by the media should give as balanced an account of their work as possible, ensuring that they point out where evidence ends and speculation begins.

(2) Simultaneous publication in the mass media and a peer reviewed journal is advised, as this usually means that enough evidence and data have been provided to satisfy informed and critical readers.

(3) Where this is not possible, authors should help journalists to produce accurate reports, but refrain from supplying additional data.

(4) Authors should be advised by the organisers if journalists are to attend scientific meetings.

 

10. Advertising

 

Definition

Many scientific journals and meetings derive significant income from advertising. Reprints may also be lucrative.

 

Action

(1) Editorial decisions will not be influenced by advertising revenue or reprint potential: editorial and advertising administration are clearly separated.

(2) Advertisements that mislead will be refused, and TPJ editors will be willing to publish criticisms, according to the same criteria used for material in the rest of the journal.

(3) Reprints will be published as they appear in the journal unless a correction is to be added.

 

DEALING WITH MISCONDUCT

 

1. Principles

 

(1) Deception, as a result of misconduct, may be by intention, by reckless disregard of possible consequences, or by negligence. It is implicit, therefore, that “best practice” requires complete honesty, with full disclosure.

(2) The general principle confirming misconduct, followed by the TPJ, is the presentation to others of work intended as original by the author when it is not true. The intention to cause others to regard as true that which is not true is an aggravating element of misconduct, but it is not the deciding factor. In other words, lack of intention for misconduct is not regarded by the TPJ as an excuse. It is the responsibility of the author to always double-check that appropriate and ethical procedures have been followed in the production and compilation of the proposed research and work.

(3) Provided that lack of intention is not an excuse, the examination of misconduct will also evaluate the intention of the researcher, author, editor, reviewer or publisher involved.

 

2. Investigating Misconduct

 

(1) Editors at TPJ shall not simply reject papers that raise questions of misconduct. They are ethically obliged to pursue the case.

(2) TPJ may seek COPE’s advice on cases of misconduct.

(3) It is for the TPJ editor to decide what action to take.

 

3. Serious Misconduct

 

(1) TPJ editors will take all allegations and suspicions of misconduct seriously, but they also recognize that they do not usually have either the legal legitimacy or the means to conduct investigations into serious cases.

(2) The editor will decide when to alert the employers of the accused author(s).

(3) Some evidence is required, but if employers have a process for investigating accusations—as they are increasingly required to do—then editors do not need to assemble a complete case.

(4) If editors are presented with convincing evidence — perhaps by reviewers — of serious misconduct, they will immediately pass this on to the employers, notifying the author(s) that they are doing so.

(5) If accusations of serious misconduct are not accompanied by convincing evidence, then the editors may confidentially seek expert advice.

(6) If the experts raise serious questions about the research, then editors will notify the employers.

(7) If the experts find no evidence of misconduct, the editorial processes will proceed in the normal way.

(8) If presented with convincing evidence of serious misconduct, where there is no employer to whom this can be referred, and the author(s) are registered architects or design professionals, cases can be referred to the professional association competent for the discipline and the state.

(9) If, however, there is no organisation with the legitimacy and the means to conduct an investigation, then the editor may decide that the case is sufficiently important to warrant publishing a statement in the TPJ. Legal advice may then be sought.

(10) If editors are convinced that an employer has not conducted an adequate investigation of a serious accusation, they may decide that publication of a notice in the journal is warranted. Legal advice will be sought.

(11) Authors will be given the opportunity to respond to accusations of serious misconduct

 

4. Less Serious Misconduct

 

(1) TPJ editors may judge that it is not necessary to involve employers in less serious cases of misconduct, such as redundant publication, deception over authorship, or failure to declare conflict of interest. Sometimes the evidence may speak for itself, but it will be possible to appoint an independent expert.

(2) TPJ editors are aware that accusations of even minor misconduct may have serious implications for the author(s), and it may then be necessary to ask the employers to investigate.

(3) Authors will be given the opportunity to respond to any charge of minor misconduct.

(4) If convinced of wrongdoing, TPJ editors may wish to adopt some of the sanctions outlined below.

 

5. Sanctions

 

Sanctions may be applied separately or combined. The following are ranked in an approximate order of severity:

(1) A letter of explanation (and education) to the authors, where there appears to be a genuine misunderstanding of principles.

(2) A letter of reprimand and warning as to future conduct.

(3) A formal letter to the relevant head of institution or funding body.

(4) Publication of a notice of redundant publication or plagiarism.

(5) An editorial giving full details of the misconduct.

(6) Refusal to accept future submissions from the individual, unit, or institution responsible for the misconduct, for a stated period.

(7) Formal withdrawal or retraction of the paper from the scientific literature, informing other editors and the indexing authorities.

(8) Reporting the case to the relevant professional associations competent for the discipline and the state, which can investigate and act with due process.

 

Updated on November 9, 2018

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