Ethical standards

Ethical Policy : Publishing

SICOT-J generally follows the standards and guidelines provided by the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE), especially those regarding misconduct and fraud, and how to act in front of such a case. COPE provides a code of conduct with best practices in publishing and flowcharts that describe the reasonable steps that publishers and editors shall take so as to identify and prevent the publication of papers where research misconduct has occurred. In the event that a journal’s publisher or editors are made aware of any allegation of research misconduct the publisher or editors shall deal with allegations appropriately. SICOT-J will follow the recommendations on how to deal with misconduct along the lines described in the relevant section ‘Dealing with Misconduct’ of The COPE Report 1999 (page 46).

SICOT-J also adheres to the Principles of Transparency and Best Practice in Scholarly Publishing as defined by COPE, the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ), the Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association (OASPA), and the World Association of Medical Editors (WAME). In response, several journal policies are in place and described below.

1. Journal policy on authorship and contributorship

1.1 Authorship

SICOT-J authors are invited to comply with the “Recommendations for the Conduct, Reporting, Editing, and Publication of Scholarly work in Medical Journals”, which were established and made available by the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE).

The ICMJE recommends that authorship be based on the following 4 criteria:

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

Therefore all those individual designated as SICOT-J authors should meet all 4 of the aforementioned criteria for authorship; and reciprocally, all those who meet all 4 of the aforementioned criteria for authorship should be identified as SICOT-J authors.

We would like to draw the attention of new researchers to this COPE document that may prove useful in case of conflicts around authorship.

1.2 Contributorship

Those contributors who do not meet all of the 4 authorship criteria shall simply be acknowledged. (Please see section 3.5.10 Acknowledgments in our Instructions for authors)

1.3 Corresponding author

It is the corresponding author’s responsibility to ensure that all authors are aware of and approve the submission of a manuscript to SICOT-J, as well as the established peer review procedures and the costs involved with publication of an article in the journal.

2. Conditions for submission of an article – Plagiarism/self-plagiarism/duplicate submissions

We invite you to familiarize yourself with our preprint policy (available in our Instructions for authors, §1.10).

SICOT-J will generally consider for publication novel and original content. Submission of a manuscript in SICOT-J implies that the work has not been published and is not under simultaneous consideration for publication anywhere else.

Plagiarism consists in someone publishing some text, results, data, from another author, as if it were their own. Self-plagiarism describes the action of an author recycling their own text. Both acts are considered as breaching the rules of scientific publishing.

For this reason, SICOT-J has adopted a rigorous examination of every submitted manuscript towards plagiarism or text recycling using the Similarity Check service from Crossref. This tool allows the Editors-in-Chief to quickly identify even partial use of already published content, which cannot be re-published in this journal.

In case of doubt, and in order to avoid any forms of plagiarism or text recycling, authors are invited to visit relevant webpages of universities across the world dealing with this topic, as well as the websites of their own institutions if relevant.

Here are a few examples of useful pages:

Duplicate (or Redundant) publications occur when more than one paper present the same intellectual material (e.g. assumptions, data, discussion, conclusion…) without full cross reference. While it is possible to republish a paper in another language, full and prominent disclosure of the paper’s original source at the time of submission should always be provided. Please note that it is possible to publish an article whose abstract has been previously published during the proceedings of a meeting as long as full disclosure of the situation (reference) is made at the time of submission. More information on the topic of redundant publications can be found here §6 in COPE’s Guidelines on good publication practice.

If an article is submitted containing some form of already published content without attribution, i.e. citing the original sources, or without having sought appropriate permission, the authors will be contacted by the Editors-in-Chief and SICOT-J will follow these relevant COPE guidelines to handle the case. (Please note that different COPE guidelines will apply if plagiarism is suspected in a published article).

3. Peer review process

The Peer Review Process is a widely established validation method used in academia whereby a work is critically assessed by expert referees demonstrating both the right level of knowledge in the field of the work, while being fully independent from it. SICOT-J  follows the “double-blind” Peer Review Process whereby neither the referees nor the authors know the identity of one another. Consequently the manuscripts have all identifying information removed from them by the Editorial Office prior to the beginning of the review process. Then, all manuscripts submitted to the journal are submitted to two reviewers independent from the Editorial Board of the journal. If an Editor-in-Chief, any other Editor or Editorial board member is (co)-author of a submitted article, the process is organized so that this person will not be involved with neither evaluation nor decision taking.

All SICOT-J submissions undergo a fair, independent, objective and constructive Peer Review Process: only scientifically sound articles, deemed of high enough interest and originality, will receive favorable reports from our reviewers, hence be accepted for publication.

The Editors-in chief have full authority for acceptation/rejection of the submitted manuscripts. The reviewers are informed of the necessity to keep the manuscript confidential before acceptance and publication. The reviewers should have no conflict of interest (please see §5 below) or they will be withdrawn from the process. The reviewers are asked to point out relevant published work, which is not yet cited.

Based on the referees’ recommendation, the Editor-in-Chief (or Editorial Board member) handling the article will make a first decision for publication (either acceptance, rejection or revision). Should a revised version of the article be submitted by the author, this will return to the Editor-in-Chief (or Editorial Board member) handling the article, who may choose at that point to send the revised version back to the original reviewers for another round of review, or make a decision for publication on the work.

4. Handling complaints and appeals

SICOT-J  authors have the right to appeal against a rejection decision made on their manuscript. In order for their formal appeal to be considered, authors should submit a solid, scientific rebuttal, or new facts/data in response to the comments made by the reviewers. All relevant information regarding the article (incl. the exchanges of correspondences, reports and names of the reviewers/editors, who have taken part in the peer review process) will be provided to a member of the Editorial Board, who may seek, if appropriate, the opinion of an additional independent expert. As with the rest of the peer review process, the confidentiality of an appeal consideration will be kept at all times. Until a final decision is made towards their appeal, authors will not be allowed to submit their manuscript to another journal for fear of breaching the ethical rule of duplicate publication to several journals.

Please note that SICOT-J  will not consider appeals:

  • that do not comply with the content requirement described above,
  • which contain offensive language,
  • which simply consist in an author’s rant against the reviewers,
  • which are submitted to the journal after 3 months following rejection decision.

5. Conflict of interests, competing interests

For SICOT-J  to fully adhere to the Principles of Transparency and Best Practice in Scholarly Publishing, it is paramount that all authors, editors and reviewers declare any potential conflict of interests (or competing interests) that may interfere with the publication of an article – spanning from its preparation and interpretation, to its evaluation.

Every submission to SICOT-J must be accompanied by a "Conflicts of Interest Disclosure Form". Authors should indeed disclose all activities (financial, non-financial, legal, commercial,…), ties, academic commitments (political, religious,…), beliefs, and relationships (professional or otherwise) that might bias or be seen as affecting the work they have submitted for publication. They should also state that they have full control of all primary data and that they agree to allow the journal to review their data if requested.

Likewise, reviewers should inform the journal if they have a particular activity, or relationship with the authors or the study itself, which may prevent them to evaluate in full integrity the work they have been sent for peer review. In such cases, they will be removed from the reviewing process so as to allow the journal to appoint alternative, impartial reviewers.

Last but not least, Editors-in-Chief and members of the Editorial Board alike are expected to declare any conflict of interests (or competing interests), which may alter their ability to fairly and objectively handle -or directly review- an article for SICOT-J , in which case they will be recused from the editorial decision on the submitted article. If they submit some work to the journal, the same requirement for transparency in disclosing their activities and relationships as these expected from all other SICOT-J  authors will apply.

SICOT-J  will follow the following COPE’s guidelines if a reviewer suspects an undisclosed conflict of interest in a submitted manuscript and if a reviewer suspects an undisclosed conflict of interest in a published article.

6. Data sharing and reproducibility

SICOT-J follows EDP Sciences Data sharing and Citation Policy.

Providing that it is legal and ethical for authors to do so, the EDP Sciences Policy is to encourage authors to prepare and deposit their data according to the FAIR (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable and Re-usable) principlesFindable means that metadata and data alike should be easy to find for both humans and computers including a license for re-use and a data identifier (DOI or other); then the users should know how the (meta)data can be accessed, which might be through a specified protocol; in order to meet the interoperable requirement it should be possible to use and combine the data with other datasets in a format that is sufficiently widely distributed; the ultimate goal of the FAIR initiative being that of making data re-usable, users should know what is their provenance and under which conditions the data can be reused. Machine and experimental conditions must be documented.

A relevant statement may be inserted by authors in their article to state if their manuscript has associated data and where the data has been deposited – please see our Instructions for authors (Please see §1.9 Data sharing in our Instructions for authors).

SICOT-J  authors may be invited to share with the peer reviewers during the article evaluation process, in a confidential manner, the data on which the research is based. Further, as long as the publication of data is not in opposition with patients’ privacy (please see §7.1 below), authors are invited to upload supplemental datasets related to their research to an online repository. Doing so makes it available for both human and machine reading in order to further aid the acceleration of scientific discovery.

Research data submitted to SICOT-J should not be fabricated or manipulated in any way so as to artificially increase the impact of the work presented. Research data should be clearly and accurately described in order to make them reproducible. Authors are encouraged to follow specific-field reporting guidelines (e.g. ARRIVECHEERSCONSORTSTROBEPRISMA, etc…).

7. Ethical oversight

All laws and regulations should be strictly followed.

Authors are requested to indicate ethical declarations issued by their institution and concerning their research.

Reviewers should not breach the confidentiality of the peer review process and not disclose any information or results/data from the article they are evaluating for the journal to a third party or use it to their own advantage.

7.1 Statement of Informed Consent

Patients have a right to privacy that should not be infringed without informed consent. Identifying information, including patients' names, initials, or hospital numbers, should not be published in written descriptions, photographs, and pedigrees unless the information is essential for scientific purposes and the patient (or parent or guardian) gives written informed consent for publication. Informed consent for this purpose requires that a patient who is identifiable be shown the manuscript to be published.

Identifying details should be omitted if they are not essential. Complete anonymity is difficult to achieve, however, and informed consent should be obtained if there is any doubt. For example, masking the eye region in photographs of patients is inadequate protection of anonymity. If identifying characteristics are altered to protect anonymity, such as in genetic pedigrees, authors should provide assurance that alterations do not distort scientific meaning and editors should so note, authors should identify Individuals who provide writing assistance and disclose the funding source for this assistance. (Please also read the corresponding section 3.5.8 Informed Consent in ourInstructions for authors)

7.2 Statement of Human and Animal Rights

When reporting experiments on human subjects, authors should indicate whether the procedures followed were in accordance with the ethical standards of the responsible committee on human experimentation (institutional and national). If doubt exists whether the research was conducted in accordance with the ethical standards, the authors must explain the rationale for their approach, and demonstrate that the institutional review body explicitly approved the doubtful aspects of the study. When reporting experiments on animals, authors should be asked to indicate whether the institutional and national guide for the care and use of laboratory animals was followed.

8. Intellectual property

Articles published in SICOT-J  fall within the EDP Sciences policy regulating EDP Sciences articles published in Open Access. As described hereSICOT-J  authors retain the copyright to their articles.

Information regarding the costs associated with publishing in the journal are available in §1.6 in our Instructions for authors, and again in the relevant section of EDP Sciences “APCs price list”.

Authors wanting to find out more about their rights to post an article - whether in its original (preprint), accepted or published (Version of Record, VoR) version - on a preprint server, a repository or a specific webpage are invited to read the relevant information available on the dedicated Sherpa Romeo webpage.

9. Options for post-publication discussions and corrections

While every effort is made at all stages of the peer review and production processes in SICOT-J so as to publish articles, which are correct, complete and authoritative, cases might still occur where Errata should be published or articles retracted depending on the circumstances and significance of the reported error.

Relevant information concerning Post-publication corrections is described in our Instructions for authors.

Ethical Policy : Business practices

1. Revenue sources

SICOT-J is a gold open access publication. The journal revenue is based exclusively on the payment of Article Processing Charges (APCs) by authors, whose articles have been accepted for publication in the journal.

SICOT-J  is included in the EDP Sciences Transformative Agreement deal in place in France, which means that individual authors based at these member Institutions have their APCs paid for centrally through this deal. To ensure that they can benefit from this deal, SICOT-J authors need to be the corresponding authors on their accepted articles – please see §1.3 above.

SICOT-J submissions are judged solely on their scientific merit, irrespective of whether fees have been paid (or any waiver received). The payment of fees does not influence the editorial decision on our submissions.

2. Advertising

Currently SICOT-J does not publish any advertisement to generate additional revenue.

If a change takes place in the future, the SICOT-J Advertising Policy will be recorded here. It will be a journal-specific, adapted version of the more general EDP Sciences Advertising Policy.

3. Direct marketing

Professional (CIM trained/registered) marketing colleagues advise the journal team on how to provide the best visibility for SICOT-J  authors and their high-quality scientific outputs. These same colleagues ensure that special attention is paid, both in terms of frequency and accuracy, to any solicitation correspondence that the journal may send to scientists.

Rules and regulations in place such as GDPR law and the Advertising Standard Authority’s Guidance on the Marketing of Publications are strictly adhered to.