As a publisher with a global reputation for scientific excellence, and in line with our Charter, CSIRO Publishing recognises the importance of high standards of ethical behaviour throughout the publication process. In addition to the general procedures listed here, authors should refer to the Author Instructions for the individual journals for specific policies relevant to their research communities.
- Conflicts of interest
- Peer review
- Ethics approval
- Scientific misconduct, expressions of concern, and retractions
It is essential that all authors agree to a manuscript’s submission, and to all stages of its revision. The corresponding authors should ensure that every author has approved all submissions, including revisions.
CSIRO Publishing requires the conditions around authorship credit follow the recommendations of the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE), namely:
- Substantial contributions to the conception or design of the work, or the acquisition, analysis or interpretation of data
- Drafting the work or revising it critically for important intellectual content
- Final approval of the version published
- 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.
All those designated as authors should meet all four criteria for authorship, and all who meet the four criteria should be identified as authors. Those who do not meet all four criteria should be acknowledged. Such contributors might include someone who provided technical help or writing assistance. Financial and material support should also be acknowledged. Anyone included in the Acknowledgements section should have granted permission to be listed.
Authorship problems generally occur when: (i) authorship is assigned to people who took little or no part in the research (gift authorship); or (ii) names of people who did take part are omitted (ghost authorship).
Changes to author attribution after initial submission must be approved by all authors. This applies to additions, deletions, a change of order to the authors’ names, or a change to the attribution of contributions.
Editors and Publishers cannot be asked to be involved in an authorship dispute. For guidance in resolving an authorship dispute the resources provided by the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) may be of assistance.
Finally, in preparing the manuscript for publication, authors should ensure that they have followed the Author Instructions for the relevant CSIRO Publishing journal – a link can be found on the journal home page.
Conflicts of interest
Broadly, a conflict of interest may be seen to occur in scientific publishing when someone’s professional judgment about someone else’s research activity, the communication of that activity or its consideration for publication are influenced by a secondary interest – such as financial gain, career advancement, etc.
Importantly, the perception of a conflict of interest is as significant as an actual conflict of interest.
Financial or business relationships are the most easily identifiable conflicts of interest and the most likely to undermine the credibility of the journal and authors. Conflicts can also occur for other reasons, such as personal relationships or rivalries, academic competition, or intellectual or ideological beliefs.
All participants in the peer-review and publication process – authors, editors and reviewers – must identify potential conflicts of interest when fulfilling their roles and disclose all relationships that might be viewed as inappropriate.
When authors submit a manuscript of any type or format they are responsible for disclosing all financial and personal relationships that might bias or be seen to bias their work. At the end of their manuscripts, they should disclose financial and personal relationships with organisations or people that could inappropriately influence their work. If there are no conflicts of interest, authors should state that none exist.
Authors may identify reviewers or editors they wish to exclude from handling their manuscript due to an existing conflict of interest.
When asked to review a manuscript, reviewers should disclose to editors any conflicts of interest that could bias their opinions of the manuscript. If reviewers believe that they cannot judge a manuscript impartially because of contact with the authors or a possible conflict of interest, they should decline the invitation to review and provide an explanation to the Editor. Possible conflicts of interest may occur when reviewers:
- have a history of serious (unresolved) disagreement with the authors,
- are co-researchers on a current research project,
- have jointly published papers in the past three years,
- were part of an internal review panel for the paper before submission.
If a reviewer is unsure whether the potential for bias exists, advice should be sought from the editor.
Reviewers must not use knowledge of the manuscript under review before its publication to further their own interests.
If an Editor has a conflict of interest or a relationship that may bias their treatment of the manuscript under consideration, they should excuse themselves from handling the manuscript.
The online submission and peer review system ScholarOne is configured to exclude authors who are Editors from viewing or being involved in the editorial process for their manuscript.
- ICJME Author responsibilities – conflicts of interest
- COPE Ethical Guidelines for Peer Reviewers
- COPE conflict of interest case study
Peer review is key to ensuring journal quality and the publication of high quality science. All authors are required to submit their manuscript to the peer review process before it can be accepted for publication.
Authors may request particular individuals to be excluded as peer reviewers. The Editor will endeavour to accommodate such requests, but reserves the right to invite non-preferred reviewers if the validity of the request is deemed unreasonable.
All submissions undergo preliminary assessment by an Editor, who may reject a paper before peer review when it is outside the journal's scope or is of insufficient quality. Manuscripts felt to be suitable for consideration will either be sent out for ‘single-blind review’, in which the reviewer's name is not disclosed to the author, or ‘double-blind review’ in which the identity of the reviewers and the authors are not disclosed to either party. Journals published by CSIRO Publishing utilise these two types of peer review; please refer to the Author Instructions of the journal for more information.
The basic principles to which we expect our peer reviewers to adhere, and expectations of peer reviewers are set out in the COPE Ethical Guidelines for Peer Reviewers. Timeliness is key to the review process and reviewers are expected to communicate with the Editorial Office regarding the timely delivery of their review.
Authors may appeal editorial decisions by writing to the Editor-in-Chief.
In reporting research regarding human subjects, authors are required to document that a formally constituted review board (Institutional Review Board or Ethics committee) has granted approval for the research to be done, or that the principles outlined in the Declaration of Helsinki regarding human experimentation have been met. Investigators who do not have access to an institutional review board are required to provide a statement to the editor outlining why it was not possible to gain formal ethics approval. If the study is judged exempt from review, a statement from the committee is required.
Authors should state that the research was undertaken with appropriate informed consent of participants or guardians. In reporting experiments on animals, authors should indicate whether institutional and national standards for the care and welfare of animals were followed and provide a statement within the manuscript regarding the use of appropriate measures to minimize pain or discomfort.
Authors should make an ethics statement within the manuscript to this effect.
Editors should ensure that peer reviewers consider ethical and welfare issues raised by the research they are reviewing, and to request additional information from authors where needed. In situations where there is doubt as to the adherence to appropriate procedures or approval by the relevant ethics committee, editors are required to reject these papers.
CSIRO Publishing encourages journal editors to work within the guidelines of the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE), International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE) and CSIRO’s own guidelines on ethical human research and animal welfare.
Scientific misconduct, expressions of concern, and retractions
Scientific misconduct includes but is not necessarily limited to data fabrication, data falsification including deceptive manipulation of images, duplicate publication (repeated publication of data or ideas) and plagiarism (see our policy below). When scientific misconduct is alleged, or concerns are otherwise raised about the conduct or integrity of work described in submitted or published papers, appropriate procedures will be initiated. CSIRO Publishing is a member of the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) and adheres to the COPE Code of Conduct for Journal Publishers. Our journal editors are expected to follow the COPE Code of Conduct for Journal Editors. When there are allegations of misconduct, CSIRO Publishing follows the COPE Best Practice Guidelines and the recommendations of the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE).
Plagiarism is the unattributed appropriation of someone else’s published work as an author’s own, or more commonly, the re-use of chunks of text from published papers by the same author(s) (self-plagiarism).
Plagiarism screening is an established part of the editorial process for all journals published by CSIRO Publishing. To support this policy, all revised manuscripts will be screened using the iThenticate software.
CSIRO Publishing uses a threshold level of 30% – that is, if a manuscript returns an overall similarity index of more than 30%, the iThenticate report will be manually checked, and if necessary further action taken. iThenticate has ‘exclude bibliography’ and ‘exclude quotation’ features to reduce the frequency of false alarms for review papers.
CSIRO Publishing will consider issuing a corrigendum to correct errors of fact to ensure an accurate publication record. A corrigendum will not usually be published for spelling or grammatical errors. A published corrigendum will be linked to the article of record that it corrects. The ‘Online Early’ version of a paper is considered the version of record and is not an opportunity to make further changes prior to inclusion in an issue.
A formal retraction will be considered after careful investigation if it is found that a published paper contains errors serious enough to invalidate its results and conclusions. CSIRO Publishing follows the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) guidelines for retracting articles. The author(s) will be encouraged to assist in the investigation.
If a retraction is published, it will officially replace the original publication on the website. A 'RETRACTED' watermark will be added to the original paper. The retraction will be published in the current issue of the journal to be picked up by indexing and abstracting services, and will be linked to the article of record that it retracts.