Peer Review Process

Our peer-review process has been developed and refined over many years.  We aim to provide a high-quality, constructive process that is also swift and efficient. Below we provide a summary of our process:

peer-review process

 

Guidance for our reviewers

Peer review in scholarly publishing part A: why do it?
Peer review in scholarly publishing part B: how to do it?

 

IJSPG recognises the importance of the integrity and completeness of the scholarly record to researchers and librarians and attaches the highest importance to maintaining trust in the authority of its electronic archive. We follow COPE guidelines and consider the maintenance of the integrity of the scientific record part of our corporate responsibility.

Our editors respond to any suggestions of scientific misconduct or to convincing evidence that the main substance or conclusions of a published manuscript are erroneous, usually through consultation with the authors. This may require the publication of a formal retraction or correction. An expression of concern may be published by the editor while an investigation into alleged misconduct or publication of erroneous data is ongoing. Authors who wish to enquire about publication of a correction for their article, or who have serious concern about an article that they believe may warrant retraction, should directly contact the journal editorial office.

Publishers, editors, and authors should avoid blemishing journals and their own article publication record by having either errata, expressions of concern, or retractions associated with a work. An erratum is far less serious of the three notices, but an inconvenience for the reader in that the correction is detached from the original publication despite the advent of electronic linkage. It is in the interest of all authors to avoid these errors, and the more damaging notices for their and their co-authors reputations in the eyes of their peer group, employers, funders and the wider scholarly community.

 

Journal policies

IJSPG’s policies on article withdrawal and retraction are in line with our publishing partners Elsevier and Wolters Kluwer and these are re-stated below.

It is a general principle of scholarly communication that the editor of a learned journal is solely and independently responsible for deciding which articles submitted to the journal shall be published. In making this decision the editor is guided by policies of the journal’s editorial board and constrained by such legal requirements in force regarding libel, copyright infringement and plagiarism.  An outcome of this principle is the importance of the scholarly archive as a permanent, historic record of the transactions of scholarship. Articles that have been published shall remain extant, exact and unaltered as far as is possible. However, very occasionally circumstances may arise where an article is published that must later be retracted or even removed. Such actions must not be undertaken lightly and can only occur under exceptional circumstances.

This policy has been designed to address these concerns and to take into account current best practice in the scholarly and library communities.  As standards evolve and change, we will revisit this issue and welcome the input of scholarly and library communities. We believe these issues require international standards and we will be active in lobbying various information bodies to establish international standards and best practices that the publishing and information industries can adopt.  See also the National Library of Medicine’s policy on retractions and the recommendations of the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE)concerning corrections and retractions.

 

Human Rights and Animal Rights

All research involving human participants needs to be conducted in line with the Declaration of Helsinki.  All animal research needs to be conducted in line with institutional protocols and accepted standards and reported in line with the ARRIVE Guidelines.

 

Informed Consent

All participants in a research study need to have given their informed consent to participation. For case reports, patients need to give their permission to publication. If the patient is deceased then the next of kin need to provide such consent.

 

Conflicts of interest and sources of funding

All conflicts of interest and sources of funding need to be stated in the manuscript.

 

Article removal: legal limitations

In an extremely limited number of cases, it may be necessary to remove an article from the online database. This will only occur where the article is clearly defamatory, or infringes others’ legal rights, or where the article is, or we have good reason to expect it will be, the subject of a court order, or where the article, if acted upon, might pose a serious health risk. In these circumstances, while the metadata (Title and Authors) will be retained, the text will be replaced with a screen indicating the article has been removed for legal reasons.

Article replacement

In cases where the article, if acted upon, might pose a serious health risk, the authors of the original article may wish to retract the flawed original and replace it with a corrected version. In these circumstances the procedures for retraction will be followed with the difference that the database retraction notice will publish a link to the corrected re-published article and a history of the document.

  

Erratum

Sometimes listed as a “corrigendum” instead of “erratum,” these terms indicate when the mistake originates from the author. An erratum is used to simply correct a small but important mistake or omission that does not alter the conclusion of the paper. The erratum is a result of and honest error, but it does not excuse or invite post-publication corrections because not all corrections will be considered if they are not of sufficient importance. For example, the misspelling of an insignificant word or correcting an error in a reference list does not count.

The journal should be notified of any important corrections as quickly as possible so an erratum can be prepared and published soon after the original publication date. Common errors, whether introduced by authors or during typesetting, include mistakes in numbers in a table or labelling of an illustration legend, reagent and drug concentrations or other values such as parameter ranges used in grouping of results or patients in arms of a clinical trial, and missing authors. Author names are sometimes corrected, but not to make them consistent with how that author has been cited previously on PubMed or other indices. The latter can be avoided if each author takes responsibility for checking how his or her name appears on the title page of the submitted paper.

Check before submitting how the journal displays authors’ names so those working in journal production can readily identify first and last names. Authors sometimes approach the publisher for a correction because their last and first names have been reversed in the listing of an issue on a website or in a database such as PubMed. This may not need an erratum because it could be a result of how the information has been labelled electronically—resupply of a correctly labelled metadata to the indexers may be all that is needed and will be prompted by author contact.

More significant and comprehensive changes may warrant publication of a “letter to the editor” that explains the impact on the message of the paper in more detail, although sometimes this can be incorporated into an errata note.

Article withdrawal

Only used for Articles in Press which represent early versions of articles and sometimes contain errors, or may have been accidentally submitted twice. Occasionally, but less frequently, the articles may represent infringements of professional ethical codes, such as multiple submission, bogus claims of authorship, plagiarism, fraudulent use of data or the like. Articles in Press (articles that have been accepted for publication but which have not been formally published and will not yet have the complete volume/issue/page information) that include errors, or are discovered to be accidental duplicates of other published article(s), or are determined to violate our journal publishing ethics guidelines in the view of the editors (such as multiple submission, bogus claims of authorship, plagiarism, fraudulent use of data or the like), may be “Withdrawn” from the online platform.

Article retraction

Infringements of professional ethical codes, such as multiple submission, bogus claims of authorship, plagiarism, fraudulent use of data or the like. Occasionally a retraction will be used to correct errors in submission or publication.The retraction of an article by its authors or the editor under the advice of members of the scholarly community has long been an occasional feature of the learned world. Standards for dealing with retractions have been developed by a number of library and scholarly bodies, and this best practice has been adopted:

  • A retraction note titled “Retraction: [article title]” signed by the authors and/or the editor is published in the paginated part of a subsequent issue of the journal and listed in the contents list.
  • In the electronic version, a link is made to the original article.
  • The online article is preceded by a screen containing the retraction note. It is to this screen that the link resolves; the reader can then proceed to the article itself.
  • The original article is retained unchanged save for a watermark on the .pdf indicating on each page that it is “retracted.”
  • The HTML version of the document is removed.

FURTHER READING

  1. Committee on Publication Ethics. Guidelines.
    http://publicationethics.org/resources/guidelines. Accessed 15 December 2015
  2. Committee on Publication Ethics. Retraction guidelines.
    http://publicationethics.org/files/retraction%20guidelines_0.pdf
  3. International Association of Scientific, Technical & Medical Publishers. Preserving the record of science.
    http://www.stm-assoc.org/documents/#type=Guidelines
  4. Committee on Publication Ethics. COPE Flowcharts.
    http://publicationethics.org/resources/flowcharts