Peer Review Process and Policies

Peer-Review Process

Our peer-review process has been developed and refined over many years. Editors exercise their own editorial independence with no interference from IJSPG or our publishing partners.  We aim to provide a high-quality, constructive process that is also swift, efficient and appreciated y authors. 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 Editorial 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.


Research Ethics Policy

Work on human beings that is submitted to our journals should comply with the principles laid down in the Declaration of Helsinki. These recommendations guide physicians in biomedical research involving human subjects and have been adopted by the 18th World Medical Assembly (WMA), Helsinki, Finland, June 1964, amended by the: 29th World Medical Assembly, Tokyo, Japan, October 1975,
35th World Medical Assembly, Venice, Italy, October 1983
41st World Medical Assembly, Hong Kong, September 1989
48th WMA General Assembly, Somerset West, Republic of South Africa, October 1996
52nd WMA General Assembly, Edinburgh, Scotland, October 2000
53rd WMA General Assembly, Washington DC, USA, October 2002 (Note of Clarification added)
55th WMA General Assembly, Tokyo, Japan, October 2004 (Note of Clarification added)
59th WMA General Assembly, Seoul, Republic of Korea, October 2008
64th WMA General Assembly, Fortaleza, Brazil, October 2013.

The manuscript should contain a statement that the work has been approved by the appropriate ethical committees related to the institution(s) in which it was performed and that subjects gave informed consent to the work.  Patients and volunteers names, initials, and hospital numbers should not be used.

All animal research needs to be conducted in line with institutionally approved protocols and accepted standards and reported in line with the ARRIVE Guidelines.


Research Registration

The World Medical Association’s Declaration of Helsinki 2013 states in article 35: ‘Every research study involving human subjects must be registered in a publicly accessible database before recruitment of the first subject’. Editors of IJS Publishing Group journals require that all types of research studies involving human participants should be registered prospectively, but failing that retrospectively. There are many places to register your research, and you can choose which is the most suitable for your needs:

Research Registry – for all human studies – for all human studies
ISRCTN – for all human studies
Prospero – for systematic reviews
•There are many national registries approved by the UN for trials that can be found here

Once registered, you will need to submit your assigned Unique Identifying Number (UIN) from your registration body as a mandatory part of your submission.

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. Authors will be required to provide a statement confirming informed consent and we will publish this in their paper if accepted.

Publishing Ethics

All our journals comply with COPE Guidelines.  IJSPG journals are all members of COPE.

Conflicts of interest and sources of funding

All conflicts of interest and sources of funding need to be stated in the manuscript.  All authors must disclose any financial and personal relationships with other people or organisations that could inappropriately influence (bias) their work. Examples of potential competing interests include employment, consultancies, stock ownership, honoraria, paid expert testimony, patent applications/registrations, and grants or other funding. Authors must disclose any interests in two places: 1. A summary declaration of interest statement in the title page file (if double-blind) or the manuscript file (if single-blind). If there are no interests to declare then please state this: ‘Declarations of interest: none’. This summary statement will be ultimately published if the article is accepted. 2. Detailed disclosures as part of a separate Declaration of Interest form, which forms part of the journal’s official records. It is important for potential interests to be declared in both places and that the information matches.

Advertising Policy

Advertising and sponsorship are important in helping us to provide value for our users. Our users expect us to be trustworthy, independent and to have integrity. Our policy supports these expectations.

• IJSPG accepts advertising for products and services that are of interest to users in their personal and as well as professional lives. Advertisements and sponsorship must be legal, decent and truthful and comply with the relevant laws, regulations and industry codes for the geographic area in which they appear.
• Our users should immediately be able to distinguish between advertising and editorial content. Advertisement features • IJSPG does not allow advertising or sponsorship to influence editorial decisions.need to conform to IJSPG specifications.
• Advertisements for products making therapeutic claims but without marketing authorisation or CE marking (or local equivalent), should be submitted with all claims substantiated in full length research papers published in peer reviewed journals.
• Sponsored content should be clearly identifiable. The nature of any commercial relationship must be transparent to our users. Advertising and sponsorship should be delivered in context. Surreptitious or subliminal advertising is not allowed.
• Online advertising or sponsorship should not impede users’ access to editorial content.
• Advertising and sponsorship are subject to editorial oversight. IJSPG editor-in-chief reserves the right to accept and reject advertising and sponsorship proposals. If a proposal is refused for reasons outside these guidelines, the editor-in-chief will provide an explanation.

Process for handling corrections, retractions, and editorial expressions of concern


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, or is based on fraud or deceit. 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.

Corrections – Erratum and Corrigendum

An “erratum,” indicates 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 an 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.

A “corrigendum” is where the publisher has made an error and corrects it in a subsequent notice published in the journal.

Expressions of Concern

Where a reader identifies significant errors in an article, they should raise these to the Editor-in-Chief of the relevant journal by email. They may be invited to submit a formal letter to the editor, which can be published in the journal with the authors of the original article being invited to respond and potentially having their response published in the journal as well.  Where relevant, COPE guidelines will be followed depending on the nature of the concern.

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.


  1. Committee on Publication Ethics. Guidelines. Accessed 15 December 2015
  2. Committee on Publication Ethics. Retraction guidelines.
  3. International Association of Scientific, Technical & Medical Publishers. Preserving the record of science.
  4. Committee on Publication Ethics. COPE Flowcharts.