Ethical Guidelines for Journal publication
The Spanish Journal of Soil Science (SJSS) is a peer-reviewed scientific journal that aims to publish original, innovative, and high-quality scientific papers related to all basic and applied aspects of Soil Science. Every editor of a scientific journal has the responsability to establish and maintain guidelines for selecting and accepting papers submitted to that journal, based on the editor's perception of standards of quality for scientific work and its presentation.
The publication of an article in a peer-reviewed journal is an essential element in the development of a coherent and respected network of knowledge. It reflects the quality of the work of the authors and the institutions that support them. It is therefore important to agree upon standards of expected ethical behavior for all parties engaged in the publication of scientific research, especially for editors, authors, and manuscript reviewers.
Here we present a number of ethical obligations for persons involved in the act of publishing:
A. Ethical Obligations of Editors of Scientific Journals
Editors should be responsible for everything published in their journals. With this thought in mind, it is also important to highlight several aspects:
- Fair play. An editor should respect the intellectual independence of authors and should consider manuscripts submitted for publication with all reasonable speed. An editor should give unbiased consideration to all manuscripts offered for publication, judging each on its merits without regard to race, gender, religious belief, sexual orientation, ethic origin, nationality, seniority, or institutional affiliation of the author(s). An editor may, however, take into account relationships of a manuscript immediately under consideration to others previously or concurrently offered by the same author(s).
- Confidentiality. The editor and members of the editor?s staff should not disclose any information about a manuscript under consideration to anyone other than those from whom professional advice is sought. (However, an editor who solicits, or otherwise arranges beforehand, the submission of manuscripts may need to disclose to a prospective author the fact that a relevant manuscript by another author has been received or is in preparation.) After a decision has been made about a manuscript, the editor and members of the editor?s staff may disclose or publish manuscript titles and authors? names of papers that have been accepted for publication, but no more than that unless the author?s permission has been obtained.
- Conflict of interest. Editorial responsibility and authority for any manuscript authored by an editor and submitted to the editor?s journal should be delegated to some other qualified person, such as another editor of that journal or a member of its Editorial Advisory Board. Editorial consideration of the manuscript in any way or form by the author-editor would constitute a conflict of interest, and is therefore improper. When a manuscript is so closely related to the current or past research of an editor as to create a conflict of interest, the editor should arrange for some other qualified person to take editorial responsibility for that manuscript.
- Disclosure. Unpublished information, arguments, or interpretations disclosed in a submitted manuscript should not be used in an editor?s own research except with the consent of the author. However, if such information indicates that some of the editor?s own research is unlikely to be profitable, the editor could ethically discontinue the work.
- Revision of manuscripts. An author may request that the editor not use certain reviewers in consideration of a manuscript. However, the editor may decide to use one or more of these reviewers, if the editor feels their opinions are important in the fair consideration of a manuscript.
- Publication decision. The sole responsibility for acceptance or rejection of a manuscript rests with the editor. Responsible and prudent exercise of this duty normally requires that the editor seek advice from reviewers, chosen for their expertise and good judgment, as to the quality and reliability of manuscripts submitted for publication. However, manuscripts may be rejected without external review if considered by the editors to be inappropriate for the journal. Such rejections may be based on the failure of the manuscript to fit the scope of the journal, to be of current or sufficiently broad interest, to provide adequate depth of content, to be written in acceptable English, or other reasons.
B. Ethical Obligations of Authors
Authors are expected to adhere to the following ethical guidelines; infractions may result in the application of sanctions by the editor(s), including but not limited to the suspension or revocation of publishing privileges.
- Reporting standards. Authors of reports of original research should present an accurate and complete account of the work performed, including the data collected or used, as well as an objective discussion of the significance of the research. The research report and the data collected should contain sufficient detail and reference to public sources of information to permit others to reproduce the experimental observations. In submitting a manuscript for publication, an author should inform the editor of related manuscripts that the author has under editorial consideration or in press. Copies of those manuscripts should be supplied to the editor, and the relationships of such manuscripts to the one submitted should be indicated. Fragmentation of research reports should be avoided. A scientist who has done extensive work on a system or group of related systems should organize publication so that each report gives a well-rounded account of a particular aspect of the general study. Fragmentation consumes journal space excessively and unduly complicates literature searches. The convenience of readers is served if reports on related studies are published in the same journal, or in a small number of journals.
- Originality and Plagiarism. Authors should ensure that they have written entirely original works, and if the authors have used the work and/or words of others, that this has been appropriately cited. Plagiarism in all its forms constitutes unethical publishing behavior and is not acceptable. Authors should not engage in plagiarism - verbatim or near-verbatim copying, or very close paraphrasing, of text or results from another?s work. Authors should not engage in self-plagiarism - unacceptably close replication of the author?s own previously published text or results without acknowledgement of the source. Material quoted verbatim from the author?s previously published work must be placed in quotation marks.
- Multiple, redundant or concurrent publication. It is improper for an author to submit manuscripts describing essentially the same research to more than one journal of primary publication, unless it is a resubmission of a manuscript rejected for or withdrawn from publication. It is generally permissible to submit a manuscript for a full paper expanding on a previously published brief preliminary account (a "communication" or "letter") of the same work. However, at the time of submission, the editor should be made aware of the earlier communication, and the preliminary communication should be cited in the manuscript.
- Acknowledgment of sources. Proper acknowledgment of the work of others must always be given. An author should identify the source of all information quoted or offered, except that which is common knowledge. An author should cite those publications that have been influential in determining the nature of the reported work and that will guide the reader quickly to the earlier work that is essential for understanding the present investigation. Except in a review, citation of work that will not be referred to in the reported research should be minimized. An author is obligated to perform a literature search to find, and then cite, the original publications that describe closely related work. Information obtained privately, as in conversation, correspondence, discussion with third parties, or in confidential services such as refereeing manuscripts or grant applications, must not be used or reported without explicit, written permission from the source.
- Authorship of the work. Authorship should be limited to those who have made a significant contribution to the conception, design, execution, or interpretation of the reported study, and who share responsibility and accountability for the results. All those who have made significant contributions should be listed as co-authors. The corresponding author accepts the responsibility of having included as co-authors all persons appropriate and none inappropriate, and should ensure that all co-authors have seen and approved the final version of the paper and have agreed to its submission for publication. Deceased persons who meet the criterion for inclusion as co-authors should be so included, with a footnote reporting date of death. Authors should appropriately recognize the contributions of technical staff and data professionals. Other contributions should be indicated in a footnote or an "Acknowledgments" section.
- Data access and retention. When requested, the authors should make every reasonable effort to provide data, methods, and samples of unusual materials unavailable elsewhere, such as clones, microorganism strains, antibodies, etc., to other researchers, with appropriate material transfer agreements to restrict the field of use of the materials so as to protect the legitimate interests of the authors. Authors are encouraged to submit their data to a public database, where available.
- Images. Images should be free from misleading manipulation. When images are included in an account of research performed or in the data collection as part of the research, an accurate description of how the images were generated and produced should be provided.
- Hazards and human or animal subjects. Any unusual hazards inherent in the chemicals, equipment, or procedures used in an investigation should be clearly identified in a manuscript reporting the work. Authors should inform the editor if a manuscript could be considered to report research that, based on current understanding, can be reasonably expected to provide knowledge, products, or technologies that could be directly misapplied by others to pose a threat to public health and safety, agricultural crops and other plants, animals, the environment, or material.
- Disclosure and conflicts of interest. The corresponding author must reveal to the editor and to the readers of the journal any potential and/or relevant competing financial or other interest (of all authors) that might be affected by publication of the results contained in the authors? manuscript. All authors should disclose in their manuscript any financial or other substantive conflict of interest that might be construed to influence the results or interpretation of their manuscript. Potential conflict of interest (e.g. employment, consultancies, honoraria, patent applications/registrations, grants or other funding, etc.) should be disclosed at the earliest stage possible. All sources of financial support for the project should be disclosed.
- Fundamental errors in published works. When an author discovers a significant error or inaccuracy in his/her own published work, it is the author's obligation to soon notify the journal editor and cooperate with the editor to retract or correct the paper. If the editor learns from a third party that a published work contains a significant error, the author is obliged to promptly retract or correct the paper or provide evidence to the editor of the correctness of the original paper.
C. Ethical Obligations of Reviewers of Manuscripts
The reviewing of manuscripts is an essential step in the publication process, and therefore in the operation of the scientific method. Peer review assists the editor in making editorial decisions and through the editorial communications with the author may also assist the author in improving the paper.
- Promptness and suitability. A chosen reviewer who feels inadequately qualified to judge the research reported in a manuscript or knows that its prompt review will be impossible should notify the editor and excuse himself from the review process as soon as possible. A reviewer should act promptly, submitting a report in a timely manner. Alternatively, the reviewer might notify the editor of probable delays and propose a revised review date.
- Standards of objectivity. Every scientist has an obligation to do a fair share of reviewing. A reviewer of a manuscript should judge objectively the quality of the complete manuscript and the Supporting Information, including the experimental and theoretical data, the interpretations and exposition, with due regard to the maintenance of high scientific and literary standards. A reviewer should respect the intellectual independence of the authors. Reviewers should explain and support their judgments adequately so that editors and authors may understand the basis of their comments. Any statement that an observation, derivation, or argument had been previously reported should be accompanied by the relevant citation. Unsupported assertions by reviewers (or by authors in rebuttal) should be avoided. The review of a submitted manuscript may sometimes justify criticism from a reviewer. However, in no case is personal criticism of the author considered to be appropriate. Reviewers should notify editors of concerns with respect to manuscripts that report research that, based on current understanding, can be reasonably expected to provide knowledge, products, or technologies that could be directly misapplied by others to pose a threat to public health and safety, agricultural crops and other plants, animals, the environment, or material.
- Disclosure and conflict of interest. A reviewer should not evaluate a manuscript authored or co-authored by a person with whom the reviewer has a personal or professional connection if the relationship would bias judgment of the manuscript. A reviewer should be sensitive to the appearance of a conflict of interest when the manuscript under review is closely related to the reviewer?s work in progress or published. If in doubt, the reviewer should return the manuscript promptly without review, advising the editor of the conflict of interest or bias. Alternatively, the reviewer may wish to furnish a signed review stating the reviewer?s interest in the work, with the understanding that it may, at the editor?s discretion, be transmitted to the author.
- Confidentiality. A reviewer should treat a manuscript sent for review as a confidential document. It should neither be shown to nor discussed with others except, in special cases, to persons from whom specific advice may be sought; in that event, the identities of those consulted should be disclosed to the editor. Reviewers should not use or disclose unpublished information, arguments, or interpretations contained in a manuscript under consideration, except with the consent of the author. If this information indicates that some of the reviewer?s work is unlikely to be profitable, the reviewer, however, could ethically discontinue the work. In some cases, it may be appropriate for the reviewer to write the author, with copy to the editor, about the reviewer?s research and plans in that area.
- Acknowledgment of sources. A reviewer should be alert to failure of authors to cite relevant work by other scientists, bearing in mind that complaints that the reviewer?s own research was insufficiently cited may seem self-serving. A reviewer should call to the editor?s attention any substantial similarity between the manuscript under consideration and any published paper or any manuscript submitted concurrently to another journal.