Publication Ethics and Publication Malpractice Statement

All members of the Editorial Board of the Mediterranean Journal of Rheumatology (MJR) must abide by the ICMJE (International Committee of Medical Journal Editors, http://www.icmje.org/), COPE (Committee on Publication Ethics, http://publicationethics.org/) and CSE (Council of Science Editors, https://www.councilscienceeditors.org/) recommendations and guidelines. Additionally, all MJR handling and publishing editors follow the Principles of Transparency and Best Practice in Scholarly Publishing (https://oaspa.org/principles-of-transparency-and-best-practice-in-scholarly-publishing-3/).

The main role of the Editorial Board of the Mediterranean Journal of Rheumatology is to support the operation of the Journal within specific terms of reference which are regularly reviewed; to oversee papers that are submitted for review; play a leading role with certain submissions and liaise with the authors about revisions, if necessary. Editorial board members will be fully supported in these tasks by the professional editors of the journal so that their task is not onerous at all. Appointment to the Board is initially for a three-year term of office, which may be extended for up to a further three years by agreement to achieve optimal continuity and balance of expertise in the Board.

The following points outline some of the duties proposed to Editorial Board members, as guidelines for efficient workflow:

• Identifying key topics to include in the journal and inviting key authors on these topics to submit an article;
• Providing reviewer comments, when invited, of papers submitted for consideration;
• Taking part in the updating editorial policies and priority topics of the journal policies;
• Timely responding to the reviewer invitations by the Editors-in-Chief and actively contributing to the evaluation of the published articles by submitting editorials;
• Bringing to the attention of the Board potential new contributors, who may promote the journal and upgrade its editorial policy further;
• Liaising with the author(s) to oversee revisions and preparation for publication;
• Liaising with the Editors-in-Chief to ensure the efficient conduct of the business of the Editorial Board;
• Taking responsibility as guest editors to process and publish special issues on priority topics;
• Identifying appropriate conferences for editors to attend and to promote the journal;
• Attending meetings of the Editorial Board up to twice a year, usually to coincide with major regional and global rheumatology conferences.

Editor responsibilities

• The Editor-in-Chief and other decision-making (handling) editors of this journal are expected to provide unbiased and highly professional decisions to publish original works with positive implications for rheumatology research and practice in the Mediterranean region and beyond.
• They should handle all submissions in the same way, regardless of the origin of the authors, the responsible institutions, and the sponsors.
• The editors should regularly advance their editorial skills by attending educational meetings, including those aimed at discussing matters arising at the journal.
• In case of receiving complaints and appeals from the authors and reviewers, the editors should attentively evaluate all related issues and make prompt decisions.
• The editors should act responsibly in compliance with the Core Practices of the Committee on Publication Ethics (https://publicationethics.org/core-practices).
Reviewer responsibilities
• Reviewers are experts in the scientific field of the articles they review. They are chosen by the Editor-in-Chief and handling editors to evaluate the quality of the submissions and to provide unbiased, courteous, constructive, and evidence-based comments in a timely manner (http://www.wame.org/recommendations-on-publication-ethics-policies-for-medical-journals#Peer%20Review).
• Reviewers should disclose any conflicts of interest that may introduce undue bias in their comments.
• Reviewers should maintain the confidentiality throughout the peer review process and avoid retaining, copying, or using the manuscripts they review for personal purposes.
• They should alert the editors to any identified overlaps of the submissions they review with other published items.
• Reviewers should provide recommendations to editors on further processing or publication of the submission, but they should be also aware that the final decisions are made by the Editors-in-Chief.
• They should follow the principles presented by the Singapore Statement on Research Integrity (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3954607/)
• The MJR endorses the Publons initiative. Reviewers are encouraged to list their accomplishments on the MJR Publons profile.


Author responsibilities

• Authors are ultimately responsible for the scientific quality and correctness of their submissions. Prior to the submission, they should check all ethical statements in their articles and ensure that no part of their submissions to this journal has been copied or published elsewhere. They should also confirm that the submission to this journal is not under consideration for publication elsewhere. In rare case of adopting graphical materials from other sources, official permissions from primary publisher and considerations of the copyrights are mandatory.
• All contributors listed as authors should meet all four authorship criteria of the International Committee of Medical Editors (2013) (http://www.icmje.org/recommendations/browse/roles-and-responsibilities/defining-the-role-of-authors-and-contributors.html#two)
• Corresponding authors are responsible for listing as co-authors only the contributors with substantial contribution to the work and accountability for all its aspects. They are also responsible for properly coordinating revisions, responding to editors’ and reviewers’ comments, listing all co-authors’ ORCID iDs (https://orcid.org/) and getting final approvals from all co-authors.
• Upon request of the editors, authors of original research articles should provide access to their records of primary data and statistical analyses.
• If it is not against the regulations of the authors’ academic, research or funding institutions, they are responsible for archiving their published works at institutional and individual online repositories and scholarly networking websites, such as ResearchGate (https://www.researchgate.net/).
• Authors should ensure that their studies involving human or animal subjects conform to local, regional, and institutional regulations, such as WMA Declaration of Helsinki (https://www.wma.net/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/DoH-Oct2013-JAMA.pdf) and NIH Policy on Use of Laboratory Animals (https://grants.nih.gov/grants/policy/air/index.htm). The approval of the study by an ethics committee is required along with statements about human subjects’ consent and their privacy.
• Authors should disclose any financial or non-financial conflicts of interest that may introduce undue subjectivity and bias in their research reports (http://www.icmje.org/recommendations/browse/roles-and-responsibilities/author-responsibilities--conflicts-of-interest.html).
• Authors should notify the editors if any mistake or major error is identified in their articles post-publication, warranting corrections or retractions by the publisher.

Publisher responsibilities

The MJR publisher is responsible for advancing its editors credentials by arranging regular online and face-to-face editorial meetings and regularly monitoring and improving the quality of manuscript processing and publishing. Preventing any unethical publishing practice is a top priority for the publisher. If any violations of publication ethics norms are revealed, the publisher and handling editors should take appropriate actions (publishing corrections, initiating retractions, interaction with indexing databases, etc.).
The publisher is also responsible for crediting its authors, reviewers, and editors by increasing visibility of their works and widening the MJR representation and archiving at globally recognized databases, repositories, and crediting platforms. The publisher, in close cooperation with Social Media Coordinator, takes all necessary steps to select potentially influential articles and promote these on the MJR Twitter and other official social media accounts. The MJR Social Media Coordinator actively promotes selected articles in line with all ethics norms and specific recommendations on social media (https://rdcu.be/b4pNg).

Plagiarism, redundancy and retractions

It is expected that all contributing authors submit manuscripts free of unethical copying ideas, graphics, and texts. Discussing others’ ideas require proper citation(s). Referring to scientific facts published elsewhere require skilful writing free of verbatim copying and relevant reference(s). The MJR handling editors regularly consult Research Integrity Officer to avoid textual similarity and plagiarism by anti-plagiarism software checks. Research Integrity Officer is also asked to evaluate review manuscripts and other submissions with extensive discussions that may be affected by unethical textual and graphical copying. Based on consensual agreements between the Editor-in-Chief, other handling editors and Research Integrity Officer, the authors may be asked to add Disclaimer to their submitted manuscripts to ensure that all parts of their manuscripts, particularly reviews, are original and not posted or published elsewhere.
Reviewers are strongly encouraged to report to the MJR handling editors any suspicious for copying submissions. The MJR handling editors are in a position to reject outright any plagiariazed submissions and initiate retractions in line with the Committee on Publication Ethics guidance (https://publicationethics.org/retraction-guidelines) if unethical copying is revealed post-publication.

Duplicate, Secondary, and redundant submissions

If authors post their article on any preprint server (e.g., medRxiv, bioRxiv) and then submit it to the MJR, they should add a related Disclaimer to avoid any confusion post-publication. Ethical duplicate submission of certain materials, such as society recommendations, is acceptable in line with the ICMJE related recommendations (http://www.icmje.org/recommendations/browse/publishing-and-editorial-issues/overlapping-publications.html).
To avoid redundant publications, the authors of systematic reviews synthesizing evidence based on database searches are requested to register their protocol with PROSPERO registry (https://www.crd.york.ac.uk/prospero/) and submit their review with related note.
The authors are also requested to avoid submitting studies on cases and cohorts entirely or partially reported elsewhere. The MJR handling editors may request additional Disclaimers about overlapping cohort studies and clinical trials and reject research reports with results and conclusions already published elsewhere.

Authorship and acknowlegments

Authors are requested to adhere to the ICMJE 4 authorship criteria (http://www.icmje.org/recommendations/browse/roles-and-responsibilities/defining-the-role-of-authors-and-contributors.html). All non-substantive contributors, such as technical staff, information facilitators, statisticians, advisors, who do not meet all 4 authorship criteria can be listed in the Acknowledgment section upon their agreement.
No changes in the authorship order is allowed after the manuscript submission. If any additions, omissions, or reordering of author names are requested after the manuscript submission, peer review and acceptance, Research Integrity Officer should be consulted to act in line with the Committee on Publication Ethics Core Practices (https://publicationethics.org/files/editable-bean/COPE_Core_Practices_0.pdf)


Conflict of interest disclosures and funding

All authors are requested to fill in and submit the ICMJE conflict of interest form (http://www.icmje.org/conflicts-of-interest/) at the manuscript submission and disclose any financial and non-financial conflicts of interest in the manuscript notes. All types of financial and non-financial support from research funding organizations, pharmaceutical agencies and other sponsoring bodies should be disclosed and reported, with grant funding protocol numbers and related e-links, if available. The role of pharmaceutical agencies at all stages of research and writing should be also explicitly disclosed and reported in the manuscript notes.
All reviewers and handling editors will be also requested to disclose their potential conflicts of interest during the peer review.
On rare occasions of the submission of editorial and research works from the Editor-in-Chief and other handling editors, extra efforts will be taken to avoid any conflicts and assign unrelated handing editors to process and evaluate these works for publication.

Ethics approval

The authors should ensure that their research has been carried out in strict accordance with the World Medical Association Declaration of Helsinki Ethical Principles for Medical Research Involving Human Subjects (https://www.wma.net/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/DoH-Oct2013-JAMA.pdf), EU Legislation for the protection of animals used for scientific purposes (https://ec.europa.eu/environment/chemicals/lab_animals/legislation_en.htm) and NIH Policy on Use of Laboratory Animals (https://grants.nih.gov/grants/policy/air/index.htm). In case of animal studies, the authors should add note stating that all applicable international, national, and/or institutional guidelines for the care and use of animals were followed.
All authors of research studies are obliged to report ethics approval protocol number, date and name of the approving institution. Related entry in the Methods section of original research articles is mandatory along with the statement on written informed consent obtained from the enrolled healthy subjects, patients, or parents/relatives of minors.
Ethics approval is mandatory for surveys and observational studies. If the authors have obtained waver for written informed consent forms for any such studies, detailed description of the study approval and waver should again appear in a relevant part of the Methods section.
If the authors’ research involves chemicals, vaccines, radioactive materials, or any hazardous substances that may put at risk the examined human and animal subjects’ health, related statement must be clearly noted in the manuscript.
The privacy of human subjects should be observed. Case studies with photographs and other materials that may disclose the subjects’ identity should be properly masked.

Last updated: May 23, 2020