Conflict of Interest
The review process is an important aspect of the publication process of an article. It helps an editor in making decision on an article and also enables the author to improve the manuscript.
Academic journal operates a blind peer review system.
Before accepting to review a manuscript reviewers should ensure that:
- the manuscript is within their area of expertise.
- they can dedicate the appropriate time to conduct a critical review of the manuscript.
Conflict of Interest
“Conflict of interest (COI) exists when there is a divergence between an individual’s private interests (competing interests) and his or her responsibilities to scientific and publishing activities such that a reasonable observer might wonder if the individual’s behavior or judgment was motivated by considerations of his or her competing interests” WAME.
”Reviewers should declare their conflicts of interest and recuse themselves from the peer-review process if a conflict exists”. ICMJE
Manuscripts are confidential materials given to a reviewer in trust for the sole purpose of critical evaluation. Reviewers should ensure that the review processes is confidential. Details of the manuscript and the review process should remain confidential during and after the review process.
‘The practice of taking someone else’s work or ideas and passing them off as one’s own’ Oxford Dictionaries
It is unethical for reviewers to “use information obtained during the peer-review process for their own or any other person’s or organization’s advantage, or to disadvantage or discredit others” COPE
- The editor or publisher must be informed in case of identifying any unethical practices including plagiarism, authorship falsification, falsification or fabrication, undeclared COI, redundant publication etc..
- The author reporting the ethical breach has to provide sufficient evidence for an investigation to be undertaken. All identified allegations should be treated equally and seriously taken until a decision has been reached.
- Decisions must be initially made by the editor in discussion with the editorial board.
- To avoid any defamation, evidence gathering will be conducted in a way to limit the spread of allegations to those who want to know.
- Cases that fall outside of the means of the editor to investigate (for examples, data fabrication or authorship falsification) should be referred to the author’s institution with a request for investigation.
One or more of the points listed below will be applied once unethical practices have been confirmed. Consequences mentioned below are ranged from least to most severe depending on the severity of the identified misconduct.
- Informing the author of the breach in misconduct that there in cases where there seems to be a misunderstanding of ethical standards.
- Sending a more strongly worded letter to the author or reviewer outlining the breach and warning against future behavior
- Sending a formal letter to the author or reviewer’s employer
- Undertaking a formal retraction or withdrawal of the work in question from the journal.
- Imposing a formal embargo on submissions from an individual for a set period.
Reviews should be honest and objective. Reviewers should not be influenced by:
- The origin of the manuscript
- Religious, political or cultural viewpoint of the author
- Gender, race, ethnicity or citizenry of the author
In evaluating a manuscript, reviewers should focus on the following:
- Contribution to the field
- Technical quality
- Clarity of presentation
- Depth of research
Reviewers should also:
- Observe that the author(s) have followed the instruction for authors, editorial policies and publication ethics.
- Observe that the appropriate journal’s reporting guidelines is followed
The report should be accurate, objective, constructive and unambiguous. Comments should be backed by facts and constructive arguments with regards to the content of the manuscript. Reviewers should avoid using “hostile, derogatory and accusatory comments” PIE. Reviewers should not rewrite the manuscript; however necessary corrections and suggestions for improvements should be made.
Reviewers should only accept manuscript that they are confident that they can dedicate appropriate time in reviewing. Thus, reviewers should review and return manuscripts in a timely manner.
Reviewers’ recommendation should be either:
- Requires minor corrections
- Requires moderate revision
- Requires major revision
- Not suitable for the journal. Submit to another publication such as (suggest a journal):
Recommendation should be backed with constructive arguments and facts based on the content of the manuscript.
- COPE Ethical Guidelines for Peer Reviewers
ICMJE - Responsibilities in the Submission and Peer-Review Process
WAME - Conflict of Interest in Peer-Reviewed Medical Journals