Ethics

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The Editorial Board of the Central Asian Journal of Water Research adheres to the recommendations of the International Committee of Publication Ethics (COPE).

COPE is a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting integrity in research and its publication. COPE have defined a set of recommended core practices that are applicable to all involved in publishing scholarly literature: editors and journal teams, publishers and institutions. The rationale for the development of the core practices is explained here. We have also referred to specific COPE resources, amongst the many ethics resources that are available, where relevant throughout these guidelines. COPE also provides editors with independent advice from other editors about difficult cases via the COPE Forum. Through its case archive, a searchable database of cases from 1997 onwards, COPE enables editors to learn from similar cases. In addition, there are other resources available for use. The US Office of Research Integrity has published “Managing Allegations of Scientific Misconduct: A Guidance Document for Editors”. The European Association for Chemical and Molecular Sciences (EuCheMS) has published “Ethical Guidelines for Publications in Journals and Reviews.”

General duties and responsibilities of Editors

Editors should be responsible for everything published in their journals. They should:

  • strive to meet the needs of readers and authors;
  • constantly improve the journal;
  • ensure the quality of the material they publish;
  • champion freedom of expression;
  • maintain the integrity of the academic record;
  • preclude business needs from compromising intellectual standards;
  • always be willing to publish corrections, clarifications, retractions and apologies when needed.

Relations with readers

Readers should be informed about who has funded research and on the role of the funders in the research

Relations with authors

Editors should take all reasonable steps to ensure the quality of the material they publish, recognising that journals and sections within journals will have different aims and standards.

Editors’ decisions to accept or reject a paper for publication should be based only on the paper’s importance, originality, and clarity, and the study’s relevance to the remit of the journal.

A description of peer review processes should be published, and Editors should be ready to justify any important deviation from the described processes.

A declared mechanism for authors to appeal against Editorial decisions:

The Editor-in-Chief, the Head of the Thematic cluster, or Handling Editor considers the authors’ argument, the reviewer reports and decides whether
– The decision to reject should stand;
– The appeal should be considered.
The complainant is informed of the decision with an explanation if appropriate. Decisions on appeals are final and new submissions take priority over appeals

Editors publish guidance to authors on everything that is expected of them. This guidance should be regularly updated and should refer or link to this code.

Editors should not reverse decisions to accept submissions unless serious problems are identified with the submission.

New Editors should not overturn decisions to publish submissions made by the previous Editor unless serious problems are identified.

Relations with reviewers

Editors publish guidance to reviewers on everything that is expected of them. This guidance should be regularly updated and should refer or link to this code.

Editors have systems to ensure that peer reviewers’ identities are protected (via Scholastica and OJS platforms)

The peer-review process

Editors ensure that material submitted to their journal remains confidential while under review.

Complaints

Editors follow the procedure set out in the COPE flowchart.

Editors respond promptly to complaints and should ensure there is a way for dissatisfied complainants to take complaints further.

Encouraging debate

Cogent criticisms of published work should be published unless Editors have convincing reasons why they cannot be. Authors of criticised material should be given the opportunity to respond.

Studies that challenge previous work published in the journal should be given an especially sympathetic hearing. Studies reporting negative results should not be excluded.

Encouraging academic integrity

Editors ensure that research material they publish conforms to internationally accepted ethical guidelines.

Editors ensure that all research has been approved by an appropriate body (e.g. research ethics committee, institutional review board). However, Editors should recognise that such approval does not guarantee that the research is ethical.

Protecting individual data

Editors protect the confidentiality of individual information (e.g. that obtained through the doctor–patient relationship). It is therefore almost always necessary to obtain written informed consent from patients described in case reports and for photographs of patients. It may be possible to publish without explicit consent if the report is important to public health (or is in some other way important); consent would be unusually burdensome to obtain; and a reasonable individual would be unlikely to object to publication (all three conditions must be met).

Pursuing misconduct

Editors have a duty to act if they suspect misconduct. This duty extends to both published and unpublished papers.

Editors not simply reject papers that raise concerns about possible misconduct. They are ethically obliged to pursue alleged cases.

Editors should first seek a response from those accused. If they are not satisfied with the response, they should ask the

relevant employers or some appropriate body (perhaps a regulatory body) to investigate.

Editors should follow the COPE flowcharts

Editors should make all reasonable efforts to ensure that a proper investigation is conducted; if this does not happen, Editors should make all reasonable attempts to persist in obtaining a resolution to the problem. This is an onerous but important duty.

Ensuring the integrity of the academic record

Whenever it is recognised that a significant inaccuracy, misleading statement or distorted report has been published, it

must be corrected promptly and with due prominence.

If, after an appropriate investigation, an item proves to be fraudulent, it should be retracted. The retraction should be clearly identifiable to readers and indexing systems.

Relations with journal owners and publishers.

The relationship of Editors to publishers and owners is based firmly on the principle of Editorial independence. Notwithstanding the economic and political realities of their journals, Editors make decisions on which articles to publish based on quality and suitability for readers rather than for immediate financial or political gain.

Commercial considerations

Editors should have declared policies on advertising in relation to the content of the journal and on processes for publishing supplements.

Misleading advertisements must be refused, and Editors must be willing to publish criticisms, according to the same criteria used for material in the rest of the journal.

Conflict of interest

  • A complaint may be referred to COPE by an author, reader, reviewer, Editor or publisher.
  • In the first instance complaints against an Editor should be made directly to him or her in writing. If the complaint is not resolved satisfactorily, it should be passed to the Editor’s overseeing body or ombudsman where one exists. Only complaints that have been through the journal’s complaint’s procedure can be referred to COPE. In   referring a complaint to COPE, all relevant correspondence should be enclosed.
  • COPE will accept referrals made within six months of the journal completing its own complaints procedure. COPE may consider cases outside this time period in exceptional circumstances.
  • COPE will not consider complaints about the substance (rather than the process) of Editorial decisions, or criticisms about Editorial content.
  • COPE will not consider referrals that relate to incidents that occurred before the publication of this code.
  • When a complaint is referred to COPE:
  • 1. The referrer submits a complaint to the Administrator.
  • 2. The COPE Administrator confirms that the complaint is:
    • against a member of COPE
    • within the remit of the Code
    • unresolved after passing properly through the journal’s complaints procedure
    • relating to an incident that occurred after this code came into force (1 January 2005)
  • 3. The referrer is asked to provide evidence, with all relevant supporting documents including correspondence relating to the hearing of the complaint by the journal, in confidence to the Chair of COPE.
  • 4. The Chair of COPE informs the Editor of the journal in question that the complaint has been referred to COPE.
  • 5. A number of potential scenarios may occur:
    • The Editor refuses to cooperate, in which case, the Chair of COPE informs the referrer and the owner of the journal.
    • The Editor replies stating his/her case:
      • The Chair of COPE, with one other nominated Council member, decides that the journal has dealt with the complaint satisfactorily and advises the referrer and Editor accordingly.
      • The Chair of COPE, with one other nominated Council member, decides that there is a need for further investigation, advises the referrer and Editor accordingly, and reports this to an appropriately constituted sub committee of the COPE Council.
  • 6. The sub-committee considering the complaint will consist of at least the Chair and three other members of COPE Council. Two of the members must not be Editors. None of  the sub-committee members should belong to the same publishing group as the Editor in question.
  • 7. If the Chair belongs to the same publishing group as the Editor in question, s/he will appoint an appropriate deputy to oversee the proceedings.
  • 8. When the case comes to the sub-committee, the sub-committee either:
    • dismisses it, and the referrer and Editor are so advised and given reasons
    • reaches the view that a breach of the code has taken place.

When the sub-committee is of the view that a breach of the code has taken place it presents a report to the COPE Council explaining the nature of the breach and recommending a course of action.

  • 9. The COPE Council considers the report and may modify the recommendations. The Council informs the referrer, the Editor and the owner of its final recommendations. These recommendations may include:

a. that the Editor apologize to the original complainant;

b. that the Editor publish a statement from COPE in his/her journal;

c. that the journal improve its processes;

d. that the Editor resigns from COPE membership for a period of time; or

e. any other action which the COPE Council feels is appropriate given the circumstances of the case.

Appeals procedure

Appeals against a COPE recommendation may be made to COP

Authors and contributors

Authorship gives recognition and credit for work done, accountability for reported research, confers moral and legal rights (copyright) and plays an important role in shaping academic careers. However, authorship issues remain a common concern faced by editors. COPE’s discussion document on authorship explores the issues in detail and provides practical advice.

COPE recommends that journals and publishers should have clear guidance in place to allow for transparency about who contributed to the work and in what capacity for authorship and contributorship as well as processes for managing potential disputes.

There is no universal definition of authorship, and practices vary by discipline and communities especially when individuals collaborate across subject areas. Different disciplines adopt their own criteria, for example, the ICMJE (International Committee of Medical Journal Editors) guidelines are well-known in the biomedical fields, the APA (American Psychological Association) guidelines are used in Psychology, the EuChemS (European Chemical Society) guidelines are adopted in Chemistry, whereas in the arts, humanities and social sciences, publications by single authors are more common. However, the minimum recognized requirements for authorship are making a substantial contribution to the research and being accountable for the work undertaken (COPE Discussion document: authorship).

Journal requires authors to confirm, on submission, that they and their co-authors meet the requirements for authorship and typically provide an ORCID (Open Researcher Contributor ID). An ORCID provides a persistent digital identifier to distinguish individuals from others with similar names and links individuals to their research outputs.

Journal notifies all authors that they have received a submission and confirm that emails are not invalid. To increase transparency, journals requires “author contribution statements” that explain how each author contributed to a piece of work. This approach has been recently extended by the CRediT “Contributor Roles Taxonomy” an open standard of 14 item terms that allows for a standardized description of each author’s individual contribution to an manuscript. See discussion by McNutt et al. (2018).

An individual who does not meet authorship criteria for a specific piece of work but has contributed in some capacity should be acknowledged, with their approval. Minors who have been involved in a piece of research (for example, children using technology) are typically acknowledged as they cannot be fully accountable for all aspects of the research. Journal encourages authors of intercultural research to consider appropriate attribution for traditional knowledge, to the extent that this attribution does not compromise any agreed assurances of anonymity. This may include “traditional knowledge” notices, or citation of indigenous sources (such as people or community groups) or other cultural sources of knowledge by name within the text. In some fields, appropriate attribution may require sharing authorship with intercultural collaborators and this may differ from the approach recommended by the ICMJE. More information is at the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies website.

Deceased authors

If a manuscript is submitted with a deceased author listed, or an author passes away while the manuscript is being peer reviewed, then a footnote or similar should be added to the published article to indicate this. CAJWR use a dagger symbol (†) with a footnote explaining the situation. A co-author should vouch for the contribution made by the deceased author and their potential conflicts of interest. If the deceased author was a corresponding author then another co-author should be nominated. Note that copyright is considered personal property under the law. If the author had not yet signed a copyright transfer agreement or license, or granted a co-author the right to do so on his/her behalf in writing, permission would need to be obtained from the author’s inheritor.

Author name changes after publication

In cases where authors wish to change their name following publication, CAJWR will update and republish the paper and redeliver the updated metadata to indexing services. Our editorial and production teams will use discretion in recognizing that name changes may be of a sensitive and private nature for various reasons including (but not limited to) alignment with gender identity, or as a result of marriage, divorce, or religious conversion. Accordingly, to protect the author’s privacy, we will not publish a correction notice to the paper, and we will not notify co-authors of the change. Authors should contact the journal’s Editorial Office with their name change request.

Authorship disputes

To manage authorship disputes, editors should refer to the flowcharts from COPE and “How to spot authorship problems.” Authorship disputes will often need to be referred to institutions if the authors cannot resolve the dispute themselves.

Editors and journal staff as authors

Editors or board members should not be involved in editorial decisions about their own scholarly work. Journals should establish and publish mechanisms and clearly defined policies for handling submissions from editors, members of their editorial boards, and employees.

  • Editors and editorial team members are excluded from publication decisions when they are authors or have contributed to a manuscript.
  • A short statement for any published article that lists editors or board members as authors to explain the process used to make the editorial decision.

CAJWR has procedures in place for ensuring fair peer review in these instances.

Citations

Citation and reference to appropriate and relevant literature is an essential part of scholarly publishing and is a shared responsibility among all involved (authors, editors, peer reviewers). Authors should not engage in excessive self-citation of their own work. Editors and peer reviewers should not ask authors to add citations to their papers when there is no strong scholarly rationale for doing so. The issue of inappropriate citation (including citation stacking and citation cartels) has been discussed by COPE, and COPE have produced a discussion document on citation manipulation with recommendations for best practice.

Corrections, expressions of concern, retractions, corrigendums and withdrawals

Journals should encourage readers and authors to notify them if they find errors, especially errors that could affect the interpretation of data or information presented in an article. When an error is identified:

  • Journal works with authors and publisher to correct important published errors.
  • Journal consider retraction when errors are so fundamental that they invalidate the findings.
  • Corrections arising from errors within an article should be distinguishable from retractions and statements of concern relating to questionable research practices.
  • Corrections should be included in indexing systems and linked to the original article.
  • Corrections should be free to access.

For those articles which have been published in an issue, a corresponding correction statement should be published and linked to the original article. In these cases, the changes should usually not be made directly to the article.

Expressions of concern

Expressions of Concern may be published if editors have well-founded concerns or suspicions and feel that readers should be made aware of potentially misleading information. See this COPE Forum discussion. Editors should use caution: an Expression of Concern carries the same risks to a researcher’s reputation as a retraction, and it is often preferable to wait to publish a retraction when a definitive judgment has been made by an independent investigation.

The title of an Expression of Concern should include the words “Expression of Concern” as well as information to identify the article that it refers to. It should be published on a numbered page (electronic and print if print versions available) and should be listed in the journal’s table of contents. It should cite the original article and link electronically with the original electronic publication wherever possible. It should explain the editor’s concerns about the contents of the article. It should be in a form that enables indexing and abstracting services to identify and link to original publications and be free to access.

Retractions

Journal is committed to playing its part in maintaining the integrity of the scholarly record, therefore on occasion, it may be necessary to retract articles. COPE has published guidelines for retracting articles which suggest that journals should consider publishing retractions for articles when:

  • They have clear evidence that the findings are unreliable, either as a result of major error (e.g. miscalculation or experimental error), or as a result of fabrication (e.g. of data) or falsification (e.g. image manipulation)
  • It constitutes plagiarism
  • The findings have previously been published elsewhere without proper attribution to previous sources or disclosure to the editor, permission to republish, or justification (i.e., cases of redundant publication)
  • It contains material or data without authorization for use
  • Copyright has been infringed or there is some other serious legal issue (e.g. libel, privacy)
  • It reports unethical research
  • It has been published solely on the basis of a compromised or manipulated peer review process
  • The author(s) failed to disclose a major competing interest or conflict of interest that, in the view of the editor, would have unduly affected interpretations of the work or recommendations by editors and peer reviewers.

The title of a Retraction should include the words “Retraction” as well as information to identify the article that it refers to. It should be published on a numbered page (electronic and print if print versions available) and should be listed in the journal’s table of contents. It should cite the original article and link electronically with the original electronic publication wherever possible. It should enable the reader to identify and understand why the article is being retracted. It should be in a form that enables indexing and abstracting services to identify and link to original publications and be free to access.

Corrigendums

CAJWR distinguishes between major and minor errors. The major errors or omissions are considered to be any changes which impacts the interpretation of the article, but where the scholarly integrity of the article remains intact.

A  corrigendum will be issued when it is necessary to correct an error or omission which can impact the interpretation of the article, but where the scholarly integrity of the article remains intact. Examples include mislabeling of a figure, missing key information on funding or competing interests of the authors.

  • All major errors are accompanied by a separate correction notice. The correction notice should provide clear details of the error and the changes that have been made to the Version of Record. Under these circumstances CAJWR will:
    • Correct the online article.
    • Issue a separate correction notice electronically linked back to the corrected version.
    • Add a footnote to the article displaying the electronic link to the correction notice.
    • Paginate and make available the correction notice in the online issue of the journal.
  • Any minor errors will not be accompanied by a separate correction notice. Instead a footnote will be added to the article detailing to the reader that the article has been corrected. Minor errors do not impact the reliability of, or the reader’s understanding of, the scholarly content.

Peer review

COPE has developed Ethical Guidelines for Peer Reviewers, to which CAJWR editors and editorial board refer for guidance.

Further guidance on the ethics of peer review is available from many sources. For example, Rockwell presents guidance for reviewers and EuCheMS provides guidelines for journals. Hames’s book “Peer Review and Manuscript Management in Scientific Journals: Guidelines for Good Practice” presents useful recommendations and checklists.

All peer reviewers must follow these ethical guidelines for CAJWR articles in review:

  • Reviewers must give unbiased consideration to each manuscript submitted. They should judge each on its merits, without regard to race, religion, nationality, sex, seniority, or institutional affiliation of the author(s).
  • Reviewers must declare any conflict of interest before agreeing to review a manuscript. This includes any relationship with the author that may bias their review.
  • Reviewers must keep the peer review process confidential. They must not share information or correspondence about a manuscript with anyone outside of the peer review process.
  • Reviewers should provide a constructive, comprehensive, evidenced, and appropriately substantial peer review report.
  • Reviewers must avoid making statements in their report which might be construed as impugning any person’s reputation.
  • Reviewers should make all reasonable effort to submit their report and recommendation on time. They should inform the editor if this is not possible.
  • Reviewers should call to the journal editor’s attention any significant similarity between the manuscript under consideration and any published paper or submitted manuscripts of which they are aware.

To create an efficient, effective peer-review process, editors should:

  • Establish and maintain a secure database of suitably qualified peer reviewers that is compliant with data protection legislation.
  • Monitor the performance of peer reviewers for quality and timeliness. Peer reviewers who repeatedly produce poor quality, tardy, abusive, or unconstructive reviews should not be used again.
  • Carefully consider whether it is appropriate for authors to have the option to nominate peer reviewers or to request that particular individuals do not peer review their paper. Editors should remind authors that they should avoid nominating peer reviewers who have a conflict of interest. Editors are under no obligation to accept the authors’ nominations and it is advisable to ensure at least one peer reviewer not suggested by the authors reviews the paper. Editors should check the qualifications of all reviewers before issuing and invitation to review. It is especially important to verify the qualifications of potential reviewers who have been recommended by authors. Editors should use institutional email addresses when inviting reviewers and should request an ORCID (an online digital identifier that distinguishes researchers from one another) from reviewers whenever possible, and avoid using reviewers whose backgrounds and institutional affiliations cannot be determined by a simple web search.
  • Aim to ensure timely peer review and publication and should avoid unnecessary delays and consider how best to share information with authors about any delays that occur. Online publication can provide the fastest route to publication and, therefore, to placing peer reviewed research (and other) information in the public domain.
  • Give peer reviewers explicit guidance on their role and responsibilities.

Peer reviewers can play an important role in identifying potential questionable research practices such as possible data fabrication, falsification, plagiarism, redundant or duplicate publication, image manipulation, unethical research, biased reporting, authorship abuse, and undeclared conflicts of interest.

Editors should remind peer reviewers of this role, and of their requirement to:

  • Respect the confidentiality of peer review, and not discuss the manuscript or contact the authors or any other people about the manuscript.
  • Declare any conflicts of interest.
  • Provide an objective and constructive explanation for their recommendation.
  • Not allow their decision on a manuscript to be influenced by its origin or authorship.
  • Avoid requesting that the author cites the peer reviewer’s own papers, unless there is a strong scholarly rationale for this.
  • Not reproduce information or any part of the manuscript under review in any of their own work prior to publication by the authors.
  • Only agree to peer review manuscripts within their expertise and within a reasonable timeframe.
  • Not delay publication.
  • Not use insulting, hostile, or defamatory language.
  • Destroy submitted manuscripts and all related material after they have reviewed them.

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