The dissemination of research findings through peer-reviewed journals is crucial to scientific progress as it allows other researchers to build upon the time and monetary investments made to produce the research. In addition, scientific publications serve as a record of merit and precedence, which can have significant implications for a researcher's career development as they strive for recognition and funding. Therefore, scientific integrity is of the utmost importance, as questionable research practices can have negative consequences for both researchers and society. In the academic publishing context, editors, authors, and reviewers all share a responsibility to uphold high ethical standards by adhering to good scientific practices. These responsibilities are outlined in a set of ethical guidelines designed for the publication of research findings.
Duties of the Publisher
Keeper of the Scholarly Record
These guidelines have been written with all these requirements in mind but especially recognizing that it is an important role of the publisher to support the huge efforts made by journal editors, and the often unsung volunteer work undertaken by peer reviewers, in maintaining the integrity of the scholarly record. Although ethical codes inevitably concentrate on the infractions that sometimes occur, it is a tribute to scholarly practice that the system works so well and that problems are comparatively rare. The publisher has a supporting, investing, and nurturing role in the scholarly communication process but is also ultimately responsible for ensuring that best practice is followed in its publications.
UTHM Publisher is adopting these policies and procedures to support editors, reviewers, and authors in performing their ethical duties under these guidelines. We work with other publishers and industry associations to set standards for best practices on ethical matters, errors, and retractions.
Safeguard Editorial Independence
We are committed to ensuring that the potential for advertising, reprint, or other commercial revenue has no impact or influence on editorial decisions.
Educate Researchers on Publishing Ethics
We also provide extensive education and advice on publishing ethics standards, particularly for early career researchers.
Duties of Editors
The editor of a learned journal is responsible for making independent decisions on which submitted articles should be published, usually in collaboration with the relevant society for society-owned or sponsored journals. The selection of articles should always be based on the validity and importance of the research to researchers and readers. The editor may be influenced by the policies of the journal's editorial board and may be subject to legal requirements such as libel, copyright infringement, and plagiarism. The editor may also consult with other editors, reviewers, or society officers when making these decisions.
Role of Editor in Peer Review Process
It is the responsibility of the editor to ensure that the peer review process is conducted fairly, without bias, and on time. Typically, research articles must be reviewed by at least two external and independent reviewers, with additional opinions sought if necessary. The editor must select reviewers who possess appropriate expertise in the relevant field and prioritize inclusive and diverse representation. The editor must follow best practices to avoid selecting fraudulent peer reviewers. Additionally, the editor must review all disclosures of potential conflicts of interest and suggestions for self-citation made by reviewers to identify any potential for bias.
The editor must evaluate manuscripts based on their intellectual content without any consideration of the author's race, gender, sexual orientation, religious beliefs, ethnic origin, citizenship, or political philosophy. In nominating editorial board members, the editor must prioritize inclusive and diverse representation. The journal's editorial policies should promote transparency and complete reporting, and the editor must ensure that peer reviewers and authors understand what is expected of them. To facilitate communication, the editor should use the journal's standard electronic submission system for all journal communications. The editor, in conjunction with the publisher, must establish a transparent mechanism for appeals against editorial decisions.
Position on Journal Metric Manipulation
The editor is prohibited from manipulating any journal metric to influence the ranking of the journal. This includes the editor not requiring authors to include references to the journal's articles for reasons other than genuine scholarly merit. Additionally, the editor must not compel authors to include references to the editor's articles or products and services in which the editor has a personal interest. Such actions would undermine the integrity of the publication process and compromise the journal's reputation.
The confidentiality of all material submitted to the journal, including communications with reviewers, must be protected by the editor unless agreed otherwise with the relevant authors and reviewers. In cases of suspected research misconduct, the editor may share limited information with editors of other journals in consultation with the publisher. Reviewers' identities should be protected unless the journal operates an open peer-review system or reviewers have agreed to disclose their names. Furthermore, unpublished materials disclosed in a submitted manuscript should not be used in an editor's research without the express written consent of the author. Any privileged information or ideas obtained through peer review must be kept confidential and not used for personal advantage.
Declaration of Competing Interests
Acknowledged and highly referred journal publishing guidelines require that authors, reviewers, and editors disclose any potential conflicts of interest that may influence their work. This includes financial, personal, and professional relationships that may have an impact on the research or publication process. The editor must ensure that these guidelines are followed and that any potential conflicts of interest are disclosed appropriately.
Scrutiny of the Published Record
The editor should take appropriate measures to investigate any reported or suspected misconduct, which may include contacting the author, reviewing the evidence, and consulting with the publisher or society. If misconduct is confirmed, the editor should work with the publisher to correct or retract the published article as appropriate. It is important to maintain the integrity of the published record and to address any instances of misconduct to uphold the ethical standards of the scholarly communication system.
Duties of Reviewers
Contribution to Editorial Decisions
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. Peer review is an essential component of formal scholarly communication and lies at the heart of the scientific method. In addition to the specific ethics-related duties described below, reviewers are asked generally to treat authors and their work as they would like to be treated themselves and to observe good reviewing etiquette.
Any selected referee who feels unqualified to review the research reported in a manuscript or knows that its prompt review will be impossible should notify the editor and decline to participate in the review process.
Reviewers should assess manuscripts objectively, without personal bias or prejudice, and provide constructive feedback that can help the authors to improve their work. They should keep the content of the manuscript confidential and not share it with others, except with the permission of the editor. Reviewers should also disclose any conflicts of interest that could affect their reviews, such as a personal or professional relationship with the authors or a competing interest in the subject matter.
Reviewers should complete their reviews within the agreed timeframe and provide clear and detailed comments that justify their recommendations. They should avoid making derogatory or inflammatory remarks and ensure that their criticism is directed at the content of the manuscript, not the authors personally. If reviewers suspect that the work is not original or has been plagiarized, they should inform the editor immediately.
Finally, reviewers should respect the intellectual property rights of the authors and not use or disclose any unpublished data or ideas obtained through the peer review process for their benefit or that of others, without the express written consent of the authors.
Vigilance to Ethical Issues
Reviewers have a responsibility to bring to the attention of the editor any ethical issues they identify in a manuscript, as well as any concerns regarding potential similarity or overlap with other published work. This helps to ensure the integrity and originality of the research and promotes good scholarly practice. Reviewers should also provide appropriate citations when referring to previously reported observations, derivations, or arguments.
Standards of Objectivity & Competing Interests
Objective reviews are essential, and reviewers must acknowledge and avoid personal biases when evaluating a paper. Criticizing the author personally is not appropriate. Instead, referees should express their opinions explicitly with supportive reasoning. Additionally, if a reviewer has a potential conflict of interest due to affiliations with the author, institutions, or companies related to the paper, they must consult with the editor before agreeing to review the paper. Finally, reviewers should only suggest citations to the author's work for genuine scientific reasons, not to boost their citation count or visibility.
Duties of Authors
The authors of original research reports must provide a precise and unbiased description of their work's execution, along with an objective evaluation of its significance. The data that supports the work must be accurately represented in the paper. The paper should contain sufficient details and references so that others can reproduce the work. Making fraudulent or knowingly inaccurate statements is unethical and unacceptable.
Similarly, review and professional publication articles should be accurate and impartial. Editorial works that express an opinion should be explicitly identified as such.
Data Access and Retention
Authors may receive requests from editors to provide their research data for editorial review or to meet the open data requirements of the journal. Authors should be willing to make such data publicly available, if feasible, and keep the data for a reasonable period after publication. Specific guidelines regarding data sharing may be found in the journal's Guide for Authors.
Originality and Acknowledgement of Sources
It is the responsibility of authors to ensure that their work is entirely original. If authors use the work or words of others, they must give proper credit through appropriate citations or quotations and obtain permission when necessary. Acknowledgment of the work of others must always be provided. Authors should cite publications that have influenced their work and place their work in the context of the larger scholarly record. Information obtained privately, such as through conversation or correspondence with third parties, cannot be used or reported without explicit written permission from the source.
Plagiarism can take various forms, such as presenting someone else's paper as one's own, copying or paraphrasing significant portions of another's paper without attribution, or claiming research results conducted by others. All forms of plagiarism are unethical and unacceptable.
Multiple, Redundant, or Concurrent Publication
An author should not publish manuscripts that describe substantially the same research in more than one primary journal. Submitting the same manuscript simultaneously to multiple journals is unethical and unacceptable.
Normally, authors should not submit a paper for publication to another journal if it has already been published, except as an abstract or part of a published lecture or academic thesis or as an electronic preprint.
In some cases, it may be acceptable to publish certain types of articles, such as clinical guidelines or translations, in multiple journals if certain conditions are met. The authors and editors of all involved journals must agree to the secondary publication, which should present the same data and interpretation as the primary document. The secondary publication must cite the primary reference.
Confidentiality and Discretion
Confidential information obtained during the provision of services such as refereeing manuscripts or grant applications must not be used without the express written consent of the author of the work involved in these services.
Normally, manuscripts that have been rejected from a journal, either directly or following peer review, are not reconsidered. However, authors can appeal a rejection if they believe there is a factual error in a reviewer's report or if they suspect that a misunderstanding may have been the primary reason for the rejection. Appeals should be made by email to the journal's handling editor and should clearly state the specific reason for the appeal. It's important to note that new submissions will receive priority over appeals. While the appeal is being reviewed, the manuscript should not be submitted to any other journal. If the authors decide to submit the manuscript elsewhere, it must be withdrawn from the appeal process before doing so.
If a rejected manuscript is revised, it should only be resubmitted to the same journal with the consent of the handling editor. Any editorial decision resulting from the appeal process is considered final and cannot be appealed again.
Authorship of the Paper
Authorship should be limited to those who have contributed significantly to the conception, design, execution, or interpretation of the reported study. Such individuals should be listed as co-authors, and those who have participated in specific aspects of the paper (such as language editing or medical writing) should be acknowledged in the acknowledgments section. The corresponding author must ensure that all appropriate co-authors are included and that no inappropriate co-authors are added. The authors should take collective responsibility for the work, and each author is accountable for ensuring that questions related to the accuracy or integrity of any part of the work are appropriately investigated and resolved.
Authors are expected to carefully consider the list and order of authors before submitting their manuscript and provide the definitive list of authors at the time of the original submission. Requests for the addition, deletion, or rearrangement of authors after submission will be considered only in exceptional circumstances and at the discretion of the Editor, provided that all authors agree with the change.
Different journals may have specific definitions of authorship, and authors should ensure that they comply with the policies of the relevant journal.
The Use of AI and AI-assisted Technologies in Scientific Writing
This policy addresses the use of AI and AI-assisted technologies in the writing process and emphasizes that authors are ultimately responsible and accountable for the contents of their work. The use of these technologies should be limited to improving readability and language and not used to replace key researcher tasks such as producing scientific insights, analyzing and interpreting data, or drawing scientific conclusions. Authors must disclose the use of these technologies in their manuscript and should not list them as authors or co-authors, as authorship implies responsibilities and tasks that can only be attributed to and performed by humans. Finally, authors are responsible for ensuring the originality of their work, and compliance with third-party rights, and should familiarize themselves with the Ethics in Publishing policy. UTHM Publisher will continue to monitor this development and adjust or refine this policy as needed.
Declaration of Competing Interests
In addition to financial and personal relationships, authors should also disclose any non-financial conflicts of interest that could be perceived as influencing the work. Non-financial conflicts of interest may arise from personal or professional relationships, academic competition, intellectual passion, and other factors. These should be disclosed in the manuscript or to the editor if they are potential conflicts of interest.
Editors and reviewers should also declare any potential conflicts of interest and decline to handle a manuscript if they have a competing interest. If an editor or reviewer has a conflict of interest, they should declare it to the journal and recuse themselves from the peer review process.
Transparency regarding potential conflicts of interest is essential for maintaining the integrity of scientific research and ensuring the trust of readers, reviewers, editors, and the public. Failure to disclose conflicts of interest may lead to a loss of credibility and undermine the validity of the research.
Notification of Fundamental Errors
It is the responsibility of the author to promptly notify the journal editor or publisher if they discover significant errors or inaccuracies in their published work. This helps to maintain the integrity and accuracy of the scientific record. The author should work with the editor to determine the best course of action, which may include issuing a correction or retraction of the paper. If a third party alerts the editor or publisher to an error in a published work, the author is also obligated to cooperate with the editor and provide any necessary evidence to address the error.
Modifying a specific feature within an image by enhancing, obscuring, moving, removing, or introducing it is considered unacceptable. However, adjustments to brightness, contrast, or color balance are permitted as long as they do not obscure or eliminate any information that was present in the original image. While manipulating images to improve clarity is acceptable, using manipulation for other purposes may be viewed as a violation of scientific ethics, and will be addressed accordingly. Authors need to adhere to any journal-specific policies related to graphical images, such as providing the original images as supplementary material with the article or depositing them in a suitable repository.
As a publisher, UTHM recognizes the crucial role of maintaining the accuracy and reliability of the scholarly record for the benefit of researchers and librarians. UTHM acknowledges that scholarly publications serve as a primary source of information and that readers rely on the authenticity of the research output presented in these publications. UTHM Publisher, therefore, takes great care to ensure that the published content meets the highest standards of quality, accuracy, and ethical practices. By doing so, UTHM Publisher aims to maintain the trust of its readers and the academic community in the authority of its electronic archive.
UTHM Publisher's Policy
Scholarly communication has a fundamental principle that the editor of a learned journal holds sole and independent responsibility for deciding which articles will be published in the journal. The editor follows the policies of the journal's editorial board and legal requirements related to libel, copyright infringement, and plagiarism. This principle emphasizes the scholarly archive's significance as a permanent and unaltered record of academic transactions. Although articles that have been published should remain unchanged, there may be exceptional cases where an article must be retracted or removed, which should not be taken lightly. This policy takes into account the best practices of scholarly and library communities, and as standards change, they will be reviewed and revised. The establishment of international standards and best practices will be advocated to address these concerns.
This policy applies to Articles in Press, which are early versions of articles that may contain errors or have been accidentally submitted twice. In rare cases, they may violate ethical codes, such as multiple submissions, plagiarism, or fraudulent use of data. If such violations are discovered, or if the article includes errors or is an accidental duplicate of another published article, it may be "Withdrawn" from the journal. This means that the article's content, including the HTML and PDF, will be removed and replaced with a page stating that the article has been withdrawn according to the UTHM Publisher Policy on Article in Press Withdrawal.
Professional ethical codes, such as multiple submissions, bogus claims of authorship, plagiarism, and fraudulent use of data, may result in the retraction of an article. Retractions have been a part of scholarly publishing for a long time, and standards for dealing with them have been developed by various libraries and scholarly organizations. UTHM Publisher adopts these best practices for article retraction, which include publishing a retraction note titled "Retraction: [article title]" in a subsequent issue of the journal and listing it in the contents list. In the electronic version, a link is provided to the original article, which is preceded by a screen containing the retraction note. The reader can then proceed to the article itself. The original article is retained unchanged, except for a watermark on each page of the PDF indicating that it has been retracted. The HTML version of the document is removed.
Article Removal: Legal Limitations
In very rare cases, it may be necessary to delete an article from the online database. This will only happen if the article is defamatory, infringes on someone's legal rights, is subject to a court order, or poses a serious health risk. In such cases, the article's metadata (title and authors) will be retained, but the text will be replaced with a screen stating that the article has been removed for legal reasons.
If the article, when acted upon, poses a significant health risk, the authors may choose to retract the original article and replace it with a corrected version. In such cases, the retraction procedures will be followed, but with the addition that the database's retraction notice will include a link to the corrected, republished article and a history of the document.
If UTHM Publisher becomes aware of breaches of our publication ethics policies, whether or not the breach occurred in a journal published by UTHM Publisher, the following sanctions may be applied across the UTHM Publisher journals:
- Rejection of the manuscript and any other manuscripts submitted by the author(s).
- Not allowing submission for 1-3 years.
- Prohibition from acting as an editor or reviewer.
UTHM Publisher may apply additional sanctions for severe ethical violations.
Suspected breaches of our publication ethics policies, either before or after publication, as well as concerns about research ethics, should be reported to the journal editor.
UTHM Publisher may ask the authors to provide the underlying data and images, consult editors, and contact institutions or employers to ask for an investigation or to raise concerns.
Author Name Change Policy
If an author requests it, UTHM Publisher can update the names of authors directly on published papers on its primary publishing platforms without any correction or other note. UTHM Publisher will then make arrangements to update the article metadata in secondary indexation databases such as Scopus, Web of Science, and Pubmed, as applicable. However, for some authors who have less need for privacy, changing their name could affect the visibility of their paper, particularly if the first author changes their last name. In such cases, UTHM Publisher may change the name directly in the article but may publish a correction/note after discussing it with the author.
The Statement of Principle presented here reflects the fundamental belief of UTHM Publisher in promoting intellectual freedom and impartial editorial choices. This principle is influenced by the guidelines outlined in the journal publisher community , . It is important to note that while journal editors and publishers collaborate closely in managing a journal, they also have distinct responsibilities as outlined in our publishing ethics policies.
Principle of Editorial Independence
To ensure this editorial independence, all decisions, concerns, or complaints related to editorial matters must be addressed exclusively within the editorial structures of a publication. These structures may include editors, editors-in-chief, editorial boards, review boards, ombudsmen, or similar bodies responsible for the editorial governance of a given publication. It is also imperative that individuals on the commercial or executive side of the business refrain from involvement, interference, or commentary on editorial decisions in any way. Any deviation from this principle would ultimately undermine the integrity of editorial independence altogether.
Printing Presses and Publications Act 1984
The Printing Machines and Publications Act 1984 is a piece of legislation in Malaysia that establishes regulations regarding the use of printing, publishing, and distribution of publications. This act encompasses several significant sections, including the initial part that provides definitions of terms related to publications, the licensing requirements for printing presses, the permit for publishing newspapers, and the control of revenue as well as unwanted publications.
UTHM Publisher is under obligation to comply with the act for all of their publications, and if any violation occurs, the UTHM Publisher will be forced to take corrective action in their appropriate capacity.
UTHM Publisher Privacy Principles
The Personal Data Protection Act 2010 (ACT 709) was established to govern the handling of personal information in commercial dealings. The act applies to all entities that handle personal data, including those in the communications, banking, transportation, education, services, and real estate sectors. It encompasses privacy regulations such as physical, communication, and area privacy, as well as data privacy.
UTHM Publisher is responsible for complying with this act for all of their publications, and if any violation occurs, UTHM Publisher will be required to take corrective action in their appropriate capacity.
Lists of References