Conflict of Interest Policy
Acta Materia Medica’ COI policy generally follows those of the COPE recommendations. Conflicts of interest (sometimes referred to as competing interests or dual loyalties) are common, some would say almost inevitable. Conflicts of interest are secondary interests (e.g., personal, commercial, political, academic or financial) that may influence judgements on a primary decision, in this case what is published. They have been described as those which, when revealed later, would make a reasonable reader feel misled or deceived. Financial interests may include employment, research funding, sponsorship, stock or share ownership, payment for lectures or travel, consultancies, company support for staff commissioning/ funding/sponsoring of any element of the paper, any financial or potential financial benefit, or PR firm involvement.
Management of conflicts of interest
Acta Materia Medica takes the view that any potential conflicts of interest must be recognised and stated. If there is doubt about the existence of a conflict, it is preferable to err on the side of disclosure. Most conflicts of interest can be managed, as per the following procedures; however, there may be occasions when the conflict of interest is so extreme as to make publication impossible.
This is not an exhaustive list of potential conflicts, rather an indication of the range of potential conflicts of interest:
- Potential Author COIs
Authors are asked to consider conflicts of interest in the instructions to authors.
- Instructions to authors – includes the following: ‘Authors must declare any competing interests. Conflict of interests/competing interests can be defined as factors which could influence the judgment of an author, reviewer or editors, and may be personal, commercial, political, academic, or financial in nature. Put simply, they are interests which, if revealed later, would make a reasonable reader feel misled or deceived’.
- Potential Reviewer COIs
The journal uses a single blind peer review process (reviewers remain anonymous); however, editors will still try to avoid inviting individuals to review who have potential COIs. Editors will also attempt to honor authors’ requests to exclude potential reviewers, provided that the reason for exclusion is a true COI and that rigorous and comprehensive review is possible if these individuals are excluded. At the time they are invited to review, individuals must disclose any COIs that could bias their opinions, and they must disqualify themselves from reviewing when appropriate. If a COI becomes apparent during the review process, the reviewer must contact the journal office and, when appropriate, ask to be recused. The following situations are considered conflicts and should be avoided:
- Co-authoring publications with at least one of the authors in the past 3 years
- Being colleagues within the same section/department or similar organisational unit in the past 3 years
- Supervising/having supervised the doctoral work of the author (s) or being supervised/having been supervised by the author(s)
- Receiving professional or personal benefit resulting from the review
- Having a personal relationship (e.g., family, close friend) with the author(s)
- Having a direct or indirect financial interest in the paper being reviewed
It is not considered a Conflict of Interest if the reviewers have worked together with the authors in a collaborative project (e.g., EU) or if they have co-organized an event.
Editorial Board Member COIs
Articles by Editorial Board members will be treated as usual for that category of article and undergo the same peer review process. In this case another editor would be appointed to manage the peer review process. If no editor can be identified who does not have a conflict of interest, then a guest editor may be invited to manage the manuscript. Any guest editor must have a good understanding of the journal.
- Potential Editor COIs
Editors will not act as the decision maker in articles with which they feel they have a conflict of interest, such as working with the authors or performing competing research. If the editor has not worked with the author for more than six months, then they may be eligible to edit an article. Some conflicts will be insurmountable for editors, for example personal friendships, which will not have a time expiry. Knowledge of an author or being an acquaintance is not enough on its own to mean that the editor cannot manage the article. Editors should err on the side of not taking articles with which they may have a conflict of interest and discuss with the Co-Editors-in-Chief any concerns about their own conflicts, so a decision can be made about the most suitable editor for the article.
Manuscripts submitted by a co-Editor-in-Chief will be handled by the Executive Editor who will appoint subject related handling editors and make the final decision to accept. Manuscripts submitted by the Executive Editor will be handled by one of the co-Editors-in-Chief who will appoint /subject related handling editors and make the final decision to accept.
Misconduct Handling Policy
Acta Materia Medica is aware of the potential impact an allegation of ethical misconduct can have upon a researcher’s career. All allegations of ethical misconduct are taken seriously, and a full investigation will take place.
- The Co-Editors-in-Chief should always be the first point of contact, and will seek clarification from all affected parties, in accordance with COPE
- Where the allegation is made against the Co-Editors-in-Chief, this should be sent to the Publisher for further investigation.
- If Acta Materia Medica is approached by a third party with an allegation of plagiarism, the Co-Editors-in-Chief will always seek a response from the original author(s) or copyright holder(s) before a recommendation is made.
- The Co-Editors-in-Chief will adhere to COPE flowcharts and will not be influenced by other parties. Any decisions made will be formed in an unbiased and objective manner. At all times, the Co-Editors-in-Chief will remain neutral in tone, acting with integrity, and educating where possible.
- The Publisher is not obliged to discuss individual cases of alleged plagiarism with third parties.
- The Publisher reserves the right not to proceed with a case if the complainant presents a false name or affiliation or acts in an inappropriate or threatening manner towards the journal’s editors and staff.
Please refer to the guidelines below and COPE flowcharts for the processes that the journal follows in cases of alleged plagiarism in submitted or published articles.
Acta Materia Medica welcomes submissions which are original, not under consideration by any other publication at the same time, and which contribute to the existing body of knowledge. All authors should be aware of the importance of presenting content that is based on their own research and expressed in their own words. Plagiarism is bad practice and unethical.
The following types of ethical misconduct should be avoided:
Verbatim copying of significant passages, or streams of text of another person’s work without acknowledgement, references or the use of quotation marks.
Improper paraphrasing of another person’s work is where sentences within a paragraph or a section of text has been rearranged without appropriate attribution. Significant improper paraphrasing without appropriate attribution is treated as seriously as verbatim copying.
Re-using parts of a work without attribution
Reuse of elements of another person’s work, for example a figure, table or paragraphs, without acknowledgement, references or the use of quotation marks. It is incumbent on the author to obtain the necessary permission to reuse elements of another person’s work from the copyright holder
Acta Materia Medica requires that all authors clearly state that their submitted work has not been published before. If elements of a work have been previously published in another publication, the author is required to acknowledge the earlier work and indicate how the subsequent work differs and builds upon the research and conclusions contained in the previous work. Verbatim copying of an author’s own work and paraphrasing is not acceptable, and we recommend that research should only be reused to support new conclusions. Authors should cite all previous stages of publication and presentation of their ideas, that have culminated in the final work, including conference papers, workshop presentations and listserv communications. This will ensure that a complete record of all communication relating to the work is documented.
Republication of original work
Exceptions to the publication of original work includes conference papers, archival papers that are republished in an anniversary or commemorative issue, papers that are of particular merit and that have received only limited circulation (for example through a company newsletter). These papers are republished at the discretion of the Co-Editors-in-Chief. The original work should be fully and correctly attributed and permission from the appropriate copyright holder obtained.
Standards of Reporting
The journal requires all authors to follow the correct standards of reporting regarding biomedical research. Please refer to EQUATOR for guidelines for health research and MIBBI for guidelines and tools for bioscience reporting. Authors are strongly encouraged to use these guidelines as a checklist when writing their manuscripts.
Other available checklists include CONSORT for randomized controlled trials, PRISMA for systematic reviews, STROBE for observational studies, MOOSE for meta analyses of observational studies, STARD for diagnostic accuracy studies, RATS for qualitative studies, and CHEERS for economic evaluations.
Authors of systematic reviews must provide a link in the Methods section that shows all details of the search strategy. Refer to Cochrane Reviewers’ Handbook for examples of the presentation of search strategies.
Authors must use standardized gene nomenclature. The HUGO Gene Nomenclature Committee details human gene symbols and names. Information on other species can be found at https://www.genenames.org/help/faq/; the Human Genome Variation Society provides guidelines on mutation nomenclature.
Authors are expected to comply with current field-specific standards regarding the preparation and recording of data (https://fairsharing.org/search?fairsharingRegistry=Standard), while also maintaining strict patient confidentiality. In addition, when using unpublished data, authors must make contact with the owners of the data before starting their own research.
Human and Animal Testing
All human or animal studies should be approved or exempted by the appropriate institutional human and/or animal subject review committee, or if no formal ethics committee is available, are in accordance with the Helsinki Declaration. This approval or exemption should be stated in the Methods section of the article.
When reporting experiments on animals, authors should indicate whether institutional and national standards for the care and use of laboratory animals are followed. Further guidance on animal research ethics is available from the International Association of Veterinary Editors’ Consensus Author Guidelines on Animal Ethics and Welfare and ARRIVE guidelines https://www.nc3rs.org.uk/arrive-guidelines.
All authors must declare that, where relevant, patient consent has been obtained (or the consent of their parent or guardian in the case of children under 16) and that all reasonable steps have been taken to maintain patient confidentiality, including illustrations, which should be anonymized as far as possible.
Clinical Trials Registration
The journal adheres to ICMJE’s Clinical Trials Registration Statement. All clinical trials published in the journal must be registered in a public trial’s registry at or before the onset of participant enrolment. Manuscripts should include the exact URL and unique identification number for the trial registration at the time of submission. This information will be published in the article and we ask that you include the URL and identification number on the title page of your manuscript.
For any clinical trials commencing prior to 2008, retrospective registration will be accepted. A list of recommended registries can be found on the ICMJE website. Results posted in the same clinical trials registry in which the primary registration resides will not be considered prior publication if they are presented in the form of a brief abstract (500 words or less) or a table.
Clinical trials must be reported according to the relevant reporting guidelines, i.e. CONSORT for randomized controlled trials, TREND for non-randomized trials, and other specialized guidelines as appropriate. The intervention should be described according to the requirements of the TIDieR checklist and guide. Submissions must also include the study protocol as supporting information, which will be published with the manuscript if accepted.
Authors of manuscripts describing the results of clinical trials must adhere to the CONSORT reporting guidelines appropriate to their trial design, available on the CONSORT Statement web site. Any deviation from the trial protocol must be explained in the paper. Authors must explicitly discuss informed consent in their paper, and we reserve the right to ask for a copy of the patient consent form.
Registration of Systematic Reviews
The prospective registration of systematic reviews is welcomed, and we encourage all authors to register their systematic reviews in a suitable registry (such as PROSPERO). Please include the registration number in the last line of the manuscript abstract.