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Editorial Policies

This section describes the standard editorial rules followed by all OAE journals and clarifies ethical behaviors of all parties involved in the act of publishing an article in OAE journals, including the authors, the science editors, the reviewers, the editorial staff and the publisher. These editorial policies are based primarily on the guidelines recommended by Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE), Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ), World Association of Medical Editors (WAME) and International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE). Please find detailed information below.

Research Ethics and Consent

Research Involving Human Subjects

All studies involving human subjects should be in accordance with the Helsinki Declaration and seek approval to conduct from an independent local, regional or national review body (e.g., ethics committee, institutional review board, etc.). Such approval, including the name of ethics committee, institutional review board, etc., should be listed in a declaration statement of Ethical Approval and Consent to Participate in the manuscript. If the study is judged exempt from ethics approval, related information (e.g., name of the ethics committee that granted the exemption, the reason for the exemption) should also be listed. Further documentation on ethics should also be prepared, as editors may request more detailed information. Manuscripts with suspected ethical problems would be investigated according to COPE Guidelines.

Consent to Participate

For all research involving human subjects, informed consent to participate in the study should be obtained from participants, or their parents or legal guardians for children under 16. Statements regarding consent to participate should be included in a declaration statement of Ethical Approval and Consent to Participate in the manuscript. 
If any ethical violation is found at any stage of publication, the issue will be investigated seriously based on COPE Guidelines.

Consent for Publication

All articles published by OAE are freely available on the internet. All manuscripts which include individual participant's data in any form, like details, images, or videos, etc., should not be published without Consent for Publication obtained from that person, or for children, their parents or legal guardians. If the person has died, Consent for Publication must be obtained from the next of kin. Authors must add a declaration statement of Consent for Publication in the manuscript, specifying written informed consent for publication was obtained.

Trial Registration

OAE requires all authors to register all relevant clinical trials that are reported in manuscripts submitted. OAE follows the World Health Organization (WHO)'s definition of clinical trials: "A clinical trial is any research study that prospectively assigns human participants or groups of humans to one or more health-related interventions to evaluate the effects on health outcomes. Interventions include but are not restricted to drugs, cells and other biological products, surgical procedures, radiologic procedures, devices, behavioural treatments, process-of-care changes, preventive care, etc."

In line with ICMJE recommendation, OAE requires the registration of clinical trials in a public trials registry at or before the time of first patient enrollment. OAE accepts publicly accessible registration in any registry that is a primary register of the WHO International Clinical Trials Registry Platform (ICTRP) or in ClinicalTrials.gov. The trial registration number should be listed at the end of the Abstract.

Secondary data analyses of primary (parent) clinical trials should not be registered as a new clinical trial, but rather reference the trial registration number of the primary trial.

Editors should consider carefully whether studies failed to register or had an incomplete trial registration. Because of the importance of prospective trial registration, if there is an exception to this policy, trials must be registered and the authors should indicate in the publication when registration was completed and why it was delayed. Editors should publish a statement indicating why an exception was allowed. Please note such exceptions should be rare, and authors failing to prospectively register a trial risk its inadmissibility to OAE journals.

Authors who are not sure whether they need trial registration may refer to ICMJE FAQs for further information.

Research Involving Animals

Experimental research on animals should have been approved by appropriate ethics committees and must comply with institutional, national, or international guidelines. OAE encourages authors to comply with the AALAS Guidelines, the ARRIVE Guidelines, and the ICLAS Guidelines and obtain prior approval from relevant ethics committee. Manuscripts must include a declaration statement of Ethical Approval and Consent to Participate indicating that the study has been approved by relevant ethical committee and the whole research process complied with ethical guidelines. If a study has been granted an exemption from requiring ethics approval, the name of the ethics committee that granted the exemption and the reasons for the exemption should be detailed. Editors will take account of animal welfare issues and reserve the right to reject a manuscript, especially if the research involves protocols that are inconsistent with commonly accepted norms of animal research.

Research Involving Cell Lines

Authors must describe what cell lines were used and their origin so that the research can be reproduced. For established cell lines, the provenance should be stated and references must also be given to either a published paper or to a commercial source. For de novo cell lines derived from human tissue, an appropriate approval from an institutional review board or equivalent ethical committee and consent from the donor or next of kin should be obtained, and such statements should be listed on the declaration section of Ethical Approval and Consent to Participate in the manuscript.

Further information is available from the International Cell Line Authentication Committee (ICLAC). OAE recommends that authors check the NCBI database for misidentification and contamination of human cell lines.

Research Involving Plants

Experimental research on plants (either cultivated or wild), including collection of plant material, must comply with institutional, national, or international guidelines. Field studies should be conducted in accordance with local legislation, and the manuscript should include a statement specifying the appropriate permissions and/or licenses. OAE recommends that authors comply with the IUCN Policy Statement on Research Involving Species at Risk of Extinction and the Convention on the Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora.

For each submitted manuscript, supporting genetic information and origin must be provided. For research manuscripts involving rare and non-model plants (other than, e.g., Arabidopsis thaliana, Nicotiana benthamiana, Oriza sativa, or many other typical model plants), voucher specimens must be deposited in a public herbarium or other public collection providing access to deposited materials.

Authorship

Authorship Criteria
    Authorship credit of OAE journals should be solely based on substantial contributions to a published study, as specified in the following four criteria:
  • Substantial contributions to the conception or design of the work, or the acquisition, analysis, or interpretation of data for the work;
  • Drafting the work or revising it critically for important intellectual content;
  • Final approval of the version to be published;
  • Agreement to be accountable for all aspects of the work in ensuring that questions related to the accuracy or integrity of any part of the work are appropriately investigated and resolved.

All those who meet these criteria should be identified as authors. Authors must specify their contributions in a section Authors' Contributions of their manuscripts. Contributors who do not meet all the four criteria (like only involved in acquisition of funding, general supervision of a research group, general administrative support, writing assistance, technical editing, language editing, proofreading, etc.) should be acknowledged in the section Acknowledgement in the manuscript rather than being listed as authors.

If a large multiple-author group has conducted the work, the group ideally should decide who will be authors before the work starts and confirm authors before submission. All authors of the group named as authors must meet all the four criteria for authorship.

Corresponding Authors

The corresponding author is the one who takes primary responsibility of communication with journal editors during manuscript processing and typically ensures that all the journals' requirements are properly completed, such as providing details of authorship, ethical committee approval, clinical trial registration documents, and gathering conflicts of interest forms, etc. Contact details of the corresponding author should be contained in the article so that readers can request reprints or contact the research group after publication. No more than two corresponding authors are allowed for a manuscript.

Author Identification

Corresponding authors are suggested to provide their Open Researcher and Contributor ID when submitting a manuscript. This information is also visible once the manuscript is published online.

Co-first Authorship

When two authors contribute equally to a work, authors can indicate dual first authorship with an asterisk on the manuscript title page and a short note "Drs. XXX and XXX contributed equally to this article.".

Group Authorship

OAE permits the use of group names in the case where some large groups designate authorship by a group name, with or without names of individual authors. When submitting a manuscript authored by a group, the corresponding authors should specify the group name if one exists, and clearly identify the group members who can take credit and responsibility for the work as authors.

Authorship Change

If authors want to change authorship for their manuscripts during editorial handling, they should explain the reasons for the editor's consideration. Any change of authorship must be approved (with written consent) by all the previous authors. No change is allowed on authorship after official acceptance of manuscripts.

Conflicts of Interest

Definition of Conflicts of Interest

Conflicts of Interest are defined as financial and non-financial interests that could directly undermine, or be perceived to undermine the objectivity, integrity and value of a publication, through a potential influence on the judgments and actions of authors with regard to objective data presentation, analysis and interpretation.

    Financial conflicts of interest include but are not limited to:
  • Receiving funding, salary, reimbursements, or fees from an organization that may in any way gain or lose financially from the publication of the work, either now or in the future;
  • Holding stocks or shares in an organization that may in any way gain or lose financially from the publication of the work, either now or in the future;
  • Holding, or currently applying for, patents relating to the content of the manuscript;
  • Receiving funding, salary, reimbursements, or fees from an organization that holds or has applied for patents relating to the content of the manuscript.

Non-financial conflicts of interest include political, personal, religious, ideological, academic, and intellectual competing interests.

Authors' Responsibilities

Authors are required to disclose any conflicts of interest and specify all funding sources supporting the work in their manuscripts. The corresponding author must ensure that all authors have been asked to disclose any conflicts of interest. Authors should provide a statement of Financial Support and Sponsorship at the end of their manuscripts to declare whether or not they have any conflicts of interest. If the manuscript does not involve such issue, authors should include "All authors declared that there are no conflicts of interest." in the statement. Some authors may be bound by confidentiality agreements. In such cases, in place of itemized disclosures, we will require authors to state "All authors declare that they are bound by confidentiality agreements that prevent them from disclosing their conflicts of interest in this work.".

Reviewers' Responsibilities

Reviewers are required to inform editors of any conflicts of interest, which might be perceived to undermine the objectivity and impartiality of the review work. Editors will consider these statements when weighing reviewers' recommendations. Reviewers with significant conflicts of interest are excluded from reviewing the manuscript.

Editors' Responsibilities

Editors are required to disclose any conflicts of interest with the evaluation of the manuscript, and should recuse themselves if the conflicts of interest would have a significant effect on the editorial processing.

Duplicate Publication

Manuscripts submitted to OAE journals must be original, and should not be published or under consideration for any other journals. Authors are required to declare it clearly in the cover letter in any case where there is the potential for overlap or duplication. Any overlapping publications should be cited. OAE is a member of Crossref and uses iThenticate to detect possible plagiarism. Any suspected cases of covert duplicate manuscript submission will be handled as outlined in the COPE Guidelines and the editor may contact the authors' institution if any misconduct exists.

However, a complete report following publication of a preliminary report, such as a letter to the editor, a preprint or an abstract or a poster displayed at an academic conference, and a paper presented at an academic conference but unpublished in full, or being considered for publication in proceedings or similar format, are usually considered as exceptions to this rule. Press reports of scheduled meetings are not usually regarded as breaches of this rule, but they may be if additional data tables or figures enrich such reports.

In addition, there are certain cases where secondary publication is justifiable and acceptable. Please refer to the ICMJE's Overlapping Publications Policy, which we endorse, for more information.

Misconduct Policy

Misconduct includes but is not limited to data fabrication, plagiarism, authorship impropriety, breach of ethical and legal regulations, misappropriation of others' ideas, etc. WAME has summarized some most common forms of misconduct in order to help authors avoid those inappropriate behaviors.

  • Data falsification – It ranges from fabrication to deceptive selective reporting of findings and omission of conflicting data, or willful suppression and/or distortion of data.
  • Plagiarism – It includes the appropriation of the language, ideas, or thoughts of another without crediting their true source, and representation of them as one's own original work.
  • Authorship impropriety – It refers to improper assignment of credit, such as excluding other authors, including individuals as authors who have not made a definite contribution to the work, or submitting multi-authored manuscript without the concurrence of all authors.
  • Breach of ethical and legal regulations – It includes but is not limited to serious or substantial, repeated, willful violations of applicable local regulations and laws involving the use of funds, care of animals, human subjects, investigational drugs, recombinant products, new devices, or radioactive, biologic, or chemical materials.
  • Misappropriation of others' ideas – Scholars can acquire novel ideas from others during the process of reviewing grant applications or manuscripts. Improper use of such information can constitute fraud. Substantial appropriation of such material constitutes misconduct.
  • Violation of generally accepted research practices – Serious deviation from accepted practices in proposing or carrying out research, improper manipulation of experiments to obtain biased results, deceptive statistical or analytical manipulations, or improper reporting of results.
  • Inappropriate behavior related to misconduct – It includes unfounded or knowingly false accusations of misconduct, failure to report known or suspected misconduct, withholding or destruction of information relevant to a claim of misconduct and retaliation against persons involved in the allegation or investigation.

OAE takes all allegations of potential misconduct seriously and deals with them case-by-case on the basis of the WAME Guidelines and COPE Guidelines. If there is misconduct suspicion, it may be necessary for the editors to contact and share manuscripts with third parties, such as authors' institutions and ethics committees. If there is a formal finding of misconduct at any stage, the manuscript under processing will be rejected immediately while the published article will be retracted.

Citation

Authors are required to cite relevant literature appropriately in support of the claims made in the manuscript. They must not cite sources that have not been read, and should ensure that all the citations are correct. Original work rather than its derivations should be cited. Excessive and inappropriate self-citations or coordinated efforts among several authors to collectively self-cite are strongly discouraged.

Embargo Policy

Submitted and accepted articles must remain privileged documents and must not be released to the press or the public, in any format including print, television, internet, etc., until the manuscript appears online either as ahead of print or as a final publication. OAE allows authors to post their manuscripts on not-for-profit preprint servers, or to discuss it at scientific conferences, but these should not be discussed with the media.

Peer Review

OAE adopts a single-blind peer review model, which means that the names of the reviewers are hidden from the authors. Each submission is evaluated rigorously by at least two professional experts in the field in terms of novelty, significance, scientific soundness, clarity of presentation, language, etc. Authors are welcome to suggest reviewers for their own manuscripts. However, whether the recommended reviewers would be invited or not is determined by the editor based on the editorial regulations.

More information of peer review can be found at the section Peer Review Guidelines of the individual journals.

Confidentiality

OAE adheres to COPE Guidelines and treats manuscripts confidentially during the editorial processing. The editors will not share manuscripts with third parties except in cases of suspected misconduct. Please refer to Misconduct Policy for more details. Once a manuscript is rejected for publication, all the copies of the manuscript will be deleted from the editorial system. In case the editor needs to retain certain manuscripts rejected, they should get permission from the authors in advance.

OAE adopts single-blind peer review process across all OAE journals, which means the identities of reviewers are not revealed to authors or anyone else unless reviewers permit. Reviewers are also required to respect the confidentiality rules and not distribute or misappropriate any information of the manuscript, during or after the peer-review process. If reviewers want to involve another person in the review process, they should contact the editors first for permission, provide the name of the person who would assist the review process, and ensure the confidentiality is maintained.

Copyright and License to Publish

OAE adopts the Attribution 4.0 International License or Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported for publication. Authors are required to sign a License to Publish (which can be downloaded from individual journal's Author Instructions), granting OAE, which identifies itself as the original publisher, exclusive rights to publish their articles, and granting any third party the right to use the articles freely as long as the integrity is maintained and the original authors, citation details and publisher are identified.

Availability of Data and Materials

To maintain the integrity, transparency and reproducibility of research records, authors are encouraged to make their experimental materials and research data freely available to readers, either by publishing the supportive information as supplementary information in the journal or by depositing datasets into publicly available data repositories. The information, indicating where the data and materials of their works can be found, must be included in the manuscript as a declaration of Availability of Data and Materials. Authors who are unable to share their data must state that data will not be shared, and specify the reason accordingly.

Publication Permanency

To ensure permanent access to publications, articles published in all OAE journals are archived in Portico, which is one of the leading digital preservation service-providers in the world.

Describing New Taxa

Algal, Fungal, and Botanical Names

Manuscripts containing new taxon names or other nomenclatural acts must follow the guidelines set by the International Code of Nomenclature for algae, fungi, and plants.

Authors describing new fungal taxa should register the names with a recognized repository, such as Mycobank, and request a unique digital identifier which should be included in the published articles.

Zoological Names

Since January 2012, electronic publication of zoological names has been a valid form of publication if certain conditions are met. Manuscripts containing new taxon names or other nomenclatural acts must follow the guidelines set by the International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature. OAE requires the new taxon name and the article it is published in to be registered with ZooBank. The unique identifier provided by ZooBank should be included in the published articles. Authors will be able to update ZooBank with the final citation following publication.

Bacterial Names

Based on the International Code of Nomenclature of Prokaryotes (ICNP) effective publication of new prokaryotic names can be made possible in electronic journals.

As prescribed by the rules of the International Committee on Systematics of Prokaryotes (ICSP), for valid publication of new names, authors must submit a final version of the published article, together with certificates of deposition of the type strain (for unrestricted distribution) in at least two internationally recognized and publicly accessible culture collections in different countries, to the International Journal of Systematic and Evolutionary Microbiology (IJSEM) editorial office.

Followed by review of the List Editor, effectively published names that conform to all rules of the ICNP will appear on a subsequent Validation List, in the order in which they were received, thereby becoming validly published.

Virus Names

The proposal of new virus names must follow the guidelines of the International Code of Virus Classification and Nomenclature. Proposals for new virus taxa should be forwarded to the relevant Study Group of the International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses (ICTV) for consideration.

Corrections and Retractions

It is necessary to publish a Correction when errors, that affect the interpretation and conclusion of the article but not fully invalidating the article, are detected. A Correction should be published as soon as possible detailing changes and citing the original publication. Corrections are published without changing the original article, and linked to the original article. The original article remains in the public domain and the subsequent correction will be widely indexed as well.

A Retraction should be published if the errors are serious enough to invalidate a paper's results and conclusions. Proven misconduct, including data fabrication, plagiarism, unethical research, etc., may also lead to Retraction. A Retraction should be published promptly to minimize harmful effects caused by misleading publications. It should clearly identify the retracted article and be linked to the retracted article wherever possible. Who has retracted the article and the detailed reasons for retraction should also be provided. Retraction should be freely available to all readers.

OAE adheres to COPE Guidelines and ICMJE Guidelines to handle Corrections and Retractions.

Crossmark Policy

Crossmark is a multi-publisher initiative from Crossref to provide a standard way for readers to locate the authoritative version of a piece of content. By applying the Crossmark logo, OAE is committed to maintaining the content it has published and to reminding readers of any change if and when they occur.

The Crossmark icon informs readers of the current status of a document and provides its additional publication record as well.

Appeals and Complaints

If authors do not agree with any decision made in editorial handling, they may submit a formal appeal to the editorial office, explaining their reasons. The issue will be soon dealt with according to the COPE Guidelines.