LiveCoMS Ethics Policies

Ethics Policies for Editors, Authors, and Reviewers

Policies are adapted from ACS Journal “Ethical Guidelines to Publication of Chemical Research“, February 2023 version, used with permission, and some additions from the Journal of Open Source Software Ethics policies.

Ethical Obligations of Editors

  • An editor (either managing editor, section lead editor, or editor of individual articles) should give unbiased consideration to all manuscripts offered for publication, judging each on its merits without regard to race, religion, nationality, sex, sexual orientation, gender identification, seniority, or institutional affiliation of the author(s).
  • Editors should consider manuscripts submitted for publication with all reasonable speed.
  • The sole responsibility for acceptance or rejection of a manuscript rests with the assigned editor. Responsible and prudent exercise of this duty normally requires that the editor seek advice from reviewers, chosen for their expertise and good judgment, as to the quality and reliability of manuscripts submitted for publication. Editors should communicate openly with authors and are discouraged from providing comments under the guise of anonymous review. However, manuscripts may be rejected without external review if considered by the editors to be inappropriate for the journal. The presubmission letter process is the primary manner that such rejections are avoided, but editors reserve the right to make such rejections. Such rejections may be based on the failure of the manuscript to fit the scope of the journal, to be of current or sufficiently broad interest for the readership of the journal, to provide adequate depth of content, to be written in acceptable English, or other reasons.
  • When an editor with decision-making responsibility decides to provide scientific or other comments on work described in an assigned manuscript, they should do this transparently within the communication of their editorial decision and not under the guise of an anonymous peer reviewer.
  • Editors should not disclose any information about a manuscript under consideration to anyone other than those from whom professional advice is sought. After a decision has been made about a manuscript, but before publication, the editor may disclose or publish manuscript titles and authors’ names of papers that have been accepted for publication, but no more than that unless the author’s permission has been obtained. If a decision has been made to reject a manuscript for ethical violations, the editor may disclose the manuscript title and authors’ names to other journal editors.
  • An editor should respect the intellectual independence of authors.
  • Editorial responsibility and authority for any manuscript authored by an editor and submitted to the editor’s journal should be delegated to some other qualified person, such as another editor of that journal / member of its Editorial Advisory Board. Editors should also delegate manuscripts submitted by recent graduates, or by colleagues at the same institution, to some other qualified editor. A collaboration between the author and editor, which is separate from the paper under review, may or may not represent a conflict requiring manuscript delegation. However, an editor should not be responsible for a paper which would directly further their own research program; for example, an editor should not manage a paper that will serve as preliminary results for a grant or grant renewal that the editor would financially benefit from, even if they were not involved in writing the grant. Editors should review the LiveCoMS bylaws for more information on what constitutes a conflict, and have another editor manage the article if there may be the appearance of a conflict.
  • Unpublished information, arguments, or interpretations disclosed in a submitted manuscript should not be used in an editor’s own research except with the consent of the author. However, if such information indicates that some of the editor’s own research is unlikely to be profitable, the editor could ethically discontinue the work. When a manuscript is so closely related to the current or past research of an editor as to create a conflict of interest, the editor should arrange for some other qualified editor to take editorial responsibility for that manuscript. In some cases, it may be appropriate to tell an author about the editor’s research and plans in that area.
  • If an editor is presented with convincing evidence that the main substance or conclusions of an article are erroneous, the editor should ask authors to update the GitHub version of the paper, and a note may be placed on the original article indicating this correction, if deemed necessary. Whether such issues raised have been addressed appropriately will be a factor in review and publication of any revised version of the article. In most cases, readers should interact directly with the authors via the article repository to identify and make corrections.
  • An author may request that the editor not use certain reviewers in consideration of a manuscript. However, the editor may decide to use one or more of these reviewers, if the editor feels their opinions are important in the fair consideration of a manuscript. This might be the case, for example, when a manuscript seriously disagrees with the previous work of a potential reviewer

Ethical Obligations of Authors

  • Authors are expected to adhere to the following ethical guidelines; infractions may result in the application of sanctions by the editor(s), including but not limited to the suspension or revocation of publishing privileges.
  • An author’s central obligation is to present an accurate and complete account of material presented, absolutely avoiding deception, including the data collected or used. In the case of presenting new data (which will generally not be the case in LiveCoMS articles, but is not prohibited), the procedures, software links, parameters and the data provided should contain sufficient detail and reference to public sources of information to permit a trained professional to reproduce the observations.
  • Authors should provide data and methods to other researchers, and are encouraged to submit their data to a public database, where available.
  • An author is obligated to cite those publications that have been influential in preparing their materials and that will guide the reader quickly to the earlier work that is essential for understanding the present investigation.
  • In submitting a manuscript for publication, an author should inform the editor of related manuscripts that the author has under editorial consideration or in press and the nature of the relationship to ensure the relationship is sufficiently independent.
  • An author should identify the source of all information quoted or offered, except that which is common knowledge. Information obtained privately, as in conversation, correspondence, or discussion with third parties, should not be used or reported in the author’s work without explicit permission from the investigator with whom the information originated. Information obtained in the course of confidential services, such as refereeing manuscripts or grant applications, should be treated similarly
  • Material submitted to LiveCoMS may sometimes justify criticism, even severe criticism, of the work of another scientist. However, in no case is personal criticism considered to be appropriate.
  • Plagiarism is serious ethical breach, and the consequences of plagarism are discussed in the LiveCoMS bylaws. With continually updated reviews published in LiveCoMS and the possibility of including some material from previously published sources, the LiveCoMS model raises some additional questions as to what constitutes plagiarism. We discuss this further in the “Plagarism and Prior Publication” section of the Author Instructions.
  • Authors are encouraged to recommend appropriate reviewers during submission of a manuscript. However, they should not suggest reviewers with whom they have an actual, perceived, or potential conflict of interest. Moreover, authors should not suggest reviewers with whom they share a personal or professional connection if there is potential for that relationship to introduce bias into the evaluation of the manuscript.
  • Submitting authors must ensure that the listed co-authors of a paper should be all those persons who have made significant scientific contributions to the work reported and who share responsibility and accountability for the results. Authors should appropriately recognize the contributions of technical staff and data professionals. Other contributions should be indicated in a footnote or an “Acknowledgments” section. An administrative relationship to the work does not of itself qualify a person for co-authorship (but occasionally it may be appropriate to acknowledge major administrative assistance). Deceased persons who meet the criterion for inclusion as co-authors should be so included, with a footnote reporting date of death. No fictitious name should be listed as an author or coauthor. The author who submits a manuscript for publication accepts the responsibility of having included as co-authors all persons appropriate and none inappropriate. The submitting author should have sent each living co-author a draft copy of the manuscript and have obtained the co-author’s assent to co-authorship of it. LiveCoMS has additional policies on when authors may be removed during the course of revised articles; see the section ‘Authorship and Change to Authorship’ in the authors’s guide

  • The corresponding author must reveal to the editor and to the readers of the journal any potential and/or relevant competing financial or other interest (of all authors) that might be affected by publication of manuscript. Conflicts of interest and sources of funding of the research reported must be clearly stated at the time of manuscript submission and will be included in the published article. In addition, all authors must declare (1) the existence of any significant financial interest (>$5,000 or >5% equity interest) in corporate or commercial entities dealing with the subject of the manuscript; (2) any employment or other relationship (within the past three years) with entities that have a financial or other interest in the results of the manuscript (to include paid consulting, expert testimony, honoraria, and membership of advisory boards or committees of the entity). The corresponding author must advise the editor at the time of submission either that there is no conflict of interest to declare, or should disclose potential conflicts of interest that will be acknowledged in the published article.
  • Images should be free from misleading manipulation. An accurate description of how the images were generated and produced should be provided. Authors must obtain permission for any images that are not original.

Ethical Obligations of Reviewers

  • An reviewer should give unbiased consideration to manuscripts they agree to review, judging each on its merits without regard to race, religion, nationality, sex, sexual orientation, gender identification, seniority, or institutional affiliation of the author(s)
  • A chosen reviewer who feels inadequately qualified to judge the research reported in a manuscript should return it promptly to the editor.
  • A reviewer of a manuscript should judge objectively the quality of the complete manuscript and any with due regard to the maintenance of high scientific and literary standards. A reviewer should respect the intellectual independence of the authors.
  • A reviewer should be sensitive to potential conflict of interest or appearances of conflicts of interest. when the manuscript under review is closely related to the reviewer’s work in progress or published. If in doubt, the reviewer should return the manuscript promptly without review, advising the editor of the conflict of interest or bias. in practice, it may not always be possible to completely avoid conflict of interest. If a reviewer has a conflict of interest, it must be declared and recorded, and the editors may choose to waive it if this is in the best interest of the review process. Alternatively, the reviewer may wish to furnish a signed review stating the reviewer’s interest in the work, with the understanding that it may, at the editor’s discretion, be transmitted to the author.
  • A reviewer should not evaluate a manuscript authored or co-authored by a person with whom the reviewer has a personal or professional connection if the relationship would bias judgment of the manuscript, or reasonably be assumed to bias judgment
  • Confidentiality and peer reviewer anonymity are expectations throughout the editorial review process in order to allow for candid discussion and evaluation regarding submitted scientific content. This expectation of peer review confidentiality is independent of, and extends beyond, the final decision on the manuscript (i.e., whether or not the manuscript was published or rejected). More specifically:
    • A reviewer should treat both the submitted manuscript and data received from the journal, and his/her referee report and related correspondence as confidential documents. Such documents and their contents should neither be disclosed to nor discussed with others. In addition, the reviewer may not disclose the contents of the submitted review to any individual or organization.
    • For educational purposes, the reviewer may wish to enlist the assistance of a trainee currently under their direction (for example, a Ph.D. student or postdoctoral researcher advised by the reviewer) in reviewing the manuscript. This practice is allowed under the stipulations that the assigned reviewer (i) clearly communicate the need for confidentiality to the trainee (ii) must read and approve the review report prior to submission, and (iii) must disclose to the editor the name of the trainee that provided the assistance.
  • One unique aspect of the LiveCoMS review process is the opportunity for reviewers to engage with authors publicly rather than anonymously if desired. Specifically, if a reviewer is interested in participating public discussion of the work during the review process, they are free to comment on the issue tracker connected to the GitHub repository associated with the article, which can be a way to work together with the community to help authors improve their article. If the reviewer chooses to do this, they should cross-reference GitHub comments in the review submitted to the LiveCoMS editor in an unambiguous way so the author is clear on exactly what needs to be addressed. Reviewers that wish to remain anonymous should refrain from leaving GitHub comments near the time of review, as the author will likely be able to guess your identity from the comments.
  • In some cases, the assigned reviewer may desire some level of input, advice, or guidance from a specific expert to facilitate review of the manuscript. If the reviewer is choosing to remain anonymous, they must seek approval from the editor prior to sharing the contents of the manuscript with the expert. This approval will generally be granted if no conflicts are present, but the request should be made so that the editors know who has contributed to review to identify. If the author is reviewing anonymously, the reviewer must also clearly communicate the need for confidentiality to the consulted expert. If the author is reviewing publicly via GitHub. the expert may comment either publically or directly to the reviewer, as long as the editor is aware of the participation of the expert.
  • Reviewers should explain and support their judgments adequately so that editors and authors may understand the basis of their comments. Any statement that an observation, derivation, or argument had been previously reported should be accompanied by the relevant citation. Unsupported assertions by reviewers (or by authors in rebuttal) are of little value and should be avoided.
  • A reviewer should be alert to failure of authors to cite relevant work by other scientists, bearing in mind that complaints that the reviewer’s own research was insufficiently cited may seem self-serving. A reviewer should call to the editor’s attention any substantial similarity between the manuscript under consideration and any published paper or any manuscript submitted concurrently to another journal.
  • A reviewer should act promptly, submitting a report in a timely manner. Should a reviewer receive a manuscript at a time when circumstances preclude prompt attention to it, the unreviewed manuscript should be returned immediately to the editor. Alternatively, the reviewer might notify the editor of probable delays and propose a revised review date.
  • The review of a submitted manuscript may sometimes justify criticism, even severe criticism, from a reviewer. However, in no case is personal criticism of the author considered to be appropriate.