Ethics

Publishing responsibilities of authors

The publication of an article in a peer-reviewed journal is an essential building block in the development of a coherent and respected network of knowledge. It is a direct reflection of the quality of work of the author and the institutions that support them. Peer-reviewed articles support and embody the scientific method. It is therefore important to agree upon standards of expected ethical behavior.

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  • For more information about how to publish ethically see our Ethics Toolkit
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Conducting research

Reporting standards

Authors of reports of original research should present an accurate account of the work performed as well as an objective discussion of its significance. Underlying data should be represented accurately in the paper. A paper should contain sufficient detail and references to permit others to replicate the work. Fraudulent or knowingly inaccurate statements constitute unethical behavior and are unacceptable.
Review and professional publication articles should also be accurate and objective, and editorial 'opinion' works should be identified as such.

Hazards and human or animal subjects

If the work involves chemicals, procedures or equipment that have any unusual hazards inherent in their use, the author must clearly identify these in the manuscript. If the work involves the use of animal or human subjects, the author should ensure that the manuscript contains a statement that all procedures were performed in compliance with relevant laws and institutional guidelines and that the appropriate institutional committee(s) has approved them. Authors should include a statement in the manuscript that informed consent was obtained for experimentation with human subjects. The privacy rights of human subjects must always be observed.

Use of patient images or case details

Studies on patients or volunteers require ethics committee approval and informed consent, which should be documented in the paper.

Appropriate consents, permissions and releases must be obtained where an author wishes to include case details or other personal information or images of patients and any other individuals in an Elsevier publication. Written consents must be retained by the author and copies of the consents or evidence that such consents have been obtained must be provided to Elsevier on request.

Particular care should be taken with obtaining consent where children are concerned (in particular where a child has special needs or learning disabilities), where an individual's head or face appears, or where reference is made to an individual's name or other personal details.

For more information, please review the Elsevier Policy on the Use of Images or Personal Information of Patients or other Individuals.

Writing an article

Originality and plagiarism

The authors should ensure that they have written entirely original works, and if the authors have used the work and/or words of others, that this has been appropriately cited or quoted.

Plagiarism takes many forms, from 'passing off' another's paper as the author's own paper, to copying or paraphrasing substantial parts of another's paper (without attribution), to claiming results from research conducted by others. Plagiarism in all its forms constitutes unethical publishing behavior and is unacceptable.

Data access and retention

Authors may be asked to provide the raw data in connection with a paper for editorial review, and should be prepared to provide public access to such data (consistent with the ALPSP-STM Statement on Data and Databases), if practicable, and should in any event be prepared to retain such data for a reasonable time after publication.

Multiple, redundant or concurrent publication

An author should not in general publish manuscripts describing essentially the same research in more than one journal or primary publication. Submitting the same manuscript to more than one journal concurrently constitutes unethical publishing behavior and is unacceptable.

In general, an author should not submit for consideration in another journal a previously published paper. Publication of some kinds of articles (e.g. clinical guidelines, translations) in more than one journal is sometimes justifiable, provided certain conditions are met. The authors and editors of the journals concerned must agree to the secondary publication, which must reflect the same data and interpretation of the primary document. The primary reference must be cited in the secondary publication. Further detail on acceptable forms of secondary publication can be found at www.icmje.org.

Acknowledgement of sources

Proper acknowledgment of the work of others must always be given. Authors should cite publications that have been influential in determining the nature of the reported work. Information obtained privately, as in conversation, correspondence, or discussion with third parties, must not be used or reported without explicit, written permission from the source. Information obtained in the course of confidential services, such as refereeing manuscripts or grant applications, must not be used without the explicit written permission of the author of the work involved in those services.

Disclosure and conflicts of interest

A conflict of interest may exist when an author or the author's institution has a financial or other relationship with other people or organizations that may inappropriately influence the author's work. A conflict can be actual or potential, and full disclosure to the journal is the safest course. All submissions must include disclosure of all relationships that could be viewed as presenting a potential conflict of interest. The journal may use such information as a basis for editorial decisions and may publish such disclosures if they are believed to be important to readers in judging the manuscript. A decision may be made by the journal not to publish on the basis of the declared conflict. At the end of the text, under a subheading 'Disclosure Statement', all authors must disclose any actual or potential conflict of interest including any financial, personal or other relationships with other people or organizations within three (3) years of beginning the work submitted that could inappropriately influence (bias) their work.

Examples of potential conflicts of interest which should be disclosed include employment, consultancies, stock ownership, honoraria, paid expert testimony, patent applications/registrations, and grants or other funding. Potential conflicts of interest should be disclosed at the earliest stage possible.

All sources of financial support for the project should be disclosed. This declaration (with the heading 'Role of the funding source') should be made in a separate section of the text and placed before the References. Authors must described the role of the study sponsor(s), if any, in study design; in the collection, analysis, and interpretation of data; in the writing of the report; and in the decision to submit the paper for publication. (In addition some funding organizations have particular policies to enable their grant recipients to publish open access in Elsevier journals - for more detail on this, please visit our Funding Body Agreements page.

Fundamental errors in published works

When an author discovers a significant error or inaccuracy in his/her own published work, it is the author's obligation to promptly notify the journal editor or publisher and cooperate with the editor to retract or correct the paper. If the editor or the publisher learns from a third party that a published work contains a significant error, it is the obligation of the author to promptly retract or correct the paper or provide evidence to the editor of the correctness of the original paper.

Authorship

Authorship of the paper

Authorship should be limited to those who have made a significant contribution to the conception, design, execution, or interpretation of the reported study. All those who have made significant contributions should be listed as co-authors. Where there are others who have participated in certain substantive aspects of the research project, they should be acknowledged or listed as contributors.

The corresponding author should ensure that all appropriate co-authors and no inappropriate co-authors are included on the paper, and that all co-authors have seen and approved the final version of the paper and have agreed to its submission for publication.

Changes to authorship

This policy concerns the addition, deletion, or rearrangement of author names in the authorship of accepted manuscripts. Note that The Lancet, Cell, and journals published by Elsevier on behalf of learned societies may have different policies.

Before the accepted manuscript is published in an online issue:

  • Requests to add or remove an author, or to rearrange the author names, must be sent to the Journal Manager by the corresponding author of the accepted manuscript, and must include:
    1.    The reason the name should be added or removed, or the author names rearranged
    2.    Written confirmation (e-mail, fax, letter) from all authors that they agree with the addition, removal or rearrangement. In the case of addition or removal of authors, this includes confirmation from the author being added or removed
  • Requests that are not sent by the corresponding author will be forwarded by the Journal Manager to the corresponding author, who must follow the procedure described above.
    Note that:
    • Journal Managers will inform the Journal Editors of any such requests
    • Publication of the accepted manuscript in an online issue is suspended until authorship has been agreed
  • After the accepted manuscript has been published in an online issue:
    Any requests to add, delete or rearrange author names in an article published in an online issue will follow the same policies as noted above and may result in a corrigendum.