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Ethical Standards and Policies

CMGH considers research/publication misconduct to be a serious breach of ethics and will take action as necessary to address such misconduct. Misconduct can include failure to disclose a significant conflict of interest, plagiarism, duplicate submission, data falsification, and inappropriate image manipulation. The journal has specific policies addressing each of these forms of misconduct; those policies are provided below.

Each author who submits a manuscript to CMGH must attest to several author statements in the manuscript management system, thereby affirming the following information, all of which is included in the final published article:

  • Authorship responsibility,
  • Institutional Review Board approval and informed consent statement (human studies),
  • Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee approval (animal studies),
  • Role of study sponsor,
  • Financial disclosures,
  • Funding sources.

To be considered as an author of a paper, an individual must have been involved with each of the below activities:

(1) conception and design of the study;
(2) generation, collection, assembly, analysis and/or interpretation of data;
(3) drafting or revision of the manuscript;
(4) approval of the final version of the manuscript.

Contributions of each authorship must be disclosed using the Contributor Role Taxonomy (CRediT).

Conflict of Interest Policy

A. Potential Conflicts of Interest (COI)
The following are examples of COI that may occur for editors, authors (including invited authors), and reviewers. Interactions are considered pertinent if they occur at any time from the start of the research activity in a specific program until such time that a submission is anticipated to be published or one year from submission date, whichever is longer.

a. Editors: Editors who make final decisions about manuscripts must have no personal, professional, or financial involvement in any of the issues they might judge. Examples of personal involvement with an author include former student, fellow, mentor, or relative. Examples of professional involvement include academic rivalry, being from the same institution or research group as the author, evaluating a manuscript submitted by an editor, or collaborating (e.g., co-authoring research article or grant) with an author. Examples of financial involvement include employment, consultancies, honoraria, stock ownership or options, expert testimony, grants/patents received, and royalties with an entity (or competing entity) discussed in the manuscript.

b. Authors: COI for an author may arise if there exists a financial arrangement (e.g., employment, consultancies, honoraria, stock ownership or options, expert testimony, grants/patents received, and royalties) with a company whose product figures prominently in the submitted manuscript or with a company that makes a competing product.

c. Reviewers: COI for reviewers exist when they have had an ongoing collaboration, original publications, or grants with the authors within the previous two years, except when part of a multicenter group from a different site; are from the same institution as the authors; or have any financial arrangements (e.g., employment, consultancies, honoraria, stock ownership or options, expert testimony, grants/patents received, and royalties) with a company whose product figures prominently in the submitted manuscript or with a company that makes a competing product.

B. Process
Potential COI are to be disclosed at the beginning of the peer-review process.

a. Editors: An associate editor having COI with a submitted manuscript must recuse himself or herself from handling the manuscript and request that the manuscript be reassigned. The editor-in-chief having COI with a submitted manuscript must assign review to one of the associate editors or a guest editor for handling. A manuscript submitted by the editor-in-chief or one of the associate editors must be assigned to a guest editor.

b. Authors: The senior or corresponding author assumes full responsibility for supplying the following information on the title page at manuscript submission:

  • For each author, disclosure of any financial arrangement with any company whose product figures prominently in the submitted manuscript or that makes a competing product; or a statement for each author that there is no conflict to disclose.
  • A disclosure of all funding sources supporting the work and all institutional or corporate affiliations.
  • A list of individuals who provided writing assistance for the manuscript and the source of funds that supported this assistance.

In addition, at manuscript submission, each author must attest to several author statements in the manuscript management system, thereby affirming authorship responsibility, manuscript originality, payment of author fees, Institutional Review Board approval and Informed Consent statement (human studies), Animal Care and Use Committee approval (animal studies), role of study sponsor, financial disclosures, and funding sources. Based on the information provided, the editors will determine whether COI exists and decide to either a) reject the manuscript or b) publish the manuscript with the COI disclosed.

c. Reviewers: When invited, reviewers must decline to review a manuscript if a potential COI exists. After review, all reviewers must agree to and initial one of the following statements, which appear in the journals' manuscript tracking system:

  • I, the undersigned Reviewer, certify that I have not had an ongoing collaboration, original publication, or grant with the authors within the previous two years, except in the case of being a part of a multicenter group from a different site, nor am I from the same institution as the authors. I also certify that I do not have any financial arrangements (e.g., employment, consultancies, honoraria, stock ownership or options, expert testimony, grants/patents received, and royalties) with a company whose product figures prominently in the submitted manuscript or with a company that makes a competing product.
  • I have listed any potential conflicts of interest in the Comments to Editors field.

If the reviewer discloses a potential COI after the review, the handling associate editor decides if the review should still be used to judge the manuscript.

C. Sanctions
Should an editor, author, or reviewer fail to disclose a potential COI and this is discovered after publication, the following sanctions may be applied according to the severity of the infraction.

a. Editors:

  • A letter of reprimand and warning as to future conduct from the editor, in the case of an associate editor, or from the Chair of the Publications Committee, in the case of the editor.
  • Dismissal from the position.

b. Authors:

  • A letter from the editor of explanation and education where there appears to be a genuine misunderstanding of principles.
  • A letter from the editor of reprimand and warning as to future conduct.
  • A letter from the editor to the author's institution or funding body.
  • Publication of a notice detailing the author's failure to disclose the COI.
  • Publication of an editorial detailing the full details of the misconduct.
  • Refusal to accept future submissions from the author on a sliding scale of one-to-five years.
  • Formal retraction or withdrawal of the paper from the scientific literature.
  • Journal editors report the case to Office of Research Integrity, which promotes integrity in biomedical and behavioral research supported by the U.S. Public Health Service; monitors institutional investigations of research misconduct; and facilitates the responsible conduct of research through educational, preventive, and regulatory activities.

c. Reviewers:

  1. A letter from the editor of explanation and education where there appears to be a genuine misunderstanding of principles.
  2. A letter from the editor of reprimand and warning as to future conduct.
  3. A letter from the editor to the reviewer's institution.
  4. Refusal to allow the individual to review for the journal on a sliding scale of one-to-five years.

This policy was developed in accordance with the guidelines set forth by the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) and the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE).

Plagiarism, Duplicate Submission/Publication Policy

A. Definitions
a. Plagiarism: Unreferenced use of published and unpublished ideas. It may occur at any stage of planning, research, writing, or publication and applies to print and electronic versions.
b. Duplicate Submission/Publication: Occurs when two or more papers, without full cross-reference, share the same hypothesis, data, discussion points, or conclusions.

B. Sanctions
Should plagiarism or duplicate submission/publication be identified, the journal editors will apply the following sanctions according to the severity of the infraction. They will apply sanctions to individual authors depending on their type of involvement with the article, as provided at the time of submission on the title page.

  • A letter of explanation from the journal editors to the authors where there appears to be a genuine misunderstanding of principles.
  • A letter of reprimand from the journal editors as to future conduct.
  • A formal letter from the journal editors to the author's institution, employer, or funding body.
  • Publication of a notice or editorial in journal.
  • Refusal to accept submissions from the author for a range of one-to-five years.
  • Formal withdrawal or retraction of paper from the scientific literature.
  • Journal editors report the case to Office of Research Integrity, which promotes integrity in biomedical and behavioral research supported by the U.S. Public Health Service; monitors institutional investigations of research misconduct; and facilitates the responsible conduct of research through educational, preventive, and regulatory activities.

This policy was developed in accordance with the guidelines set forth by the Committee on Publishing Ethics (COPE) and the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE).

Image Manipulation Policy

A. Definition*
Image manipulation is the misrepresentation of data by selectively altering portions of an image. The expectations for how images should be ethically handled are:

  • No specific feature within an image may be enhanced, obscured, moved, removed or introduced.
  • The grouping of images from different parts of the same gel, or from different gels, fields or exposures must be made explicit by the arrangement of the figure (e.g., using dividing lines) and in the text of the figure legend.
  • Adjustments of brightness, contrast or color balance are acceptable if they are applied to every pixel in the image and as long as they do not obscure, eliminate or misrepresent any information present in the original, including backgrounds. Non-linear adjustments (e.g., changes to gamma settings) must be disclosed in the figure legend.

*Language used with permission from The Journal of Cell Biology.

B. Process
The journal's graphics staff will screen all images after editorial acceptance. Authors will be notified when their manuscript has passed the graphic screen and can be considered "in-press." At that time, the work will be released and posted online as "in-press." If a manuscript passes graphics review, the date of editorial acceptance will be used as the official date of acceptance. The editorial staff will also review images that editors, reviewers, or readers suspect have been manipulated. If potential evidence of manipulation is identified, the staff and editors will initiate a complete investigation with the authors and possibly their institutions.

C. Sanctions
Should image manipulation be verified before or after publication of an article, one of the below sanctions will be applied, based on the severity of the infraction. The journal editor-in-chief and associate editors will determine, on a case-by-case basis, the severity of the infraction and corresponding sanction. Sanctions will be applied to individual authors depending on their type of involvement with the article, as provided at the time of submission on the title page.

  • A letter of explanation from the journal editors to the authors where there appears to be a genuine misunderstanding of principles.
  • A letter of reprimand from the journal editors as to future conduct.
  • A formal letter from the journal editors to the author's institution or employer.
  • Rejection or withdrawal of manuscript acceptance.
  • Publication of a correction or editorial.
  • Retraction of the published article.
  • Refusal to accept submissions from the author for a range of one-to-five years. For particularly egregious cases or series of cases, a life-time ban may be considered. The AGA reserves the right, on a case-by-case basis, to report particularly egregious cases to the relevant funding bodies.

This policy was developed in accordance with the guidelines set forth by the Committee on Publishing Ethics (COPE).

Article Types

Original Articles
Original Articles are full-length reports of original research. Original Articles cover topics relevant to digestive biology research. Their focus may include the cell biology, immunology, physiology, microbiology, genetics, or neurobiology of gastrointestinal, hepatobiliary, and pancreatic health and disease. To be published, the work presented in the manuscript must be original, although, on occasion, confirmatory studies of timely and important observations will also be acceptable. Other considerations in evaluating the acceptability of a submitted manuscript include the importance of the findings, soundness of the experimental design, validity of the experimental and analytical methods, appropriateness of the conclusions, and quality of presentation.

Original Article submissions to CMGH must not exceed 6000 words, not including methods, figure and table legends, and references. Methods must be presented in sufficient detail to allow readers to replicate the studies and should not simply cite previous work. References should favor primary reports over reviews. The number of figures, tables, and references is unlimited. Supplemental figures are limited to essential important supporting data, such as assay validation, that are tangential to the overall data presentation. Large data sets, including movies, which cannot be printed on standard pages are also appropriate. The editors reserve the right to publish certain figures and tables as supplemental data or to ask authors to omit certain figures and tables.

Research Letters
In addition to full-length Original Articles, CMGH welcomes Research Letters for consideration. Research Letters address topics similar to those in full-length original articles, but are often explored in less detail. Research Letters are limited to 1000 words including no more than 10 references and 2 figures or tables.

Research Letters are not broken into separate sections and do not include an Abstract or Synopsis. Main text and figure legends, but not references, are counted in the 1000-word limit. Display items (figures and tables) are limited to 4 inches tall by 4 inches wide (each) and must be legible when printed at this size. References should be provided in the shortened format, listing only the first author followed by et al, the journal name, publication year, and page numbers. In contrast to Original Articles current CMGH instructions, supplemental information is encouraged. This should include a detailed methods section of up to 1000 words, up to 4 additional figures with legends of no more than 500 words each, and up to 20 additional references.

Reviews
Each issue of CMGH contains one or more topical review articles solicited by the Editors. Unsolicited reviews will only be considered after approval of a pre-submission inquiry including a one-paragraph written justification and an outline, which the Editors will review. Reviews are written by experts and thought leaders in the field who share their own views while discussing timely and sometimes controversial topics. These undergo the same rigorous peer review as original contributions.

Reviews must not exceed 4000 words. A maximum of 150 references is permitted, and should favor primary reports over reviews. Reviews typically include 1-2 figures, illustrations, or tables. Whenever possible, authors are required to work with CMGH's medical illustrator in developing figures that will be available for download at CMGHjournal.org.

Editorials
Editorials provide comments on papers published in the same issue of CMGH and highlight the importance of new work and how the results change our understanding of the problem. Editorials are solicited by the Editor and are approximately 750 words in length.

Commentaries
Commentaries address a variety of scientific and societal issues that are of interest to CMGH's readership. Commentaries must not exceed 1500 words, not including references. Typically there are no more than 10 references.

Letters to the Editor
Letters to the Editor provide the opportunity to offer novel perspectives and opinions on articles published in CMGH. Letters must be submitted for consideration within 2 months of initial on-line publication of the corresponding article. Letters received are assessed by the Editors and, if deemed of interest to the Journal, will be sent to the authors of the original article for a response. Authors are given 2 weeks to reply. A decision will then be made whether to publish the letter with or without its reply. Letters are selected based on their relevance and originality.

Letters must not exceed 500 words, not including references. There are typically no more than 5 references. Original or unpublished data will only be considered under exceptional circumstances. The Journal reserves the right to edit all letters prior to publication.

Preprint Server Policy
CMGH allows manuscript submissions to have been posted to a preprint server, with the following stipulations:

  • Authors must retain copyright for the manuscript so that it may be transferred to AGA or to Elsevier if the manuscript is accepted, per the journal's copyright policy (this does not apply to CMGH, which allows authors to retain copyright).
  • The preprint cannot be updated while the manuscript is under review and cannot be updated if it is accepted for publication in the journal, even if the preprint server directs the author to do otherwise.
  • If a manuscript is already submitted to an AGA journal and is under review, that manuscript may be submitted to a preprint server at any time before the article is accepted so that it may be considered as a published work in grant applications. As above, that preprint cannot be edited or updated while under review and cannot be updated if it is accepted for publication in the journal.
  • Publication of a preprint must be noted on the title page of the submission, with the preprint DOI included.
  • Because of the potential impact on patient care, preprints of a clinical nature are discouraged but will be considered.
  • If your article is ultimately accepted by an AGA journal, if the preprint server platform allows, you must update your preprint record with a link to the published article.

Contact Information

The address for correspondence is: Klaus H. Kaustner, PhD, and Michael Pack, MD, co-EditorsCMGH, AGA Institute, 4930 Del Ray Avenue, Bethesda, Maryland 20814-3015. Fax: (301)-654-1140. To contact the Editorial Office, call (301) 654-2055 x683 or e-mail cmgh@gastro.org.


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