Ethical Guidelines

BRAIN is member of Committee of Publication Ethics (COPE) and fully adheres to all ethical regulations.

Guidelines for managing the relationships between society-owned journals, their society, and publishers

Principles of Transparency and Best Practice in Scholarly Publishing

Journals’ Best Practices for ensuring consent for publishing medical case reports: guidance from COPE

Sharing of Information Among Editors-in-Chief Regarding Possible Misconduct

Text recycling guidelines for editors

A Short Guide to Ethical Editing for New Editors

Guidance for Editors: research, audit and service evaluations

Ethical Guidelines for peer reviewers (English version)

Cooperation between research institutions and journals on research integrity cases: guidance COPE

Guidelines for the Board of Directors of Learned Society Journals

How to handle authorship disputes: a guide for new researchers

Guidelines for retracting articles


LUMEN, as member of COPE, aims at complying  with the Codes of Conduct and Best Practice Guidelines and in order for our users to be up- to – date regarding the guidelines that COPE is expressing in order to sustain and develop a good practice in editorial processes, we expose some extracts from the Code of Conduct and Best Practice Guidelines for Journal Editors, as it follows:


“7. Editorial and peer review processes
7.1. Editors should strive to ensure that peer review at their journal is fair, unbiased and timely.
7.2. Editors should have systems to ensure that material submitted to their journal remains confidential while under review.
Best practice for editors would include:
• ensuring that people involved with the editorial process (including themselves) receive adequate training and keep abreast of the latest guidelines, recommendations and evidence about peer review and journal management
• keeping informed about research into peer review and technological advances
• adopting peer review methods best suited for their journal and the research community it serves
• reviewing peer review practices periodically to see if improvement is possible
• referring troubling cases to COPE, especially when questions arise that are not addressed by the COPE flowcharts, or new types of publication misconduct are suspected
• considering the appointment of an ombudsperson to adjudicate in complaints that cannot be resolved internally

  1. Quality assurance
    8.1. Editors should take all reasonable steps to ensure the quality of the material they publish, recognising that journals and sections within journals will have different aims and standards.
    Best practice for editors would include:
    • having systems in place to detect falsified data (e.g. inappropriately manipulated photographic images or plagiarised text) either for routine use or when suspicions are raised
    • basing decisions about journal house style on relevant evidence of factors that raise the quality of reporting (e.g. adopting structured abstracts, applying guidance such as CONSORT2) rather than simply on aesthetic grounds or personal preference.
  2. Protecting individual data
    9.1. Editors must obey laws on confidentiality in their own jurisdiction. Regardless of local statutes, however, they should always protect the confidentiality of individual information obtained in the course of research or professional interactions (e.g. between doctors and patients). It is therefore almost always necessary to obtain written informed consent for publication from people who might recognise themselves or be identified by others (e.g. from case reports or photographs). It may be possible to publish individual information without explicit consent if public interest considerations outweigh possible harms, it is impossible to obtain consent and a reasonable individual would be unlikely to object to publication.
    Best practice for editors would include:
    • publishing their policy on publishing individual data (e.g. identifiable personal details or images) and explaining this clearly to authors
    Note that consent to take part in research or undergo treatment is not the same as consent to publish personal details, images or quotations.
  3. Encouraging ethical research (e.g. research involving humans or animals)
    10.1. Editors should endeavour to ensure that research they publish was carried out according to the relevant internationally accepted guidelines (e.g. the Declaration of Helsinki for clinical research, the AERA and BERA guidelines for educational research).
    10.2. Editors should seek assurances that all research has been approved by an appropriate body (e.g. research ethics committee, institutional review board) where one exists. However, editors should recognise that such approval does not guarantee that the research is ethical.
    Best practice for editors would include:
    • being prepared to request evidence of ethical research approval and to question authors about ethical aspects (such as how research participant consent was obtained or what methods were employed to minimize animal suffering) if concerns are raised or clarifications are needed
    • ensuring that reports of clinical trials cite compliance with the Declaration of Helsinki8, Good Clinical Practice and other relevant guidelines to safeguard participants
    • ensuring that reports of experiments on, or studies of, animals cite compliance with the US
    Department of Health and Human Services Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals or other relevant guidelines
    • appointing a journal ethics advisor or panel to advise on specific cases and review journal policies periodically
  4. Dealing with possible misconduct
    11.1. Editors have a duty to act if they suspect misconduct or if an allegation of misconduct is brought to them. This duty extends to both published and unpublished papers.
    11.2. Editors should not simply reject papers that raise concerns about possible misconduct. They are ethically obliged to pursue alleged cases.
    11.3. Editors should follow the COPE flowcharts where applicable.
    11.4. Editors should first seek a response from those suspected of misconduct. If they are not satisfied with the response, they should ask the relevant employers, or institution, or some appropriate body (perhaps a regulatory body or national research integrity organization) to investigate.
    11.5. Editors should make all reasonable efforts to ensure that a proper investigation into alleged misconduct is conducted; if this does not happen, editors should make all reasonable attempts to persist in obtaining a resolution to the problem. This is an onerous but important duty.
  5. Ensuring the integrity of the academic record
    12.1. Errors, inaccurate or misleading statements must be corrected promptly and with due
    12.2. Editors should follow the COPE guidelines on retractions
    Best practice for editors would include:
    • taking steps to reduce covert redundant publication (e.g. by requiring all clinical trials to be registered)
    • ensuring that published material is securely archived (e.g. via online permanent repositories, such as PubMed Central)
    • having systems in place to give authors the opportunity to make original research articles freely available.
  6. Intellectual property
    13.1. Editors should be alert to intellectual property issues and work with their publisher to handle potential breaches of intellectual property laws and conventions.
    Best practice for editors would include:
    • adopting systems for detecting plagiarism (e.g. software, searching for similar titles) in submitted items (either routinely or when suspicions are raised)
    • supporting authors whose copyright has been breached or who have been the victims of plagiarism
    • being prepared to work with their publisher to defend authors’ rights and pursue offenders (e.g. by requesting retractions or removal of material from websites) irrespective of whether their journal holds the copyright.
  7. Encouraging debate
    14.1. Editors should encourage and be willing to consider cogent criticisms of work published in their journal.
    14.2. Authors of criticised material should be given the opportunity to respond.
    14.3. Studies reporting negative results should not be excluded.
    Best practice for editors would include:
    • being open to research that challenges previous work published in the journal.
  8. Complaints
    15.1. Editors should respond promptly to complaints and should ensure there is a way for dissatisfied complainants to take complaints further. This mechanism should be made clear in the journal and should include information on how to refer unresolved matters to COPE.
    15.2. Editors should follow the procedure set out in the COPE flowchart on complaints.
  9. Commercial considerations
    16.1. Journals should have policies and systems in place to ensure that commercial considerations do not affect editorial decisions (e.g. advertising departments should operate independently from editorial departments).
    16.2. Editors should have declared policies on advertising in relation to the content of the journal and on processes for publishing sponsored supplements.
    16.3. Reprints should be published as they appear in the journal unless a correction needs to be included in which case it should be clearly identified.
    Best practice for editors would include:
    • publishing a general description of their journal’s income sources (e.g. the proportions received from display advertising, reprint sales, sponsored supplements, page charges, etc.)
    • ensuring that the peer review process for sponsored supplements is the same as that used for the main journal
    • ensuring that items in sponsored supplements are accepted solely on the basis of academic merit and interest to readers and decisions about such supplements are not influenced by commercial considerations.
  10. Conflicts of interest
    17.1. Editors should have systems for managing their own conflicts of interest as well as those of their staff, authors, reviewers and editorial board members.
    17.2. Journals should have a declared process for handling submissions from the editors, employees or members of the editorial board to ensure unbiased review
    Best practice for editors would include:
    • publishing lists of relevant interests (financial, academic and other kinds) of all editorial staff and members of editorial boards (which should be updated at least annually)”

Source:  COPE –  Code of Conduct and Best Practice Guidelines for Journal Editors available online at


The epistemological perspectives gain an ethical meaning in the context in which we discuss about trust in the results of the researchers. In order to justify the trust of the academic community in the results of the research, a series of ethical rules target the honesty of the researcher:

  • honesty and fairness in elaborating research proposals, in the process of research and reporting the results obtained;
  • accuracy and fairness in presenting the contributions of each author to the research proposal and the research reports – including obtaining data, where this contribution is really significant;
  • spirit of collegiality, accompanied by the availability towards communication and sharing results, but where appropriate, also in cases specific to the research institution and the resources destined for research;
  • disclosure and avoidance of potential conflicts of interest;
  • the protection of the participants in the research;
  • the care for the animals used in the research;
  • assuming the mutual responsibility of the research team coordinator and researchers, but also of the coordinator and the researcher in training – MA, PhD student, etc. (ORI, n.d.)

We will continue to present a series of ethical principles of responsible research and innovation, synthesized and adapted by us after Resnik and Shamoo and Resnik.

  • honesty includes a series of desirable behaviours – affirmative -, the correct reporting of results and methods, techniques and procedures used in obtaining results, but also limitating – which eliminate the undesirable behaviours -, such as the refusal to manufacture or falsify the data or the insufficient presentation of those or some of them, the lack of a deceptive behaviour towards the colleagues, financers and sponsors, participants in the research – except for the case in which this behaviour is necessary for research, when the approval of a research ethics committee – and of the audience – is required.
  • objectivity, obtained by avoiding – intentional – errors in the design of the research, analysis and/or data interpretation, planning and elaboration of the research project, peer-review, avoiding situations of self-disappointment in the process of research, sincerity in the analysis and disclosure of potential inclusive particular interest of financial nature that could affect the research. Another violation, most times involuntary, of objectivity is the ideological, religious, political or any other kind of partisanship, within the research.
  • the academic integrity, expressed through sincerity and consistency in good practices, respecting promises and commitments made, including the terms and the project of research development, the abstinence from dishonest behaviours even when they might bring material, social and professional benefits. Systematically avoiding to publish in journal well-known for their exigent peer-review process and the preference for journals with a low rate of rejection – eventually in the so-called predatory journals, which partly or totally falsify the result of the peer-review process – may be a lack of integrity when the purpose of this action is to obtain undeserved academic credits.
  • the exigence in research is manifested through the attention to own errors, the critical examination of own papers, as well as those of colleagues. In this same requirement of a good research we also notice the need for a good management of research, the highlighting and careful recording of the research activities, of the data collected, of the correspondence with the financer, with the editors, etc.
  • the openness to sharing ideas and results, including by accepting to publish in open access, accepting criticisms and different opinions.
  • the respect for intellectual property, including but not limited to abstaining from plagiarism or self-plagiarism, using a ghost author that would write the paper on the behalf of the declared authors (ghost writing), unjustified inclusion or exclusion of an author from the authorship, abstaining from using unpublished resources, or even quoting them within possibilities, abstaining from using other researchers’ unpublished data or methods which would lead to confusion regarding the scientific priority of those data and methods, including in the acknowledgment contributors that do not qualify to be authors.
  • maintaining the confidentiality of the research data concerning the identity of the participants or institutions until the moment of publication. Confidentiality should be kept in a manner that doesn’t contravene the public order.
  • respecting the rights of the research participants, including the withdrawal from research at any time, and the researcher's obligation to obtain informed consent from all research participants.
  • responsible publication, by avoiding unjustified multiple publishing, of self-plagiarism and exclusive publication for the purpose of obtaining the academic credit, of works that do nothing to contribute to the advance the knowledge in the field;
  • the responsible mentoring of students and young researchers, including their guidance in order to develop own scientific creativity. The coordinator, as a mentor, has the obligation to explain to the young researchers and teach them to respect the ethical principles of research and the epistemological requirements in the field.
  • Citation and critical apparatus

From an ethical perspective, correct and complete quoting of all sources used in the documentation process avoids plagiarism. Plagiarism is the taking of ideas or scientific, artistic, literary, or other kinds of creation, in whole or in part, and their presentation as the creation of the author who takes them. Plagiarism takes different forms, from the full take up of broad contents of certain materials exactly in the form in which it appears in original, to the taking of one or some ideas, even processed by storytelling, paraphrasing etc., without mentioning the original source. Plagiarism can be involuntary, when previously heard or read ideas are presented unintentionally as their own, especially when a significant period has passed since they were received and were reconceptualized with the author's own ideas.

Voluntary plagiarism occurs when the ideological content is taken voluntarily, the author being aware that this content does not belong to him. Voluntary plagiarism is a form of intellectual theft (Shashabuddin, 2009). The discovery of plagiarism leads to serious consequences, reaching to the exclusion of the plagiarist from the academic community, the withdrawal of scientific and professional titles obtained fraudulently, etc. To detect plagiarism, academic institutions and publishers use a number of anti-plagiarism software, the most well-known of which is Turnitin. Anti-plagiarism software highlights the similarity between the text being analysed and other texts existing in the database, made available by the software and the Internet. The existence of similarities does not necessarily mean plagiarism - the software highlighting, for example, the name of the research institution or references as similar to others already existing. Plagiarism by paraphrasing or translating from one language into another is usually not detected through the software, and the academic community has the final role to play in the plagiarism detection. Clear plagiarism situations, in which significant fragments are taken identically, without the distinctive citation signs and without mentioning the source, are added to situations in which plagiarism is not obvious, the idea taken up being enriched and transformed by the author. Plagiarism can be made from unpublished sources, private discussions, presentations at unpublished conferences, etc., impossible to detect with the help of the software or even by members of the academic community.

Self-plagiarism is taking the author’s own ideas and repeatedly publishing them in the same form, without mentioning the republication and without proper citation.

Honest quoting can be of several ways:

  • the simple quote through which a fragment of a work is taken, given in quotation marks or other forms of clear citation, followed by a bibliographic reference by footnote or note in the text;
  • continuous quote, when several fragments are taken identically and quoted, interleaved with the comments of the author quoting and accompanied by a single bibliographic reference;
  • the bibliographic reference, which indicates the source of an idea without taking fragments from the work (Stoenescu, 2017).

A series of discussions arise when many ideas are taken from a work that is quoted, but not after every idea taken and not in a manner in which it is obvious it was take from the same source of all ideas, especially when between them, downloads from other sources intervene.

A rule in the realization of the bibliographic apparatus is that the existing bibliography would be found in the text and reciprocally, and all citations in the text are presented in the bibliography. It is not correct to mention in the bibliography some works to which there are no references in the text, motivated by the fact that those sources were generally used as an ideological framework. It is necessary to specify which of the ideas expressed in the text have as its source the material mentioned in the bibliography.

Another plagiarism situation is the use of the ideas of one of the participants in the research, but for some reasons it has not been included or withdrawn from the authorship of the article.

The current scientific literature uses several citation styles, either with footnotes or with notes in the text: APA Style, Vancouver style, Chicago style, Turabian style, etc.

NOTE: Text adapted after the chapter written by Antonio Sandu, “From the Ethics of the Research Project to the Ethical Communication of Science: Particularities in the Social and Humanistic Fields” from the Collective Volume “Ethics in Research Practice and Innovation”, published in 2019 by IGI Global, USA.