Publication Ethics and Responsible Conduct of Research

The editors of the Canadian Journal of Bioethics follow the recommendations and procedures outlined in COPE’s Core Practices and Principles of Transparency and Best Practice in Scholarly Publishing, and by the Canadian Tri-Agency Framework: Responsible Conduct of Research. The Editors will work to ensure the highest ethical standards of publication, including: the detection and prevention of plagiarism, the identification and management of conflicts of interest (for editors, reviewers and authors), the fair evaluation of manuscripts, and the publication of manuscripts that meet the journal’s standards of excellence.

Authorship should be limited to those who have contributed substantially to the work. The corresponding author must have obtained permission from all authors for the submission of the manuscript and for any change in authorship (Authorship Declaration Form). The corresponding author is the formal guarantor of the manuscript – they are the individual accountable for the integrity of the content, including data and results if applicable, reported in the paper. The corresponding author is responsible for replying to e-mails associated with the review of their manuscript. All authors share part of the responsibility for any manuscript they coauthor, and as such, must ensure (to the best of their knowledge) that the paper is an accurate, verifiable report of the research. While all coauthors may not be experts in all aspects of the research presented in their paper, they should have in place an appropriate process for reviewing the accuracy of the reported results. Any authorship disputes must be brought to the attention of the Editor-in-Chief or Scientific Director, who can then help mediate the conflict, if necessary, and propose an appropriate solution. Anonymous authorship (e.g., use of a pseudonym) may be considered in exceptional circumstances where the subject is particularly high risk and anonymity is required to protect the author from reprisals. Justification of this decision (by the Executive) will be made in the manuscript.

Conflict of Interest
All authors, reviewers and editors must disclose any association that poses a conflict of interest in connection with the manuscript. As described in the Tri-Council Policy Statement: Ethical Conduct for Research Involving Humans (TCPS2, 2018): “A conflict of interest may arise when activities or situations place an individual or institution in a real, potential or perceived conflict between the duties or responsibilities related to research, and personal, institutional or other interests”. In the context of publication, examples of possible or potential conflicts of interest include a close personal friendship or family relationship with members on the Editorial Board or a peer-reviewer, certain funding sources (e.g., commercial partners with a vested interest in the research), or ideological, political or religious beliefs that may bias the presentation of the research. Many interests of this sort will be managed effectively through disclosure, either in the text (e.g., explaining one’s personal political or religious perspective) or in a declaration of interests (e.g., a funder). More significant conflicts should be managed by creating a critical distance, e.g., recusal of reviewers from a manuscript. Authors should disclose relevant conflicts of interest to the editor (by submitting a Disclosure of Potential Conflicts of Interest form), and work to manage those conflicts that cannot be avoided.

Active Journal Members
Active members of the Canadian Journal of Bioethics – including the Editor-in-Chief, the Scientific Director, Section Editors, Editors, and members of the Editorial Advisory Board – may publish in the journal. To mitigate the related conflicts of interest (real or apparent):

  1. The Editor-in-Chief, the Scientific Director, Section Editors, and Editors will never be involved in the review or in any publication decision regarding their own manuscripts.
  2. Manuscripts submitted by a Section Editor will be reviewed by a different Section Editor, or by a member of the Editorial Advisory Board.
  3. Manuscripts submitted by the Editor-in-Chief or the Scientific Director will be reviewed by an ad hoc external editor or a member of the Editorial Advisory Board.
  4. To ensure transparency, a note will be included in any publication by an active member of the journal, stating that the author is also involved in the journal, and enumerating any other conflicts of interest. Editors must submit the Disclosure of Potential Conflicts of Interest form for review and implementation of appropriate management strategies.
  5. The names of the editors who evaluate a manuscript will always be named on the final publication, as is the case for all publications.
  6. Links to the biographies of active members of the Canadian Journal of Bioethics are posted online. The website will be regularly updated (at least annually).

Peer-reviewers must declare any conflicts of interest before the review of a manuscript. These include, for example, personal or professional relations with the author. If the peer-reviewer, the Editor or the Section Editor decides that the conflict of interest may affect professional judgment, the peer-reviewer will not be allowed to do the review. If the conflict of interest is manageable, the conflict will be disclosed on the article when published, alongside the strategy employed to mitigate any possible negative impact on the rigour and quality of the review.

Advertising and Commercial Interests
The Canadian Journal of Bioethics is a not-for-profit journal and run entirely on a volunteer basis; as such, editors are not remunerated for their journal related activities. The Editorial Board may on occasion decide to publicise certain events or activities on the journal website, but no paid advertising or sponsorship will be solicited or accepted.

Human Participants
Research involving human participants must have been approved by the author’s institutional research ethics board (REB/IRB) or relevant authority. Authors must include in their Methods section a brief statement identifying the institutional committee approving the research. Authors must also include a statement confirming that informed consent was obtained from all human participants. Participant’s personal information, identifiers, illustrations and photos, etc. should be anonymized as far as possible. Research must have been conducted according to the principles expressed in the Canadian Tri-Council Policy Statement: Ethical Conduct for Research Involving Humans or similar international policies on research ethics (e.g., Declaration of Helsinki, US Common Rule, CIOMS).

Animal Experiments
Authors using or reporting on animal experiments should indicate which regulations, laws or guidelines to which they are conforming (e.g., Canadian Council on Animal Care).

Materials and Data Availability
To allow others to replicate and build on work published in the Canadian Journal of Bioethics, authors must make materials, data, and associated protocols available to readers. Authors must disclose upon submission of the manuscript any restrictions on the availability of materials or information. Data not shown and personal communications should be limited to support claims in the work. Certain data or information should be kept confidential for ethical reasons (such as identifying information of participants) according to regulations and laws. Any other reasons for concealing data or material must be justified. For verification purposes, authors must be able to provide additional data when requested by the journal. Authors are encouraged to deposit as much of their data as possible in publicly accessible databases and to include a statement in their submissions on data availability to readers, in order to promote sharing within the scientific community.

As defined by the Canadian Tri-Agency Framework: Responsible Conduct of Research, authors must ensure the integrity of their work  “[…] throughout the life cycle of a research project (i.e., from the formulation of the research question, through the design, conduct, collection of data, and analysis of the research, to its reporting, publication and dissemination, as well as the management of research funds).” All work should thus be free of fabrication, falsification, and plagiarism. This also includes, but is not limited to, self-plagiarism, redundant publication, invalid authorship, inadequate acknowledgments, and mismanagement of conflicts of interest.

During the pre-publication process, where editors or peer-reviewers detect possible misconduct with regards to a submission, they are obliged to act according to the COPE guidelines. Editors, peer-reviewers or any other member of the journal must make all reasonable efforts to investigate alleged misconduct, and then immediately bring these to the attention of the Editor-in-Chief and the Scientific Director. Post-publication concerns about possible misconduct, whether raised by readers or third parties, must be communicated directly to the Editor-in-Chief and the Scientific Director.

Process for handling misconduct

  1. Editor or reviewer raises ethical concerns about the manuscript and communicates this to the Editor-in-Chief and the Scientific Director;
  2. The Scientific Director contacts the Corresponding author requesting an explanation and provision of any relevant information;
  3. If the author provides an unsatisfactory response, the review process is suspended until the case is resolved (complex issues can be submitted to the COPE Forum for discussion);
  4. If there is a finding of misconduct, the case may be forwarded to the author’s employer/institution.

Equity in Research and Publication
Authors are encouraged to pay attention to sex and gender equity in their choice of research questions, methodologies, terminology, etc. In manuscripts, inclusive, non-gendered and/or non-binary choices of wording should be used, whenever possible. Moreover, authors are encouraged to “[…] include sex and gender considerations when relevant […and to] use the term sex (biological attribute) and gender (shaped by social/cultural circumstances) carefully in order to avoid confusing both terms” (SAGER guidelines). Bias-free language should also prevail when reporting about age, ethnic background, socioeconomic and/or religious status, disabilities, sexual orientation, etc.

Privacy Policy
The Canadian Journal of Bioethics will retain personal author information (e.g., contact details), solely with the purpose of fulfilling the journal’s mandate and ensuring an efficient and ethical publication process. Personal information will be protected by reasonable security safeguards against loss or theft, as well as unauthorized access, disclosure, copying, use or modification.