Ethics & Malpractice
Duties and Responsibilities of Journal Publishers
UNIMAS Publisher aims to oversee and promote the sustainability of nine journals under Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (UNIMAS). It also provides a platform for Chief Editors and editorial team members to discuss and adopt best publishing policies and practices, as well as to promote a better scholarly communication system for journal management. UNIMAS Publisher assists the publication and indexing of journal articles. It also provides Online Journal System (OJS) service to assist UNIMAS journals for manuscript submission and reviewing process.
UNIMAS Publisher works with journal Chief Editors to create relevant journal policies and ensure that all journals meet those policies. The journal policies include research and publication ethics, animal use and research permit, disclosure and conflict of interest, reporting research funding (if applicable), peer-reviewing process, editorial independence, term of references (duties and responsibilities) of the editorial team members, authorship, publication misconducts/fraud/plagiarism, article retraction, clarification or correction, etc. UNIMAS Publisher will review these journal policies regularly and update the policies when necessary. UNIMAS Publisher appoints journal ethics advisor and panels to advise on publication misconducts, issues related with animal and human ethics, journal policies and guidelines, etc. periodically. UNIMAS Publisher will work with journal Chief Editors to handle potential breaches of intellectual property laws and issues related to these.
UNIMAS Publisher is also responsible for the investigation of any suspected publication misconducts and provides solution of these cases if allegations of misconducts are brought to the attention by the journal Chief Editors. It is necessary to agree upon the standards of ethical behaviour for all stakeholders involved in the publishing i.e. the author, the journal editor and board members, the peer reviewer and the publisher. The publication ethical and malpractice statements are made with reference from the Code of Conduct and Best Practice Guidelines for Journal Editors of the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE).
Duties and Resposibilities of Editors
The Chief Editors and/or Editors are responsible for the publication decisions of all manuscripts submitted to their journal. These decisions to accept or reject a paper will be based solely on the validity, originality and novelty of research works, as well as the relevance of the paper to the scope of the journal. In addition, Editors should ensure all published materials are securely archived.
(i) Editors with UNIMAS Publisher
Editors should work with UNIMAS Publisher to constantly improve their journals, revise the journal policies, and assure the quality of the materials published in their journals. Editors should make decisions to accept or reject a manuscript based on its quality and relevance to the scope of the journal without interference from UNIMAS Publisher. The Chief Editors, Editors, and members of editorial board should establish mechanisms to deal with disagreements between themselves and UNIMAS Publisher. Chief Editors should assist and support UNIMAS Publisher to ensure proper investigation of any suspected misconducts for both published and unpublished papers, including considering the responses from those suspected of misconduct to ensure fair and unbiased investigation. Chief Editors also work with UNIMAS Publisher to handle potential breaches of intellectual property laws and issues related to these.
(ii) Editors with Authors
Editors should strive to meet the needs of authors and consider their views for journal process and management improvement. They should check for any research and publication misconducts by the authors. Editors should also ensure all manuscripts submitted and accepted are checked for plagiarised and fabricated contents (including plagiarised texts and inappropriately altered images). They should publish corrections, clarifications, or retractions of any materials when needed, including publishing corrections if competing interests are detected after publication. Editors also need to check if the authors acknowledge any research funding/grants and written informed consent for publication involving human data, research permits, animal and human ethic committee agreement forms, etc., for their submitted articles (if applicable). Editors should ensure all updated publication guidance and author instructions are available to the authors. Editors should consider requests from authors to exclude individual(s) to review their manuscript submission, if the reasons given are applicable and practicable. Editors should return the original reviewer reports to the authors in their entirety unless these reports contain offensive or discourteous statements. They should also allow authors to respond to the reviewers’ comments.
(iii) Editors with Reviewers
Editors should ensure all published articles have been reviewed by timely, unbiased, and qualified reviewers with relevant expertise and free from disqualifying competing interests. Editors should maintain a database of suitable reviewers and avoid reviewers who consistently submit poor quality reviewer reports They should provide guidance to reviewers on the preparation of reviewer report. They should also require that the reviewers handle the manuscripts as confidential documents and without disclosure to the third party. Editors should also inform the reviewers of the need to declare any potential comflict of interests (if applicable). They should also ensure freedom of expression by the reviewers, especially on issues related to publication ethics and misconducts, manuscript originality and validity, etc.
(iv) Editors with Editorial Board Members
Chief Editors should identify qualified editorial board members who can actively contribute to high standard journal processing and management. Clear guidelines with terms of references should be provided to the editorial board members about their expected roles and duties. Chief Editors and/or Editors should consult the editorial board members about the improvement of the journal processing and managements, challenges and future directions. Chief Editors and/ or Editors should ensure adequate training and technologies related to the editorial processing are provided to relevant members of the editorial board (including themselves).
(v) Editors with Readers
Editors should inform the readers about who has funded the journal and any scholarly related work with the journal. Editors should strive to meet the needs of readers and consider their views for journal process and management improvement. Editors should allow readers to comment on the journal and respond promptly to any complaints brought to them and take prompt action.
(vi) Disclosure and Conflicts of Interests
The Chief Editors and/or Editors must not disclose any information in the manuscript that is being reviewed to others, or using information from research data described in the manuscript for personal benefits. They should also avoid business needs and commercial considerations that may compromise the intellectual and ethical standards of the article publication of their journal. A conflict of interest may exist when the Chief Editors and/or Editors has a financial or personal interest that could affect his/her professional judgement on the manuscript. In this case, the Chief Editors and/or Editors should recuse themselves from making final editorial decisions should they have any conflict of interest related to the manuscript.
Duties and Responsibilities of Authors
The journal considers an author as the one who has contributed substantially to the experimentations and interpretation, in addition to writing up the manuscript for publication. All co-authors who have contributed appropriate portions of the content must agree to the manuscript submission. Any requests for addition or removal of author(s) before/after publication must seek approval of the Chief Editors/Editors. All authors must read and sign prescribed form of copyright transfer statements.
(ii) Originality/Plagiarism/Fraud/ Research Misconduct
Copying, stealing, or manipulating intellectual properties of another person constitute acts of plagiarism whereas fabrication and falsification are considered fraud or research misconduct. It is incumbent on all authors to refrain from acts of plagiarism, fabrication, or falsification associated with the submitted manuscript. Any plagiarism, fraud or research misconduct will result in revocation of the submitted or published manuscript. Investigation into any plagiarism, fraud or research misconduct is under the purview of UNIMAS Publisher. The Chief Editors and members of journal editorial board are committed to assisting and facilitating in such investigations.
(iii) Image Manipulation
Manipulation of images may lead to manipulation of results. Any submitted digital images with suspected manipulations will be referred to the Chief Editors/Editors. Primary data may be requested from the authors concerned for comparison with the submitted digital images. Any images/data proven to have been manipulated may be considered as research misconduct and may result in rejection of the manuscript by the journals.
(iv) Multiple Publications
In the case of authors using published figures, and/or data, and/or copyrighted materials in the submitted manuscript, it is the responsibility of authors and corresponding authors to:
1. acknowledge the sources in the manuscript
2. obtain permission from the original publisher
3. cite the original article and acknowledge the duplication in the figure/table caption.
Upon submission of the manuscript, the author(s) must confirm and agree that no similar work has been or will be submitted or published elsewhere in any language.
(v) Disclosure and Conflicts of Interest
Transparency is vital in scientific research and publication. A conflict of interest may exist when an author, financial or grant supporter, stock owner, patent-licensing owner, editor, or reviewer has a financial or personal interest that could affect his/her professional judgement or influence his/her actions. Failure of author(s) to declare any financial or personal conflicts may undermine the credibility of journal. Thus, all authors are expected to disclose any conflict of interest during submission of their manuscripts.
(vi) Availability of Materials and Data Access
Upon acceptance of publication, all authors must agree that sample materials and data described in the article are to be made available to the scientific community for non-commercial purposes. Such sample materials and data may include, but are not limited to, biological samples, sequence data, images, statistical data, etc. Manuscripts must contain sufficient details, and necessary materials or information must be made available upon request to enable the research work can be repeated by other researchers. However, the legitimate interests of the authors will be protected with appropriate agreements to restrict the field of use of sample materials or data that have been made available.
(vii) Biosecurity, Animal Use and Research Permit
UNIMAS journals are obligated to discourage any use of infectious agents or their derivatives that could potentially be used as biological weapons, and contrary to the welfare of mankinds. Members of Journal Editorial Board will evaluate any manuscript that may have raised such issues.
Any experiment or research conducted must be in compliance with all current laws of the country or countries involved. Authors describing experimental studies involving animals/human in their manuscripts must obtain approval from their respective Institutional Animal/Human Ethics Committee prior to manuscript submission. This document must be made available upon request. Misconduct in animal use will result in revocation of the submitted manuscript.
Authors describing research which involves biological resources or collection of biological samples in their manuscripts must obtain research permits from their respective local or state government department (such as Forest Department, Fishery Department, etc.). Permit number or approval reference number (if any) must be listed in the acknowledgment section of the manuscript.
(viii) Article Retraction or Correction
It is the responsibility of the authors to promptly report to the Chief Editors if significant errors or inaccuracy have been identified in their published articles. The Chief Editors will decide to retract or to notify the authors to make necessary correction of the article in the form of an erratum.
Duties and Responsibilities of Reviewers
(i) Peer Review Ethics
UNIMAS journals practise a double-blind review process. Chief Editors/Editors appoint potential reviewers who are expected to have related expertise and time for reviewing an assigned manuscript to ensure high standards of peer reviewing. The comments given by the reviewers will be used to assist the Chief Editors/Editors in making decision on the publication and to guide the authors in improving the overall quality of their manuscripts. Reviewers should avoid giving comments or statements that are offensive, libellous or discourteous. Reviewers are to abide with guidelines set by the journals. Any manuscript received by the reviewer for review must be treated confidentially and must not be disclosed to others. Reviewers should follow the deadline given to review an assigned manuscript. Typically a manuscript should be reviewed by the reviewer within three weeks. Any extension of reviewing duration must be approved by the Editors concerned. Reviewers may be requested by Editors to review or to give further advice on the revised manuscripts.
(ii) Disclosure and Conflict of Interest
A conflict of interest may exist when a reviewer has a financial or personal interest that could affect his/her professional judgement on the manuscript. Potential reviewers who conduct their own research works which are conflicting or competing with the authors will not be appointed. A potential reviewer must disclose any potential financial or personal conflict (if any) to the Editors before agreeing to review a manuscript. Editors will make a decision whether to cease the use of reviewers who have such potential conflict of interest.