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Peer review processes

All peer review processes must be transparently described and well managed. Journals should provide training for editors and reviewers and have policies on diverse aspects of peer review, especially with respect to adoption of appropriate models of review and processes for handling conflicts of interest, appeals and disputes that may arise in peer review

Our core practices

Core practices are the policies and practices journals and publishers need, to reach the highest standards in publication ethics. We include cases with advice, guidance for day-to-day practice, education modules and events on topical issues, to support journals and publishers fulfil their policies.

Authorship dispute


Two manuscripts were received by Journal X, from author A. Both were accepted and sent to the publisher. On receipt of the galley proofs, the corresponding author removed the name of the last author from both manuscripts. Shortly before the page proofs arrived, the journal editors received a request that author A be allowed to remove author B from the authors’ list and instead make a suitable acknowledgement.


Retrospective correction: how far back do we go?


In 1990 a case report was published in which it was alleged that the use of a particular endotracheal tube had led to tracheal damage, requiring the child to have a tracheostomy and a tracheal reconstruction. This paper was from a specialist surgical unit, and a letter was subsequently received from the paediatricians who had cared for the baby at the referring hospital before and after the transfer to the surgical unit.


Editorial compliance with duplicate publication


An editorial that was very close to a paper that had already been published in another journal was submitted for publication. The authors did not make clear that the editorial was essentially the same as the one already published, but this was discovered during the peer review process. Nevertheless, the journal went ahead and published the editorial without disclosing that it was very similar to the one that had already been published. Copyright was not obtained from the author.


Publication bias arising from an editor’s activities


The committee’s attention has been drawn to alleged publication bias in Journal X.  It is alleged that an editor on X had invited a young trainee in radiology to author some 14 commentaries over the past 5 years.  His most recent commentary draws attention to one important study from France but otherwise covers the same territory as his previous commentaries without mention of relevant contrary viewpoints. Five of the 12 articles cited are by the commentator and/or the editor in question.


Who ensures the integrity of the editor?


An editor came across a letter from the editor-in-chief of his journal to a reviewer that asserted he had recommended the acceptance of a manuscript. He had in fact recommended the opposite, both verbally and in writing. The paper in question was a guideline on the therapeutic choices for a relatively common medical condition. The authors had claimed their conclusions and therapeutic recommendations were “evidencebased” and recommended a new, expensive medication as first-line treatment.


The reviewer writes comments that he doesn’t want the author to see


A reviewer has written to complain that a review he sent to us on which he wrote “In confidence—not for transmission to author” was transmitted in part to the author. He had made some rather derogatory remarks which had been edited out by the editor before he had sent back the comments to the author. The review that remained was critical but unremarkable.


Should we have had author consent for a randomised controlled trial of a peer review?


A medical journal conducted a randomised controlled trial of papers submitted to it without getting consent from the authors concerned. An author found out and objected. Should the journal have sought consent from its authors?