Publication ethics

Researchers should conduct their research in accordance with the well-established procedures and codes of the respective professional bodies and/or national and international regulatory bodies. The Lekársky obzor journal adheres to standard ethical behavior and requires all the parties involved, i.e. the author, publisher, editors, peer-reviewers, and the company that owns the journal or its sponsors, to adhere to it, as well. When dealing with issues of possible scientific errancy and violation of publication ethics (http://www.publicationethics.org), Lekársky obzor abides by the ethics policies compiled by the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE). All studies are to be conducted in accordance with the latest revision of the Declaration of Helsinki of the World Medical Association.

Scientific publications are a vital part of scientific activities. The progress of these activities depends on the research results being published. The research and publication process in its entirety requires authors, editors, reviewers, the publisher, and institutions owning or sponsoring the journal to abide by the predefined requirements. All the parties involved are required to act in an honest, just, transparent and trustworthy manner. These requirements for the parties involved are aimed at adhering to ethical publication standards, and it is an important role of the publisher to support this common effort.

Publisher responsibilities

The publisher’s role within the process of scientific communication is to support, invest, and educate but ultimately also to be responsible for making sure that their publication followed the best possible procedures. The publishing house adheres to International Ethical Principles for Publication https://www.stm-assoc.org/2013_05_21_STM_Ethical_Principles_for_Scholarly_Publication.pdf.

The publishing house adheres to the aforementioned directives when supporting editors, reviewers, and authors in following ethical guidelines. The publishing house also monitors the basic procedures of the Committee on Publication Ethics (https://publicationethics.org/) in order to reach the highest possible standards of publication ethics. The publisher is required to act objectively without discriminating the gender, sexual orientation, religion, political affiliation, and/or ethnic or geographic descent of the authors. The publisher is required to assess and accept all the articles based on content and academic value. In case of a complaint, the publisher must provide the author with an opportunity to react and investigate the complaint. The publisher is required to secure the editors’ independence. No commercial income should be allowed to influence the decision making of any of the editors. The relationship between the publisher and the editors should be based on the principle of editorial independence. If a publisher is in possession of compelling evidence that the procedure or conclusions of a published article are false, they should alert the editor(s) and ask them for a swift correction, article retraction or clarification.

Editor responsibilities

The editorial office is solely responsible for deciding which article to publish, independent from the reviewers’ recommendations. Editors are adhering to the principles of the journal’s editorial board and must be limited by legal requirements applicable when resolving defamation, copyright violation, and plagiarism issues. Editors make sure the peer-review procedure is just and impartial. Articles have to be peer-reviewed by at least two external, independent evaluators. Editors select reviewers with knowledge from the particular field, abiding by established procedures. All the journal editors adhere to the code of conduct specified by the World Association of Medical Editors (http://www.wame.org/, http://wame.org/wame-professionalism-code-of-conduct). Editors research all the potential conflicts of interest that have been published and determine if there is potential for partiality. Editors evaluate the intellectual content of each manuscript without regard for the authors’ race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, ethnic descent, citizenship or political affiliation. For communication with the authors and reviewers, editors are required to use the electronic system for uploading articles. Editors are not allowed to request references to their journal being artificially created and the authors are not obligated to feature quotations from articles of the journal editor, only if there are true scientific reasons for such actions. Editors are required to protect the confidentiality of all the materials that have been sent to the journal, as well as all the communication with the authors and the peer-reviewers. The editorial office is not allowed to present information from manuscripts to third parties or publicly discuss it. Materials that have not been published by the journal cannot be used in any other way without consent. If a manuscript gets rejected, all the copies have to be deleted from the editorial system and destroyed. After the publication of a manuscript, all the materials related to the publication procedure will be archived for at least three years. Editors are not allowed to publish peer-reviews without the consent of all the parties involved. Editors are not allowed to asses their own papers. If necessary, editors adhere to the policy of resolving potential conflicts of interest between authors and reviewers, e.g. the ICMJE guidelines. Editors are required to assess and report suspicious errors in cooperation with the publisher. Editors are required to use applicable systems for uncovering errancy (plagiarism, for example). Editors with compelling evidence of misconduct are required to take all the steps necessary for a swift correction.

Reviewer requirements

A peer-review by a suitable evaluator helps the editor decide about the subsequent fate of a manuscript. The peer-review also helps the author improve upon their article. The review process is voluntary, aimed at improving the quality of published articles. Reviewers are required to abide by the rules of ethics when dealing with the authors’ work and do so in good faith. Reviewers evaluate manuscripts in an objective and timely manner. Personal criticism form a peer-reviewer is unfitting. The opinions of a peer-reviewer should always be supported by reasoning. Reviewers can refuse the assessment of an article if they don’t feel qualified, if they feel biased, if there is potential for conflict of interests, or if they are not able to review the article objectively. Reviewers must handle manuscripts in confidence and are not allowed to provide the manuscripts or information contained therein to third parties, discuss it publicly or use it anywhere else. Reviewers are not allowed to spread information or ideas from a manuscript they accepted for peer-review or use if for personal gain. After submitting their peer-review, reviewers are required to destroy all the paper copies and delete all the electronic versions. If a peer-reviewer wants to suggest citing their own work, they have to provide sound scientific reasoning, not just because they want to increase the number of their citations. Reviewers are required to alert the editor when in doubt about the originality of a manuscript or its adherence to ethical rules. Reviewers should also inform the editor about similarities between a reviewed manuscript and other published articles they have knowledge of.

Authors’ requirements

Manuscript authors should describe what the contribution of their work is and discuss its significance. The groundwork for the publication should be contained in the manuscript. The usage of hazardous materials or procedures has to be clearly stated in the manuscript. The paper should contain relevant and exact citations. Fraudulent or knowingly inaccurate statements constitute unethical behavior and are unacceptable. Reviews and comments should be precise and objective. If a paper contains experiments on people or animals, its authors are required to clearly state that all the procedures were carried out in accordance with applicable laws and directives of the local ethics institution and have been approved by the corresponding institution. The manuscript should contain a statement that the authors have received informed approval for experimenting on human participants. The rights of the participants have to be adhered to and their privacy respected at all times.

Authors may be asked to provide raw data for editorial inspection or statistic data evaluation by an independent statistician and be prepared to provide access to such data. Authors should archive their data for an adequate period of time after publication (at least 10 years after the article has been published is advised). There are many forms of plagiarism (copying, paraphrasing without citations, etc.) and all of them are unethical and unacceptable.

Authors should not publish manuscripts with identical results in various journals. Submitting the same manuscript to multiple journals at the same time or submitting an already publishes manuscript is unethical and unacceptable. Under certain circumstances, it is possible to publish the same data (e.g. clinical recommendations) in a second publication. However, this has to be done with the approval of the editor and the citations have to be identical to those in the first publication. For more information, visit www.icmje.org.

The works of others have to be always cited correctly. Authors should quote publications that have influenced their work. Other information gathered (private in nature, gathered from discussions, correspondence, manuscript reviews or discussions with third parties) can be used only with the explicit written approval of the source.

The authorship of a paper should be credited only to those who have significantly contributed to the creative process and meet all the basic requirements for authorship. Others who have participated in different important aspects should be listed among the contributors and the authors can express their gratitude towards them at the end of the article. The corresponding author is required to make sure the respective co-authors are listed in the manuscript and that all the co-authors have approved of the final version and agree with the submission for review and publication.

Authors who discover a significant error or inaccuracy in the published paper are required to immediately alert the editor or publisher of the journal and cooperate during the correction or retraction process.

The Lekársky obzor journal is adhering to publication ethics and ethical guidelines.

Human and animal trials

If a paper features human subjects, the author should make sure it was carried out in accordance with the Ethical Codex of the World Medical Association (Declaration of Helsinki from 1964, revised in 2013) for experiments on people (https://www.wma.net/policies-post/wma-declaration-of-helsinki-ethical-principles-for-medical-research-involving-human-subjects/). Manuscripts should follow the recommendations of ICMJE (International Committee of Medical Journal Editors) (http://www.icmje.org/recommendations/). The Lekársky obzor journal follows these updated recommendations (Recommendations for the Conduct, Reporting, Editing, and Publication of Scholarly Work in Medical Journals).

Authors are required to state in their manuscript (in the methodology section) that the human subjects have given their informed approval and the study had been approved by the local, regional, or national ethics committee or an equivalent institution. Authors are required to abide by the laws that protect the privacy of human subjects. Names, initials, or hospital numbers are not allowed to be featured in the paper.

Informed approval

For the purposes of scientific publication (e.g. when publishing photographs), authors are required to ask for an informed approval from the patient, their parents or guardians. This informed approval has to be obtained and archived by the author. The Lekársky obzor journal requires authors to state in written form that they have obtained and archived all informed approvals.

Every animal trial is required to be in accordance with the guidelines of ARRIVE - Animal Research: Reporting of In Vivo Experiments (https://www.nc3rs.org.uk/arrive-guidelines) and to be carried out based on the requirements of the European Parliament Directive 2010/63/EU for the Protection of Animals Used For Scientific Purposes (http://ec.europa.eu/environment/chemicals/lab_animals/legislation_en.htm) and the Directive of the Government of the Slovak Republic No. 377/2012 Coll. of L. (https://www.svps.sk/zvierata/spatne_posudenie.asp) which determines the requirements for the protection of animals used for scientific or educational purposes. Authors are required to state in their manuscripts that these directives have been followed. Manuscripts featuring human and animal trials should describe procedures that introduce all the measures that had been taken to prevent potential pain and suffering.