Unique Scientific Publishers (USP) publishes original Book Chapters/Books in the area of every discipline of science except fiction books. The USP publishes the Book Chapters/ Books that contribute significantly to the knowledge in its respective field of science. Preference is given to the original Book Chapters/ Books those develop new concepts or experimental approaches and are not merely repositories of scientific data.
The formal part of the scholarly communication system, the publication of Book Chapters/ Books in a peer-reviewed learned institute (USP), serves many purposes outside of simple communication. It is a building block in developing a rational and respected knowledge network. It is prima facie evidence for the quality and impact of the research work of its authors and, by extension, the institutions that support them. It supports and is itself an example of the scientific method. For all these reasons and more, it is important to lay down standards of expected ethical behavior by all parties involved in publishing: the author, the managing editor/editors, the peer reviewer, and the publisher. This includes all parties treating each other with respect and dignity and without discrimination, harassment, bullying, or retaliation.
The ethical requirements for publishers, editors, reviewers, and authors include but are not limited to the following:
Publisher: We require publishers to promote and comply with industry best practices. The publisher shall provide editors with technical, procedural, and legal support and ensure their editorial decisions are independent and not affected by any other factors.
- Editors: The editors shall follow the industry best practice, including but not limited to ensuring the editorial decisions they make, and the peer review process are fair, unbiased, and timely.
- Reviewers: Reviewers shall assist the editors in making editorial decisions and may also assist the author in improving the paper. Reviews should be conducted objectively, and reviewers are responsible for ensuring the review process is fair, unbiased, and timely.
- Authors: The authors should ensure that they have written entirely original works and should not, in general, publish describing essentially the same publishing material.
All authors are requested to disclose any actual or potential conflict of interest, including any financial, personal, or other relationships with other people or organizations, within three years of beginning the submitted work that could inappropriately influence, or be perceived to influence, their work.
- Guardianship of the scholarly record
These guidelines have been written with all these requirements in mind but especially recognizing that it is an important role of the publisher to support the huge efforts made by the Editors and the often unsung volunteer work undertaken by peer reviewers in maintaining the integrity of the scholarly record. Although ethical codes inevitably concentrate on the infractions that sometimes occur, it is a tribute to scholarly practice that the system works so well and that problems are comparatively rare. The publisher has a supporting, investing, and nurturing role in the scholarly communication process but is ultimately responsible for ensuring that best practice is followed in its publications (STM; COPE Codes of Conduct).
The USP takes its duties of guardianship over the scholarly record seriously. Our record “the minutes of science,” and we recognize our responsibilities as the keeper of those “minutes” in all our policies, not least the ethical guidelines we have adopted here.
The USP is adopting these policies and procedures to support editors, reviewers, and authors in performing their ethical duties under these guidelines. We work with other publishers and industry associations to set standards for best practices on ethical matters, errors, and retractions.
- Safeguard editorial independence
We are committed to ensuring that the potential for advertising, reprint, or other commercial revenue has no impact or influence on editorial decisions.
- Collaborate to set industry best practice
We promote best practices by opting for the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) guidelines and providing editors with Crossref/Turnitin Similarity Check reports for all submissions to our editorial systems.
- Provide editors with technical, procedural & legal support
USP supports Editors in communications with other publishers where this is useful to Editors and are prepared to provide specialized legal review and counsel if necessary.
- Educate researchers on publishing ethics
USP also provides extensive education and advice on publishing ethics standards, particularly for early career researchers, by conducting various workshops in institutions.
- Publication decisions
The Managing Editor/Editors are solely and independently responsible for deciding which of the Book Chapters/ Books submitted should be published. The validation of the work in question and its importance to researchers and readers must always underwrite such decisions. The Editors may be guided by the policies of the Management/Editorial Board and constrained by such legal requirements as shall then be in force regarding issues such as libel, copyright infringement, and plagiarism. The Editors may confer with other editors or reviewers in making these decisions.
- Peer review
The Managing Editor/Editors shall ensure that the peer-review process is fair, unbiased, and timely. At least two external and independent reviewers must typically review Book Chapters/ Books; where necessary, the Editors should seek additional opinions.
The Editors shall select reviewers with suitable expertise in the relevant field, considering the need for appropriate, inclusive, and diverse representation. The Editors shall follow best practices to avoid the selection of fraudulent peer reviewers (WAME Best Practice). The Editors shall review all disclosures of potential conflicts of interest and suggestions for self-citation made by reviewers to determine whether there is any potential for bias.
- Fair play
The Managing Editor/Editors should evaluate Book Chapters /Books for their intellectual content without regard to the authors’ race, gender, sexual orientation, religious belief, ethnic origin, citizenship, or political philosophy. When nominating potential editorial board members, the editor shall consider the need for appropriate, inclusive, and diverse representation.
The USP editorial policies should encourage transparency and complete, honest reporting, and the editor should ensure that peer reviewers and authors clearly understand what is expected of them. The Editors shall establish, along with the publisher, a transparent mechanism for appeal against editorial decisions.
The Publisher/Editors must protect the confidentiality of all material submitted and all communications with reviewers unless otherwise agreed with the relevant authors and reviewers. In exceptional circumstances and in consultation with the publisher, the editor may share limited information with other editors where necessary to investigate suspected misconduct (COPE Guidelines).
Unless an open peer-review system operates and/or reviewers have agreed to disclose their names, the Editor must protect reviewers’ identities.
Unpublished materials disclosed in a submitted Book-Chapter/Book must not be used in an Editor’s own publication without the author’s written consent. Privileged information or ideas obtained through peer review must be confidential and not used for personal advantage.
- Declaration of Competing Interests
Any potential editorial conflicts of interest should be declared to the publisher before the editor’s appointment and updated if and when new conflicts arise. The publisher may publish such declarations in the publication.
The Editor must not be involved in decisions about publication which he/she has written him/herself or have been written by family members or colleagues or related to products or services in which the Editor has an interest. Further, any such submission must be subject to all usual procedures, peer review must be handled independently of the relevant author/editor and their research groups, and there must be a clear statement to this effect on any such publication that is published.
The Editor shall apply the Unique Scientific Publishers policy relating to disclosing potential conflicts of interest by authors and reviewers, e.g., the ICMJE guidelines.
- Vigilance over the Published Record
The Editor should work to safeguard the integrity of the published record by reviewing and assessing reported or suspected misconduct (research, publication, reviewer, and editorial) in conjunction with the publisher.
Such measures will generally include contacting the author of the publication material in any form and giving due consideration to the respective complaint or claims made but may also include further communications to the relevant institutions and research bodies. The Editor shall make proper use of the publisher’s systems to detect misconduct, such as plagiarism.
An Editor presented with convincing evidence of misconduct should coordinate with the publisher to arrange the prompt publication of a correction, retraction, expression of concern, or other correction to the record, as may be relevant.
- Contribution to Editorial Decisions
Peer review assists the Editor in making editorial decisions, and the editorial communications with the author may also assist the author in improving the publication material. Peer review is essential to formal scholarly publications and lies at the heart of the scientific method. In addition to the specific ethics-related duties described below, reviewers are asked to treat authors and their work as they would like to be treated and observe good reviewing etiquette.
Any selected reviewer who feels unqualified to review the submitted publication material or knows its prompt review will be impossible should notify the Editor and decline to participate in the review process.
Any Book Chapter/ publication material received for review must be treated as confidential documents. Reviewers must not share the review or information about the Book Chapter/ publication material with anyone or contact the authors directly without permission from the Editor.
Some editors encourage discussion with colleagues or co-reviewing exercises. Still, reviewers should discuss this with the Editor to ensure that confidentiality is observed and that participants receive suitable credit.
- Alertness to Ethical Issues
A reviewer should be alert to potential ethical issues in the Book Chapter/ publication material and bring these to the Editor’s attention, including any substantial similarity or overlap between the Book Chapters/ Books under consideration and any other published material of which the reviewer has personal knowledge. The relevant citation should accompany any statement that has previously reported observation, derivation, or argument.
- Standards of Objectivity & Competing Interests
Reviewers should conduct reviews objectively. Reviewers should be aware of personal bias and consider this when reviewing Book Chapter/ publication material. Personal criticism of the author is inappropriate. Referees should express their views clearly with supporting arguments.
Reviewers should consult the Editor before agreeing to review a paper where they have potential conflicts of interest resulting from competitive, collaborative, or other relationships or connections with any of the authors, companies, or institutions connected to the papers.
Suppose a reviewer suggests that an author includes citations to the reviewer’s (or their associates’) work. In that case, this must be for genuine scientific reasons and not to increase the reviewer’s citation count or enhance the visibility of their work (or that of their associates).
- Reporting Standards
Authors of reports of original research should present an accurate account of the work performed and an objective discussion of its significance. Underlying data should represent accurately. Fraudulent or knowingly inaccurate statements constitute unethical behavior and are unacceptable. Review and professional publications should be accurate and objective and clearly identify editorial ‘opinion’ works.
- Data Access and Retention
Authors may be asked to provide the supporting data for editorial review and/or to comply with the open data requirements. Authors should be prepared to provide public access to such data, if practicable, and should be prepared to retain such data for a reasonable number of years after publication.
- Originality and Acknowledgement of Sources
The authors should ensure that they have written entirely original works, and if the authors have used the work and/or words of others, that this has been appropriately cited or quoted, and permission has been obtained where necessary.
Proper acknowledgment of the work of others must always be given. Authors should cite publications that have influenced the reported work and give the work appropriate context within the larger scholarly record. Information obtained privately, as in conversation, correspondence, or discussion with third parties, must not be used or reported without explicit, written permission from the source.
Plagiarism takes many forms, from ‘passing off’ another’s paper as the author’s own paper to copying or paraphrasing substantial parts of another’s paper (without attribution) to claiming results from research conducted by others. Plagiarism in all its forms constitutes unethical behavior and is unacceptable.
- Multiple, Redundant, or Concurrent Publication
Submitting the same Book Chapter/ publication material to more than one publisher concurrently constitutes unethical behavior and is unacceptable.
In general, an author should not submit for consideration publication material that has been published previously.
Information obtained in the course of confidential services, such as refereeing Book Chapter/ publication material, must not be used without the explicit written permission of the author of the work involved in these services.
Authorship should be limited to those who have contributed significantly to the conception, design, execution, or interpretation of the reported study. All those who have made substantial contributions should be listed as co-authors. The acknowledgments section should recognize others who have participated in certain substantive aspects of the Book Chapter/ publication material (e.g., language editing). The corresponding author should ensure that all appropriate co-authors and no inappropriate co-authors are included in the Book Chapter/ publication material and that all co-authors have seen and approved the final version of the publication and have agreed to its submission for publication.
Authors are expected to consider the list and order of authors carefully before submitting their Book Chapter/ publication material and provide the definitive list of authors at the time of the original submission. Only in exceptional circumstances will the editor consider (at their discretion) the addition, deletion, or rearrangement of authors after the Book Chapters/Books has been submitted, and the author must flag any such request to the editor. All authors must agree with any such addition, removal, or rearrangement.
Authors take collective responsibility for the work. Each individual author is accountable for ensuring that questions related to the accuracy or integrity of any part of the work are appropriately investigated and resolved.
- Declaration of Competing Interests
WAME defines conflict of interest as “a divergence between an individual’s private interests (competing interests) and his or her responsibilities to scientific and publishing activities, such that a reasonable observer might wonder if the individual’s behavior or judgment was motivated by considerations of his or her competing interests” (WAME Editorial statement on COI). All authors should disclose in their Book Chapters/Books financial and personal relationships with other people or organizations that could be viewed as inappropriately influencing (bias) their work.
Examples of potential conflicts of interest which should disclose include employment, consultancies, stock ownership, honoraria, paid expert testimony, patent applications/registrations, and grants or other funding. Potential conflicts of interest should be disclosed at the earliest possible stage (WAME Editorial statement on COI).
- Notification of Fundamental Errors
When an author discovers a significant error or inaccuracy in their own published work, it is the author’s obligation to promptly notify the Editor or publisher and cooperate with the Editor to retract or correct the paper if deemed necessary by the Editor. Suppose the Editor or the publisher learns from a third party that a published work contains an error. In that case, it is the obligation of the author to cooperate with the Editor, including providing evidence to the Editor where requested.
- Image Integrity
It is not acceptable to enhance, obscure, move, remove, or introduce a specific feature within an image. Adjustments of brightness, contrast, or color balance are acceptable if and as long as they do not obscure or eliminate any information present in the original. Manipulating images for improved clarity is accepted, but manipulation for other purposes could be seen as scientific ethical abuse and will be dealt with accordingly (Rossner and Yamada 2004).
Authors should comply with any specific policy for graphical images applied e.g., providing the original images as supplementary material with the article or depositing these in a suitable repository.
Dated: October 17, 2022