Editorial Policies

  1. 1. Overview
  2. 2. Studies involving humans
  3. 3. Studies involving animals
  4. 4. Studies involving plants
  5. 5. Consent for publication
  6. 6. Availability of data and materials
  7. 7. Standards of reporting
  8. 8. Describing new taxa
  9. 9. Competing interests
  10. 10. Authorship
  11. 11. Funding
  12. 12. Citations
  13. 13. Duplicate publication
  14. 14. Plagiarism and other fraud
  15. 15. Misconduct
  16. 16. Peer review and confidentiality
  17. 17. Corrections and retractions
  18. 18. Appeals and complaints
  19. 19. Editorial responsibilities
  20. 20. Transfers
  21. 21. Open Access

1. Overview

Spandidos Publications follows the guidelines of the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) and the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE) Recommendations for the Conduct, Reporting, Editing and Publication of Scholarly Work in Medical Journals.

Submission of a manuscript to a Spandidos Publications’ journal implies that all authors have read and agreed to its content and that the manuscript conforms to the journal’s policies.

2. Studies involving humans

Ethics approval

Research involving human subjects, human material or human data must be performed in accordance with the Declaration of Helsinki and must be approved by an appropriate ethics committee. A statement detailing this, including the name of the ethics committee and the reference number where appropriate, must appear in all manuscripts reporting such research. If a study was granted an exemption from requiring ethics approval, this should also be detailed in the manuscript (including the name of the ethics committee that granted the exemption). Further information and documentation to support this should be made available to the Editor on request. Manuscripts may be rejected if the Editor considers that the research has not been carried out within an appropriate ethical framework.

Retrospective ethics approval

If a study was not granted ethics committee approval prior to commencing, retrospective ethics approval usually cannot be obtained, and it may not be possible to consider the manuscript for peer review. The decision on whether to proceed to peer review in such cases is at the Editor's discretion.

Clinical trials

Authors reporting the use of a new procedure or tool in a clinical setting, must give a clear justification in the manuscript for why the new procedure or tool was deemed more appropriate than usual clinical practice to meet the patient’s clinical need, and should obtain ethics approval and informed patient consent for participation in the study.

In case of clinical trials, which are defined as "any research study that prospectively assigns human participants or groups of humans to one or more health-related interventions to evaluate the effects on health outcomes", the trial registration number (TRN) and date of registration should be included in the last line of the manuscript abstract. Suitable publicly available registries are those listed on the ICMJE website and the WHO International Clinical Trials Registry Platform. For clinical trials that have not been registered prospectively, Spandidos Publications encourages retrospective registration to ensure the complete publication of all results. In such cases, the TRN, date of registration and the words 'retrospectively registered’ should be included in the manuscript.

Consent to participate

Research that is performed on humans should follow international and national regulations in accordance with the Declaration of Helsinki, www.wma.net/en/30publications/10policies/b3/index.html, or any other relevant set of ethical principles. For all research involving human subjects, informed consent to participate in the study should be obtained from participants (or their parent or legal guardian in the case of children under 16) and a statement to this effect should appear in the manuscript. Manuscripts reporting studies on vulnerable groups (for example unconscious patients), where there is the potential for coercion (for example prisoners) or where consent may not have been fully informed, will be considered at the Editor’s discretion. In the case of articles describing human transplantation studies, authors must include a statement declaring that no organs/tissues were obtained from prisoners and must also name the institution(s)/clinic(s)/department(s) via which organs/tissues were obtained.

3. Studies involving animals

Experimental research on vertebrates or any regulated invertebrates must comply with institutional, national or international guidelines, and where available should have been approved by an appropriate ethics committee. A statement detailing compliance with relevant guidelines (e.g. the revised Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 in the UK and Directive 2010/63/EU in Europe) and/or ethical approval (including the name of the ethics committee and the reference number where appropriate) must be included in the manuscript. This also applies to field studies and other non-experimental research on animals. For experimental studies involving client-owned animals, authors must also document informed consent from the client or owner and adherence to a high standard (best practice) of veterinary care. If a study was granted an exemption from requiring ethics approval, this should also be detailed in the manuscript (including the name of the ethics committee that granted the exemption and the reasons for the exemption). The Editor will take into consideration animal welfare issues and reserves the right to reject a manuscript, especially if the research involves protocols that are inconsistent with commonly accepted norms of animal research.

4. Studies involving plants

Experimental research on plants (either cultivated or wild), including collection of plant material, must comply with institutional, national or international guidelines (e.g. IUCN Policy Statement on Research Involving Species at Risk of Extinction and the Convention on the Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora). Field studies should be conducted in accordance with local legislation, and the manuscript should include a statement specifying the appropriate permissions and/or licenses. 

Voucher specimens must be deposited in a public herbarium or other public collection providing access to deposited material. Information on the voucher specimen and who identified it must be included in the manuscript.

5. Consent for publication

Patients have a right to privacy that should not be violated without informed consent. Identifying information, including names, initials, date of birth or hospital numbers, images or statements should not be included in the manuscript unless the information is essential for scientific purposes and the patient (or parent or guardian) has provided written informed consent for publication. A statement must be included in the manuscript declaring that the patient, or parent, guardian or next of kin (in case of deceased patients) provided written informed consent for the publication of any associated data and accompanying images. The consent form must be made available to the Editor if requested, and will be treated confidentially.

For case reports or other studies in which case details, personal information or images are included that may enable an individual to be identified, the individual or a parent, guardian or next of kin must consent to its publication, and this consent should be declared in the manuscript. Authors should disclose to patients that personally identifiable material would be available via the Internet under the Creative Commons Attribution License 4.0 as well as in print after publication (http://www.icmje.org).

Publication without written consent may be considered if all identifying information is removed, public interest considerations outweigh the potential harm, it is impossible to obtain permission and a reasonable individual would be unlikely to object to publication. The final decision on whether consent to publish is required lies with the Editor.

Publication of clinical datasets

For datasets containing clinical data, authors have an ethical and legal responsibility to respect participants’ rights to privacy and to protect their identity. Ideally, authors should gain informed consent for publication of the dataset from participants at the point of recruitment to the trial. If this is not possible, authors must demonstrate that publication of such data does not compromise anonymity or confidentiality or breach local data protection laws, for the dataset to be considered for publication. Authors must consider whether the dataset contains any direct or indirect identifiers and consult their local ethics committee or other appropriate body before submission if there is any possibility that participants will not be fully anonymous. Authors must state in their manuscript on submission whether informed consent was obtained for publication of patient data. If informed consent was not obtained, authors must state the reason for this, and which body was consulted in the preparation of the dataset.

6. Availability of data and materials

Submission of a manuscript to Spandidos Publications implies that the materials included in the manuscript, including all relevant raw data, will be made freely available to any researchers who wish to use them for non-commercial purposes, while preserving any necessary confidentiality and anonymity.

For our journals, we strongly encourage that all datasets on which the conclusions of the paper depend should be available to readers, unless they are already provided as part of the submitted article. Where datasets are included in the study, authors should include an “Availability of data and materials” section in the article, stating where the data supporting their findings may be found. Authors who do not wish to share their data must state this fact, and also provide an explanation as to why the data are unavailable.

Availability of data and materials statements can take one of the following forms (or a combination of more than one if required for multiple datasets):

  • The datasets used and/or analyzed during the current study are available from the corresponding author on reasonable request.
  • The datasets generated and/or analyzed during the current study are available in the [NAME] repository, [PERSISTENT WEB LINK TO DATASETS].
  • All data generated or analyzed during this study are included in this published article.
  • The datasets generated and/or analyzed during the current study are not publicly available due to [REASON WHY DATA ARE NOT PUBLIC] but are available from the corresponding author on reasonable request.
  • Data sharing is not applicable to this article, as no datasets were generated or analyzed during the current study.
  • The data that support the findings of this study are available from [THIRD PARTY NAME] but restrictions apply to the availability of these data, which were used under license for the current study, and so are not publicly available. Data are however available from the authors upon reasonable request and with permission of [THIRD PARTY NAME].
  • Not applicable. If your manuscript does not contain any data, please state 'Not applicable' in this section.

 

Authors are encouraged to deposit their datasets in publicly available repositories, where available and appropriate. Publicly available datasets must be fully referenced in the reference list with an accession number or unique identifier such as a digital object identifier (DOI). We leave the selection of the repository entirely to the author’s discretion, although note that the data must be freely available to readers. A list of recommended repositories is featured below; consulting the Registry of Research Data Repositories (http://www.re3data.org/) may also be useful in this regard.

List of suggested repositories

Type of data Repositories
Research output in general (including supplementary figures and data, and multimedia adjuncts) Figshare
Protein sequences UniProt
Macromolecular structure Worldwide Protein Data Bank (wwPDB)

Biological Magnetic Resonance Data Bank (BMRB)
Crystallographic data for small molecules The Cambridge Structural Database
DNA and RNA sequences GenBank

DNA DataBank of Japan (DDBJ)

EMBL European Nucleotide Archive (ENA)
DNA and RNA sequencing data NCBI Trace Archive

NCBI Sequence Read Archive

Genetic polymorphisms dbSNP

dbVAR

European Variation Archive (EVA)

Linked genotype and phenotype data dbGAP

European Genome-phenome Archive (EGA)

Microarray data (must be compliant with Minimum Information About a Microarray Experiment, or MIAME) Gene Expression Omnibus (GEO)

ArrayExpress

Software and code

Any previously unreported software application or custom code described in the manuscript should be available for testing by reviewers in a way that preserves their anonymity. The manuscript should include a description of how the reviewers can access the unreported software application or custom code, including a link to the most recent version of your software or code as well as a link to the archived version referenced in the manuscript. The software or code should be archived in an appropriate repository with a DOI or other unique identifier. If published, the software application/tool should be readily available to any scientist wishing to use it for non-commercial purposes. If the implementation is not made freely available, then the manuscript should focus clearly on the development of the underlying method and not discuss the tool in any detail.

7. Standards of reporting

Study design

Spandidos Publications recommend that authors refer to the minimum reporting guidelines for health research hosted by the EQUATOR Network when preparing their manuscript, and FAIRsharing.org for reporting checklists for biological and biomedical research, where applicable. Authors should adhere to these guidelines when drafting their manuscript.

Checklists are available for a number of study designs, including:

  • Randomized controlled trials (CONSORT) and protocols (SPIRIT)
  • Systematic reviews and meta-analyses (PRISMA) and protocols (PRISMA-P)
  • Observational studies (STROBE)
  • Case reports (CARE)
  • Qualitative research (COREQ)
  • Diagnostic/prognostic studies (STARD and TRIPOD)
  • Economic evaluations (CHEERS)
  • Pre-clinical animal studies (ARRIVE)

 

Spandidos Publications supports the prospective registration of systematic reviews and encourages authors to register their systematic reviews in a suitable registry (such as PROSPERO), including the registration number as the last line of the manuscript abstract. Authors of systematic reviews should also provide a file describing all details of the search strategy. For an example of how a search strategy should be presented, see the Cochrane Reviewers' Handbook.

Statistical methods

Authors should provide information on the statistical methods and measures used in their research, including the name, version and supplier of the statistical software used, and the P-value considered to be significant.

Cell line authentication

If cell lines are used in a research article, authors are encouraged to include the following information in their manuscript:

  • The source of the cell line and the culture conditions.
  • Whether the cell line has recently been authenticated (indicating by what method) and/or tested for mycoplasma contamination

Further information is available from the International Cell Line Authentication Committee (ICLAC). We recommend that authors check the NCBI database and Cellosaurus ExPASy for misidentification and contamination of human cell lines.

Gene nomenclature

Standardized gene nomenclature should be used throughout the manuscript. Human gene symbols and names can be found in the HUGO Gene Nomenclature Committee (HGNC) database.

Reporting of sequence variants

We endorse the recommendations of the Human Variome Project Consortium for describing sequence variants (Human Genome Variation Society) and phenotypes (Human Phenotype Ontology). We recommend that authors should submit all variants described in a manuscript to the relevant public gene/disease specific database (LSDB): a list is available here. The database URL and the unique identifier should be reported in the manuscript.

Genomic data

To drive the maximum re-use and utility of published research, we expect authors to comply with available field-specific standards for the preparation and recording of data, with particular attention to maintaining patient confidentiality. Please see the BioSharing website for further information.

Authors using unpublished genomic data should follow the guidelines of the Fort Lauderdale and Toronto agreements. Based on broadly accepted scientific community standards, the key requirement of third parties using genomic data is to contact the owners of unpublished data (i.e. the principal investigator and sequencing center) prior to undertaking their research, to advise them about their planned analyses.

8. Describing new taxa

algal, fungal and botanical names

Electronic publication of algal, fungal and botanical names is currently considered a valid form of publication. Manuscripts containing new taxon names or other nomenclatural acts must follow the guidelines set by the International Code of Nomenclature for algae, fungi and plants. Authors describing new fungal taxa should register the names with a recognized repository, such as MycoBank, and request a unique digital identifier that should be included in the published article.

Viral names

In accordance with the International Code of Nomenclature of Prokaryotes (ICNP) effective publication of new prokaryotic names in electronic journals is possible. In order to comply with rules of the International Committee on Systematics of Prokaryotes (ICSP) for valid publication authors must submit a copy of the published article in its final form, together with certificates of deposition of the type strain (for unrestricted distribution), in at least two internationally recognized, publicly accessible culture collections located in different countries, to the International Journal of Systematic and Evolutionary Microbiology (IJSEM) editorial office. Following review by the List Editor, effectively published names that conform to all of the rules of the ICNP will appear on a subsequent Validation List, in the order received, thereby becoming validly published.

Viral names

The proposal of new virus names must follow the guidelines established by the International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses (ICTV) in the International Code of Virus Classification and Nomenclature. Proposals for new virus taxa should be forwarded to the relevant Study Group of the ICTV for consideration.

 

9. Competing interests

Authors, reviewers and editors must declare whether there are any competing interests with regard to the publication of a study. A competing interest exists when the authors’ interpretation of data or presentation of information may be influenced by, or may be perceived to be influenced by, their personal or financial relationship with other people or organizations, such as reimbursement for salaries, equipment or supplies, or a personal belief that may influence their objectivity and motivation, and consequently affect the data interpretation. This can include competing patents, grants, funding, employment, personal relationships and strong ethical beliefs, among other factors. Such conflicts must be declared, as they may affect the integrity or reliability of the science in the study, as well as that of otherwise unassociated studies in the same journal. Competing interest statements for public funding sources, including government agencies, charitable or academic institutions, need not be included. For example, if a charitable foundation sponsored the study and a pharmaceutical company provided the drugs, only the pharmaceutical company should be mentioned.

Full disclosure of the competing interests is to be made in the cover letter and manuscript at the time of submission, even if the author judges that it has not influenced the work. If no conflict exists, this must also be stated clearly in the manuscript as follows: 'Competing interests'. The authors declare that they have no competing interests', and all authors should confirm its accuracy. If there is a conflict, please include it in a 'Competing interest' section. Examples of conflict of interest statements include ‘The present study was supported by Jones Women's University, grant no. 12345’, ‘XY University provided a graduate scholarship to Dr Jones’, ‘The compound xyz was kindly provided by ABC Company, city, country’. Authors may be asked to confirm or update, or provide further details regarding such disclosure statements following acceptance of the manuscript. Further details regarding requirements for conflict of interest statements are provided in http://www.icmje.org.

External peer reviewers must disclose any conflicts of interest that could bias their opinions of the manuscript, and they should disqualify themselves from reviewing specific manuscripts if they believe it appropriate. Should any such competing interest be declared, the journal editor will judge whether the reviewer’s comments should be recognised or will interpret the reviewer’s comments in the context of any such declaration.

10. Authorship

Authors’ contributions

An 'author' is generally considered to be someone who has made substantive intellectual contributions to a published study. According to the ICMJE guidelines, to qualify as an author one should have i) made substantial contributions to conception and design, or acquisition of data, or analysis and interpretation of data; ii) been involved in drafting the manuscript or revising it critically for important intellectual content; iii) given final approval of the version to be published. Each author should have participated sufficiently in the work to take public responsibility for appropriate portions of the content; and iv) agreed to be accountable for all aspects of the work in ensuring that questions related to the accuracy or integrity of any part of the work are appropriately investigated and resolved. Acquisition of funding, collection of data or general supervision of the research group alone; does not usually justify authorship.

The individual contributions of authors to the manuscript should be specified, and initials should be used to refer to each author's contribution (e.g. FC analyzed and interpreted the patient data regarding the hematological disease and the transplant. RH performed the histological examination of the kidney, and was a major contributor in writing the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript).

Please note that changes to authorship cannot be made after acceptance of a manuscript by any of the Spandidos Publications’ journals. If any changes to the list of authors of a manuscript are necessary after the initial submission but before publication, the corresponding author must contact the journal staff and provide a clear reason for the change. If the change to the authorship list is appropriate and in keeping with the guidelines given above, the corresponding author will be asked to provide written confirmation that all other authors listed on the manuscript at that time consent. Spandidos Publications will individually inform anyone who is added or removed from the author list.

Acknowledgements

All contributors who do not meet the criteria for authorship should be listed in the ‘Acknowledgements’ section. Examples of those who might be acknowledged include a person who provided purely technical help or writing assistance, or a department chair who provided only general support. The involvement of scientific (medical) writers or anyone else who assisted with the preparation of the manuscript content should be acknowledged, along with their source of funding, as described in the European Medical Writers Association (EMWA) guidelines. The role of medical writers should be acknowledged explicitly in the ‘Acknowledgements’ or ‘Authors’ contributions’ section as appropriate.

11. Funding

All sources of funding for the research reported should be declared. The role of the funding body in the design of the study and collection, analysis, and interpretation of data and in writing the manuscript should be declared. If a funder name is not applicable, please state so in your manuscript as follows: “Funding information is not applicable”/”No funding was received.”

12. Citations

Articles (e.g. Opinion, Review and Commentary articles) must cite appropriate and relevant literature in support of the claims made. Excessive and inappropriate self-citation or coordinated efforts among several authors to collectively self-cite is strongly discouraged. Authors should consider the following guidelines when preparing their manuscript:

  • Any statement in the manuscript that relies on external sources of information (i.e. not the authors' own new ideas or findings or general knowledge) should use a citation.
  • Authors should avoid citing derivations of original work (e.g. authors should cite the original work rather than a review article that cites an original work).
  • Authors should ensure that their citations are accurate (i.e. they should ensure the citation supports the statement made in their manuscript and should not misrepresent another work by citing it if it does not support the point the authors wish to make).
  • Authors should not cite sources that they have not read.
  • Authors should not preferentially cite their own, or their friends’, peers’ or institution’s publications.
  • Authors should avoid citing work solely from one country.
  • Authors should not use an excessive number of citations to support one point.
  • Authors should cite sources that have undergone peer review where possible.
  • Authors should not cite advertisements or advertorial material.

13. Duplicate publication

All manuscripts submitted to our journals must be original. Upon submission of a manuscript, it is assumed that no similar manuscript has been or will be submitted to any other journal for publication. It is considered unethical to submit an identical manuscript to more than one journal at the same time. Multiple submissions of the same paper can damage the reputation of journals if published in more than one journal. Duplicate publications or redundant publications (re-packaging in different words of data already published by the same authors) will be rejected.

14. Plagiarism and other fraud

It is the responsibility of the authors to ensure that they pay particular attention to the originality of their work. Upon submission, all manuscripts are rigorously evaluated to identify any previously published material. Spandidos Publications utilizes a combination of iThenticate, and searching on titles in PubMed and Google, to screen submitted manuscripts against published studies and other relevant sources. Concerning the submitted figures, images are routinely examined for the presence of duplicated, or otherwise apparently anomalous, data. Authors should therefore retain their unprocessed data and metadata files, as the Editor may request them to aid in the evaluation of the manuscript. Authors should note that, if the unprocessed data are unavailable, this may lead to a delay in manuscript evaluation until the issue is resolved.

If the journal Editor has a reason to suspect that a manuscript is plagiarized or fraudulent, they reserve the right to raise their concerns to the authors' sponsoring institution and any other relevant bodies. In cases where plagiarism is suspected, a preliminary investigation will be conducted following the guidance offered in the flowcharts of the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) (https://publicationethics.org/resources/flowcharts) and the guidelines of ICMJE (http://www.icmje.org). Every suspected act of unethical publishing behaviour will be looked into. If plagiarism is detected, the manuscript containing the plagiarism will be obviously marked on each page of the PDF. Manuscripts in which plagiarism has been detected will not be considered for publication. In cases where the paper has already been published, depending on the extent of the plagiarism, the paper may also be formally retracted.

Image manipulation

All digital images in manuscripts considered for publication will be scrutinized for any indication of manipulation that is inconsistent with the following guidelines. Manipulation that violates these guidelines may result in delays in manuscript processing or rejection, or retraction of a published article:

  • No specific feature within an image may be enhanced, obscured, moved, removed, or introduced.
  • The grouping of images from different parts of the same gel, or from different gels, fields or exposures, must be made explicit by the arrangement of the figure and in figure legend.
  • Adjustments of brightness, contrast or color balance may be acceptable if they are applied to every pixel in the image and as long as they do not obscure, eliminate or misrepresent any information present in the original, including the background. Non-linear adjustments (e.g. changes to gamma settings) must be disclosed in the figure legend.

 

Any questions raised during or after the peer review process will be referred to the Editor, who may request the original data from the author(s) for comparison with the prepared figures. If the original data cannot be produced, the manuscript may be rejected or, in the case of a published article, retracted. Any case in which the manipulation affects the interpretation of the data will result in rejection or retraction. Cases of suspected misconduct will be reported to the author(s)’ institution(s).

15. Misconduct

If misconduct by authors or reviewers is suspected, either pre- or post-publication action will be taken. In cases where misconduct, or otherwise unethical behaviour, on the part of the authors is suspected after a paper is published (even several years after the paper has been published), a preliminary investigation will be conducted following the guidance offered in the flowcharts of the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) (https://publicationethics.org/resources/flowcharts) and the guidelines of ICMJE (http://www.icmje.org/). An explanation will be sought from the party or parties considered to be involved. If the response is unsatisfactory, then an appropriate authority (ordinarily, the Head of the Department where the research was conducted) will be asked to investigate fully. Spandidos Publications will make all reasonable attempts to obtain a resolution in any such eventuality and correct the record or archive as necessary. In cases where misconduct is proven beyond all reasonable doubt, the paper may be formally retracted.

16. Peer review and confidentiality

All manuscripts submitted to Spandidos Publications are peer reviewed prior to publication. The suitability of each manuscript is assessed by the journal’s editorial board and refereed critically by two or more reviewers. the Editor reserves the right to reject or return the manuscript to the author(s) for additional changes. For original articles or case reports, reviewers will generally be asked to comment on the following aspects of the submitted manuscripts:

  • Significance of the research to the field.
  • Quality of data presented and controls/statistical analyses used.
  • Whether the conclusions are justified/supported by the data presented.
  • How clearly the study is reported.
  • Novelty of the research.

 

Reviewers are asked to judge the quality of the research reported objectively and respect the intellectual independence of the authors. In no case is personal criticism appropriate. Reviewers should clearly explain and support their judgments as much as possible and in such a way that editors and authors may understand the basis of their comments.

Reviewers should point out relevant published work that has not been cited by the authors. Any statement that an observation, research to the field. had been previously reported should be accompanied by the relevant citation. A reviewer should also call to the Editor's attention any substantial similarity between the manuscript under consideration and any published article or manuscript submitted concurrently to another journal.

Spandidos Publications journals operate a single-blind peer review process. Spandidos Publications follows COPE’s Ethical Guidelines for Peer Reviewers. A reviewer should, therefore, treat a manuscript sent for review as a confidential document. It should neither be shown to nor discussed with others except, in special cases, to persons from whom specific advice may be sought; in that event, the identities of those consulted should be disclosed to the Editor. Reviewers should not use or disclose unpublished information, arguments or interpretations contained in a manuscript under consideration, except with the consent of the author. Reviewers should notify Spandidos Publications if they have any conflict of interest regarding a specific manuscript, and should not review the article.

Final acceptance of all submitted manuscripts is a decision made by the Editor(s) in consultation with the Editorial Board and reviewers. If a manuscript does not meet the standards of the journal or is otherwise lacking in scientific rigor or contains major deficiencies, the reviewers will attempt to provide constructive criticism to assist the authors in ultimately improving their work for publication, here or elsewhere. Manuscripts not invited for resubmission will not be reconsidered for publication..

If a manuscript receives favorable reviews but is not accepted outright following the initial review, it may be invited for reconsideration with the expectation that the authors will fully address the reviewer’s criticisms. Resubmitted manuscripts with major revisions will be sent back for peer review.

17. Corrections and retractions

Authors are obliged to notify the relevant journal Editor if they find that a published manuscript contains an error, plagiarism or fraudulent data. Changes to published articles that affect the interpretation and conclusion of the article, but do not fully invalidate the article, will, at the Editor’s’ discretion be corrected via publication of an erratum, correction, retraction or notice of concern at the earliest possible date. Authors are encouraged to contact the journal Editor to discuss the most appropriate course of action.

If the scientific information in an article is substantially undermined, it may be necessary for published articles to be retracted. Spandidos Publications will follow the COPE guidelines in such cases. Retraction articles are indexed and linked to the original article.

18. Appeals and complaints

Spandidos Publications adheres to COPE guidelines regarding appeals to editorial decisions and complaints. Where an author believes that an editor has made an error in declining a paper, they may submit an appeal. The appeal letter should clearly state the reasons why the author considers the decision to be incorrect and provide detailed, specific responses to any comments relating to the rejection of the review. Further advice from members of the journal’s Editorial Advisory Panel and external experts will be sought regarding eligibility for re-review.

19. Editorial responsibilities

Editorial responsibilities

The editor of a journal has complete responsibility and authority to accept a submitted paper for publication or to reject it. The editor may confer with associate editors or reviewers for an evaluation to use in making this decision.

An editor should give prompt and unbiased consideration to all manuscripts offered for publication, judging each on its merits without regard to race, gender, religious belief, ethnic origin, citizenship or political philosophy of the authors, and respecting the intellectual independence of the authors. Situations that may lead to real or perceived conflicts of interest should be avoided.

The editor and the editorial staff should not disclose any information about a manuscript under consideration to anyone other than reviewers and potential reviewers. Unpublished information, arguments or interpretations disclosed in a submitted manuscript should not be used in an editor's own research except with the consent of the author.

An editor presented with convincing evidence that the substance or conclusions of a published paper are erroneous should promote the publication of a correction or retraction.

20. Transfers

It is possible to transfer a rejected manuscript to another journal for consideration. For further information and the aims and scope of each journal, please visit: www.spandidos-publications.com. Carefully review the acceptance criteria for the journal you believe would be appropriate for your manuscript. If you feel that your manuscript would be appropriate for publication in another of our journals, then please request a transfer by email. Please note that transferring manuscript files does not guarantee that the manuscript will be considered by the receiving journal. It is only meant to offer the technical facility to allow transfer of manuscript files and correspondence without the inconvenience of having to resubmit from journal to journal.

21. Open access (optional)

"Open access" articles published online can be freely accessed at the journal's website by all users and are immediately publicly available in PubMed Central and Europe PMC by the publisher. Articles may be licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License, a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License or a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Spandidos Publications’ publishing policies enable authors to comply fully with the public access requirements of the major worldwide funding agencies (visit www.sherpa.ac.uk for more information). Authors must take the necessary actions to obtain this compliance, including self-archiving, utilization of Spandidos Publications manuscript deposition service and selection of open access publication under the correct license.

Compliance with funding agencies: All manuscripts that are agency-funded (e.g. NIH, HHMI, Cancer Research UK, Wellcome Trust, etc.) and paid for under the Open Access Option will be deposited automatically and become publicly available in PubMed Central and Europe PMC by the publisher. Alternatively, agency-funded articles without open access purchase will be deposited and made publicly available in PubMed Central and Europe PMC 6-12 months following publication, depending on the public access policy of the agency.

Author self-archiving: Authors are encouraged to submit the final publisher’s version PDF of their manuscript to their institution’s repository 6 months following publication, as well as to their funding body’s archive. A link to the published version on the Spandidos Publications website must be included with full citation details and acknowledgement of the journal as the original source. Authors that have purchased open access can add the final publisher's PDF to their institutional repository and funding body's archive immediately.