The British Paramedic Journal endeavours to comply with the COPE guidelines. As such, the first step when an ethical issue is raised will be to follow the relevant COPE flowchart.
Submissions from member of the editorial board
The journal encourages members of the editorial board to submit to the journal. However, in order to ensure an objective and unbiased evaluation, the board member will take no part in the suitability or review processes of their submission.
One of the other editors will undertake the management of the submission and submissions will be subject to the same review process as for other submissions.
Allegations of misconduct
There are various definitions of research and publication misconduct, and the BPJ has adopted the World Association of Medical Editors (WAME) overview, which includes the following activities as examples of misconduct:
- Falsification of data: ranges from fabrication to deceptive selective reporting of findings and omission of conflicting data, or willful suppression and/or distortion of data.
- Plagiarism: The appropriation of the language, ideas, or thoughts of another without crediting their true source, and representation of them as one's own original work.
- Improprieties of authorship: Improper assignment of credit, such as excluding others, misrepresentation of the same material as original in more than one publication, inclusion of individuals as authors who have not made a definite contribution to the work published; or submission of multi-authored publications without the concurrence of all authors.
- Misappropriation of the ideas of others: an important aspect of scholarly activity is the exchange of ideas among colleagues. Scholars can acquire novel ideas from others during the process of reviewing grant applications and manuscripts. However, improper use of such information can constitute fraud. Wholesale appropriation of such material constitutes misconduct.
- Violation of generally accepted research practices: Serious deviation from accepted practices in proposing or carrying out research, improper manipulation of experiments to obtain biased results, deceptive statistical or analytical manipulations, or improper reporting of results.
- Material failure to comply with legislative and regulatory requirements affecting research: Including but not limited to serious or substantial, repeated, willful violations of applicable local regulations and law involving the use of funds, care of animals, human subjects, investigational drugs, recombinant products, new devices, or radioactive, biologic, or chemical materials.
- Inappropriate behavior in relation to misconduct: this includes unfounded or knowingly false accusations of misconduct, failure to report known or suspected misconduct, withholding or destruction of information relevant to a claim of misconduct and retaliation against persons involved in the allegation or investigation.
In the event that scientific misconduct is suspected, the procedure specified by the Office for Research Integrity will be followed:
All allegations of misconduct will be referred to the Editor-In-Chief, who will review the circumstances in consultation with the deputy editors. Initial fact-finding will usually include a request to all the involved parties to state their case, and explain the circumstances, in writing. In questions of research misconduct centering on methods or technical issues, the Editor-In-Chief may confidentially consult experts who are blinded to the identity of the individuals, or if the allegation is against an editor, an outside editor expert. The Editor-In-Chief and deputy editors will arrive at a conclusion as to whether there is enough evidence to lead a reasonable person to believe there is a possibility of misconduct. Their goal is not to determine if actual misconduct occurred, or the precise details of that misconduct.
When allegations concern authors, the peer review and publication process for the manuscript in question will be halted while the process above is carried out. The investigation described above will be completed even if the authors withdraw their paper, and the responses below will still be considered. In the case of allegations against reviewers or editors, they will be replaced in the review process while the matter is investigated.
Where possible, the appropriate COPE flowchart will be followed. In the event that the editorial board feel that another journal should be notified about possible misconduct, the COPE guidelines on sharing information on possible misconduct will be consulted. In serious cases, the COPE retraction guidelines will be followed but any punitive action will be the responisbility of the author's employers or institutions/employers.
In complex cases, the editorial board may decide to refer the case (once suitably anonymised) to COPE.
Plagiarism and redundant/overlapping publications
The journal uses the Office of Research Integrity definition of plagiarism, which includes “both the theft or misappropriation of intellectual property and the substantial unattributed textual copying of another’s work. It does not include authorship or credit disputes.”
While the journal does not use plagiarism checking services, searches are conducted to determine whether textual copying has occurred. Incidents of plagiarism will be managed according to the relevant COPE flowchart.