STEPGRAD Conference Proceedings follows the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) recommendations. As such, our publication ethics and publication malpractice statement is mainly based on the Code of Conduct and Best Practice Guidelines for Journal Editors (COPE, 2011).
Fair play and editorial independence.
Editors evaluate submitted manuscripts exclusively based on their academic merit (importance, originality, study’s validity, clarity) and its relevance to the conference’s scope, without regard to the authors’ race, gender, sexual orientation, religious belief, ethnic origin, citizenship, or political philosophy. Decisions to edit and publish are not determined by the policies of governments or any other agencies outside STEPGRAD. Current legal requirements regarding libel, copyright infringement, and plagiarism are also considered.
The editor and any editorial staff must not disclose any information about a submitted manuscript to anyone other than the corresponding author, reviewers, potential reviewers, other editorial advisers, and the publisher, as appropriate.
Disclosure and conflicts of interest
Unpublished materials disclosed in a submitted paper will not be used by the editor or the members of the editorial board for their own research purposes without the author’s explicit written consent. Privileged information or ideas obtained by editors as a result of handling the manuscript will be kept confidential and not used for their personal advantage. Editors will recuse themselves from considering manuscripts in which they have conflicts of interest resulting from competitive, collaborative, or other relationships/connections with any of the authors, companies or institutions connected to the papers; instead, they will ask another member of the editorial board to handle the manuscript.
The editors ensure that all submitted manuscripts being considered for publication undergo peer-review by at least two reviewers who are expert in the field. The Editor-in-Chief is responsible for deciding which of the manuscripts submitted to the conference will be published, based on the validation of the work in question, its importance to researchers and readers, the reviewers’ comments, and such legal requirements as are currently in force regarding libel, copyright infringement and plagiarism. The Editor-in-Chief may confer with other editors or reviewers in making this decision.
Involvement and cooperation in investigations
Editors (in conjunction with the publisher) will take responsive measures when ethical concerns are raised about a submitted manuscript or published paper. Every reported act of unethical publishing behaviour will be investigated, even if it is discovered years after publication. If, on investigation, the ethical concern is well-founded, a correction, retraction, expression of concern or other note as may be relevant, will be published in the conference proceedings website.
Contribution to editorial decisions
The peer-review process assists the editor and the editorial board in making editorial decisions and may also serve the author in improving the paper. Peer review is an essential component of formal scholarly communication and lies at the heart of scientific endeavor, therefore all scholars who wish to contribute to the scientific process have an obligation to do a fair share of reviewing.
Any selected referee who feels unqualified to review the research reported in a manuscript or knows that its prompt review will be impossible should notify the editor and withdraw from the review process, so that alternative reviewers can be contacted.
Any manuscripts received for review must be treated as confidential documents. They must not be disclosed to or discussed with others except as authorized by the editor (who would only do so under exceptional and specific circumstances). This applies also to invited reviewers who decline the review invitation.
Standards of objectivity
Reviews should be conducted objectively. Personal criticism of the author is inappropriate. Referees should express their views clearly with supporting arguments.
Acknowledgement of sources
Reviewers should identify cases in which relevant published work referred to in the paper has not been cited in the reference section. They should point out whether observations or arguments derived from other publications are accompanied by the respective source. Reviewers will notify the editor of any substantial similarity or overlap between the manuscript under consideration and any other manuscript (published or unpublished) of which they have personal knowledge.
Disclosure and conflict of interest
Any invited referee who has conflicts of interest resulting from competitive, collaborative, or other relationships or connections with any of the authors, companies or institutions connected to the manuscript and the work described therein should immediately notify the editors to declare their conflicts of interest and decline the invitation to review so that alternative reviewers can be contacted.
Unpublished material disclosed in a submitted manuscript must not be used in a reviewer’s own research without the express written consent of the authors. Privileged information or ideas obtained through peer review must be kept confidential and not used for the reviewer’s personal advantage. This applies also to invited reviewers who decline the review invitation.
Authors of original research reports should present an accurate account of the work performed as well as an objective discussion of its significance. Underlying data should be represented accurately in the paper. A paper should contain enough detail and references to permit others to replicate the work. Fraudulent or knowingly inaccurate statements constitute unethical behavior and are unacceptable.
Data access and retention
Authors could be asked to provide the raw data of their study together with the paper for editorial review and should be prepared to make the data publicly available if practicable. In any event, authors should ensure accessibility of such data to other competent professionals for at least ten years after publication (preferably via an institutional or subject-based data repository or other data center), provided that the confidentiality of the participants can be protected and legal rights concerning proprietary data do not preclude their release.
Originality, plagiarism and acknowledgement of sources
Authors will submit only entirely original works and will appropriately cite or quote the work and/or words of others. Publications that have been influential in determining the nature of the reported work should also be cited.
Plagiarism takes many forms, from “passing off” another’s paper as the author’s own, 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 publishing behaviour and is unacceptable.
Multiple, redundant or concurrent publication
Papers describing essentially the same research should not be published in more than one journal or primary publication. Hence, authors should not submit for consideration a manuscript that has already been published in another journal or primary publication. Submission of a manuscript concurrently to more than one journal is unethical publishing behavior and unacceptable.
Submission of significantly improved versions of Author’s published papers to STEPGRAD is sometimes justifiable, provided certain conditions are met. Improved papers cannot be copies of previous paper and must provide added value. This added value can be in the form of new case studies and/or examples, and/or improvement the published methodology and/or theory itself. The primary reference must be properly cited in the secondary publication.
Manuscripts which have been published as copyrighted material elsewhere cannot be submitted. In addition, manuscripts under review of STEPGRAD should not be resubmitted to other publications.
Authorship of the paper
Only persons who meet these authorship criteria should be listed as authors in the manuscript as they must be able to take public responsibility for the content:
1. Made significant contributions to the conception, design, execution, data acquisition, or analysis/interpretation of the study; and
2. Drafted the manuscript or revised it critically for important intellectual content; and
3. Have seen and approved the final version of the paper and agreed to its submission for publication.
All persons who made substantial contributions to the work reported in the manuscript (such as technical help, writing and editing assistance, general support) but who do not meet the criteria for authorship must not be listed as an author, but should be acknowledged in the “Acknowledgements” section after their written permission to be named as been obtained. The corresponding author should ensure that all appropriate coauthors (according to the above definition) and no inappropriate coauthors are included in the author list and verify that all coauthors have seen and approved the final version of the manuscript and agreed to its submission for publication.
Disclosure and conflicts of interest
Authors should – at the earliest stage possible (generally by submitting a disclosure form at the time of submission and including a statement in the manuscript) – disclose any conflicts of interest that might be construed to influence the results or their interpretation in the manuscript. Examples of potential conflicts of interest that should be disclosed include financial ones such as honoraria, educational grants or other funding, participation in speakers’ bureaus, membership, employment, consultancies, stock ownership, or other equity interest, and paid expert testimony or patent-licensing arrangements, as well as non-financial ones such as personal or professional relationships, affiliations, knowledge or beliefs in the subject matter or materials discussed in the manuscript. All sources of financial support for the work should be disclosed (including the grant number or other reference number if any).
Acknowledgement of sources
Authors should ensure that they have properly acknowledged the work of others, and should also cite publications that have been influential in determining the nature of the reported work. Information obtained privately (from conversation, correspondence or discussion with third parties) must not be used or reported without explicit, written permission from the source. Authors should not use information obtained in the course of providing confidential services, such as refereeing manuscripts or grant applications, unless they have obtained the explicit written permission of the author(s) of the work involved in these services.
Authors are obliged to participate in the peer review process and cooperate fully by responding promptly to editors’ requests for raw data, clarifications, and proof of ethics approval, patient consents and copyright permissions. In the case of a first decision of “revisions necessary,” authors should respond to the reviewers’ comments systematically, point by point, and in a timely manner, revising and re-submitting their manuscript to the STEPGRAD by the deadline given.
Fundamental errors in published works
When authors discover significant errors or inaccuracies in their own published work, it is their obligation to promptly notify the STEPGRAD’s editors or publisher and cooperate with them to either correct the paper in the form of an erratum or to retract the paper. If the editors or publisher learns from a third party that a published work contains a significant error or inaccuracy, then it is the authors’ obligation to promptly correct or retract the paper or provide evidence to the journal editors of the correctness