Publication Ethics and Malpractice Statement
Publication ethics are core practices comprising policies and regulations for a journal to achieve highest ranks of integrity. Our publication ethics include the following aspects that guide us in our day-to-day activities and support us in the fulfillment of our goals.
Humanities and Social Sciences Letters (HSSL) (E-ISSN: 2312-4318) exerts a special attention to ethical integrity of its academic content and publishing process. For this purpose, HSSL follows the editorial guidelines, publication ethics and malpractices statement as stated in Code of Conduct and Best-Practice Guidelines for Journal Editors (Committee on Publication Ethics, COPE, 2011 and 2018).
Committee on Publication Ethics (2011). Code of Conduct and Best-Practice Guidelines for Journal Editors. (Download).
Committee on Publication Ethics (2018). Code of Conduct and Best Practice Guidelines for Journal Editors. (Download).
In addition, we also follow standards and best practice guidelines set by other relevant industry associations such as the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICJME) and the World Association of Medical Editors (WAME). Any external guidelines we follow are referred to in the relevant sections below. Our editors, peer reviewers and authors refer to these section guidelines frequently to maintain the integrity of academic content and publishing process. We hope that these guidelines will be useful to authors, peer reviewers, and editors.
2. Research Integrity
Research Integrity means the use of honest and verifiable methods in conducting research and ensuring scientific and professional integrity of researchers. It also involves adherence to rules, regulations, guidelines, and following commonly accepted professional codes or norms which include
The above principles namely honesty, fairness and accountability – are enshrined in our Ethics guidelines. Anyone who discovers that research published by HSSL violates the above principles of the COPE guidelines should immediately inform our editorial committee on email: email@example.com. Concerns will immediately be addressed as per COPE guidelines and matter will be referred to our Publishing Ethics Committee with due diligence.
3. Editorial Process
There are four major stages of the editorial process before going for production: (i) rewriting or revising the manuscript based on the review (ii) Substantive or Content Editing (iii) Copy editing and (iv) Proofreading. All editorial decisions on articles submitted to our journals are made by external academic editors and based on independent peer review reports. HSSL academic editors have complete responsibility and authority to reject/accept an article. These decisions are based on the paper’s relevance to the journal’s scope and its academic quality as well as potential research innovation, and the research validity.
An important aspect of editorial process is its confidentiality. HSSL editors and editorial staff guarantee the confidentiality of the submitted papers, which are not disclosed to anyone except the reviewers, editorial committees and the publisher, if necessary. No member of the editorial board or reviewers has any conflict of interest with respect to acceptance or rejection of articles submitted. We adhere to the double-blind review in the peer review process and preserve the anonymity of reviewers. In the end, if errors are detected, we encourage publication of corrections as well as retractions. In case of any discrepancy found in our publication ethics, please contact us at email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
4. Peer Review
Our peer review process involves qualified and experienced independent researchers (e.g., university faculty, academicians) in the relevant research areas. These peer reviews assess the submitted manuscripts for originality, validity and significance to the aim and scope of the journal. The peer review process also helps editors to filter out invalid or poorly written articles.
These guidelines and policies related to HSSL’s peer review process are clearly presented on the journal website as per COPE guidelines on Peer review process.
5. Authorship and Contributorship
Any individual playing a role in research is eligible to be a contributor. Contributorship includes authorship as well because publication ethics demands that the contribution of each individual author should be specified when research is submitted for publication. There are different norms to define who should be listed as an author, some of which are following:
In addition, we encourage authors to list names(s) of individual(s) who assisted in the completion of the manuscript in the Acknowledgments section, to recognize their contribution. One of the authors should be the corresponding author who should handle all correspondences related to the manuscript, before, during and after the publication Prior to the publication, the corresponding author should clearly state that s/he is given authority by all co-authors to act on their behalf in all matters pertaining to publication of the manuscript.
There exist extensive guidelines of COPE on Authorship and Contributorship, its definition, scope and even disputes related to authorship. Please see https://publicationethics.org/authorship. Our editors frequently refer to these guidelines whenever any authorship dispute escalates. This integrates us with industry established standards and achieve transparency.
In addition, we follow established and emerging industry standards to increase transparency in authorship (e.g., ORCID). We also support initiatives that enable transparency in authorship and Contributorship, such as CRediT taxonomy. If you wish to report any discrepancy in authorship and Contributorship, please contact us at email: email@example.com.
6. Ethical Guidelines for the Use of Human Participants in Research
HSSL requires all authors to evaluate whether there is any physical or psychological hazard during the conduct of a research which involves human participants, whether patients, volunteers, or healthy individuals. Such research studies may be classified as basic (experimental), clinical, and epidemiological research, prepared as a cohort study, case-control, or cross-sectional. Investigators are required to make a full disclosure about any such risk or hazard that the human participants may be exposed to. It will be mandatory to obtain informed consent from all such human participants in order to safeguard the welfare and dignity of the participants. Failure to make full disclosure prior to obtaining informed consent might lead to a delay or rejection of the manuscript.
We do not make any distinction regarding the nature of participation nor categorize participants based on the type of research. The research may be low risk or high risk, but “every” human participant, irrespective of his or her nature of participation, must give the consent of participations prior to the commencement of research. Hence, informed consent shall be required from all human participants and not with any specific type of research or category of participant.
The demographics should also include number, sex, age range and state of health of the human participants. By state of health, we mean that all participants must be in good physical and mental health, capable to take decisions throughout the tenure of the research. This information about participants’ health is required for all studies with human subjects Though payments to healthy volunteers participating in research are allowable, provided that such payment is to reimburse expenses or compensate for time and inconvenience, and is not at a level that would constitute an inducement for people to take part in studies. Such human research should be conducted only with the approval of the institutional ethical committee. The approval of the institutional ethical committee shall be required for every research submission, irrespective of the participants’ role in the research or whether the participant is paid or not.
National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research 2007 (Updated 2018). The National Health and Medical Research Council, the Australian Research Council and Universities Australia. Commonwealth of Australia, Canberra. (Download)
Gostin, L. (1991). Ethical principles for the conduct of human subject research: population-based research and ethics. Law, Medicine and Health Care, 19(3-4), 191-201.
Artal, R., & Rubenfeld, S. (2017). Ethical issues in research. Best Practice & Research Clinical Obstetrics & Gynaecology, 43, 107-114.
Rice, T. W. (2008). The historical, ethical, and legal background of human-subjects research. Respiratory care, 53(10), 1325-1329.
Childress, J. F., Meslin, E. M., & Shapiro, H. T. (Eds.). (2005). Belmont revisited: Ethical principles for research with human subjects. Georgetown University Press.
7. Policies Regarding Participant Anonymity
All researches involving human participants and submitted to HSSL must follow the policy related to anonymity and confidentiality. Anonymity refers to collecting data without obtaining any personal, identifying information, a procedure mostly followed in quantitative studies. Confidentiality, very common in qualitative studies, however, refers to separating, removing or modifying any personal, identifying information from the data, to protect the privacy of the human subjects. HSSL makes no distinction between anonymity and confidentiality, as both are ethical practices designed to protect the privacy of human subjects while collecting, analyzing, and reporting data.
Specifically, HSSL strictly requires all researches involving human participants to ensure the adherence to the following policies and guidelines of anonymity and confidentiality:
In short, HSSL expects all authors to protect the privacy of their human participants. This requires that all researchers must properly safeguard sensitive and personal information that human participants would not want to disclose to others or make public.
Plagiarism is defined as unattributed use of large portions of text and/or data or any previously published work without consent, credit, or acknowledgment and fraudulently passing it as one’s own work. It may also include text(s), illustrations, musical quotations, extended mathematical derivations, computer codes, material downloaded from websites or drawn from manuscripts; published and unpublished material, including lectures, presentations etc. An author is alleged of plagiarism if there are act of minor copying of short phrases in discussions; or literal (word–for-word) copying of large parts from a published paper; or reproducing major parts of a previously published paper such as text, tables, and figures; or paraphrasing large texts without verbatim copying the text; or recycling author’s own previously published text, termed as self-plagiarism, without citation of the prior work. COPE provides clear guidelines on processes (What to do if you suspect plagiarism?) to be followed to check plagiarism when detected before and after publication.
Besides, there are instructions how to check all submissions through appropriate plagiarism checking tools. We use plagiarism-checking software, CrossCheck, powered by iThenticate, for all manuscripts submitted for publication. This assists editors in identifying plagiarism in all submissions. Submissions containing suspected plagiarism, in whole or part, are rejected. If plagiarism is discovered post-publication, we can retract the article. We expect our readers, reviewers and editors to raise any suspicions of plagiarism, either by contacting the relevant editor or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
9. Duplicate and Redundant Publication
Submitting a new manuscript containing the same hypotheses, data, discussion points, and/or conclusions as a previously published manuscript is called as duplicate publication. This is similar to plagiarism, but instead of copying phrases verbatim, the same data, images, and study hypothesis are replicated in another paper. The COPE classifies duplicate publications into major and minor offences. A major offence is defined as a duplicate publication based on the same dataset with identical findings and/or evidence that authors have sought to hide redundancy, e.g., by changing title or author order or not referring to previous papers. A minor offence, also referred as “salami slicing,” is defined as a duplicate publication with some element of redundancy or legitimate repetition or reanalysis (e.g., subgroup/extended follow-up/repeated methods).
Please refer to COPE’s definition of redundant publication, available at:
We do not support substantial overlap between publications, unless our editors recommend that it will strengthen the academic discourse and contribute to research. We publish only when we have clear approval from the original publisher while citing the original source. We expect our readers, reviewers and editors to raise any suspicions of duplicate or redundant publication, either by contacting the relevant editor or by emailing email@example.com. Such redundant publications are retracted as per the COPE Flowcharts https://publicationethics.org/guidance/Flowcharts.
10. Conflicts of Interest
Conflicts of interest, also known as competing interests, may be financial, personal, social or other interests that directly or indirectly influence the conduct of the author with respect to the manuscript submitted. Direct conflict of interest occurs when authors are benefited in the form of stocks, patents, employment from the text/ content of the paper. Indirect conflicts of interest are in the form of research grants, funds or honoraria etc. received from the published content. A conflict of interest can also be widely affecting the public if the outcome of a generalized and empirical research leads to only personal advantage. Examples include a conflict between the investigator and co-investigators, between investigators and the trial subjects of research, and such factors that compromise with the integrity of the research domain at large or its trustworthiness. Conflicts may also occur regarding financial or non-financial support received from individuals, institutions, social and economic organizations, political pressure groups, and academic agencies.
HSSL insists on identifying such real or potential conflict of interest at all stages of research ranging from funding applications, recruiting participants and taking their consent, public disclosures, and even post-publication if findings are used for commercialization or seeking patents and copyrights. Unless an agreement or a formal self-declaration needs to be documented with the corresponding author regarding declaring the conflict of interest pre and post publication, a brief written statement at the time of submission of research is required. The corresponding author, however, first summarizes and discloses any competing interests in the cover letter in the form of a self-declaration. The editor will thoroughly examine whether there is a need to amend the research plan by asking the corresponding author to clarify any issues if the research has or might have a conflict of interest pre and post publication.
Subsequently, the editor would also decide whether such competing interests would interfere with the objectivity of research or pose a risk to its integrity after publication. The editor then takes steps transparently to ask the corresponding author to disclose the conflicts of interest norms as a part of the research procedure within the text (if the conflict of interest is of a type and severity that involves the research participants) and unambiguously mention that the same has been revealed to the participants and their consent taken) and/or simultaneously append the conflict of statement at the end of the article (prior to References) along with other disclosures.
We also expect our readers and reviewers to report any undisclosed conflict of interest for a work published or under consideration in our journal to our editor or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
11. Funding Declaration
HSSL mandates all authors to append a funding acknowledgement statement as a separate heading under Acknowledgements’ prior to References. This statement will declare all sources of funding received for the research submitted to the journal. This statement is still required even if there is no funding received. The author may write “The author(s) received no financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article.” The funding support for the research includes all kinds of support including salaries, equipment, supplies, reimbursement for attending symposia, and other expenses by funding agencies. The title of the funding agency should be written in full, followed by the grant number and year of receiving the grant. If the research was supported by more than one funding agency, all the names of agencies should be mentioned clearly with respective grant numbers. If authors feel that such funding information may compromise their anonymity and/ or might affect the peer reviews, they can withhold this information and submit the same with the final accepted manuscript. In case of multiple authors, and if each author has received individual grants, the same must be declared individually in case of Inaccurate information about funding discovered after publication, the journal has a right to make a correction.
12. Libel, Defamation and Freedom of Expression
Libel and slander are two infamous matters that affect a person’s reputation and termed as defamation. Libel is written defamation, while slander is oral defamation. Some written transcripts or manuscripts submitted for publications also fall under the rubric of libel. When any editorial committee seeks to protect reputation or prevent any defamation to occur, it invariably is seen as infringement on freedom of expression.
Our journal considers freedom of expression as a right of the author but we do not support publication of false statements that can harm the reputation of individuals, groups, or organizations. Our legal team pays special attention on any kind of pre-publication libel reviews, or allegations of libel. We honor authors’ freedom of expression and allow them to express their beliefs, thoughts, ideas, and emotions about different issues free from any censorship, provided they do onto amount to libels or defamation.
13. Retractions, Corrections and Expressions of Concern
HSSL addresses the retractions, corrections or expressions of concern in line with COPE’s Guidelines available here https://publicationethics.org/retraction-guidelines.
Regarding corrections, if an error is committed inadvertently by the author, HSSL issues a corrigendum or if the error is due to a member of Editorial committee, we issue an erratum. Our production unit can minor changes of typesetting or proofreading, but any substantive corrections are carried out in line with COPE’s Retraction Guidelines.
HSSL publishes Expressions of Concern if we identify well-founded concerns or suspicions and feel that readers should be made aware of such potentially misleading information. We follow the COPE guidelines to schedule expression of such concerns as stated in COPE’s Retraction Guidelines. All such concerns include citation of the original article and explains the editor’s concerns about its contents. Care is taken not to disturb its indexing and abstracting links and that they are accessible. In the end, if errors are detected, we encourage publication of corrections as well as retractions. In case of any enquiries, concerns or issues related to retractions, please contact us at email: email@example.com.
COPE (2019) COPE Retraction guidelines — English. https://doi.org/10.24318/cope.2019.1.4 Version 2: November 2019.
14. Image Manipulation, Falsification and Fabrication
Image manipulation occurs when images or their embedded data are modified in such a fashion that images might misrepresent the results obtained from them. Unless there are legitimate reasons for modifying images, we do not expect authors to modify images as it might lead to falsification, fabrication, or misrepresentation of data findings.
Data falsification is the manipulation of research data, method or material, processes, findings and results with the intention of giving a false impression. Data fabrication is the intentional misrepresentation of research data by making-up findings, misreporting results.
15. Fraudulent Research and Research Misconduct
Fraudulent research is a violation of the standard code of conduct and publication ethics in scientific research. It is an intentional deception made for personal gain or to damage another individual, by intentionally falsifying and/or fabricating research data, and misleading reporting of the results.
Research misconduct includes plagiarism, misreporting research results, etc. besides fabrication and falsification of research data and findings. A negligent deviation from accepted practices and failure to follow established protocols also amounts to Research misconduct. It also includes intentional and unauthorized disclosure of research findings, materials, writings or devices used in research.
HSSL emphasizes on the integrity of content. We refer to COPE guidelines and regulations on Code of Conduct and Best Practice Guidelines for Journal Editors and Guidelines on Good Publication Practice to investigate any potential fraudulence or research misconduct. In the event of any inadvertent slip, we immediately retract the published content.
16. Versions and Adaptations
One of the evidences of complying with COPE guidelines and publishing ethics is that HSSL does not issue any different versions of our published content in different geographical, cultural, linguistics and environmental locations. Our authors are distributed across many geographical regions, languages and cultures, but we do not modify the published content to meet linguistic or ideological requirements of any region. Nor do we compromise with the quality, effectiveness or factual accuracy of the research content nor let it conflict with our Code of Ethics as specified in COPE Guidelines on Good Publication Practice.
Transparency in research resides in truth and honesty in research publications. We expect authors to be transparent in their research data. Data transparency means the accessibility of data no matter where it is located or what application created it. Secondly, data transparency also requires the assurance that data is accurate and coming from authentic sources. Transparency in research also enables readers to utilize the data confidently to support their empirical research.
HSSL adheres to COPE’s Principles of Transparency and Best Practice in Scholarly.
18. Data and Supporting Evidence
In order to ensure trust, honesty and transparency of data, HSSL expects authors to maintain accurate records of supporting evidence such as filled-in questionnaires, interview transcripts, codes, and other research material. At times, such data may be required to verify, and replicate new findings, and to support evidences on reasonable request. If allowed by the appropriate authorities and the funding agency, we encourage authors to submit research data in a suitable repository or a location, for sharing and further use by others; and/ or provide a data availability statement or a source where data can be found.
19. Integrity of Record
HSSL maintains a track record of all our publications along with the metadata consisting of volume, issues and page numbers of each publication. It is our primary objective to first ensure that the metadata is accessible to all within a jurisdiction without violating the law of the land nor modifying the research content to suit the geographical, linguistic or cultural diversity. In the event of retraction or corrections, when we need to alter our publications, we preserve the indexing and accessing information as far possible. Thus, we keep the integrity of our meta records.
20. Fair Access
HSSL believes in free and fair, low-cost access of all our digital content to researchers across all geographical regions globally. For this purpose, we organize events like seminars, webinars, conferences and participate in global access initiatives to ensure a wider accessibility of our open access published content. HSSL also waives off APC for the authors belonging to low and middle-income countries who are unable to pay the APC.
21. Copyright and Licensing
In academic research, copyright is a type of intellectual property that protects an author’s original creative work. After online publication of article, the copyright is held by the Conscientia Beam, but the published articles are freely available for download. Conscientia Beam allows readers to read your research without barriers as well as the authors to build upon their work non-commercially. This indicates that the author can share the article/abstract on personal website at any point after publication of article (this includes posting to Facebook, Google groups, and LinkedIn, plus linking from Twitter). The author can submit article in research institutional repository by mentioning the original source of publication. However, If the author wishes to reprint the published article as a chapter in his own book or others, the permission of the copyright holder (Conscientia Beam) will have to be sought.
22. Marketing Communication
HSSL utilize the social media platforms and other electronic media to disseminate our content and engage readers with our publications. We try to reach new readers through quick communication methods like emails, twitter and Facebook. Our Editorial board and reviewers are familiar with social media policies and practices and plan their advertising and marketing activities by adhering to norms and standards of the concerned regulatory body such as Advertising Standards Authority’s Guidance on the Marketing of Publications (or equivalent bodies applicable to our global offices). Such communication for the purpose of marketing and publicity of the journal content is not at the expense of its integrity of content.
HSSL makes use of very specific, appropriate and only most essential advertising on our online publications. The logos of indexing bodies like Scopus, ERIC, WoS and others are shown to inform the readers of the indexing status of the journal. Such advertising is independent from what we publish and has no connection with contents of the manuscripts or with the with the themes of special issues.
We follow the Research Publishing Ethics Guidelines on Good Publication Practice while we use the required and limited advertising. We also adhere to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) guidelines https://www.asa.org.uk/resource/publications.html for our data protection regulations, Marketing of Publications, and our internal Compliance procedures.
24. PR / Media
The PR/ Media committee of HSSL comprises editorial board members as well as a few authors who promote the journal among their academic colleagues in universities and institutions. For this purpose we follow the Code of Conduct of the concerned regulatory bodies including COPE Guidelines on Good Publication Practice. We strictly observe the norms and standards when we need to issue press releases or other media communications in seminars and conferences. If our PR/Media activities concern our authors, editors or reviewers, we keep them informed about the media activity with their names mentioned. Our editors and peer reviewers who are involved in media or publicity related activities are encouraged to familiarize themselves with and follow the International Public Relations Association’s (IPRA) Code of Conduct https://www.ipra.org/member-services/code-of-conduct/.
25. Metrics, Usage and Reporting
HSSL complies with the industry standards and the Code of Ethics while reporting metrics, statistics and content usage (e.g. citations). We ensure that our reporting of metrics and statistics are correct, accurate and no malicious infringement has been committed and remains compliant with the industry standard and the COUNTER Code of Practice Release 5 https://www.projectcounter.org/code-of-practice-five-sections/abstract/.
We also share our metrics with third parties, including commercial services, who provide users and readers with metrics illustrating our impact factor, and other such metrics. We appreciate the support provided to us by third parties such as Crossref, and other indexing bodies ((through the provision of data, access or fees) that have actively facilitated our work of disseminating our metrics and data statistics.