All scientific research in principle should be published if it can contribute something useful, new or substantial to the relevant field. Unethical research work is often scientifically unsound, misleading, and even harmful. We must prevent such works from being published, or remove them once they are. Unethical behaviour in Science undermines trust and distorts truth.
We briefly summarize the Thai Journal of Surgery's position on publication ethics below. We urge that all authors adhere to this policy. The list below includes the most common and serious ethical violations, but it is by no means complete.
Ethical peer review. All original research studies on human participants must have undergone relevant ethical peer review and ethical research conduct as per internationally accepted research ethics guidelines or applicable laws.
Data fabrication and falsification. All forms of data fraud, from total fabrication (made-up data) to data manipulation (data falsification), including image manipulation, are not acceptable. Any substantial violation of research protocol possibly impacting the conclusions of the research study must be reported, with or without modifications to the data, otherwise such unreported violations would constitute data falsification.
Plagiarism. All forms of plagiarism, whether of others' work or self-plagiarism ("duplicate publication") are not acceptable. This applies to literal copying or paraphrasing passages and paragraphs from other publications without appropriate acknowledgement of original sources, to copying data tables and pictorial illustrations without documentation of copyright clearance. Using data sets obtained by others without acknowledgement, even if publicly available, is also unacceptable. For the purposes of the Journal, substantial plagiarism is defined as at least 20% of the overall word count or content of the manuscript.
Simultaneous submission. Manuscripts submitted simultaneously to different publications, in general, will not be accepted. Major manuscripts of great importance may, however, be published simultaneously in different publications or in different languages to further increase access, subject to certain conditions.
Conflicts of interest. All potential conflicts of interest must be declared. These include financial as well as other, non-financial, competing interests. Financial conflicts may include funding from sources with interest in certain research outcomes, or being employed or paid, full-time or otherwise, by such entities. Non-financial conflicts may include strong beliefs in certain outcomes of the study, prior to performing the study, or the need for academic promotion in a highly competitive atmosphere of an institution. Declaration of sources of funding or consultancies or stock ownership, if any, must be made, as well as all academic, or religious (if such is relevant) or various institutional affiliations.
Gift authorship. It is unacceptable to include "authors" who have made no substantial contribution to the research work or manuscript ("gift" or "guest" authorship). Conversely, "ghost" authorship, referring to unnamed, often paid, substantial contributors, is also discouraged. These individuals may be named in an acknowledgement section. Similarly, substantial contributors taken off the author list without acknowledgement, whether unknowingly or otherwise, is unacceptable.
If, on reception of the manuscript, or in due course, any omissions or violations of the above were to come to the attention of the Editor, appropriate measures including the rejection of the manuscript or retraction of a published manuscript, to prompt notification of the involved parties as well as the responsible authorities in the authors' institutions, will be made in accordance with international guidelines.
Responsibilities and Roles of Authors, Editors and Reviewers of Scientific Journal Articles.
Editorial independence. Decisions made by the Editors must be independent of the undue influence of the Royal College of Surgeons of Thailand, who is the publisher, and from all authors and reviewers, as well as undue influence from present or future sponsors of the Journal.
Conflicts of interest. The Editors will declare or appropriately manage conflicts of interest when relevant. In particular, the Editors will ensure that submitted manuscripts are reviewed by reviewers outside of the authors’ institutions or affiliated institutions.
Ensure blind peer review. The Editors will anonymize the authors of all manuscripts sent for peer review, as well as ensure the anonymity of the peer reviewers. Editors will choose reviewers with expertise, experience and integrity who will review the manuscript for scientific merit, without potential conflicts of interest in the outcomes of the review.
Confidentiality. The Editors will ensure that all manuscripts sent for publication shall remain confidential until time of publication. All rejected or withdrawn manuscripts will also remain confidential.
Timeliness. The Editors shall process all manuscripts in a timely manner, which includes sending manuscripts for peer review, ensuring the manuscripts are adequately and fairly reviewed, the authors are given sufficient time to respond and revise, and electronic and print versions of completed manuscripts are released as soon as possible and within the scheduled publication date of each issue of the Journal. Authors will be informed of manuscript rejection as soon as the decision is made.
Manuscript rejection. The Editors will reject manuscripts based on unethical research or research misconduct, unscientific content, reviewer recommendation, and other unacceptable manuscript content or style, as well as past-due responses or non-response to requests for revision or corrections.
Publication in Editor’s own Journal. Manuscripts of original or research articles, as well as review articles, written by the Editors will be sent anonymously to peer reviewers outside the Editors’ institutions. Such articles will be managed by Editors who are not the authors. Editorials or special articles written by the Editors are not routinely peer-reviewed.
Mediate Conflicts. Any conflict arising during or from the review, revision and publication of any manuscript shall be managed appropriately by the Editors, or delegated to relevant institutions. Conflicts arising from research misconduct will be managed accordingly. Concerns of readers with the scientific content or other errors of a published article may be shared publicly through the publication of open letters, along with the author’s response, as the editors deemed appropriate.
Detection and Management of Research Misconduct. Any detected or suspected research misconduct on the part of the authors shall be managed by the Editors as detailed above.
Statement of Originality. Authors must state, in a covering letter or Comments to the Editor or in a section of the manuscript, that the manuscript, as a whole or in part, has never been previously published, whether by the authors or by others, and that the manuscript is not currently under consideration for publication elsewhere. Under rare circumstances, which must be indicated and presented in detail by the authors, exceptions may be made on a case-by-case basis.
Conflicts of interest. Authors must declare all relevant conflicts of interest. In particular, possible sources of financial conflicts of interest include the Authors’ ownership of any stocks in, or financial compensation or salaries provided by, the sponsoring bodies of the study or other potential stakeholders. Examples of other types of conflicts of interest are given below as well as in Conflicts of interest / Competing interests | COPE: Committee on Publication Ethics.
Research integrity and misconduct. Authors must adhere to the codes of research integrity, and applicable research regulations. All types of research misconduct, detailed briefly above, must be avoided. Authors must agree to their manuscript being reviewed for plagiarism via an automated plagiarism-detection software. All Authors shall be responsible for the contents of the published article. Further details of misconduct and its management can be found in Allegations of misconduct | COPE: Committee on Publication Ethics
Research ethics. Authors must follow international research ethics guidelines. In particular, this include the Declaration of Helsinki, 2013 (WMA Declaration of Helsinki – Ethical Principles for Medical Research Involving Human Subjects – WMA – The World Medical Association), and the International Guidelines for Health-Related Research Involving Humans, 2016 (WEB-CIOMS-EthicalGuidelines.pdf). Authors must provide a statement and documentation of their institute’s Research Ethics Committee approval.
Reporting standards and trial registration. We urge all Authors to register their clinical trials prior to their conduct in a recognized Trial Registry (e.g., https://www.thaiclinicaltrials.org or https://clinicaltrials.gov ). Clinical research studies should be structured and reported according to recommended guidelines (Reporting guidelines | The EQUATOR Network (equator-network.org)).
Authorship. All Authors must have contributed significantly to the production of the manuscript. Further details of contributorship are provided below. A full account of types of relevant contribution by Authors are provided in Authorship and contributorship | COPE: Committee on Publication Ethics. The manuscript should contain a short description of contributorship of each Author.
Retraction and withdrawal. Manuscripts can be withdrawn by the Authors prior to publication for any reason. A formal letter of withdrawal must be made by the Authors to the editors. However, any fees or charges incurred during the review and prepublication processes prior to withdrawal will not be refunded. Published articles should be retracted with agreement and consent of both editors and Authors. Valid reasons must be given by the Authors in writing, in a formal letter to the editors, if a request for retraction is made by the Authors. Valid reasons include serious scientific errors and research misconduct. The editors may also request retraction if there are serious and valid concerns with the scientific or ethical aspects of the article, or with research integrity on the part of the Authors. The editors may contact the Authors and Author’s institute for clarification and investigation. Retraction may be made without the Authors’ consent or agreement if such scientific and ethical issues are of immediate importance. Details of management of research misconduct with and apart from formal retraction of published articles can be found in Allegations of misconduct | COPE: Committee on Publication Ethics.
Conflicts of interest. The Reviewer may not review manuscripts of colleagues from the same institution. Reviewers must declare any relevant conflicts of interest to the editors when reviewing manuscripts. In particular, financial conflicts of interest such as owning stocks in the sponsoring bodies of the research under review must be declared.
Confidentiality agreement. Reviewers must respect and maintain confidentiality of the contents of the manuscript under review. Details of opinions or discussions specific to these contents must be kept strictly private within Reviewers, editors and authors.
Scientific knowledge and integrity. The Reviewer must be scientifically knowledgeable in his or her field of interest, or an experienced researcher in the field. The Reviewer’s integrity should be unimpeachable. He or she should never have been under investigation for scientific misconduct, or found guilty of such misconduct. Reviewers are solely responsible for their written reviews.
Timeliness. The Reviewer must ensure that the review be written and submitted in a timely manner, specifically before or at the requested due date. Delays due to findings or concerns of misconduct should be relayed to the editors as soon as suspicions arise.
Detection of Research Misconduct. Suspected or unequivocal misconduct detected by the Reviewer must be shared only with the editors in a timely manner, along with the relevant evidence at the same time or soon after. Reviewers should not share their allegations or suspicions with the Authors, either directly in the event that that the identities of the Authors become known to the Reviewer, or indirectly through online discussion.
Politeness and careful choice of words. The Reviewer should use an impersonal but polite and concise style when writing the review. All mistakes and perceived limitations must be clearly explained, any questions clearly stated, preferably numbered point by point. Reasonable suggestions for corrections to errors in the manuscript, suggested clarification of ambiguous statements, along with requests for references to back controversial claims, and suggested analysis or explanations should be provided, preferably or if possible within the same study setting. If a completely new analysis or revision of experimental setup or major rewriting of the manuscript is required, there must be strong scientific or ethical reasons for these requirements. Requesting major revisions should not be based on personable preferences or biased opinions lacking scientific evidence.