WikiJournal of Medicine/Draft of ethics statement

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This is the ethics statement for WikiJournal of Medicine. This statement has been adapted from the principles of the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE)[1][2] (currently about to incorporate practices from [1])

In addition, the journal follows the ICMJE’s Recommendations for the Conduct, Reporting, Editing and Publication of Scholarly Work in Medical Journals. This statement covers the code of ethics for the editor-in-chief, editorial board members, associate editors, peer reviewers and authors.

In this document, scientific misconduct is defined as intention or gross negligence leading to fabrication of the scientific message or a false credit or emphasis given to a scientist.

Duties of the authors[edit]

Duties of the Editorial board[edit]

Editorial Board Members should have a set of talents, experience, and competencies that will best fulfill the needs of WikiJournal of Medicine. The full names and affiliations of the Editorial Board Members should be displayed online.

Editorial Board Members must keep the confidentiality of works and author identities unless permission has been granted to disclose such material or information. Members of the editorial board must not retain such works for their personal use.

Scientific misconduct[edit]

The Editorial Board Members should inform institutions if they suspect misconduct by their researchers, and provide evidence to support these concerns, such as analysis of text similarity in cases of suspected plagiarism, or evidence of inappropriate image manipulation. They should cooperate with investigations and respond to institutions’ questions about misconduct allegations. They should be prepared to issue retractions or corrections when provided with findings of misconduct arising from investigations. They should should correct or retract findings that are invalid or unreliable, both when caused by misconduct and by honest errors. Publications should be retracted if they are evidenced to be generally unreliable, while on the other hand a correction should be made in cases where only a small part of the publication is affected while the majority of findings and conclusions are valid.

Editorial Board Members should investigate allegations of misconduct targeted at peer reviewers for the journal. Yet, However, Editorial Board Members may be obliged to protect the identity of whistleblowers.

In cases of scientific misconduct involving several journals, these journals should cooperate and share information as required to resolve the issues.

The Editorial Board Members should aim at keeping communications relating to ongoing misconduct investigations confidential between parties.

Expression of concern

An Expression of Concern may be used to inform readers about serious allegations likely to affect the reliability or integrity of an article. Expressions of Concern should not be viewed as ‘milder’ versions of retractions. The editorial board should consider issuing an Expression of Concern if:

  • there is inconclusive evidence scientific misconduct by the authors
  • there is evidence that the findings are unreliable, but there is no institution or entity available to properly investigate the case

• there is reason to believe that an investigation into alleged misconduct either has not been, or would not be, fair and impartial or conclusive • an investigation is underway but a decision thereof will not be available for a considerable time


The editorial board should consider issuing a correction if:

  • a small portion of an otherwise reliable publication is evidenced to be misleading, particularly if it appears to be an honest error such as a methodological error or a miscalculation
  • the author list is incorrect. For example, a deserving author may have been omitted or somebody who does not meet authorship criteria may have been included

The editorial board should consider retracting a publication if:

  • there is clear evidence that the findings are unreliable, either as a result of honest error or scientific misconduct such as data fabrication
  • the findings have previously been published elsewhere without proper permission or justification for publication in WikiJournal of Medicine as well
  • it contains plagiarism
  • it reports unethical research

Retractions are not usually appropriate in cases where the authorship needs to be changed but there is no reason to doubt the validity of the findings.

Retraction statements should include the reasons for the retraction and should distinguish between cases of misconduct and honest error to encourage researchers to report errors when they occur and ensure no stigma is attached to this.

Further reading: COPE Retraction guidelines

Duties of the associate editors[edit]

The full names and affiliations of the Associate editors should be displayed online.

In case of suspected scientific misconduct, associate editors should inform the editor-in-chief or an editorial board member. Unless advised otherwise by the editorial board, the next step for the editor is to seek a response from those suspected of misconduct. If they are not satisfied with the response, they should ask the relevant employers or institution to investigate. When available, it is generally the responsibility of the relevant employers or institution to investigate those suspected of misconduct, and to potentially discipline them and take measures to prevent further misconduct.

In case of transfer of the peer review coordinator task to another person for a particular submission, there should be a handover period with the new and old coordinator working together. The duration of this period should be established in agreement with the editorial board. Acceptance decisions of the previous editor should not be overturned unless there are substantial issues such as plagiarism or data fabrication.

Associate editors must keep the confidentiality of works and author identities unless permission has been granted to disclose such material or information. Associate editors must not retain such works for their personal use.

Duties of the peer-reviewers[edit]

Potential peer reviewers should provide the peer review coordinator or corresponding editorial board member with personal and professional information that is accurate and a true representation of their expertise. Peer reviewers should only agree to review submissions for which they have the subject expertise required to make a proper assessment, and for which they can review in a timely manner. Peer reviewers should not use information obtained during the peer review process for their own or any other person's or organization’s advantage, nor should they use it to disadvantage or discredit others. Peer reviewers should declare all potential conflicting interests, and should seek advice from the peer review coordinator or the editorial board if they are unsure whether something constitutes a relevant conflict of interest. Peer reviewers should not allow their reviews to be influenced by the origins of a submission, by the nationality, religious or political beliefs, gender or other characteristics of the authors, or by commercial considerations.

Assessment aspects

When processing submissions to the journal, the guidelines for peer reviewers for research articles includes the following ethical aspects:

  • Is patient consent commented?
  • Have risks of harm for participants been minimized?
  • Is there appropriate protection of research subjects, including animals?
  • Was there approval by an ethics committee or institutional review board?
  • If not, is there an adequate explanation whether this was done or not?

The reviews should be objective and constructive, with avoidance of hostile, libellous or derogatory personal comments.


Associate editors must keep the confidentiality of works and author identities unless permission has been granted to disclose such material or information. Associate editors must not retain such works for their personal use.

Further reading: COPE Ethical Guidelines for Peer Reviewers

Duties of the editor-in-chief[edit]

The editor-in-chief has final responsibilities for the operations and policies of the journal. Contact details of the editor-in-chief should be stated online. The editor-in-chief should act as the point of contact for questions relating to research and publication ethics. The editor-in-chief should acknowledge receipt of communications from institutions and should promptly bring the matter to the Editorial Board for action. The editor-in-chief should keep the public informed about any changes in the aims and scope of the journal.


Information about journal structure and management is described online.

Human research and cases[edit]

Informed consent

Journal participants must ensure that proper consent for publication has been obtained from individuals who are reported on in a submitted work, or from a proxy thereof. This includes patient images or case details. The individual(s) being reported on should be aware of the possible consequences of that reporting. For case studies, and in any work where a patient may be identified, WikiJournal of Medicine requires authors to assert that a written informed consent was received and that the patient. The author must specify whether or not the subject or proxy has seen the final version the details to be published (including pictures). If a final version has not been shown, the author should specify what the patient or proxy has seen and that he or she has agreed to include in the publication. This requirement also applies when a report involves deceased persons. Journal participants do not themselves collect the signed consent forms, but it should be kept by the author. The consent form must include:

  • Specifics about what material will be published.
  • An agreement to the online publication of the material.
  • Place for the name as well as for the signature of the subject.
  • Revocation rights: Information to the subject that she/he may revoke the consent at any time. The signer should receive contact information to the person who has explained and administered the form. Before an article is published, a revoked consent must result in the removal of subject details from the submitted work. After article publication, removal of subject details may not be possible, but consideration should be made to minimize the amount of subject details.

The wording of the form should make it clear that, even with the best efforts at keeping confidentiality, anonymity cannot be guaranteed. There is a risk that the patient may be identified by someone, somewhere, once the work is published.

Additional information is included in certain cases:

  • For patients, the form should indicate that signing it does not remove their rights to privacy.
  • Hazards: A statement of regulatory compliance is required if the work involves chemicals, procedures or equipment that have any unusual hazards inherent in their use.
  • If the study subject is not the signer, the relationship of the signer (i.e., the proxy) to the subject must be included. The form should include a statement to indicate that the individual or group does not have legal, mental, or physical capacity to consent, and the reason why. Examples include underage children, persons with cognitive or intellectual disabilities, or deceased persons.
  • If one person is signing for a family or other group, that person should attest that all relevant members of the family or group have been informed.
  • If there is a compensation or any form of financial benefit to the subject, the nature thereof should be clearly stated on the form. Preferably, study subjects should not expect to derive any financial benefit from publication of the case.



Each submission must be checked for possible plagiarism before consideration of inclusion in the journal.

Disclosure and Conflict of Interest[edit]

Draft pages and peer review[edit]

Draft pages as well as not yet accepted manuscripts for WikiJournal of Medicine must be clearly marked as such. Peer review is required before an article is considered for acceptance into the journal. Peer review is defined as obtaining advice on individual manuscripts from reviewers expert in the field who are not part of the journal’s editorial staff. This process is described at WikiJournal of Medicine/Peer reviewers.

Authorship and collaboration[edit]

Submission ethics[edit]

Originality of publication
Multiple, duplicate, redundant or concurrent submission/publication
Acknowledgement of sources
Fundamental errors in published works

Copyright and licensing[edit]

The licensing of an article must be displayed among the details on the same online page or PDF document.

Copyright for authors
Article sharing
Research data

Duties of the publisher[edit]

The publisher of WikiJournal of Medicine is Wikimedia Foundation. Both the Editorial Board and the Associate editors are part of the publisher.

Publication decisions

The publisher is responsible for identifying and preventing the pulication of works involving scientific misconduct such as plagiarism, citation manipulation, and data falsification/fabrication

Handling of unethical publishing behavior
Data retention policy

All previous versions are stored and are readily available through the View history tabs of each article. The journal is also archived on several external sites [2].


Any direct marketing activities, including solicitation of manuscripts that are conducted on behalf of the publisher or journal, shall be appropriate, well targeted, and unobtrusive.


WikiJournal of Medicine has no publication fees for authors, and no fees for accessing published articles. The revenue source for the journal is by donations to Wikimedia Foundation. The journal does not display paid advertisements.

Further information[edit]

  • Committee on Publication Ethics - For more detailed information on any of these topics, including case studies, consult COPE's extensive database
  • - If ever in doubt on any issue of the journal's publication ethics, seek clarification from the editorial board