As a leading publication in the continuously evolving field of medical oncology, The Oncologist is dedicated to translating the latest research developments into best multimodality practice for physicians entrusted with cancer patient care. This mission requires ongoing, scrupulous attention to the quality and integrity of the Journal’s publications, and irreproachable conduct on the part of its authors, reviewers, and editors. In pursuit of this goal, The Oncologist has adopted a Conduct Policy that reflects and supports the Journal’s unwavering commitment to the quality and integrity of work it publishes.
The Conduct Policy, found below, outlines the standards of professional behavior expected of authors, reviewers, and editors, and addresses the Journal’s policy for handling potential instances of misconduct.
It is the responsibility of submitting authors to ensure that the data and work represented in their manuscript are accurately presented at the time of submission. For all submitted papers, accurate representation includes the submission of only original and unpublished material, proper acknowledgment of all author contributions, properly credited references and resources, and presentation of all relevant data and results in their true, unaltered form. The journal requires a statement disclosing any financial relationship that is relevant to the work, and that might be perceived as a conflict of interest.
In addition, if manuscript content is based on scientific research, then that research is required not only to meet accepted scientific standards, but also to adhere to any applicable legal and ethical requirements regarding informed consent and standards for use of experimental animals.
More detailed information regarding manuscript submission requirements can be found on the journal’s website under “Information for Authors” (http://authors.theoncologist.com/).
Instances involving potential author misconduct can relate to either submitted or published manuscripts. The Journal’s author misconduct policy does not apply to “honest” mistakes of judgment or interpretation, which may be resolved through subsequent publication of an erratum.
Examples of potential author misconduct may include, but are not limited to, the following circumstances:
- Falsifying, manipulating, or omitting data or results, images, or any other materials, processes, or content, such that the research record is not faithfully presented and preserved.
- Fabricating data or results
- Plagiarizing or otherwise not appropriately crediting the work of others or oneself (includes ideas, processes, words, results, etc.)
- Misappropriating the data or results of others and representing them as one’s own
- Submitting or publishing the same, or essentially unchanged, material in more than one publication
- Using published images, charts, tables, etc. without first obtaining appropriate permissions
- Removing or failing to include or properly credit a contributing author or writer, including a paid professional writer.
- Inappropriately assigning author status to a “guest” author or “ghostwriter” whose contributions do not meet the authorship criteria as defined by the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE; www.ICMJE.com); such contributions should be noted instead in the “Acknowledgments” section in the manuscript.
- Failing to appropriately disclose any potential conflicts of interest (see additional information in Information for Authors on The Oncologist’s disclosure requirements)
- Failing to abide by applicable legal and ethical standards regarding the treatment of research subjects
Potential Author Misconduct Notification and Investigation
Notification of Potential Misconduct/Response to Notifying Party – When a potential breach of conduct is brought to the Journal’s attention, the Journal will contact the notifying party to acknowledge receipt of the notification. Unless the notifying party has been personally affected by the alleged misconduct, correspondence with that individual will end with the acknowledgment that notification of the concern has been received.
Potential author misconduct may also be discovered by the Journal’s staff, editors and/or reviewers, in which case the same investigative process applies.
Misconduct Notification and Investigation – Following a receipt of notification of potential author misconduct, the Journal will initiate a preliminary investigation in order to determine whether a formal investigation is warranted. In this phase of the investigation, published and submitted manuscripts, manuscript reviews, and editorial decisions will be evaluated as appropriate. Input will be sought from all individuals affected by the alleged misconduct. If the evidence found is substantial enough to warrant further investigation, then the Journal will notify the corresponding author of the manuscript in question and request a full explanation. Should the corresponding author not respond (or not respond in a timely manner) or provide an inadequate or otherwise unsatisfactory response, the Journal will contact the corresponding author’s institution and/or co-authors.
If the potential misconduct involves a work published elsewhere, the Journal may also contact that publication. Should the potential misconduct involve specific scientific research, the Journal may also contact the institution where the research was conducted in order to further investigate the accuracy, authenticity, and legitimacy of the published data and results. Lastly, the Journal may also request the assistance of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Research Integrity.
During the investigative process, the Journal will follow the guidelines and requirements outlined by the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) and the ICMJE to identify any misconduct and fairly gauge its severity. These references are available online at http://publicationethics.org/flowcharts and at http://www.icmje.org.
Potential instances of author misconduct will be investigated and considered on a case-by-case basis. Should misconduct be established or admitted, the Journal will proceed with sanctions as deemed commensurate with the severity of the misconduct committed. All decisions regarding sanctions or notices of misconduct will be reviewed by the senior editorial board of The Oncologist to seek their advice and agreement with the planned action
Sanctions are applied at the discretion of the Editor-in-Chief, the senior editorial board, and the publisher and may vary based on the severity of the misconduct and whether the manuscript in question was submitted or published.
Appropriate sanctions for author misconduct may include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Publication of an erratum or Statement of Concern by the Journal Editors
- Rejection of the manuscript or retraction of the publication in which the misconduct was committed
- A letter of notice of sanctions to the author(s)
- A letter of notice to the author’s institution and/or the institution where the study was conducted
- Prohibition of further submissions to or publications in the Journal by the offending author for a period of time to be determined by the Editor-in-Chief
Once the decision on sanctions has been determined, the Journal will notify the author.
Editors and Reviewers
Editors and reviewers are also required to abide by the Conduct Policy and therefore should be familiar with the Journal’s policy regarding conflicts of interest and should be prepared to recuse themselves from any situation that would potentially place them in violation of that policy.
In addition to knowing when to recuse themselves from a review, editors and reviewers should also keep in mind that all information submitted for review purposes is confidential in nature and should be treated as such.
Recusal of Editors and Reviewers
In order to provide authors with a fair and unbiased review process, editors (Senior and Associate Editors and Lead Reviewers), and reviewers are required to recuse themselves from the review of a manuscript when faced with a potential conflict of interest. Examples of situations that would require recusal on behalf of an editor or reviewer include but are not limited to:
- An editor or reviewer is the spouse, domestic partner, parent, child, sibling, or other family member of an author on the manuscript in review
- An editor or reviewer is involved in research collaboration with an author on the manuscript in review
- An editor or reviewer is under the employ of, or otherwise works at, the same institution as an author on the manuscript in review
- An editor or reviewer has a strong intellectual bias either for or against the position taken by the author
- An editor or reviewer has a financial interest in an agent or device relevant to the study, or has a financial relationship with a commercial sponsor of the study in question.
In addition to self-recusal, editors and reviewers are also required to recuse themselves from the review of a manuscript when requested to do so by the Editor-in-Chief.
Misconduct of Editorial Board Members
The Oncologist holds its Editorial Board members, as ambassadors of the Journal, to the same high standards of ethical conduct as are expected for authors. Editorial Board members who act as reviewers must honor the confidentiality of all information in the reviewer packet.
If an Editorial Board member is the subject of an accusation of misconduct as an author, reviewer, or editorial board member, the accusation will be referred to the Journal’s executive office and Editor-in-Chief for review and appropriate action.
The Oncologist is a member of, and subscribes to the principles of, the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE).