Ethical policy


(Last updated November 2023)


Ethical Guidelines for Bioscientifica Journals


Bioscientifica is committed to integrity in scientific research. All Bioscientifica journals are members of, and subscribe to the principles of, the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE). All Bioscientifica journals adhere strictly to the COPE core practices for good publishing ethics.

In order to ensure that our journals' contribution to the scientific record is reliable and meets the ethical standards expected by the global scientific community, we have developed the following codes of ethics to support editors, authors and peer reviewers in understanding the standards of behaviour they should follow in carrying out their roles in the journal publishing process.


Diversity and inclusion principles


Bioscientifica requires the equal and respectful treatment of all people. Bioscientifica will not tolerate discrimination or bias based on, but not limited to, sex, gender identity, disability, age, nationality, race, sexual orientation, belief system, political philosophy or economic status.

In addition, any action or behaviour which Bioscientifica considers to be bullying and/or harassment is considered unacceptable.

Behaviour contrary to these principles, where it can reasonably be interpreted that the individual is acting in the capacity of an author, reviewer or member of the Editorial Board of the journal, will be considered misconduct and handled as a violation of our codes of ethics.


Author code of ethics


Authors must:

  • present an accurate account of research performed as well as an objective discussion of its significance;
  • when human subjects are investigated authors should seek approval from a named independent ethical committee (or include a statement that approval was not required from the committee, and why);
  • ensure that any identifiable patients are shown the manuscript to be published before being asked to give informed consent if there is any doubt that anonymity can be maintained (Patient consent form);
  • accurately represent underlying data in the paper;
  • present sufficient detail and references to permit others to replicate the work;
  • cite all relevant references;
  • identify any hazards inherent in conducting the research;
  • declare any conflicts of interest as per the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE) recommendations – see the journal-specific instructions for authors for more detail;
  • ensure they have written and produced entirely original work and ensure that where they have used the work, words and/or figures of others, permission to do so has been obtained and this has been properly attributed and accurately quoted;
  • disclose the use of AI tools in the writing of a manuscript, production of images or graphical elements of a paper, or in the collection and analysis of data;
  • ensure that images comply with the journal’s policy on digital image integrity;
  • not submit the same or similar article or substantially similar material, concurrently to any other journal or primary publication, nor do so until the outcome of their submission to the journal is known;
  • avoid self-plagiarism, i.e. not submit the same or substantially similar material (data or text) as contained in any article, including review articles, that the author(s) have published previously;
  • avoid fragmenting research to maximise the number of articles for publication;
  • avoid libellous or defamatory statements in their work;
  • limit authorship to, and include all, those who have made a significant contribution to the conception, design, execution or interpretation of the work as recommended by the ICMJE;
  • ensure all contributors have approved the final version of the manuscript and its submission to the journal;
  • provide in writing the complete agreement of all authors upon any changes to the authorship of manuscripts during the peer-review process, as per the COPE guidelines;
  • ensure research involving human subjects complies with the Declaration of Helsinki and, in particular, include a statement in the manuscript itself that the subjects have given their informed, written consent;
  • experiments with animals must be performed in accordance with international, national and institutional requirements;
  • ensure research involving animal experimentation complies with the Universities Federation for Animal Welfare Guidelines;
  • report any significant error or inaccuracy in the work to the publisher as soon as it is discovered.

Should any author be found to be in breach of this code of ethics or guilty of research misconduct (as defined in the 'Research misconduct' section), Bioscientifica reserves the right to reject/retract or withdraw the paper (see ‘Retractions’ section), and inform all interested parties including relevant journal editors and authors, the author's department head and/or institutional office of scientific misconduct.




Bioscientifica follows the definition of authorship set out in the ICMJE recommendations. Within this, for someone to be considered an author of a work, they must meet all four of the following criteria:

  • Substantial contributions to the conception or design of the work; or the acquisition, analysis, or interpretation of data for the work; AND
  • Drafting the work or revising it critically for important intellectual content; AND
  • Final approval of the version to be published; AND
  • Agreement to be accountable for all aspects of the work in ensuring that questions related to the accuracy or integrity of any part of the work are appropriately investigated and resolved.

All named authors should be able to identify which co-authors worked on specific parts of the work. In addition, authors should have confidence in the integrity of the contributions of their co-authors.

Any changes to authorship during the publication process must be approved in writing by all authors of the article. All authors must confirm to the journal that they give their consent to the change and made a genuine intellectual contribution to the paper. Bioscientifica reserves the right to refuse requests to change author lists if there is reason to doubt the legitimacy of the request.

If an unresolvable authorship dispute arises, the institution(s) where the work was undertaken should be asked to investigate. Bioscientifica will not arbitrate in cases where there is disagreement over authorship. Bioscientifica has the right to remove your article from the review process until a resolution can be agreed, or issue an expression of concern to the work whilst the investigation is ongoing.


Artificial Intelligence (AI)


In accordance with our Authorship policy, Large Language Models (LLMs) and other AI technologies cannot be listed as authors on any submitted works. Authorship implies responsibilities and tasks that can only be attributed to and performed by humans. Each (co-) author is accountable for ensuring that questions related to the accuracy or integrity of any part of the work are appropriately investigated and resolved and authorship requires the ability to approve the final version of the work and agree to its submission. Authors are also responsible for ensuring that the work is original, that the stated authors qualify for authorship, and the work does not infringe third party rights. Any use of an LLM or AI technology should be described in detail within the Materials and Methods section of the article.

Currently, there are unique legal challenges to AI-generated images related to copyright and research integrity. AI-generative tools should also not be used to create images in submitted manuscripts, except when it is an integral part of the research design or methodology. In such cases a detailed description of the altered or generated content, an explanation of the AI or AI-assisted tool's role in the process, and information about the model, tool, version, and manufacturer must be provided in the Materials and Methods section.

Any failure to disclose the use of these tools will be considered research misconduct and will result in immediate retraction of the article.

This policy pertains solely to AI and AI-assisted tools, like Large Language Models, capable of generating content for scientific purposes. Disclosure is not required for reference management software, such as Mendeley, EndNote, Zotero and similar tools, which authors are free to employ for collecting, organizing, annotating, and utilizing references to scholarly articles.


Research misconduct


'Research misconduct' means fabrication, falsification or plagiarism in proposing, performing or reviewing research, or in reporting research results.

  • Fabrication is making up data or results and recording or reporting them.
  • Falsification is manipulating research materials, equipment or processes, or changing or omitting data or results such that the research is not accurately represented in the research record.
  • Plagiarism is the appropriation of another person's ideas, processes, results or words without giving appropriate credit.
  • Research misconduct does not include honest error or differences of opinion.

Source: Department of Health & Human Services, Office of Research Integrity Annual Report 2006.

Plagiarism includes self-plagiarism. Self-plagiarism (auto-plagiarism) is the publication of (or submission of) the same content in (or to) different journals. Plagiarism is not acceptable in Bioscientifica submissions. Plagiarised content will not be considered for publication.

Bioscientifica is a member of Crossref Similarity Check (powered by iThenticate). All submissions are screened for plagiarism prior to review.


Retractions and corrections


The outcome of a misconduct investigation may be the retraction of a published article. Please see our post-publication changes policy for information.



Reviewer code of ethics


The peer review process lies at the heart of journal publishing. Bioscientifica shares the view of many that all scholars wishing to publish in scholarly journals have an obligation to do a fair share of reviewing of submitted work of others.

Reviewers must:

  • disclose any competing interests before agreeing to review a submission, as per the ICMJE recommendations;
  • evaluate each manuscript for its intellectual content without regard to sex, gender identity, disability, age, nationality, race, sexual orientation, belief system, political philosophy or economic status;
  • review manuscripts with reasonable speed and efficiency;
  • treat the manuscript as a confidential document, and inform the journal if they wish to collaborate on the review with another person;
  • not upload the document or otherwise input the content into an Artificial Intelligence, Large Language Model, or similar tool in the course of preparing their review;
  • not use privileged information or ideas obtained through peer review for personal advantage;
  • not use information, data, or interpretations of the manuscript in their own work until that manuscript is published;
  • not give the manuscript to another to review without permission of the assigned editor;
  • conduct the review objectively and avoid any personal criticism of the author;
  • express views clearly with supporting arguments;
  • inform the editor of any substantial similarity between the manuscript and any other paper of which they have personal knowledge, whether published or concurrently under review elsewhere;
  • comment on ethical standards concerning protection of patients or animals;
  • inform the editor of suspected research misconduct.

Should any reviewer be found to be in breach of this code of ethics, Bioscientifica reserves the right to cease working with that reviewer and inform interested parties, including relevant journal editors and authors, the reviewer's department head and/or institutional office of scientific misconduct.


Editorial Board code of ethics


The Editor-in-Chief of a peer-reviewed journal is solely and independently responsible for deciding which articles should be accepted for publication. Where a journal has multiple co-Editors-in-Chief, the co-Editors-in-Chief are collectively responsible for deciding which articles should be accepted for publication. The Editor(s)-in-Chief may be guided by the policies of the Editorial Board and, while seeking guidance via peer review, may still reject a manuscript without review if considered inappropriate for the journal.

All editors (including the Editor(s)-in-Chief) must:

  • evaluate each manuscript for its intellectual content without regard to sex, gender identity, disability, age, nationality, race, sexual orientation, belief system, political philosophy or economic status;
  • not disclose any information about a submitted manuscript to anyone other than those involved in the publishing process as appropriate;
  • disclose any potential conflict of interest, as per the ICMJE recommendations;
  • pass manuscripts in which they have potential conflicts of interests to another member of the editorial board to review and consider;
  • not use privileged information or ideas obtained through peer review for personal advantage;
  • on receiving a challenge to the authenticity/integrity of an article, consult the publisher and contribute to the investigation and responsive measures which follow;
  • treat other members of the Editorial Board equally, and with dignity and respect.

Where a member of the Editorial Board has submitted a manuscript to the journal, the peer review process will be handled entirely independently from that editor; they will not know who the handling editor or reviewers are. The editor will declare their membership of the board in the declaration of interest section for any published manuscript.

Should any member of the Editorial Board (including an Editor-in-Chief) be found to be in breach of this code of ethics, they may be dismissed from the Editorial Board by the owner(s) of the journal.


Reporting suspected misconduct by an author, reviewer or editor


If you suspect or have information about misconduct related to an article submitted to or published in any Bioscientifica journal, please notify the journal’s editorial office at the journal email address. This can be found on the journal’s contact page.

The identity of individuals reporting suspected misconduct is protected under COPE guidelines.

Bioscientifica requests that allegations of misconduct are reported to the journal’s editorial office directly and not by posting comments on blogs, social media or other third-party websites. Bioscientifica cannot guarantee that allegations will be addressed if they are not submitted to the journal’s editorial office.

Appeals about publication decisions which do not involve an allegation of ethical misconduct will be handled as part of our Appeals process. See the journal’s Author guidelines for more details.


Investigating allegations of misconduct by an author, reviewer or editor


All Bioscientifica journals are members of, and subscribe to the principles of, COPE. Any allegations of ethical misconduct are taken seriously and investigated by members of the Bioscientifica publishing team.

All Bioscientifica journals adhere strictly to the COPE core practices for good publishing ethics and follow the procedures set out in the COPE flowcharts when handling cases of suspected misconduct or retractions.

The Bioscientifica publishing team may obtain advice from the journal’s Editorial Board or may escalate an investigation to the author’s institution(s) for further support or information. Individuals who are the subject of an allegation of ethical misconduct will be informed and will be given time to respond to the allegation as part of the investigation before any final decision is made. All relevant parties will be informed of the outcome of the investigation.

Misconduct investigations are sensitive, complex and can take time. Bioscientifica is unable to provide a timeline for when a particular case will be resolved.

Bioscientifica reserves the right to publish an Expression of Concern notice for a published article which is the subject of an ongoing investigation when unable to resolve a case swiftly or where the outcome of the investigation is inconclusive.


Making a complaint about a journal, its staff or Bioscientifica


To make a complaint, please contact clearly outlining the details of the complaint.

Bioscientifica takes all complaints seriously and all complainants will receive a response detailing what has been investigated and any action that has been taken as a result.

Wherever possible, depending on the nature of the complaint, complaints will be investigated by an independent, senior member of the Bioscientifica team.