Revised September 2010
Ethics are principles of conduct or standards of behavior governing an individual or a profession. The integrity of LIS journals rests on the professionalism of its authors, referees, and editors. The statements here describe ethical behavior for participants in the editorial processes of recruitment, selection, and production of publishable articles. Editors should conform to high standards of integrity generally and must also act ethically in their relationships with their publishers, reviewers and editorial board members, and authors. In addition, some principles are articulated for ethical behavior by authors in submitting their work to editorial processes and for ethical behavior by referees in the review process.
The following statements of ethics apply to the conduct of LIS journal editors.
Editors are expected to adhere to the highest standards of journalistic practice and maintain honesty, integrity, accuracy, thoroughness, and fairness in all dealings with authors, editorial boards, and referees.
Editors should make a clear distinction between editorials and other opinion pieces, articles, and advertising and ensure that these distinctions are communicated to authors and readers.
Editors should honor existing commitments to publish papers, where there has been a change of editor.
Editors should hold authors to the highest standards of honesty, integrity, accuracy, thoroughness, and fairness in their writing and scholarship, including research and its dissemination.
Editors should maintain editorial control but honor authors’ freedom to express independent and diverse viewpoints, with the expectation that authors provide appropriate evidence to support their perspective.
Editors should establish and maintain a consistent and transparent process for constructive and prompt evaluation of submissions, whether accepted for publication or not.
Editors should ensure that the integrity and confidentiality of the author's work is maintained while that work is being evaluated for publication (e.g., works should not be discussed outside of the editorial and review process).
Editors should work closely with potential authors in a transparent and timely manner.
If the author's submission receives a peer review, editors should not reveal the identity of the referees to the author unless the referee grants permission. If a journal uses double-blind review, the editor, additionally, should not reveal the identity of the author to the referees.
The editor should communicate the publication process succinctly and act to assist the potential author through the process, regardless of whether an article is solicited from a specific individual on an identified topic or if a manuscript is received unsolicited.
Commentary: Editors should understand that unpublished authors often have no idea as to what is expected of them. Indeed, most have no understanding of the publication process at all. At the same time, many will feel pressure to publish due to the promotion and tenure requirements of their institution. The editor should communicate instructions for authors, information about the peer review process (if applicable), deadlines and author obligations, and options for managing copyright and authors right to the potential author.
Editors should avoid all conflicts of interest, as well as any appearances of such conflict.
Editors should have no personal, financial, or other relationships that are linked in any way that impinges on their responsibilities and ethical obligations as editor.
An editor should not accept gifts or favors, except of nominal value, from any individual, companies, or associations in fields that the editor’s journal covers or from advertisers or potential advertisers.
Editors should not give favorable editorial treatment to advertisers and potential advertisers because of their economic value to the publications; papers submitted by non-advertisers should receive unbiased editorial treatment.
Editors should maintain an appropriate professional distance from the solicitation of advertising and the preparation of advertisements.
Editors should be familiar with their publishers’ copyright policies, rights transfer agreements, and policies on author addenda to rights agreement. In addition, editors should be familiar with alternatives options for their authors if necessary.
Copyright and authors’ rights statements should be publicly posted.
If an editor represents a publisher that does not provide such information publicly, the editor should work with the publisher to create a statement on copyright and author rights for provision to potential authors.
Commentary: Many publishers have copyright and author rights statements on their Web sites, which is a practice editors should encourage. Editors can then easily direct potential authors to this information upon contact. It is desirable that such a statement includes a definition of terms, an explanation on the assignment of copyright, a description of publisher and author rights and responsibilities, and a statement of exclusions to policy requiring written permission from the publisher.
Editors should inform authors of the journal's peer review practices including:
- Use of open or blind review
- Timelines for review
- Number of reviewers
- How decisions are made if all reviewers do not agree
- Role of the editor in peer review.
Editors should ensure that those (e.g., referees, reviewers) conducting paper reviews have a clear understanding of their obligations and how comments will be shared with authors.
Editors are ultimately responsible for ensuring that publication decisions match the aims, scope, and criteria of the journal.
Commentary: Peer review can occur by a variety of processes. A public description of the journal's peer review processes is ideal, and a complete explanation of peer review is best communicated as part of the Instructions for Authors. Editors may provide reviewers with style guides, example reviews, templates for conducting reviews, and other tools to inform the preparation of a review.
Editors should always respond immediately to the receipt of a manuscript, both solicited and unsolicited. The acknowledgment should address the peer review process, the number of reviewers, any page review processes expected of the author during layout, and the timeline involved. The editor should provide an exact timeline for informing the author of the reviewer(s) recommendations.
If soliciting a manuscript, the editor should recommend a target deadline for submission of the initial draft although it may necessary to offer flexibility if the author cannot meet the assigned date.
If changes are required for further consideration of the manuscript, this should be specifically stated with the required timeline for submission of the revision. The author should also be informed as to the review process for the revision, e.g., back to the same reviewer(s) or editor only.
When the manuscript is accepted, with or without revisions, the editor should notify the author immediately, provide an exact date for resubmission of the next iteration, and upon final acceptance, provide an estimated publication date and, if possible, indicate the journal volume and issue number. At a minimum, the editor should inform the author or authors the year in which the paper will be published.
If, at the end of the peer review process, the decision is made not to publish, the editor should inform the author or authors immediately with an explanation for that decision.
Editors should respond promptly to inquiries from supervisors and/or tenure/promotion committees concerning the peer review process, whether the work has been accepted for publication (is "in press"), and the importance of the published article to the profession.
Commentary: Often authors believe they cannot publish with a particular journal if the target deadline is not met, and, consequently, effective communication stops. The editor should inform the author that the topic is more important than an assigned timeline.