Publication Ethics

  1. Introduction
  2. Authorship
  3. Sponsorship, funding, and conflict of interest
  4. Copyright requirements, plagiarism, duplicate publication, and multiple submissions
  5. Fabrication and falsification of research content
  6. Ethical considerations concerning human participants and animal subjects
  7. Working with Editage
  8. References


In this short guide to publication ethics, we present recommendations compiled based on accepted international guidelines. We hope that these recommendations on maintaining integrity in scientific and academic publishing will help you understand and follow good, ethical publication practices.


Sponsorship, funding, and conflict of interest

A conflict of interest arises when authors have direct or indirect financial or personal ties to the study sponsors or the funding organization. Because such relationships could influence an author’s actions or evaluations, these conflicts must be specified at the time of submitting the paper.

Copyright requirements, plagiarism, duplicate publication, and multiple submissions

Copyright rules determine who retains rights to copy, distribute, or adapt a paper; these rules differ across journals. Often, authors are required to sign a copyright transfer statement with the publishing journal. This means that anyone looking to republish or reuse the paper has to contact the journal, and not the author, for permission. Here’s a summary of the common copyright requirements:

Some of the issues related to copyright rules are plagiarism, duplicate publication, and multiple submissions.


The U.S. National Science Foundation defines plagiarism as “the appropriation of another person’s ideas, processes, results, or words without giving appropriate credit” (45 Code of Federal Regulations, Section 689.1). Thus, plagiarism includes using:

What you should do

Duplicate publication

Duplicate publication is considered to be a form of plagiarism. It occurs when an author uses text or material from a paper that he/she has already published, without acknowledging the source. This could violate copyright and could suggest that the study contributes marginally to the literature.

What you should do

Multiple submissions

The practice of submitting the same manuscript to two or more journals without informing the journal editors that the manuscript has been submitted elsewhere is called multiple submissions. Some journals may blacklist authors who do this from submitting manuscripts in the future and may notify their institution about this.

This is because of the copyright/legal problems that arise if more than one journal decides to publish the paper. Moreover, it would lead to a waste of academic and scientific resources as two (or more) journals would spend time and money on carrying out the same tasks.

What you should do

Fabrication and falsification of research content

Fabrication refers to the recording or reporting of data or results that have been made up by the author. Falsification, on the other hand, refers to the intentional alteration of research materials, images, equipment, or processes, or the selective reporting of data or results.

Both fabrication and falsification are considered serious ethical breaches and can result in the retraction of published papers.

What you should do

Ethical considerations concerning human participants and animal subjects

Patients/human study participants

For all studies involving people, medical records, and human tissues:

Animal Research

For all studies involving animals:

Working with Editage


International Committee of Medical Journal Editors. Uniform Requirements for Manuscripts
Submitted to Biomedical Journals: Writing and Editing for Biomedical Publications.

Council of Science Editors. CSE's White Paper on Promoting Integrity in Scientific Journal Publications, 2009 Update.

BMJ. Good Publication Practice for Communicating Company Sponsored Medical Research:
The GPP2 Guidelines.

Elsevier. Ethical Guidelines for Journal Publication.

World Association of Medical Editors. Publication Ethics Policies for Medical Journals.

Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics. Authorial Integrity in Scientific Publication.

American Physical Society. APS Guidelines for Professional Conduct.