Updated August 2017.
Our publication ethics and publication malpractice statement is mainly based on the Code of Conduct and Best-Practice Guidelines for Journal Editors (Committee on Publication Ethics, 2011).
Responsibilities of Editors
• The Chief editor/editor is responsible for deciding which of the papers submitted to the journal will be published. The decision will be based on the paper’s importance, originality and clarity, and the study’s validity and its relevance to the journal’s scope. The publishing decision is based on the recommendation of the journal’s reviewers. Current legal requirements regarding copyright infringement, and plagiarism should also be considered.
• The editor and any editorial staff must not disclose any information about a submitted manuscript to anyone other than the corresponding author, reviewers, potential reviewers, other editorial advisers, and the publisher, as appropriate.
• Unpublished materials disclosed in a submitted paper will not be used by the editor or the members of the editorial board for their own research purposes without the author’s explicit written consent.
• Editors should aim to ensure timely peer review and publication and should avoid unnecessary delays. Editors should consider how best to share information with authors about any delays that occur.
• Editors or board members should not be involved in editorial decisions about their own scholarly work. If chief editor/editor contributes his/her papers, these papers will be reviewed by those reviewers which are outside the journal team.
Responsibilities of Reviewers
• The peer-reviewing process assists the editor and the editorial board in making editorial decisions and may also serve the author in improving the paper.
• Any selected referee who feels unqualified to review the research reported in a manuscript or knows that its prompt review will be impossible should notify the editor and withdraw from the review process.
• Any manuscripts received for review must be treated as confidential documents. They must not be disclosed to or discussed with others except as authorized by the editor.
• Reviews should be conducted objectively. Personal criticism of the author is inappropriate. Referees should express their views clearly with supporting arguments.
• Reviewers should identify cases in which relevant published work referred to in the paper has not been cited in the reference section. They should point out whether observations or arguments derived from other publications are accompanied by the respective source. Reviewers will notify the editor of any substantial similarity or overlap between the manuscript under consideration and any other published paper of which they have personal knowledge.
• Privileged information or ideas obtained through peer review must be kept confidential and not used for personal advantage. Reviewers should not consider manuscripts in which they have conflicts of interest resulting from competitive, collaborative, or other relationships or connections with any of the authors, companies, or institutions associated with the papers.
Misconduct in the article
Misconduct in the article itself comes in two forms:
Reviewer Misconduct: This might include such issues as fabricating data, unethical experiments on animals or humans, and failure to protect the confidentiality of subjects. Reviewer misconduct can range from minor issues, such as rude or unconstructive reviews, to major issues, such as the appropriation of author’s ideas or data. As an editor, you entrust reviewers with a high level of responsibility. They are given access to privileged information (i.e. unpublished research) and their recommendations can sway the publication outcome. Unfortunately, there are rare occasions when that trust is misplaced.Minor problems are relatively easy to respond to. Delete rude comments, and don’t invite reviewers again if they supply poor quality, late, or unconstructive reviews. There may be other instances where editors receive complaints from authors about reviewer misconduct. We outline approaches to these instances below.
Author Misconduct: might include such issues as plagiarism, redundant publication, undisclosed conflicts of interests, and guest authorship.Complaints should be made in confidence to the editor or editorial office, rather than directly to the author or in the public domain, and should be managed in confidence until they are resolved.
Prior to Publication
review may raise a concern about a submitted manuscript during the course of the review process:
- Where appropriate, the reviewer should be asked for information to substantiate their concern (e.g. suspicious data in the paper).
- Contact the author should to raise the concern and, if appropriate, ask for clarification. Avoid accusatory or defamatory language; stick to factual statements, presenting any available evidence.
- The review process should be put on hold until the matter is resolved.
- If the author provides a satisfactory explanation then the review process can proceed, perhaps following changes by the author.
- If the author acknowledges misconduct or is unable to provide a satisfactory explanation then the submission should be rejected.
- The reviewer who raised the complaint should be told of the outcome once the matter is resolved.
A reader may raise a concern about a published manuscript. As above, the reader should be asked for substantiating information and then the author should be contacted to raise the concern. If the complaint proves to be unfounded no further action may be required. If action is required, there are three main options.
- You can publish a correction statement to include information that was missing from the published version (e.g. undisclosed conflict of interests).
- Publish an expression of concern, alongside the article, if there are well-founded suspicions of misconduct, though this is a halfway house and it is usually preferable to fully resolve the issue.
- You can retract the published article. This may be appropriate for more serious concerns, such as fabricated data or plagiarized material. See below for more details.
As before, you should inform the reader who raised the complaint of the outcome once the matter is resolved.
Procedures for dealing with misconduct:
a Identification and investigation:
i. Misconduct and unethical behavior may be identified and brought to the attention of the editor and publisher at any time, by anyone.
ii. Whoever informs the editor or publisher of misconduct must provide sufficient evidence or documentation for an investigation to be initiated.
iii. Journal editors have primary authority and responsibility for investigations into misconduct, and they should consult with or seek advice from the publisher as appropriate.
iv. Investigations should be undertaken discreetly, with all caution necessary to avoid spreading rumor or allegations beyond those individuals who need to know.
b. Misconduct and possible outcomes:
The editor, in consultation with the publisher, is responsible for the final decision regarding actions for any identified misconduct, including whether the employers of the accused be notified of the breach. The following outcomes are ordered by increasing severity:
i. Informing or educating the author or reviewer where there appears to be a misunderstanding or misapplication of standards.
ii. Strongly worded written communication to the author or reviewer as a warning against future behavior.
iii. Publication of a formal notice or editorial detailing the misconduct.
iv. A formal letter to the head of the author’s or reviewer’s department or funding agency.
v. Formal retraction of a publication from the journal, in conjunction with informing appropriate department heads, abstracting and indexing services, and the readership of the publication.
vi. Imposition of a formal embargo on contributions from an individual for a defined period.
vii. Formal report of the case and outcome to a professional organization or higher authority for further investigation and action.
Responsibilities of Authors
Authors of reports of original research should present an accurate account of the work performed as well as an objective discussion of its significance. Underlying data should be represented accurately in the paper. A paper should contain sufficient detail and references to permit others to replicate the work. Fraudulent or knowingly inaccurate statements constitute unethical behavior and are unacceptable. Reviews and other articles should also be accurate and objective, and should unfailingly cite the work on which they are based.
Data Access and Retention
Authors are asked to provide the raw data in connection with a paper for editorial review, and should be prepared to provide public access to such data, if practicable, and should in any event be prepared to retain such data for a reasonable time after publication.
Originality and Plagiarism
Authors should ensure that submitted work is original and has not been published elsewhere in any language, and if the authors have used the work and/or words of others that this has been appropriately cited or quoted. Applicable copyright laws and conventions should be followed. Plagiarism in any form, including the touting of material contained in another paper (of the same authors or some other author) with cosmetic changes as a new paper; copying or paraphrasing substantial parts of another’s paper (without attribution), and claiming results from research conducted by others are among the numerous forms of plagiarism. In all its forms plagiarism constitutes unethical publishing behavior and is unacceptable.
Multiple, Redundant or Concurrent Publication
An author should not in general publish manuscripts describing essentially the same research in more than one journal or primary publication. Submitting the same manuscript to more than one journal concurrently constitutes unethical publishing behaviour and is unacceptable. In general, an author should not submit for consideration to another journal a previously published paper, or the one under consideration with another journal, without the written consent of the two journals involved.
Acknowledgement of Sources
Proper acknowledgment of the work of others must always be given. Authors should cite publications that have been influential in determining the nature of the reported work. Information obtained privately, as in conversation, correspondence, or discussion with third parties, must not be used or reported without explicit, written, permission from the source.
Authorship of the Paper
Authorship should be limited to those who have made a significant contribution to the conception, design, execution, or interpretation of the reported study. All those who have made significant contributions should be listed as co-authors. Where there are others who have participated in certain substantive aspects of the research project, they should be acknowledged or listed as contributors. The corresponding author should ensure that all appropriate co-authors and no inappropriate co-authors are included on the paper, and that all co-authors have seen and approved the final version of the paper and have agreed to its submission for publication.
Changes in authorship: Authors are expected to consider carefully the list and order of authors before submitting their manuscript and provide the definitive list of authors at the time of the original submission. Any addition, deletion or rearrangement of author names in the authorship list should be made only before the manuscript has been accepted. The addition, deletion or rearrangement of authors is not possible after the manuscript has been accepted.
Disclosure and Conflict of Interest
All authors should disclose in their manuscript any financial or other substantive conflict of interest that might be construed to influence the results or interpretation of their manuscript. All sources of financial support for the project should be disclosed.
Fundamental errors in published works
When an author discovers a significant error or inaccuracy in his/her own published work, it is the author’s obligation to promptly notify the journal Chief Editor/Editor or publisher and cooperate to retract or correct the paper.
If the Chief Editor/Editor or the publisher learns from a third party that a published work contains a significant error, it is the obligation of the author to promptly retract or correct the paper or provide evidence to the Chief Editor/Editor of the correctness of the original paper.
Journal editors should consider retracting a publication if:
• they have clear evidence that the findings are unreliable, either as a result of misconduct (eg, data fabrication) or honest error (eg, miscalculation or experimental error)
• the findings have previously been published elsewhere without proper cross-referencing, permission or justification (ie, cases of redundant publication)
• it constitutes plagiarism
• it reports unethical research
Occasionally a retraction will be used to correct errors in submission or publication.
- Notices of retraction should mention the reasons and basis for the retraction, to distinguish cases of misconduct from those of honest error; they should also specify who is retracting the article. They should be published in all versions of the journal (ie, print and/or electronic). It is helpful to include the authors and title of the retracted article in the retraction heading.
- Retracted articles should be clearly identified as such in all electronic sources (eg, on the journal Web site and any bibliographic databases). Editors are responsible for ensuring that retractions are labeled in such a way that they are identified by bibliographic databases (which should also include a link to the retracted article). The retraction should appear on all electronic searches for the retracted publication. Journals and publishers should ensure that retracted articles are clearly marked on their own Web sites.
- Retracted articles should not be removed from printed copies of the journal (eg, in libraries) nor from electronic archives but their retracted status should be indicated as clearly as possible.
Authors of ‘Journal of Maize Research and Development’ retain rights of self-archiving. Authors are allowed deposition of such articles on institutional, non-commercial repositories and personal websites immediately after publication on the journal website.
Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE). (2011, March 7). Code of Conduct and Best-Practice Guidelines for Journal Editors. Retrieved from