The publication of an article meeting and hopefully even surpassing the ethical standards of publication are an essential component of our journal, "International Journal of A J Institute of Medical Sciences" (Int J A J Inst Med Sci).
One of the doctrine on which science progresses, is the concept of “confidence in the scientific method”. This method invariably extends to the eventual publication of scientific work. This in turn provides a foundation for further growth and development of human knowledge. It thus becomes clear that a failure in publication ethics is a failure of science. A peer-reviewed journal thus has the highest obligations when it comes to enhancing science in an ethical way.

The first step in this direction is to agree upon standards of expected ethical behaviour for all parties involved in the act of publishing: the author, the journal editor, the peer reviewer, and the publisher.

Criteria for publication and copyright issues
Decisions about a manuscript will be based only on its importance, originality, clarity, and relevance to the journal's scope and content. Studies with negative results despite adequate power, or those challenging previously published work, will receive equal consideration. Work has to be original and one that has not been previously published.

Copyright issues
Int J A J Inst Med Sci follows an exclusive license agreement. Herein, the owners of intellectual property (authors) will retain copyright in their journal articles. However, Int J A J Inst Med Sci retains the commercial publishing and journal compilation rights.

Publication decisions (Rights of the Editor-in-Chief)
The Editor-in-Chief will hold the final decision regarding which of the articles submitted to the journal should be published. He will be guided by the policies of the journal's editorial board and constrained by such legal requirements as shall then be in force regarding libel, copyright infringement and plagiarism mentioned herewith in this statement. The editor may confer with other editors or reviewers in making these decisions.

The type of review process, such as the number of reviewers, blinded as to author or institution or not, authors blinded as to reviewer identity or not, etc. too will be up to the prudence of the Editor-in-Chief and can be changed from time to time. In addition the type of peer review process may vary between articles and for the type of article being reviewed.

Duties that will be followed by the editorial team
• An editor will evaluate manuscripts for their intellectual content without regard to race, gender, sexual orientation, religious belief, ethnic origin, citizenship, or political inclination of the authors.
• The editor and any editorial staff will 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 manuscript will not be used in the editor's own research work.

Journal’s reviewer policy and duties
The reviewers selected for the journal have met the minimum standards (as determined and promulgated by our journal) with regards to their background in original research, publication of articles, formal training, and previous critical appraisal of manuscripts. All the journal reviewers will be able to perform the following functions:

• Reviews will be conducted objectively. Personal criticism of the author will not be accepted. Reviewers will have a duty to identify relevant published work that has not been cited by the authors. Any statement that an observation, derivation, or argument had been previously reported will be accompanied by the relevant citation. A reviewer will also call to the editor's attention any substantial similarity or overlap between the manuscript under consideration and any other published paper of which they have personal knowledge.
• Any manuscripts received for review will be treated as confidential documents. It will not be retained or copied. They will not be shown to or discussed with others except as authorized by the editor. Reviewers will not make any personal or professional use of the data, arguments, or interpretations (other than those directly involved in its peer review) prior to publication unless they have the authors' specific permission or are writing an editorial or commentary to accompany the article.
• Privileged information or ideas obtained through peer review will be kept confidential and not used for personal advantage. Reviewers will 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 connected to the papers.
• Peer reviewers should not delegate peer review to other members of their department or any other person. Confidentiality should be maintained by the reviewers.
• Any selected reviewer who feels unqualified to review the research reported in a manuscript or knows that its prompt review will be impossible will notify the editor and excuse himself from the review process.
Based on these broad guidelines the reviewers will furnish a review with the following elements/comments:
• Identification and comments on major strengths and weaknesses of the study design and methodology.
• Quality of the author's interpretation of the data, including acknowledgment of its limitations.
• Major strengths and weaknesses of the manuscript as a written communication, independent of the design, methodology, results, and interpretation of the study.
• Ethical concerns raised by the study, or any possible evidence of low standards of scientific conduct, if any.
• Suggestions for improvement of the manuscript.

Duties of authors

A. Reporting standards
• Authors should submit a declaration that the submitted work and its essential substance have not previously been published and are not being considered for publication elsewhere.
• The ultimate liability of any publication, its correctness and the validity of all its statements, including those related to research ethics, is on the 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. Research should be conducted with high standards of quality control and data analysis.
• Documented review and approval from a formally constituted review board (Institutional Review Board or Ethics Committee) is required for all studies involving people, medical records, and human tissues. For those investigators who do not have access to formal ethics review committees, the principles outlined in the Declaration of Helsinki should be followed. If the study is judged exempt from review, a statement from the committee should be required. Review board approvals must be documented by the authors. A final decision regarding studies being done without approval of the aforementioned Board/Committee will be taken by the editor in consultation with the concerned reviewers.
• 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 editor or publisher and cooperate with the editor to retract or correct the paper.
• Previous publication of an abstract during the proceedings of meetings (in print or electronically) does not preclude subsequent submission for publication, but full disclosure should be made at the time of submission.

B. Data access and retention
• Authors are required to provide the raw data in connection with a paper for editorial review if required.

C. Acknowledgement of sources
• Appropriate 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.

D. Authorship of the paper
• The ICMJE authorship criteria states that authorship credit should be based on:
1. Substantial contributions to conception and design, or acquisition of data, or analysis and interpretation of data;
2. Drafting the article or revising it critically for important intellectual content;
3. Final approval of the version to be published.

Authors should meet aforementioned conditions 1, 2 or 3. 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. All authors are responsible for the quality, accuracy, and ethics of the work.
• Others (those who do not qualify to be an author), who have participated in certain substantive aspects of the research project, should be duly acknowledged. "Honorary" or “gift” authorship (when authorship is granted as a favour to someone powerful or prestigious who would not have qualified for it otherwise) is discouraged.
• Authors are required to submit, as part of their initial submission package, a statement that all individuals listed as authors meet the appropriate authorship criteria and that nobody who qualifies for authorship has been omitted from the list.
• Authorship disputes that may arise both before and after publication will be handled as per the journal guidelines.

E. Disclosure and conflicts of interest
• Any personal, commercial, academic and particularly financial relationship which can potentially influence the conduct and publication of research constitutes a 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.

Issues related to misconduct
The most common forms of scientific misconduct include:
• Falsification of data: It ranges from fabrication to deceptive selective reporting of findings and omission of conflicting data, or wilful suppression and/or distortion of data.
• Plagiarism: It is the use of others' published and unpublished ideas or words (or other intellectual property) without attribution or permission, and presenting them as new and original rather than derived from an existing source. This applies whether the ideas or words are taken from abstracts, educational qualification related thesis or dissertation, research grant applications, Institutional Review Board applications, or unpublished or published manuscripts in any publication format (print or electronic). Self-plagiarism refers to the practice of an author using portions of their previous writings on the same topic in another of their publications, without specifically citing it formally in quotes. Apart from full‐referencing and appreciation of the source, the text should not suggest the possibility of having been copied from other published or unpublished material. Exceptions include common knowledge and the use of quotes.
• Misappropriation of the ideas of others: Scholars can acquire novel ideas from others during the process of reviewing grant applications and manuscripts. However, improper use of such information can constitute fraud. Wholesale appropriation of such material constitutes misconduct.
• Violation of generally accepted research practices: Serious deviation from accepted practices in proposing or carrying out research, improper manipulation of experiments to obtain biased results, deceptive statistical or analytical manipulations, or improper reporting of results.
• Material failure to comply with legislative and regulatory requirements affecting research: Including but not limited to serious or substantial, repeated, wilful violations of applicable local regulations and law involving the use of funds, care of animals, human subjects, investigational drugs, recombinant products, new devices, or radioactive, biologic, or chemical materials.
• Multiple, redundant or concurrent publications: Submitting the same manuscript to more than one journal concurrently constitutes unethical publishing behaviour and is unacceptable.
• Inappropriate behaviour in relation to misconduct: This includes unfounded or knowingly false accusations of misconduct, failure to report known or suspected misconduct, withholding or destruction of information relevant to a claim of misconduct and retaliation against persons involved in the allegation or investigation.

Responses to possible misconduct
• The journal may alert appropriate bodies (for example, employers, funders, regulatory authorities) and encourage them to investigate charges/ allegations of misconduct by the author(s) with a request to hand over the findings of the inquiry to the Editor-in-Chief. All such allegations will, however, be kept confidential until the completion of the inquiry and only those concerned and related to the inquiry will be notified.
• If the inquiry concludes there is a reasonable possibility of misconduct, responses will be undertaken by the journal/Editor-in-Chief, chosen in accordance with the apparent magnitude of the misconduct. The following options are ranked in approximate order of severity:
 A letter of explanation (and education) sent only to the person against whom the complaint is made, where there appears to be a genuine and innocent misunderstanding of principles or procedure.
 A letter of reprimand to the same party, warning of the consequences of future such instances, where the misunderstanding appears to be not entirely innocent.
 Publication of a notice of redundant or duplicate publication or plagiarism, if appropriate (and unequivocally documented). Such publication will not require approval of authors, and will be reported to their institution.
 Formal withdrawal or retraction of the paper from the scientific literature, published in the journal, informing readers and the indexing authorities, if there is a formal finding of misconduct. Such publication will not require approval of authors, will be reported to their institution, and will be readily visible and identifiable in the journal.
 The journal/Editor-in-Chief will also publish ‘expressions of concern’ if well-founded suspicions of misconduct are present.
• The Editor-in-Chief’s decision in all such decisions is final.

Editor-in-Chief
Dr. Francis N.P.Monteiro MBBS, MD, Diplomate NB, Dip. Cyb. Law, PGDCFS, PGDPPHC, PGCTM, PGCMNCPA

Editor-in-Chief: International Journal of A J Institute of Medical Sciences
Member: World Association of Medical Editors (WAME)
Professor: Department of Forensic Medicine & Toxicology
Member: Medical Education Unit
A J Institute of Medical Sciences
NH 66, Kuntikana, Mangalore - 575 004, India
E-mail: ajimsjournal@gmail.com; drfrancis@rediffmail.com
Mobile: +91 9448327389

Further Readings:
1. COPE’s Best Practice Guidelines for Journal Editors (http://www publicationethics.org).
2. Publication ethics Polices for medical journal prepared by WAME Publication Ethics Committee (http://www.wame.org/resources/publication-eithics-policies-for-medical-journals).
2. Elsevier publications ethics statement, Publication Ethics (http://www.elsevier.com/about/ publishing-guidelines/publishing-ethics)
3. Publication Malpractice Statement of "National Journal of Community Medicine"
4. Tehran University of Medical Sciences statement on publication ethics (http://www.tumspress. tums.ac.ir/UserFiles/TUMS%20publication%20ethics-English.pdf).
5. Graf C, Wager E, Bowman A, Fiack S, Scott-Lichter D, Robinson Al. Best practice guidelines on publication ethics: A publisher’s perspective. Int J Clin Pract 2007; 61(Suppl. 152):1-26.