Tuesday, 28th March 2017

Publication Integrity & Ethics (PIE) was developed over a decade ago to address several areas of concern and promote real editorial freedom.Read more.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Complaints

PIE Highlights
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The Publication Integrity and Ethics intends to publish a special peer-reviewed periodical that will publish short debate articles in science. Read more.

 

 

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Any individual or representative of an organisation is able to formulate complaints against publishers, editors, authors, peer-reviewers and other members of the editorial staff of journals if they are aware of editorial misconduct or any other breach in the PIE guidelines.

What can one complain about?

While complaints must first be addressed directly to the publication, the editorial staff or the author, such issues may be raised, discussed and resolved through the Publication Integrity & Ethics (PIE). PIE offers mediation, access to information and a simple and effective procedure of analysing and closing disputes.

Usually, the main complaints are related to articles, images, news, reports, scientific research and other published material.

PIE analyses and mediates disputes and complaints about text and images published by registered individuals, journals and other adherent organisations, whether they are being published online or in printed form.

 

Official publication of the Publication Integrity & Ethics (π)    

Who can complain here?

Usually, any PIE member or adherent, whether he or she is part of an editorial team or not, may formulate a complaint about published material. While the issue may be raised even if the complainant is not directly affected by the article in question, the final resolution depends on whether the person who is directly affected decides to proceed further with the complaint or not. Finally, though there must be some exceptions, PIE does not encourage publishers to formulate complaints against other publishers.

When should the complaint be made?

As soon as an ethical problem is signalled, any person should complain to PIE after the issue was first raised or discussed with the publication under complaint and at the same time. Publishers, editors, peer-reviewers and authors, who are PIE members or adherents, may complain about different issues regarding the editorial work such as:
•    Author’s writings
•    Authorship of the article
•    Copyright infringement
•    Publishing without consent
•    Data fabrication/ manipulation/ falsification
•    Editorial independence and decisions
•    Editorial misconduct and ethical problems regarding the editorial team
•    Lack of ethical approval
•    Other authorship problems not mentioned above
•    Minor errors and mistakes
•    Issues regarding the article submission
•    Confidentiality of the source or participant
•    Inappropriate peer-review process
•    Complaints about plagiarism
•    Issues about the role of the publisher
•    Retraction of published articles
•    Peer-reviewer misconduct
•    Selective reporting of data

How should complaints be made?

Any person, who formulates a complaint, should first complete the PIE complaint’s form (which are downloadable from the website) and submit it through the proper channels of communication. If the complainant finds it difficult or impossible to submit the complaint by email, he or she may contact the PIE central office and ask for further advice and assistance on the matter.

There is no need for legal representatives, as all the complaints are treated in an informal way and PIE encourages individuals and publishers to communicate directly with the Council and with each other and not through lawyers/solicitors or other legal representatives. Furthermore, the complainants must indicate before making the complaint against publishers, editors or authors if they wish their personal details to be kept confidential or if they do not want the issue to be discussed publicly on the website.

The complaints procedure

Along with the completed complaint form, complainants must also submit to the PIE the materials (articles, texts, images) being disputed if necessary. Complainants must disclose the name of the publication, the date the article was published and a brief summary in which they have to explain the reason of the complaint and how the article in question has breached the PIE’s guidelines and recommendations. If applicable, relevant documentation such as previous correspondence with the author or editor must be submitted as well.

Each case is treated with maximum attention and objectivity. The basic stages of the PIE complaint procedure are:

-    Assessing the facts: a sub-committee of the PIE Council will analyse whether the complaint is legitimate or not, and if it is, how the PIE guidelines were breached and why. PIE will initiate an investigation if it is the case, and write to the editor or publisher or the author of the publication.
-    The investigation itself: the letter for the editor, publisher or author will enclose a copy of the complaint being made and a copy of the article/articles that raised concerns from the complainant. When the editor responds, a copy of their response will be sent to the complainant.
-    Resolution: each case is different as well as the seriousness of the issue raised by the complainant. However, PIE will try to mediate the dispute and seek for assurance about future coverage from the respondent. In some cases, corrections or public apologies may be required.

Other important information about the complaints

1. For a complaint to be resolved, the dispute requires good faith on both sides (the complainant and the editor, author or reviewer or publisher being noticed). No party should publish or make public the materials used as part of the investigation without consent from the other. All the correspondence and other materials may be used only for the purpose of investigation and consideration of the complaint and must not be disclosed to the public or third parties.
2. The PIE sub-committee will consider the evidence being provided only if it has been made available for both sides. Summaries of the resolved complaints will be published on the website without disclosing personal or sensitive data.
3. While the sub-committee analyses all the complaints and decides to take action only on those who are considered as being plausible, a copy of the complaint will be sent to the publisher even if the sub-committee decides there is no need to further investigate the issue.
4. The PIE sub-committee cannot deal with legal matters and legal complaints. If the complainant decides to take legal actions against the publisher or the editor or the author who breached the ethical standards, PIE must be informed immediately. They should announce if they decide for one reason or another to withdraw the complaint.

Outcomes of the complaints addressed to the PIE’s Council:

•    Adjudication: when the Council issues an official adjudication on the complaint
•    Issue resolved: When the publisher or the editor took action before the investigation was over and therefore the complainant chose not to proceed any further and ask for Council adjudication
•   Other outcomes: When the adjudication or the resolution does not fall within the duty of the Council, when there is no clear breach in the code of conduct or when the complainant did not follow the proper procedures in order to submit the complaint to the Council.
 

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