Monday, 17th June 2024

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




PIE Highlights
You are invited to join the Publication Integrity and Ethics as one of its founding members. PIE offers free membership to all interested individuals. Read more.
As an Editor-in-Chief Member you will play a central role in shaping the organisation; you will benefit from the many and varied facilities the P.I.E. Read more.
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.

Peer-reviewers are the first to signal errors regarding any of the editorial materials being sent to them. However, their opinion is not always taken into consideration by the editorial team or the publishers or the corrections are not fully applied. If such problems arise, the reviewer may formulate a complaint through PIE and ask for further investigations into the problem, especially if the ignored issues concern the scientific validity, integrity and ethics of the article.

Peer-reviewers’ complaints may be related to any type of articles, editorials, news reports and images. Peer reviewers must inform the PIE Council Sub-Committee before the complaint is to be dealt with by another organisation or legal advisor.

The complaints must be formulated about materials published online or in printed form by publishers whether they are PIE adherents or not. However, it is most likely that the complaints will be investigated and resolved more rapidly if the publisher is PIE adherent. Otherwise, they have no legal obligation to cooperate with PIE in order to resolve the raised issue.

Peer-reviewers are thus encouraged to register with PIE and take action as soon as they signal ethical misconduct, or other editorial problems. However, they must address the issue to the publication targeted first and ask for changes to be made. If the editors, publishers or authors fail to comply with the demands of the peer-reviews, they may formulate complaints through PIE and ask for further investigations. If the peer-reviewer is not directly affected but still formulates complaints, the Council Sub-Committee will address the problem only if the person affected will decide to proceed with further investigations.

Any complaint must be addressed through PIE by using the complaint forms provided for publishers, editors, authors and peer reviewers. If the peer is unable to use the form however due to one reason or another, the Council must be informed in order to proceed with the investigation.

Some of the issues peer-reviewers usually formulate complaints about may include:

Author mistakes, authorship omissions: when peer-reviewers signal errors that need to be corrected after the publisher failed to take their advice and decided for one reason or another to publish data containing errors, misplaced text, omissions or typo errors. In these cases, most of the issues are resolved after the publication of errata.

Failure to obtain consent for publication: peer-reviewers may advise the editors that they need written consent from different people in order to be able to publish an article. If editors fail to comply or forget that there is such a need, peer-reviewers may formulate complaints against them in order to signal the problem and ask for further investigations.

Copyright issues: while examining the data, peer-reviewers may identify some copyright infringements that must be discussed with the author or the editor who has previously sent the materials. In cases when the selected texts are published without proper corrections, peer-reviewers must formulate complaints in order to resolve the issue.

Manipulation, falsification, fabrication of data: when the author chooses to manipulate research data, findings, images or statistics in order to give a false impression or to manipulate the reader with false information. Like any other case, the peer-reviewer must address the issue to the editor first, then the publisher and ask for corrections before publishing the materials. If the problem is not solved and the false data gets published, the peer-reviewer is able to formulate a complaint against the editorial staff or the publisher.

Problems with editorial decisions: whether the publisher or the owner exerts an inappropriate influence over the editorial staff or there are concerns about the editorial conflicts of interest or commercial influences that alter the information, peer-reviewers have to address the issues and seek advice from the PIE Council Sub-Committee.

Editorial misconduct: when editors and other editorial staff members are acting in ways that contravene the PIE guidelines and ethical recommendations, peer-reviewers may formulate complaints against the editor or publisher.

Ghost or gift authorship: when the publisher fails to credit the proper author of the article, changes the name or fails to include him or her in the list of authors. The same problem appears when an author is credited with articles or studies that don’t belong to him/her or has been included on the list of authors without giving significant contribution to the piece. A formal complaint can be submitted to the Council Sub-Committee.

Lack of ethical approval: peer-reviewers may formulate complaints against publishers or editors that choose to ignore their recommendations and publish work that has not received ethical approval from the organisations or institutions in charge.

Same data on different publications: sometimes different research materials reach the same conclusion. However, if the peer-reviewer observes that two different articles published on different journals report the same analysis and with the same conclusions, he or she might ask for further investigations on the matter by filing a complaint to the PIE Council Sub-Committee.

Complaints regarding the peer-review process: such issues are raised when peer-reviewers manifest concerns about the biased, unethical or unfair possible reviews given by the other peer-reviewers selected for the task.

Concerns about retractions:  if peer-reviewers or other individuals ask for retractions and the publisher fails to comply, they might have to formulate official complaints in order to seek immediate resolution.

Concerns about selective reporting of data: such complaints are made when authors, editors or publishers ignore inconvenient end-points or statistical data and hide the truth in order to protect individuals or to favour particular companies or products.

Copied work, plagiarism: when authors, editors or publishers assume the written work of other individuals, publish it and present it as being theirs, without mentioning the real author and its contribution. This is a serious academic misconduct and an immediate complaint to the PIE is advised.

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