Ethics and Consent
(i) Ethics approval
All research work involving human subjects, human materials, or human data, must have been performed as specified in the Declaration of Helsinki and must have been approved by an appropriate ethics committee. Thus, a statement indicating this, including the name of the ethics committee and the reference number (where appropriate) must appear in each manuscript reporting such research. Where a study has been granted an exemption from ethics approval, the exemption should also be detailed in the manuscript (including the name of the ethics committee that granted the exemption). The corresponding author should be ready to provide any further information and documentation to support this to the Editor on request. The Editor may contact the ethics committee for further information if necessary. A manuscript may be rejected if the Editor considers that the research has not been carried out within an appropriate ethical framework.
(ii) Informed Consent
For all research involving human subjects, informed consent to participate in the study should be obtained from all participants (or their parent or legal guardian in the case of children under 16) and a statement to this effect should appear in the manuscript.
(iii) Non-experimental Studies
Field studies and other non-experimental research involving humans must also comply with institutional, national, or international guidelines, and where available should have been approved by an appropriate ethics committee.
(iv) Animal Studies
Research work involving vertebrates or any regulated invertebrates must comply with institutional, national, or international guidelines, and where available should have been approved by an appropriate ethics committee. The fundamental principles to adhere to are outlined in Basel Declaration while the International Council for Laboratory Animal Science (ICLAS) has also published ethical guidelines.
A statement detailing compliance with relevant guidelines and/or ethical approval (including the name of the ethics committee and the reference number, as appropriate) must be included in the manuscript. If a study has been granted an exemption from requiring ethics approval, this should also be detailed in the manuscript (including the name of the ethics committee that granted the exemption and the reasons for the exemption).
For experimental studies involving client-owned animals, authors must also document informed consent from the client or owner and adherence to a high standard (best practice) of veterinary care.
Field studies and other non-experimental research on animals must comply with institutional, national, or international guidelines, and where available should have been approved by an appropriate ethics committee. A statement detailing compliance with relevant guidelines and/or appropriate permissions or licences must be included in the manuscript.
(v) Research involving plants
Experimental research involving plants must comply with institutional, national, or international guidelines. Field studies should be conducted in accordance with local legislation, and the manuscript should include a statement specifying the appropriate permissions and/or licences. For each plant, the voucher specimen must be deposited in a public herbarium or other public collection providing access to deposited material, and information on the voucher specimen and who identified it must be included in the manuscript.
(vi) Consent for publication
For all manuscripts that include details, images, or videos relating to individual participants, written informed consent for the publication of these must be obtained from the participants (or their parent or legal guardian in the case of children under 16) and a statement to this effect should appear in the manuscript. If the participant has died, then consent for publication must be sought from the next of kin of the participant. The consent form must be made available to the Editor on request, and will be treated confidentially. In cases where images are entirely unidentifiable and there are no details on individuals reported within the manuscript, consent for publication of images may not be required.
Clinical Trial Registration
We support initiatives to improve reporting of clinical trials, including prospective registration of clinical trials in suitable publicly available databases. In line with ICMJE guidelines, we require registration of all clinical trials that are reported in manuscripts submitted to this journal.
The ICMJE uses the World Health Organization (WHO) definition of a clinical trial, which is "any research study that prospectively assigns human participants or groups of humans to one or more health-related interventions to evaluate the effects on health outcomes". This definition includes phase I to IV trials. The ICMJE defines health-related interventions as "any intervention used to modify a biomedical or health-related outcome" and health-related outcomes as "any biomedical or health-related measures obtained in patients or participants".
Recommended publicly available registries are available on the ICMJE website and the primary registries that participate in the WHO International Clinical Trials Registry Platform. The trial registration number (TRN) and date of registration should be included as the last line of the manuscript abstract.
For clinical trials that have not been registered prospectively, we encourage retrospective registration to ensure the complete publication of all results. Further information on retrospective registration is available from the AllTrials campaign, the Public Accounts Committee and the Department of Health. For retrospectively registration, the TRN, date of registration and the words 'retrospectively registered’ should be included as the last line of the manuscript abstract.
Registration of Systematic Reviews
We encourage the prospective registration of systematic reviews and advise authors to register their systematic reviews in a suitable registry (such as PROSPERO). For authors who have registered their systematic review, the registration number should be included as the last line of the manuscript abstract.
Availability of Data and Materials
The Submission of a manuscript to a this journal indicates that materials described in the manuscript, including all relevant raw data, will be freely available to any scientist wishing to use them for non-commercial purposes, without breaching participant confidentiality.
We strongly encourages that all datasets on which the conclusions of any paper rely should be available to readers. Where the datasets are not directly on the paper, the location of such datasets in public domains should be specified
We strongly encourage the deposition of biological materials, such as plasmids, mutant strains, and cell lines, in established public repositories. Authors are required to check the list of known misidentified cell lines maintained by the International Cell Line Authentication Committee (ICLAC).
Software and Code
Any previously unreported software application or custom code described in the manuscript should be made available for testing by reviewers in a way that preserves their anonymity using a link to the most recent version of the software or code and a link to the archived version referenced in the manuscript. The software or code should be archived in an appropriate repository with a DOI or other unique identifier. For software in GitHub, we recommend using Zenodo.
Where the software or code implementation is not made freely available, the manuscript should not discuss the tool in any detail but focus clearly on the development of the underlying method.
Standards of Reporting
We also strongly recommend that authors should adhere to the minimum reporting guidelines for health research hosted by the EQUATOR Network when preparing their manuscript, and the BioSharing Portal for reporting checklists for biological and biomedical research, where applicable.
We advocate complete and transparent reporting of biomedical and biological research work. You may refer to the Minimum standards of reporting checklist when reporting your research. Authors should adhere to these guidelines when drafting their manuscript, and peer reviewers will be asked to refer to these checklists when evaluating such studies.
Authors of systematic reviews should also provide a link to an additional file from the ‘methods’ section, which reproduces all details of the search strategy. An example of how a search strategy should be presented can be seen in the Cochrane Reviewers' Handbook.
Authors are advised to include complete information on the statistical methods and measures used in their research, including justification of the appropriateness of the statistical test used. For p values, the number of tails reported (2-tailed or 1-tailed) should be specified.
For effective tracking of the key resources employed to produce the scientific findings reported in the biomedical literature, authors are advised to include a complete description of all resources to allow them to be uniquely identified. To support of the Resource Identification Initiative (RII), we advise authors to use unique Resource Identifiers (RRIDs) within their manuscript to identify their model organisms, antibodies, or tools.
Cell Line Authentication
If human cell lines are used, authors are strongly advised to include the following information in their manuscript:
(i) Source of the cell line, including when and from where it was obtained,
(ii) Cell line authentication status (recent or not) and method used,
(iii) Recent testing of the cell line for mycoplasma contamination.
Standardized gene nomenclature should be used throughout. Human gene symbols and names can be found in the HUGO Gene Nomenclature Committee (HGNC) database; requests for new gene symbols should be submitted to http://www.genenames.org/cgi-bin/request and any enquiries about gene nomenclature can be directed to email@example.com. Any alternative gene aliases that are commonly used may be reported, but should not be used alone in place of the HGNC symbol. Nomenclature committees for other species are listed at http://www.genenames.org/about/faq#otherspecies.
Reporting of Sequence Variants
We require authors to declare all competing interests in relation to their research work. All submitted manuscripts must include a ‘competing interests’ section at the end of the manuscript listing all competing interests, whether financial or non-financial. A competing interest exists when the authors’ interpretation of data or presentation of information may be influenced by their personal or financial relationship with other people or organizations.
Where authors have no competing interests, the statement should read “The author(s) declare(s) that they have no competing interests”.
To give appropriate credit to each author, we require that the individual contributions of authors should be specified in the manuscript. Details of this information are provided in the Guidelines for Contributors.
Please note that an 'author' is generally considered to be someone who has made substantive intellectual contributions to a published study. Acquisition of funding, collection of data, or general supervision of the research group, alone, does not usually justify authorship. According to the ICMJE guidelines, to qualify as an author one should have:
(i) made substantial contributions to conception and design, or acquisition of data, or analysis and interpretation of data;
(ii) been involved in drafting the manuscript or revising it critically for important intellectual content;
(iii) given final approval of the version to be published. Each author should have participated sufficiently in the work to take public responsibility for appropriate portions of the content; and
(iv) agreed to be accountable for all aspects of the work in ensuring that questions related to the accuracy or integrity of any part of the work are appropriately investigated and resolved.
Authors should understand that removal or addition of any name of an author cannot be made after acceptance of a manuscript.
All contributors who do not meet the criteria for authorship may be listed in an ‘Acknowledgements’ section. The source of funding should also be acknowledged. For research grants, the name of the funding body and the grant number may be specified, as appropriate.
Any involvement of scientific (medical) writers or anyone else who assisted with the preparation of the manuscript content should be acknowledged as described in the European Medical Writers Association (EMWA) guidelines.
Any manuscript submitted to this journal for review must be original and the manuscript, or substantial parts of it, must not be under consideration by any other journal. Generally, the manuscript must not already have been formally published in any journal or in any other citable form. If the abstract of the manuscript has been published previously, the same title earlier published must not be used. In any case where there is the potential for overlap or duplication, we require transparency of authors. Authors are expected to declare any potentially overlapping publications on submission and any overlapping publications should be cited. Articles “in press” and unpublished work should not be cited.
We do not accept plagiarised work and we take seriously all cases of publication misconduct. Any suspected cases of covert duplicate manuscript submission will be handled as outlined in the COPE guidelines and we endorses the policies of ICMJE guidelines in relation to overlapping publications.
Corrections and Retractions
On rare occasions, it may be necessary for us to publish corrections to, or retractions of, articles published in this journal, in order to maintain the integrity of the academic record.
Correction or retraction of any published article will be made by publishing an Erratum or a Retraction article and adding a prominent link to the Erratum/Retraction article. For PDF files of retracted articles, the word “Retracted” will be marked clearly on the article. It is only in the exceptional event where that material is considered to infringe certain rights or is defamatory, that we may have to remove it from our site and archive sites. We follow follow the COPE guidelines.
Appeals and Complaints
All authors reserve the right to appeal or complain against editorial decisions on manuscripts submitted to us. We adhere to COPE guidelines in respect of appeals to editorial decisions and complaints.