Publication Ethics


Competing Interests

We are committed to transparent and bias-free research. To ensure that all publications are as open as possible all authors, reviewers and editors are required to declare any interests that could appear to compromise, conflict or influence the validity of the publication. This process is designed to reinforce the readers' trust in the research data.

Please declare any competing interests that you have. A conflict of interest must be declared if there is any reason why the information or the interpretation of information being produced may be influenced by a personal or financial relationship with other organisations or individuals, or if these relationships could be reasonably perceived from other people as having influencing objective data or decision-making. Everyone involved in the submission, editorial processing, peer review and publication should declare any competing interests that they may have as early as possible.

Any author or reviewer that is linked to the journal must declare what this relationship is within the competing interests statement. For example, the Editor-in-Chief, Editorial Board members etc should clearly display their position in the journal.

Competing interests can take the form of both financial and non-financial relationships. The declaration of such relationships helps to ensure that academic rigour is maintained and that publications cannot be accused of undue bias or misinformation.

Examples of competing interests:

  • receipt of payment, in any form, from an organisation or individual related to the subject matter
  • ownership of stocks or shares in organisations directly related to the subject matter
  • receipt of grants or funding
  • membership of relevant boards
  • related patents/applied for patents
  • gifts
  • known relationships that will hinder impartiality (e.g. colleagues, family, mentor, previous supervisor/student).
  • political, religious, ideological interests
  • commercial interests

Competing interests should generally be declared to cover at least the previous five years. For example, if a reviewer supervised the author's thesis then, and if they feel comfortable reviewing the work, their professional relationship should have ended over five years ago. This is a minimum requirement, and individuals must declare if they have had a previous relationship with someone/an organisation relevant to the submission that could be deemed to influence decision making.

For authors

Please place the competing interests section at the end of the manuscript, immediately before the reference list. The authors’ initials should be used to denote differing competing interests. For example:

“TW completed paid consultancy work from [company name] as part of the data acquisition for this study. BH has minority shares in [company name], which part funded the research grant for this project. SM is a member of the editorial board for [journal name], which is on a voluntary basis. All other authors have no competing interests."

If there are no competing interests, please add the below statement:

"'The author has no competing interests to declare" for papers with a single author or "The authors have no competing interests to declare” when multiple authors are contributing.

For reviewers

If you have any competing interests, please list them in the text box available on your reviewer page. For example:

"I was previously employed by the laboratory that collected this data."

If you do not have competing interests, please add the below statement:

"I have no competing interests to declare."

Corrections and Retractions

For a variety of reasons, some articles may require correction after publication. Such reasons can range from small errors through to more serious issues concerning ethics and copyright. In accordance with guidelines from the Committee on Publication Ethics (where applicable), the journal handles different kinds of error in the following ways. All articles will have had their proofs checked prior to publication by the author/editor, which should ensure that content and layout errors are not present. Please contact the Journal/Editorial Manager if you believe an article needs correcting.


For very minor but important content or metadata issues, the journal may directly amend the article (both PDF and HTML) if the error is reported within three days of publication. Corrections to the content of the article will follow the normal correction procedure. We reserve the right to decide what constitutes whether a minor issue is important enough to update the source and whether a note or correction article is necessary.

Publisher’s Note

For very small issues that do not directly affect the data or conclusions of the article, a publisher’s note will be posted to the article to highlight error and display the correct text where necessary. (Note: the error will not be corrected in the article itself.) The note will appear immediately after the article abstract/metadata. The wording of the note will be drafted by the journal/publisher and approved by both the editor(s) and author(s). Certain minor corrections may be better highlighted by the journal’s comment or online annotation functionality – the publisher can advise on this where appropriate.

Correction Article

Where an error affects the data being presented, arguments being made, or the conclusions of an article (but not the validity of the findings), or contains incorrect information about the article metadata (author list, title, editor, etc.), a correction article will be posted. Correction articles are used to formally correct the scientific record and to ensure errors in metadata are properly highlighted. Unlike a publisher’s note, correction articles will appear as an article in the journal’s table of contents and will be delivered to indexes in the usual fashion. The original article will be updated to contain a banner that links to the correction to alert readers (Note: the error will not be corrected in the article itself). The wording of the note will be drafted by the publisher and approved by both the editor(s) and author(s). The editor(s) and the publisher, in collaboration with the author, will decide whether the error should be corrected by a note or a correction article.


Retractions are used to remove a published paper from the scientific record. In accordance with the Committee on Publication Ethics’ guidance (adapted from https://doi.org/10.24318/cope.2019.1.4), retractions are used when:

  • Editors have clear evidence that the article’s findings are unreliable, either as a result of misconduct (e.g. data fabrication) or honest error (e.g. miscalculation or experimental error).
  • The findings have previously been published elsewhere without proper crossreferencing, permission or justification (i.e. cases of redundant publication).
  • Article publication constitutes plagiarism.
  • The article reports unethical research.

Retractions will be drafted and posted in the same way as correction articles and with the editors’ approval. The original article will remain but readers will be alerted to the retraction via a banner at the top of the article.


In rare circumstances, articles will need to be withdrawn and removed from the journal site itself. This is usually for legal reasons, such as copyright infringement or ethical concerns. The abstract and metadata of the original article will remain, but a banner that links to the retraction note will appear in place of the rest of the contents.