ASPB Policies & Procedures

ASPB Ethics in Publishing

Of the many activities of ASPB, perhaps the most visible is the self-publication of Plant Physiology® and The Plant Cell. With the publication of these two journals comes the responsibility to ensure that the highest ethical standards are maintained at all stages of the research and publication processes. To that end, the Society has developed a series of guidelines regarding ethical standards for scientific publishing to assist and educate all who participate in the publication process. The four Ethics in Publishing documents that the Society has developed to address ethical guidelines for authors, editors and reviewers, and publisher and staff, as well as conflicts of interest are listed below.

ASPB Policies and Procedures for Handling Allegations of Author Misconduct

ASPB Policies and Procedures for Handling Allegations of Author Misconduct

Editors, officers of the Society, and staff have a responsibility to the journals to ensure that allegations of scientific misconduct are properly investigated. Ethics in Publishing: ASPB Policies and Procedures for Handling Allegations of Author Misconduct has been developed to help editors, ASPB officers, and staff members deal with ethical issues related to the Society’s journals.

Expectations for Publishing in ASPB Journals

The American Society of Plant Biologists expects authors submitting to and publishing in its journals to adhere to ethical standards for scholarship and to ensure that the work they submit to or publish in the journals is free of scientific misconduct. Authors are expected to

  • Take credit only for work that they have produced.
  • Properly cite the work of others as well as their own related work. It is the responsibility of the authors, not the Society or the editors or reviewers, to ensure that relevant prior discoveries are appropriately acknowledged with the original citations in manuscripts submitted for publication.
  • Submit only original work to the journals, no part of which has been previously published in print or online as, or is under consideration as, a peer-reviewed article in another journal, as a non-peer-reviewed article (such as a review) in another journal, or as a book chapter.
  • Determine whether the disclosure of content requires the prior consent of other parties and, if so, obtain that consent prior to submission.
  • Maintain access to original research results; primary data should remain in the laboratory and should be preserved in accord with funder requirements.
  • Ensure adherence to journal authorship and image preparation policies as outlined in the Instructions for Authors of Plant Physiology and The Plant Cell.

All authors of articles submitted for publication assume full responsibility, within the limits of their professional competence, for the accuracy of their paper.

Instances of possible scientific misconduct related to papers submitted to or published in the ASPB journals will be addressed by following the procedure outlined below.

Procedure for Addressing Allegations of Scientific Misconduct or Other Ethical Violations

Scientific misconduct in publishing includes but is not limited to

  • Fraud: fabricating a report of research, suppressing or altering data, or inappropriately manipulating images
  • Duplicate publication: publication of the same article first in an ASPB journal and subsequently in another journal or vice versa
  • Simultaneous submission to more than one journal
  • Plagiarism: taking material from another’s work and submitting it as one’s own
  • Self-plagiarism: republishing one’s own material that has previously been published elsewhere in the primary literature without citing the earlier publication.

Procedure for handling allegations of misconduct

  1. All allegations of scientific misconduct or ethical violation will be referred to the CEO of the Society. Persons making oral allegations will be advised by the CEO that no action will be taken by the Society unless the allegation is made in writing.
  2. The CEO will consult with the Editor-in-Chief and Publications Committee Chair to determine whether to take direct action or to convene an Ethics Review Committee (ERC; three members at large, appointed for three years by the president-elect, with staggered terms; Past President; Publications Committee Chair; an editorial board member from the affected journal; Editors-in-Chief of Plant Physiology and The Plant Cell (ex officio, nonvoting); and the CEO (ex officio, nonvoting).
  3. Depending on the outcome of point 2 above, the CEO will refer allegations to the ERC, which will determine whether further action is necessary.
  4. If further action is deemed necessary, the CEO shall notify the author in writing of the allegations. The author shall be given the opportunity to respond to the allegations in writing within 30 days.
  5. The ERC shall consider all relevant information, including any response received from the author, in making its findings.
  6. The ERC shall determine the appropriate course of action, which can range from simply returning the manuscript to the author to prohibiting further publication. The CEO, after discussion with legal counsel, shall then determine if the Board of Directors and/or legal review is necessary before the Society takes action. It is important to recognize that the Society’s investigation shall focus on its concerns as a publisher and that the appropriate course of action shall not exceed the constraints of this interest. If deemed appropriate, the author’s home institution may be notified. Notification of the home institution will be informational only, so that the home institution is free to consider an independent investigation.
  7. Once a decision is made, the author will be notified in writing of the decision and of any action that will be taken by the Society. In the event of an adverse decision, the author may appeal to the Board of Directors. Such an appeal must be filed within 14 days of receipt of the decision. The procedures for the appeal shall be determined by the Board of Directors.

All information relating to allegations and subsequent inquiries will be kept confidential by the ERC, any other Society members, and staff working on the matter and will not be disclosed to any third parties, unless considered necessary according to points 6 and 7. All actions, including telephone calls, must be documented for all situations, even those resolved immediately. Copies of correspondence should be sent to the Director of Publications. A summary of alleged scientific misconduct or ethical violations, but with no names and other identifiers, should be part of the journal staff report that is delivered to the Publications Committee and Council.

The original version of this document was approved by the ASPB Executive Committee on October 20, 2003. It was revised by the Executive Committee on February 26, 2005, and again on March 5, 2011. It was revised by the Board of Directors on May 10, 2017.

ASPB Policies and Procedures for Handling Allegations of Editorial Misconduct

ASPB Policies and Procedures for Handling Allegations of Editorial Misconduct

The American Society of Plant Biologists expects members of the Society and all individuals involved in the peer review and publication of its journals to maintain high ethical standards for scholarship. This document is the second in the ASPB “Ethics in Publishing” series, which describes expectations for ethical behavior and procedures for addressing allegations of ethical violations. Ethics in Publishing: ASPB Policies and Procedures for Handling Allegations of Editorial Misconduct has been developed to offer guidelines for sound editorial practice. Please also refer to Ethics in Publishing: ASPB Policies and Procedures for Handling Allegations of Author Misconduct.

Expectations for Editors and Reviewers

Editors-in-Chief and Editorial Board Members (Editors)
Editors will uphold ethical standards for reviewing and accepting papers submitted to the ASPB journals as outlined below. When ethical issues arise in a submitted manuscript, these issues must be dealt with according to ASPB’s Ethics in Publishing policies.

  • Editors will base decisions to accept or reject manuscripts submitted for publication on the paper’s scientific merit, originality, and clarity and the study’s relevance to the mission of the journal, without regard to race/ethnic origin, sex, religion, or citizenship of the authors.
  • Editors will treat all submitted manuscripts as confidential.
  • Editors will not reveal a reviewer’s name without the reviewer’s permission.
  • Editors will not use previously undisclosed information contained in a submitted manuscript.
  • An editor may on occasion need to withdraw from the review process for a particular manuscript because of a real or perceived conflict of interest that would affect or could be reasonably perceived to affect the editor’s ability to handle a manuscript objectively.
  • An editor-in-chief who has submitted a manuscript to his or her own journal must delegate responsibility for the manuscript to an editorial board member.
  • An editorial board member must not seek to influence publication decisions on manuscripts he or she has submitted to the journal.
  • Because the Society’s interest lies in the integrity of the published record, the editor-in-chief must ensure that, where appropriate, important errors in the journal are corrected.

Reviewers

Reviewers will uphold ethical standards for reviewing papers submitted to the ASPB journals as outlined below. When ethical issues arise in a submitted manuscript, these issues must be dealt with according to ASPB’s Ethics in Publishing policies.

  • Reviewers must treat all assignments as confidential, taking care to guard the author’s identity and work. The reviewer is obligated to ensure that strict confidentiality is maintained if a colleague is consulted during the review of a manuscript. In such cases, the reviewer of record is solely responsible for the content and accuracy of the review.
  • Reviewers are not to contact authors directly without permission from the editor handling the manuscript.
  • Reviewers will not retain copies of submitted manuscripts.
  • Reviewers will not use previously undisclosed information contained in a submitted manuscript.
  • Reviewers will provide prompt, constructive, courteous, and objective assessments of the manuscripts they are assigned. Personal criticism is not appropriate. A reviewer who feels unqualified to assess a manuscript, or who lacks the time to do so, should decline the assignment promptly.
  • Reviewers should be alert to an author’s failure to cite relevant work by other scientists. Any significant similarity between the paper being reviewed and another paper should be reported to the editor, as should any suspicion of duplicate publication, fraud, or plagiarism or any other form of author misconduct.
  • Reviewers should disclose to the editor who is handling the manuscript any personal or professional connection to the author if the relationship might be considered a conflict of interest or otherwise bias the review (See Ethics in Publishing: Conflicts of Interest).

Examples of Scientific Misconduct in Publishing

By Editors

  • Forging, fabricating, or altering the scientific content of a reviewer’s report
  • Misrepresenting the review process to an author
  • Unreasonably delaying the review process
  • Using ideas or text from a manuscript that is under review to achieve personal or professional gain
  • Basing a decision on an author’s religion, race/ethnic group, citizenship, sex, or the like
  • Intervening in the review process for an editor’s own paper or the paper of a colleague or rival

By Reviewers

  • Misrepresenting facts in a review
  • Unreasonably delaying the review process
  • Making use of confidential information to achieve personal or professional gain
  • Using ideas or text from a manuscript under review

Procedure for Handling Allegations of Editorial Misconduct

  1. Any person who has reason to believe that an editor-in-chief, an editorial board member, or a reviewer has engaged in misconduct or committed an ethical violation in the course of reviewing an author’s work should summarize the reasons for such allegations in writing and transmit this written document to the ASPB executive director. Allegations that are not made in writing will not be considered. The party registering the allegation may not contact the person against whom the complaint is made, nor disclose the fact of the complaint to anyone, unless asked to do so by the executive director.
  2. The executive director will consult with the editor-in-chief and Publications Committee chair to determine whether to convene an Ethics Review Committee (ERC; president, past president, editors-in-chief of both Plant Physiology® and The Plant Cell, Publications Committee chair, and the editorial board member who is handling the manuscript in question). When an allegation is made against the editorial board member who handled the manuscript, that editor will not be included on the ERC. An editor-in-chief who feels he or she cannot be objective-or cannot be seen to be objective-in the case where a board member is accused should recuse himself or herself from the deliberations.
  3. Depending on the outcome of section B, the executive director will refer allegations to the ERC. The ERC will review the allegations to determine whether further action is necessary.
  4. If the ERC decides to take action, then the executive director shall notify in writing the party against whom the complaint has been made of the allegations and the fact that an inquiry is being conducted. The party shall be asked to respond to the allegations within 30 days. Responses will be sent by the executive director to the ERC for consideration in their decision making.
  5. The ERC will conduct all inquiries it deems necessary and shall consider all relevant information, including any response received from the party against whom the complaint has been made.
  6. On the basis of its findings, the ERC will determine whether misconduct has occurred.
  7. If in the opinion of the ERC misconduct has occurred, the ERC will determine a course of action.
  8. The executive director will consider the findings, decision, and recommendations of the ERC and determine whether Executive Committee and/or legal review is necessary before final action is taken. Once a final decision is made, the party will be notified in writing of the decision and of any action that will be taken by the Society. In the event of an adverse decision, the party may appeal to the Executive Committee. Such an appeal must be filed within 14 days of receipt of the decision. The procedures for the appeal shall be determined by the Executive Committee.
  9. The fact that any allegations were made, and all information relating to allegations and subsequent inquiries, will be kept confidential by the party making the complaint, the ERC, and any Society members and staff working on the matter and will not be disclosed to any third parties unless necessary. It is important to recognize that the Society’s investigation shall focus on our concerns as a publisher and that the appropriate course of action shall not exceed the constraints of this interest. If deemed appropriate, the party’s home institution may be notified. Notification of the home institution will be informational only, so that the home institution is free to consider an independent investigation.

All actions, including telephone calls, must be documented for all situations, even those resolved immediately. Copies of correspondence should be sent to the Director of Publications. A summary of alleged scientific misconduct or ethical violations, but with no names and other identifiers, should be part of the journal staff report that is delivered to the Publications Committee and the Executive Committee.

A number of sources were consulted during the development of this document. Parts of this document were adapted from Committee on Publication Ethics, The COPE Report 1999.

The section “Examples of Scientific Misconduct in Publishing” is adapted from “Scientific Misconduct,” in C. Iverson et al., eds., American Medical Association Manual of Style. 9th Edition. Baltimore: William & Wilkins, 1998, p. 105.

This document was approved by the ASPB Executive Committee February 26, 2005.

ASPB Policies and Procedures for Handling Allegations of Publisher or Staff Misconduct

ASPB Policies and Procedures for Handling Allegations of Publisher or Staff Misconduct

The American Society of Plant Biologists expects members of the Society and all individuals involved in the peer review and publication of its journals to maintain high ethical standards for scholarship.

This document is the fourth in the ASPB “Ethics in Publishing” series, which describes ethical guidelines for all parties involved in the publishing process as well as procedures for addressing allegations of ethical violations.

Ethics in Publishing: ASPB Policies and Procedures for Handling Allegations of Publisher and Staff Misconduct has been developed to offer guidelines for sound publishing practice. Please also refer to ASPB Policies and Procedures for Handling Allegations of Author Misconduct and; ASPB Policies and Procedures for Handling Allegations of Editorial Misconduct.

Expectations for the Publisher
Expectations for the American Society of Plant Biologists, as journal publisher, include the following. The Society will

  • provide the human, financial, and other resources needed to publish the journals
  • facilitate the prompt review of manuscripts submitted to its journals
  • facilitate the timely publication of articles accepted by its journals
  • not seek to delay publication of a paper for any reason other than to address technical issues associated with publication (for example, should authors be tardy in submitting corrected page proofs or submit final figures that fail to meet the technical requirements for publication), adherence to journal policies, or credible concerns about the science.
  • work to educate its member, author, and editorial communities through a variety of venues about ethical conduct in scientific publishing
  • in cases of alleged misconduct by authors or editors/reviewers, adhere to the procedures outlined in the ASPB “Ethics in Publishing” series and “ensure that investigations are handled as expeditiously as possible and without harming the reputation of anyone against whom an allegation is made but who is found not to have violated the Society’s standards” (Science and Engineering Ethics, volume 9, issue 2, 2002, p. 236)
  • ensure that retractions or corrections approved by an editor are published promptly in the journal.

Expectations for Staff
As representatives of ASPB, staff members are expected to uphold the ethical responsibilities of the Society. Specifically, staff will

  • maintain confidentiality about reviewers, reviews, comments, and decisions
  • not misrepresent the review process to an author
  • not forge or fabricate a reviewer’s report or alter the scientific content of reviews
  • not alter the scientific content of an article under review or accepted for publication in the journals without author and editorial approval
  • ensure that papers are scheduled for publication in accordance with established procedures and without bias
  • not falsify data related to the journal (e.g., impact factors, acceptance rates, turnaround times)
  • adhere to the procedures for handling allegations of ethical misconduct by authors or editors/reviewers as described in the ASPB “Ethics in Publishing” series and immediately refer any allegation of ethical misconduct by an author or editor/reviewer, or any instance of possible conflict of interest, to the Executive Director
  • cooperate with the Ethics Review Committee or other investigative bodies regarding possible ethical violations by an author or editor/reviewer
  • keep all details of an alleged ethical violation confidential
  • ensure that retractions or corrections approved by an editor are published promptly in the journal.

Procedure for Addressing Allegations of Publisher or Staff Misconduct

  1. Any person who has reason to believe that the journal publisher or any member of the ASPB staff has engaged in misconduct or committed an ethical violation in connection with their handling of an author’s work or with any other work they perform for the Society’s publications must summarize the reasons for such allegations in writing and transmit this written document to the president, who chairs the Ethics Review Committee (ERC; president, past president, executive director, chair of the Publications Committee, and the editors-in-chief of both journals).
  2. The allegations and all information relating to allegations and subsequent inquiries will be kept confidential by the party making the complaint, the ERC, and any Society members and staff working on the matter. The complaint and information developed in any subsequent investigation will not be disclosed to any third parties except as required by law or as may be necessary to enforce the decision of the ERC.
  3. The ERC will review the allegations to determine their validity and if further action is necessary. The ERC will conduct all inquires it deems necessary to resolve the matter and shall consider all relevant information and make findings and recommendations concerning any action that needs to be taken.
  4. Legal advice will be obtained to determine the proper legal procedures to be followed by the ERC if the compliant alleges a violation of law or Society employment rules, or if the ERC determines that such advice is needed to aid in conducting the inquiry.
  5. The Executive Director will not participate on the ERC when the allegation is directed against him/her. If the allegation is against the Society as publisher, or against a staff member other than the Executive Director, then the Executive Director will be notified of the allegation. If the allegation is against an ASPB employee, the Executive Director will assist the ERC to ensure that ASPB employment procedures are followed in the investigation.
  6. The person against whom the allegation is made shall be given the opportunity to respond to the allegations unless the complaint alleges violations of law or ASPB employment practices. If such violations have been alleged, then legal advice will be sought to determine if it is proper for the ERC to seek information from the accused.
  7. All actions taken in connection with an investigation of an allegation, including telephone calls, must be documented in writing. Copies of documentation and correspondence should be sent to the president, who shall ensure the security and confidentiality of the records.
  8. The ERC may seek the assistance of the Executive Director, the Executive Committee, and any other available ASPB resources in carrying out its confidential investigation and enforcing its decision.

This document was approved by the ASPB Executive Committee July 19, 2005.

Addressing Ethical Standards (articles from ASPB News)

Addressing Ethical Standards (articles from ASPB News)

One of the duties of our Society is to raise the awareness of such issues among our membership to help us all avoid violating acceptable ethical standards. Accordingly, we decided to run a series of articles in the newsletter in which we systematically address ethical standards.

NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2003, PAGE 16
Ethics in Publishing: ASPB Policies and Procedures for Handling Allegations of Author Misconduct

SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2004, PAGE 20
Addressing Ethical Standards: What’s in a picture? The temptation of image manipulation

JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2005, PAGE 11
Addressing Ethical Standards: Authorship

NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2004, PAGE 10
Addressing Ethical Standards: Plagiarism

MARCH/APRIL 2005, PAGE 9
Addressing Ethical Concerns: Editor and Reviewer Guidelines, Conflicts of Interest

SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2005, PAGE 14
Addressing Ethical Standards: Establishment of Publisher and Staff Guidelines Puts ASPB Ahead of the Curve

NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2005, PAGE 9
Addressing Ethical Standards: Anti-Plagiarism Software

SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2008, PAGE 8
Addressing Ethical Standards: Mentor Involvement in Research Misconduct

Conflicts of Interest

As part of a series of documents detailing the Society’s expectations for ethical behavior among its authors, editors, and staff, and guidelines for addressing allegations of scientific misconduct, ASPB has prepared this statement to address potential conflicts of interest for editors and reviewers. This document is adapted from “Conflict-of-Interests and Confidentiality Statement for NSF Panelists,” NSF Form 1230P (2/04), National Science Foundation, Arlington, VA 22230.

“Ethics in Publishing: ASPB Policies and Procedures for Handling Allegations of Author Misconduct” and “Ethics in Publishing: ASPB Policies and Procedures for Handling Allegations of Editorial Misconduct.”

Your Affiliations with an Institution Could Create a Conflict If You:

Your Affiliations with an Institution Could Create a Conflict If You:

  • Have a known ownership interest of any kind in any entity involved in the research.
  • Hold a current membership on a visiting committee or similar body at the institution. (This is a conflict only for manuscripts that originate from the department, school, or facility that the visiting committee or similar body advises.)
  • Hold any office, governing board membership, or relevant committee chairmanship in the institution. (Ordinary membership in a professional society or association is not considered an office.)

Your Relationship, Professional or Financial, with an Author Could Create a Conflict If You:

Your Relationship, Professional or Financial, with an Author Could Create a Conflict If You:

  • Have a family relationship such as a spouse, child, sibling, or parent, with an author.
  • Have a business or professional partnership with an author.
  • Have an association as a thesis research adviser or thesis student with an author within the past 10 years.
  • Have an association as postdoctoral adviser or postdoctoral student with an author within the past 5 years.
  • Have collaborated on a research project or a research publication with the author within the past 2 years.

Other Affiliations or Relationships with an Author Could Create a Conflict If:

Other Affiliations or Relationships with an Author Could Create a Conflict If:

  • An author is legally your partner, or an author is a relative living in your immediate household.
  • You have any relationship with an author, such as close personal friendship, that you think might tend to affect your judgment, or create the appearance or inference of doing so by a reasonable person familiar with the relationship.

Your Interest in the Subject Matter of the Manuscript Could Be a Conflict If You Have:

Your Interest in the Subject Matter of the Manuscript Could Be a Conflict If You Have:

  • Any financial interest in the subject matter described in the manuscript or if you have a professional interest (e.g., a manuscript submitted or in preparation that addresses very similar experimental work) that an observer might reasonably conclude could affect your ability to offer an objective evaluation.

Editorial board members should report real or potential conflicts of interest to the journal’s editor-in-chief. Reviewers should report real or potential conflicts of interest to the editorial board member handling the manuscript.

This document was approved by the ASPB Executive Committee February 26, 2005.