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Publishing Ethics & Publication Malpractice Statement

Baltic Journal of Health and Physical Activity pays great attention to ethical issues. We agree that publication of an article in a peer-reviewed journal is an essential building block in the development of a coherent and respected network of knowledge. It is a direct reflection of the quality of work of the author and the institutions that support them. Peer-reviewed articles support and embody the scientific method. It is, therefore, important to agree upon standards of the expected ethical behavior.

To ensure the highest level of scientific and editorial ethics, the Baltic Journal of Health and Physical Activity (Balt J Health Phys Act) follows the guidelines set out by the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) not-for-profit organizations which aim to support publishers and editors to achieve high standards in publishing ethics (more: https://publicationethics.org/).

All parties involved in publishing in Baltic Journal of Health and Physical Activity, i.e., the Author, the Editor and the Editorial Office, Reviewers as well as the Publisher, are expected to observe the following standards of ethical behavior.

Duties of Editors

MONITORING THE ETHICAL STANDARDS: The editorial board monitors the ethical standards of scientific publication and takes all possible measures against any publication malpractices.

FAIR PLAY: The submitted manuscripts are evaluated for their intellectual and scientific content without regard to race, gender, sexual orientation, religious beliefs, citizenship, or political ideology. Baltic Journal of Health and Physical Activity ensures the publication process which is free from any bias.

PUBLICATION DECISIONS: The Editor is solely and independently responsible for deciding which of the submitted articles should or should not be published. The decision to accept or reject a paper for publication is based on its importance, originality, clarity, and its relevance to the scope of the journal.

CONFIDENTIALITY: The Editor and the members of the Editorial Board/Office must ensure that all materials submitted to the journal remain confidential while under review. They must not disclose any information about the submitted manuscript and the content of the research therein to anyone other than the authors, reviewers, potential reviewers, other editorial advisers, and the publisher.

DISCLOSURE AND CONFLICT OF INTEREST: Unpublished materials disclosed in the submitted manuscript must not be used by the editor and the editorial board in their own research without written consent of the authors. Editors must not compromise intellectual and ethical standards in this respect. The Editor must not be involved in decisions about papers which s/he has written him/herself or have been written by family members or colleagues or which relate to products or services in which the editor has an interest.

MAINTAINING THE INTEGRITY OF THE ACADEMIC RECORD: The editors will guard the integrity of the published academic record by issuing corrections, clarifications, apologies and retractions, as may be relevant when needed and pursuing suspected or alleged research and publication misconduct. Plagiarism and fraudulent data are unacceptable. Baltic Journal of Health and Physical Activity editors will consider retracting a publication if: 1) they have clear evidence that the findings are unreliable, either as a result of misconduct (e.g. data fabrication) or an honest error (e.g. miscalculation or an experimental error); 2) the article (or major parts of the article) has been published elsewhere despite the author’s declaration; 3) the findings have previously been published elsewhere without proper cross-referencing, permission or justification (cases of redundant publication); 4) it constitutes plagiarism or reports unethical research. The Editors should act promptly.

Duties of Reviewers

CONTRIBUTION TO EDITORIAL DECISIONS: Peer reviews assist the editor in making editorial decisions and may help authors to improve the scientific value of their manuscript.

PROMPTNESS: Any selected reviewer who feels unqualified to assess the research reported in the manuscript or knows that its timely review will be impossible should notify the editor immediately and excuse himself/herself from the review process.

CONFIDENTIALITY: Reviewers receive a blind copy of the manuscript and they are not informed of the Author’s name and affiliation. All manuscripts received for review must be treated as confidential documents. They must not be shown to or discussed with others except those authorized by the editor.

STANDARDS OF OBJECTIVITY: Reviews should be conducted objectively without any bias to the country in which the research has been conducted, the subjects’ race, age, gender, sexual orientation, etc. Personal criticism of the author is inappropriate. Referees should express their views clearly with appropriate supporting arguments.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT OF SOURCES: Reviewers should identify the relevant published work that has not been cited by authors. Any substantial similarity or overlap between the manuscript under consideration and any other published paper should be reported to the editor.

DISCLOSURE AND CONFLICT OF INTEREST: Privileged information or ideas obtained through peer review must be kept confidential and not used for personal advantage. Reviewers should not consider evaluating manuscripts in which they have (or suspect having) conflicts of interest resulting from competitive, collaborative, or other relations with any of the authors, companies, or institutions involved in writing the paper.

Duties of Authors

REPORTING STANDARDS: Authors of original articles should present an accurate account of the conducted research and an objective discussion of its significance. Underlying data should be represented accurately in the paper. The paper should contain sufficient details and references to allow others to replicate the study. The fabrication of results or making fraudulent or inaccurate statements is deemed unethical behavior and may result in rejection or retraction of a manuscript or a published article.

ORIGINALITY AND PLAGIARISM AND ACKNOWLEDGING SOURCES: Authors should ensure that they have written an entirely original work, and if the authors have used the work and/or words of others, this needs to be properly cited and referenced. Proper acknowledgment of others’ work must always be given. The authors should also cite publications that have been influential in determining the scope of the reported work. Plagiarism and fraudulent data is unacceptable.

DATA ACCESS RETENTION: Authors may be asked to provide the raw data for editorial review; they should be prepared to provide public access to such data and should be prepared to retain such data for a reasonable time after publication of their paper. Authors should provide the information on the location of these data.

DATA ANALYSIS: All sources and methods used to obtain and analyze data, including any electronic pre-processing, should be fully disclosed; detailed explanations should be provided for any exclusions. Methods of analysis must be explained in detail, and referenced, if they are not in common use. The Discussion section of the paper should mention any issues of bias which have been considered, and explain how they have been dealt with in the design and interpretation of the study.

CONFIDENTIALITY: Information obtained in the course of confidential services, such as refereeing manuscripts or grant applications, must not be used without the explicit written permission of the author of the work involved in these services.

PLAGIARISM: Plagiarism ranges from the unreferenced use of others’ published and unpublished ideas, including research grant applications, to submission under “new” authorship of a complete paper, sometimes in a different language.

To avoid any doubts in this matter, all sources should be disclosed, and if large amounts of other people’s written or illustrative material is to be used, permission must be sought.

MULTIPLE, REDUNDANT OR CONCURRENT PUBLICATION: In general, authors should not publish manuscripts describing essentially the same research more than once. On certain conditions, the fact of multiple publication might be justified (see COPE Guidelines), but it must always be disclosed and given under consideration to our Editors, who will consider a given case.

When authors submit manuscripts to our journal, these manuscripts should not be under consideration, accepted for publication or in press within a different journal, book or similar entity, unless a journal is explicit that it does not have an exclusive submission policy. However, deposition of a preprint on the author’s personal website, in an institutional repository, or in a preprint archive shall not be viewed as prior or duplicate publication. Submitting the same manuscript to more than one journal concurrently constitutes unethical publishing behavior and is unacceptable.

AUTHORSHIP OF THE MANUSCRIPT: Authorship should be limited to those who have made a significant contribution to the concept, design, execution, or interpretation of the reported study. All those who have made contributions should be listed as co-authors. The corresponding author should ensure that all appropriate co-authors and no inappropriate co-authors are included in the paper, and that all co-authors have seen and approved the final version of the paper and have agreed to its submission for publication. All activities associated with scientific unreliability, especially with “ghostwriting” and “guest authorship” will be exposed and documented. In case of suspicion of such situations taking place, action will be taken in compliance with the rules prepared by Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE).

CORRESPONDING AUTHOR: The corresponding author’s specific responsibilities include:

  • ensuring that all appropriate co-authors are included on the paper and that all co-authors have seen and approved the final version of the paper and have agreed to its submission for publication
  • manuscript correction and proofreading; handling the revisions and re-submission of revised manuscripts up to the acceptance of the manuscripts
  • agreeing to and signing the Copyright Agreement on behalf of relevant co-authors and/or arranging for any third-party copyright owners’ signatures
  • Humanities, social and behavioural sciences
  • acting on behalf of all co-authors in responding to queries from all sources post publication, including questions relating to publishing ethics, reuse of content, or the availability of data, materials, resources, etc.

DECLARATION ON CONFLICT OF INTEREST AND FINANCIAL DISCLOSURE: All authors should disclose in their manuscript any financial and personal relationships with other people or organizations that could be viewed as inappropriately influencing (bias) their work.

All sources of financial support for the conduct of the research and/or preparation of the article should be disclosed, as should be the role of the sponsor(s), if any, in the study design; in the collection, analysis and interpretation of data; in the writing of the report; and in the decision to submit the article for publication. If the funding source(s) had no such involvement, then this should be stated.

Authors must state all possible conflicts of interest, including financial, consultant, institutional, and other relationships that might lead to bias or a conflict of interest. If there is no conflict of interest, this should also be explicitly stated as none declared. All sources of funding should be acknowledged in the Acknowledgment section.

INSTITUTIONAL REVIEW BOARD STATEMENT: All research studies on humans (individuals, samples or data) must be performed in accordance with the principles stated in the Declaration of Helsinki. Prior to starting the study, ethical approval must be obtained for all protocols from the local Institutional Review Board (IRB) or other appropriate ethics committee to confirm that the study meets national and international guidelines for research on humans. A statement to confirm this must be included within the manuscript, which must provide details of the name of the ethics committee and reference/permit numbers where available.

For non-interventional studies (e.g. surveys), where ethical approval is not required (e.g., because of national laws) or where a study has been granted an exemption by an ethics committee, this should be stated within the manuscript with a full explanation. Where a study has been granted exemption, the name of the ethics committee which provided this should also be included. However, if the researcher is in doubt, they should always seek advice from the relevant department before conducting the study.

INFORMED CONSENT STATEMENT: Authors should include a statement in the manuscript that the informed consent has been obtained from all human subjects involved in the research study. However, in circumstances when it is not possible, an appropriately constituted research ethics committee should decide if it is ethically acceptable. It is the author's responsibility to ensure that a subject’s privacy is carefully protected and to verify that any experimental investigation involving humans reported in the manuscript was performed with informed consent. Images of persons should be anonymized or, if not, written consent to publish the image should be obtained.

IMAGE INTEGRITY: It is not acceptable to enhance, obscure, move, remove, or introduce a specific feature within an image. Adjustments of brightness, contrast, or color balance are acceptable if and as long as they do not obscure or eliminate any information present in the original. Manipulating images for improved clarity is accepted, but manipulation for other purposes could be seen as scientific ethical abuse and will be dealt with accordingly.

DATA AND SUPPORTING EVIDENCE: We expect authors to maintain accurate records of supporting evidence necessary to allow others to understand, verify, and replicate new findings, and to supply or provide access to this supporting evidence, on reasonable request. Where appropriate and where allowed by their employer, funding body or others who might have an interest, we encourage authors to: 1) deposit evidence in a suitable repository or storage location, for sharing and further use by others; and 2) describe where the evidence may be found in a Data Availability Statement which authors should include in their publication.

FUNDAMENTAL ERRORS IN THE PUBLISHED WORKS: When the author discovers a significant error or inaccuracy in his/her own published work, it is the author’s obligation to promptly notify the journal editor or publisher and cooperate with the editor to retract or correct the paper.

In short: If any suspicion of the author’s ethical unreliability is found, the process of publishing the article is suspended, while the already published article is still placed at the journal’s website (until the case has been explained). Meanwhile, the editors examine the situation. If, in the Editors’ opinion, the allegation is confirmed, the Author (or the Corresponding Author) is informed of this fact and the Editors expect their response to the alleged charges within 2 weeks. Depending on the Author’s response, further actions will be taken in which the editors will follow the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE). In case the Author (or the Corresponding Author) fails to respond or their response is deemed inadequate, the Editors shall take the following actions: (1) an already published article is retracted, and in the case of an article being processed – this process is suspended; (2) the Author/Authors and the Reviewers are informed of the situation, (3) the Author/Authors superiors are also informed of the situation.