Editor-in-Chief: Stephan Rothlin
Co-Editors (or Managing Editors): Dennis McCann, Mike Thompson, Thierry Meynard
In formulating the Macau Ricci Institute Journal (MRI Journal) Ethics Statement below, we have drawn inspiration from a number of prominent institutions and organizations, in particular the Council of Science Editors. Their white paper, Promoting Integrity in Scientific Journal Publications (URL: HERE) has been referenced as a de facto template for structuring our statement. We are grateful for their work in advancing integrity in the publication industry.
The MRI Journal, continuing the legacy of Matteo Ricci, means to further substantive dialogue between East and West. Drawing on the Macau Ricci Institute’s basic commitment to promoting comparative spirituality and interreligious dialogue, the MRI Journal intends to build upon this foundation to provide commentary on contemporary issues of moral leadership and social innovation. Macau being a cultural, religious, and commercial bridge between East and West, the MRI Journal has a unique role to play in advancing understanding about this phenomenon through the publication of original research from scholars, intellectuals and opinion leaders in the areas of comparative spirituality, moral leadership and social innovation.
Value the time of others
The MRI Journal promises to provide authors with timely submission decisions. The editorial team is committed to a streamlined and transparent editorial process that respects the time spent by authors writing, preparing, and submitting their work.
Maintain integrity of publication process
The MRI Journal is determined to maintain integrity throughout all phases of its publication process, consistent with its mission to provide its readership with original and relevant content on comparative spirituality, moral leadership and social innovation.
Understand and avoid unacceptable conduct
The MRI Journal has zero-tolerance for unacceptable conduct throughout any phase of the publication process, including plagiarism, duplicate submissions, and disclosures. It will regularly check for such abuses, and holds itself accountable to standards of excellence and industry best practices.
ROLES AND RESPONSIBILITIES (Adapted from the Council of Science Editors’ white paper, Promoting Integrity in Scientific Journal Publications)
§ Editorial oversight – The Editor-in-Chief is responsible for what appears in the journal. To establish and maintain high-quality journal content, the Editor-in-Chief should, prior to accepting a position, receive an explicit written statement from the journal’s sponsor, the MRI, which defines his responsibilities and autonomy. While the Editor-in-Chief has ultimate authority over all aspects of the publication process and its outcome, including full responsibility for editorial decisions on individual manuscripts, it is expected that he will seek a consensus with the co-editors and delegate responsibilities as needed, when making decisions in fulfillment of these responsibilities.
§ Conflict of interest and conflict of interest disclosure - Conflicts of interest in publishing can be defined as conditions in which an individual holds conflicting or competing interests that could bias editorial decisions. Conflicts of interest may be only potential or perceived, or they may be factual. Personal, political, financial, academic, or religious considerations can affect objectivity in numerous ways.
Journals should require disclosure of all conflicts of interest from everyone involved in the publication process: editors, reviewers, editorial board members, editorial staff, and authors. The intent of disclosure is to allow the Editor-in-Chief to make an informed decision about the existence and impact of potential conflicts of interest or bias, including the necessity for recusal or disqualification under extraordinary circumstances. Those assisting the Editor-in-Chief in making these decisions—co-editors and select members of the editorial board—are better equipped to make informed decisions on potential biases if they have full knowledge of all the circumstances, and readers and reviewers have more information to interpret the work when there is a public disclosure.
§ Authorship disputes – All editors are responsible for promoting the integrity of the literature and fostering good publication practices. Journals should develop and define authorship criteria to minimize confusion about expectations. Authorship disputes persist despite the current common efforts to make authorship transparent. Consideration of the manuscript may have to be postponed pending resolution of a complaint. Authorship abuses may be driven by some factors that are beyond the role of the editor (tenure decisions, funding, awards, or competition among authors). Editors, however, should collaborate with research institutions and other organizations to determine why authorship disputes continue to arise and to work toward solutions.
§ Considering appeals - Despite the editors’ best efforts to solicit fair and unbiased reviews to evaluate manuscripts fairly, and to make decisions that are in the best interest of the MRI Journal and its readers, authors may still want to challenge editorial decisions. The process of responding to such challenges should include the following:
o Determine whether the decision was clearly explained to an author and whether it may have been based on wrong or questionable information, for example, on an incorrect reading of the manuscript or on bad advice from a reviewer.
o Reconsider rejected manuscripts if an author provides good reasons why the decision may have been wrong and is willing to revise the manuscript in response to the valid comments of the reviewers and editors. Many journals allow authors to write a rebuttal letter explaining why their manuscript should be reevaluated.
o Encourage resubmission of manuscripts that are potentially acceptable but were rejected because major revision or additional data were required, explaining precisely what is needed to make the manuscript potentially acceptable, and the process and procedures that will be followed in handling the resubmitted manuscript.
§ Clarification of authorship - Authors are generally defined as persons who have contributed sufficiently to the creation of a manuscript to be listed on the byline of its published version. Below are three criteria for determining authorship:
o Substantial contributions to conception and design, acquisition of data, or analysis and interpretation of data;
o Drafting the article or revising it critically for important intellectual content;
o Final approval of the version to be published.
§ Author responsibilities – Below is a listing of the responsibilities of authors:
o Confidentiality. The author-editor relationship is founded on confidentiality. Authors—as well as editors—should hold all communication between themselves and the journal in confidence. Authors should designate a specific contact for all communication about the manuscript throughout the peer review and (if accepted) publication process. Authors should observe journal policy on communication with external peer reviewers and should observe journal policy on prepublication embargoes.
o Originality. The authors should provide a statement attesting to the originality of the manuscript they have submitted for consideration. Originality is crucial, because many journals have limited space and editors may give a low priority to contributions that do not advance discussion of topics featured in the MRI Journal’s mission statement.
o Refrain from multiple submissions. It is not acceptable for authors to submit a manuscript to several journals at the same time, including items undergoing peer review for other publications, but for which the outcome has not yet been determined. Authors who do not follow this standard may find that editors reject their papers as a violation of policy.
o Obtain permissions. Authors frequently wish to reuse previously published images and other copyrighted material. The MRI Journal’s policy is that authors are responsible for obtaining any permission necessary for publishing such material. If such images and other copyrighted material are included in the submitted manuscript, an author must inform the editor and confirm the permission involved.
o Human Subjects Research. All journals should require formal affirmation that human subject’s research on which a submission is based was approved by an institutional review board (IRB) or complied with the Declaration of Helsinki and/or relevant NIH forms. The researchers must have conducted the study according to the approved protocol and acceptable research standards, including having obtained informed consent of study subjects. If a manuscript involving research on human subjects is submitted to the MRI Journal, its author must inform the editor of its compliance with these standards.
o Plagiarism. Plagiarism is a form of piracy that involves the unauthorized use or close imitation of the language (figures images or tables) and thoughts of others and the representation of them as one’s own original work without permission or acknowledgment by the author of the source of these materials. Plagiarism generally involves the use of materials from others, but can apply to researchers’ duplication of their own previously published reports without acknowledgment (this is sometimes called self-plagiarism or duplicate publication). Accepting plagiarized material is a serious violation of the MRI Journal’s Guiding Principles. If the Editor-in-Chief—as assisted by the other editors in the normal processes of peer review and publication—discovers plagiarism, the manuscript will be rejected, and the author(s) will be banned from any future publication in the MRI Journal.
§ Peer reviewers’ responsibilities to editors
o Providing written, unbiased feedback in a timely manner on the scholarly merits and intellectual value of the work, consistent with the scope of the MRI Journal reflected in its mission statement;
o Indicating whether the writing is clear, concise, and relevant and rating the work’s composition, scientific accuracy, originality, and interest to the journal’s readers;
o Avoiding personal comments or criticism;
o Maintaining the confidentiality of the review process: not sharing, discussing with third parties, or disclosing information from the reviewed paper.
§ Peer reviewers’ responsibilities toward authors
o Notifying the editor immediately if unable to review in a timely manner and providing the names of potential other reviewers;
o Alerting the editor about any potential personal or financial conflict of interest and declining to review when a possibility of a conflict exists;
o Complying with the editor’s written instructions on the journal’s expectations for the scope, content, and quality of the review;
o Providing a thoughtful, fair, constructive, and informative critique of the submitted work, which may include supplementary material provided to the journal by the author;
o Determining academic or intellectual merit, originality, and scope of the work; indicating ways to improve it; and recommending acceptance or rejection using whatever rating scale the editor deems most useful;
o Noting any ethical concerns, such as any violation of accepted norms of ethical treatment of animals or human subjects or substantial similarity between the reviewed manuscript and any published paper or any manuscript concurrently submitted to another journal which may be known to the reviewer;
o Refraining from direct author contact.
§ Ethical responsibilities of reviewers
o Confidentiality. Material under review should not be shared or discussed with anyone outside the review process unless necessary and approved by the editor.
o Constructive critique. Reviewer comments should acknowledge positive aspects of the material under review, identify negative aspects constructively, and indicate the improvements needed.
o Impartiality and integrity. Reviewer comments and conclusions should be based on an objective and impartial consideration of the facts, exclusive of personal or professional bias.
o Disclosure of conflict of interest. To the extent possible, the review system should be designed to minimize actual or perceived bias on the reviewer’s part. If reviewers have any interest that might interfere with an objective review, they should either decline the role of reviewer or disclose the conflict of interest to the editor and ask how best to address it.
o Timeliness and responsiveness. Reviewers are responsible for acting promptly, adhering to the instructions for completing a review, and submitting it in a timely manner.
REJECTED MANUSCRIPT APPEAL PROCESS
Despite editors’ best efforts to solicit fair and unbiased reviews to evaluate manuscripts fairly, and to make decisions that are in the best interest of the MRI Journal and its readers, authors may still want to challenge editorial decisions. In addressing such challenges, the Editor-in-Chief—in consultation with co-editors and select members of the editorial board—is responsible for establishing due process, guaranteeing transparency and accountability. The appeal process should include the following considerations:
- Determine whether the decision was clearly explained to the author and whether it may have been based on wrong or questionable information, for example, on an incorrect reading of the manuscript or on bad advice from a reviewer.
- Reconsider rejected manuscripts if the author provides good reasons why the decision may have been wrong and is willing to revise the manuscript in response to the valid comments of the reviewers and editors. Many journals allow authors to write a rebuttal letter explaining why their manuscript should be reevaluated.
- Encourage resubmission of manuscripts that are potentially acceptable but were rejected because major revision or additional data were required, explaining precisely what is needed to make the manuscript potentially acceptable, and the process and procedures that will be followed in handling the resubmitted manuscript.
The Editor-in-Chief’s decision, after hearing the appeal and in good faith consulting with the journal’s co-editors, is final. The Editor-in-Chief in consultation with the co-editors will make a written report informing the author of the outcome and the reasons for it.