Last updated: 2022-04-30
STM has peer-reviewed journals with a rigorous editorial screening and assessment process made up of several stages.
STM considers original research articles from all disciplines within the journal’s scope. The editors make decisions on submissions based on scientific rigor, regardless of novelty, believing that peer review needs to be efficient, rigorous, and fair for everyone involved.
Peer review is a single-blind assessment with at least two independent reviewers, followed by a final acceptance/rejection decision by the Editor-in-Chief. The Editor-in-Chief is responsible for the quality of the publication process, including acceptance decisions, approval of Guest Editors and Special Issue topics, and appointing new Editorial Board members.
STM editorial process is given in the flowchart below:
Once the paper is submitted, the Journal’s Editor will perform the initial check to ensure:
Depending on the Journal’s editorial structure, the editor who performed the initial assessment may also oversee peer review or another editor with more specific expertise may be assigned
The following points are applied to all reviewers:
Reviewers who accept to review a manuscript are expected to:
What do we expect?
Authors: must submit a manuscript that has significant scholarly value and falls within the scope of the journal. They must comply with all editorial and ethical policies and consider all reviewer and editor comments.
Reviewers are subject experts and evaluate manuscripts by using the quality assessment tool and designated review questionnaire that prioritize scientific quality, rigor, and validity. They evaluate the methodology of a study for solidity and rigor and ensure the research provides valid conclusions and is supported by sufficient data.
Editors are subject experts and assess the peer-review process and manuscripts meticulously. They only endorse publication if the reviewers validate the contents of a manuscript.
STM ensures that manuscripts adhere to high-quality research and ethical standards and prevents the publication of any manuscripts that are below our quality standards.
At any stage before official publication, if a manuscript does not meet our editorial criteria and standards for publication, or if peer-review or research integrity concerns are raised by any review participant or reader (abstracts are published online ahead of official publication), the journal's chief editors and will investigate these concerns, regardless of peer review or acceptance stage.
STM applies the following criteria for acceptance and rejection of manuscripts. See further information on our editorial and ethical policies below, as well as in our author guidelines, publication ethics and virtue, and terms & conditions.
- All submissions accepted at STM must be VALID.
- Valid research question and hypothesis, with a relevant theory to which the research question is being posed
- Applies correct and transparent methodology, and the study design and materials are clearly laid out
- Language and presentation are clear and adequate, figures and tables are in line with scientific norms and standards
- In line with STM's author guidelines on editorial and ethical policies
- Determined by grounding in existing literature through sufficient referencing and appropriate coverage of the relevant literature.
A submission may be rejected at any stage before the official publication of the article, including during initial validation, peer review, final validation, and, if issues are identified late-stage, also post-acceptance, for the following reasons:
- The manuscript does not have a valid research question or hypothesis.
- There are clear objective errors in the methodology of the study design, data collection, or analysis
- The manuscript does not conform to our editorial policies as it is not original, is plagiarized, or is a duplication of previous work
- The language and presentation of the manuscript are not of sufficient quality for a rigorous and efficient peer review to take place
- The study violates our ethical policies by not complying with privacy protection guidelines, ethical review board approval guidelines, and internationally recognized standards for research involving humans or animals
- The authors have not adhered to our authorship guidelines or have fabricated, falsified data, or manipulated images and figures in a deceitful manner
- The references are biased (geographical, self-citation, school of thought, citation cartel) and do not reflect the current status of knowledge in the field
- Based on biased or faulty analyses, the study’s conclusions are misleading and could even pose a public health threat
- The editor considers reviewer feedback and their evaluation of the manuscript to reach a decision. The following decision types are available:
- Major revision
- Minor revision
- Acceptance: decisions are taken by an Editor-in-Chief, a Guest Editor, or another suitable Editorial Board member and are communicated to the corresponding author in a formal email, along with reviewer feedback.
- Revision: If the editor feels that your manuscript has the potential to be published, but requires changes, you’ll be invited to revise it. Any other requirements from the Revised versions of manuscripts may or may not be sent to reviewers, depending on whether the reviewer requested to see the revised version. By default, reviewers who request major revisions or recommend rejection will be sent the revised manuscript.
- Accepted Manuscripts: When the handling editor is satisfied with the scientific aspects of the manuscript they’ll issue an editorial acceptance decision. This is a provisional acceptance, pending final checks for formatting and technical requirements. Once the final requirements are fulfilled, the journal office will send a formal acceptance decision, and your manuscript will move on to production.
STM uses the Quetext software to detect instances of overlapping and similar text in submitted manuscripts. Quetext software checks content against a database of periodicals, the Internet, and a comprehensive article database. It generates a similarity report, highlighting the percentage of overlap between the uploaded article and the published material. Any instance of content overlap is further scrutinized for suspected plagiarism according to the publisher’s Editorial Policies. STM allows an overall similarity of 20% for a manuscript to be considered for publication. The similarity percentage is further checked keeping the following important points in view.
Types of Plagiarism
We all know that scholarly manuscripts are written after a thorough review of previously published articles. It is therefore not easy to draw a clear boundary between legitimate representation and plagiarism. However, the following important features can assist in identifying different kinds of plagiarized content.
- Reproduction of others' words, sentences, ideas, or findings as one’s own without proper acknowledgment.
- Text recycling, also known as self-plagiarism. It is an author’s use of a previous publication in another paper without proper citation and acknowledgment of the source.
- Poor paraphrasing: Copying complete paragraphs and modifying a few words without changing the structure of original sentences or changing the sentence structure but not the words.
- Verbatim copying of text without putting quotation marks and not acknowledging the work of the original author.
- Properly citing a work but poorly paraphrasing the original text is considered as unintentional plagiarism. Similarly, manuscripts with language somewhere between paraphrasing and quoting are not acceptable. Authors should either paraphrase properly or quote and in both cases, cite the source.
- Higher similarity in the abstract, introduction, materials and methods, and discussion and conclusion sections indicates that the manuscript may contain plagiarized text. Authors can easily explain these parts of the manuscript in many ways. However, technical terms and sometimes standard procedures cannot be rephrased; therefore Editors must review these sections carefully before making a decision.
Plagiarism in Published Manuscripts
Published manuscripts that are found to contain plagiarized text are retracted from the journal’s website after careful investigation and approval by the Editor-in-Chief of the journal. A ‘Retraction Note’, as well as a link to the original article, is published on the electronic version of the plagiarized manuscript and an addendum with retraction notification in the particular journal.
Low Text Similarity
The text of every submitted manuscript is checked using the Content Tracking mode in Quetext. The Content Tracking mode ensures that manuscripts with an overall low percentage similarity (but may have a higher similarity from a single source) are not overlooked. The acceptable limit for the similarity of text from a single source is 5%. If the similarity level is above 5%, the manuscript is returned to the author for paraphrasing the text and citing the source of the copied material.
It is important to mention that text taken from different sources with an overall low similarity percentage will be considered plagiarized content if the majority of the article is a combination of copied material.
High Text Similarity
There may be some manuscripts with an overall low similarity percentage, but a higher percentage from a single source. A manuscript may have less than 20% overall similarity but there may be 15% similar text taken from a single article. The similarity index in such cases is higher than the approved limit for a single source. Authors are advised to thoroughly rephrase similar text and properly cite the source to avoid plagiarism and copyright violation.
Fabricating and Stating False Information
To ensure the scholarly integrity of every article, STM will publish post-publication notices. The authors of the published articles, or those who have submitted the manuscripts with false information, or fabricated the supporting data or images, will be liable for sanctions, and their papers will be retracted.
Anonymous images that do not identify the individual directly or indirectly, such as through any identifying marks or text, do not require formal consent, for example, X-rays, ultrasound images, pathology slides, or laparoscopic images.
In case consent is not obtained, concealing the identity through eye bars or blurring the face would not be acceptable.
Errata and Corrections in Published Articles
Authors and readers are encouraged to notify the Editor-in-Chief if they find errors in published content, authors’ names, and affiliations or if they have reasons for concern over the legitimacy of a publication.
If any manuscripts are published, having certain assigned information of volume/issue/page number, and it is found that there are infringements of professional ethical codes in their content, such as plagiarism, excess similarity with some other article, fraudulent use of data, etc., then such manuscripts are retracted.
- A retraction note entitled “Retraction: [article title]” (for example Retraction: ABC experiment involving XYZ species) is published in the paginated part of the next scheduled issue of the journal and is also listed in the table of contents.
- The retraction note is approved by the Editor-in-Chief of the concerned journal.
- A link to the original article is displayed in the online (electronic) version.
- A screen containing the note of retraction appears before the electronic version of the article present on the website. On the screen, a link for the complete article is present, i.e. to access the retracted article.
- The link/webpage of the original article remains unchanged, however, a watermark is shaded on its downloadable PDF document, to explicitly give the message that the article was retracted.
Human and Animal Rights
All clinical investigations should be conducted according to the Declaration of Helsinki principles. For all manuscripts reporting data from studies involving human participants, formal review and approval by an appropriate institutional review board or ethics committee are required.
For research involving animals, the authors should indicate whether the procedures followed were under the standards outlined in the eighth edition of “Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals” (grants.nih.gov/grants/olaw/guide-for-the-care-and-use-of-laboratory-animals_prepub.pdf published by the National Academy of Sciences, The National Academies Press, Washington, D.C.).
Research Involving Animals
Research work on animals should be carried out under the NC3Rs ARRIVE Guidelines. For In Vivo Experiments, please visit https://www.nc3rs.org.uk/arrive-guidelines
Authors should clearly state the name of the approval committee, highlighting that legal and ethical approvals were obtained before the initiation of the research work carried out on animals and that the experiments were performed under the relevant guidelines and regulations stated below.
- US authors should cite compliance with the US National Research Council's "Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals"
- The US Public Health Service's "Policy on Humane Care and Use of Laboratory Animals" and "Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals"
- UK authors should conform to UK legislation under the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 Amendment Regulations (SI 2012/3039).
- European authors outside the UK should conform to Directive 2010/63/EU
- Research in animals must adhere to the ethical guidelines of The Basel Declaration and the International Council for Laboratory Animal Science (ICLAS) has also published ethical guidelines.
- The manuscript must include a declaration of compliance with relevant guidelines (e.g. the revised Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 in the UK and Directive 2010/63/EU in Europe) and/or relevant permissions or licenses obtained by the IUCN Policy Statement on Research Involving Species at Risk of Extinction and the Convention on the Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora.
Research Involving Plants
All experimental research on plants (either cultivated or wild), should comply with international guidelines. The manuscript should include a declaration of compliance of field studies with relevant guidelines and/or relevant permissions or licenses obtained by the IUCN Policy Statement on Research Involving Species at Risk of Extinction and the Convention on the Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora.
It is the responsibility of the author to ensure that:
Editors may request that authors provide documentation of the formal review and recommendation from the institutional review board or ethics committee responsible for oversight of the study. The editors reserve the right to reject manuscripts that do not comply with the above-mentioned requirements. The author will be held responsible for false statements or failure to fulfill the above-mentioned requirements.
Concurrent Publication/Simultaneous Submission
It is a condition of publication that manuscripts submitted to the STM have not been published and will not be simultaneously submitted or published elsewhere. Plagiarism is strictly forbidden, and by submitting the article for publication the authors agree that the publishers have the legal right to take appropriate action against the authors if plagiarism or fabricated information is discovered.
Abstracts and posters of conferences, results presented at meetings (for example, to inform investigators or participants about findings), results from databases (data without interpretation, discussion, context, or conclusions in the form of tables and text to describe data/information where this is not easily presented in tabular form) are not considered prior publication.
Authors who wish to publish translations of the articles that have been published elsewhere should ensure that they have appropriate permission(s), indicate clearly that the material has been translated and re-published, and indicate the source of the material. The Editor-in-Chief may request copies of related publications if he/she is concerned about overlap and possible redundancy.
The Publisher may impose restrictions for some period on future publications from the accused author in the Journals