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Publication Ethics and Virtue

Last updated: 2022-04-30

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STM fully adheres to the Code of Conduct of Publication Ethics (COPE) and its Best Practice Guidelines. and is dedicated to upholding the highest standards of integrity and ethics in publishing. This policy outlines the responsibilities and ethical obligations of all parties involved in the publication process: authors, reviewers, editors, and the publisher. Our aim is to ensure transparent, fair, and respectful practices that foster scientific excellence and trust.

Responsibilities of Authors

Integrity and Originality
  • Original Work: Authors must ensure that they submit only entirely original works. Any use of the work and words of others must be appropriately cited or quoted.
  • Plagiarism: The submission of plagiarized content, including self-plagiarism, is strictly prohibited. Manuscripts must be free from plagiarized material to uphold the integrity of the scientific record.
Reporting Standards
  • Accurate Presentation: Authors should present their results accurately and without fabrication, falsification, or inappropriate data manipulation. The manuscript should contain sufficient detail and references to permit others to replicate the work.
  • Data Access and Retention: Authors may be asked to provide the raw data associated with their paper for editorial review and should be prepared to retain such data for a reasonable time after publication.
Multiple, Redundant, or Concurrent Publication

STM's commitment to integrity and originality is paramount, necessitating strict guidelines against concurrent submissions, prior publications, and unauthorized sharing. 

Prohibition of Concurrent Submissions and Prior Publications
  • Exclusive Submission Requirement: Manuscripts submitted to any specific Journal must not be under consideration by any other publication venue or have been previously published. This exclusivity extends to all forms of publication, including other journals, books, and digital platforms, ensuring the novelty and integrity of the submitted work.
  • Plagiarism and Fabrication Prohibition: We strictly prohibit any form of plagiarism and fabricated data. Authors agree, by submitting their work, to undergo scrutiny and accept potential legal actions by the publishers if misconduct is discovered.
Restrictions on Digital Sharing and Academic Platforms
  • Social Media and Academic Platforms: Manuscripts submitted to any specific Journal cannot be published or shared on social media, personal websites, or any academic platforms outside of STM. The unauthorized distribution, including uploads to traffic repositories or academic sharing platforms, is strictly prohibited to preserve the integrity of the peer review and publication process.
  • Regulations on Downloads and Redistribution: Authors wishing to distribute their manuscript on different academic platforms must first obtain explicit permission by signing a declaration of copyright violation. This process includes the payment of applicable fees and the potential publication of the manuscript under an open access model, ensuring that proper copyright protocols are followed.
Handling Translations and Previously Published Work
  • Translations and Permissions: Authors intending to publish translations of their work or submissions that have been previously published in another language are required to obtain the necessary permissions. Such submissions must be transparently declared as translations and properly cite the original source.
  • Addressing Redundancy Concerns: To prevent overlap and redundancy, the Editor-in-Chief may request copies of related publications and will conduct a thorough review to ensure the submitted work contributes new knowledge.
Acknowledgment of Sources
  • Proper Citation: Authors must acknowledge all sources of data used in the research and cite publications that have been influential in determining the nature of the reported work.
  • Permission for Use: Permission should be obtained for the use of copyrighted material from other sources, including the internet.
Authorship of the Paper
  • Authorship Criteria: Only persons who meet these criteria should be listed as authors on the manuscript: (a) made significant contributions to the conception, design, execution, or interpretation of the reported study; (b) participated in drafting, revising, or critically reviewing the article; and (c) approved the final version to be published.
  • Collective Responsibility: All listed authors should have seen and approved the final version of the manuscript and agreed to its submission for publication.
Disclosure and Conflicts of Interest
  • All Authors: All authors should disclose any financial or other substantive conflicts of interest that might be construed to influence the results or interpretation of their manuscript. All sources of financial support for the project should be disclosed.
  • Fundamental Errors in Published Works: If an author discovers a significant error or inaccuracy in their published work, it is the author’s obligation to promptly notify the journal editor or publisher and cooperate with them to either retract the paper or to publish an appropriate errand or correction notice.
Ethical Approval and Consent
  • Compliance: When reporting studies involving human participants, animals, or potentially hazardous substances, authors should indicate whether the procedures followed were in accordance with the ethical standards of the relevant committee(s).
  • Informed Consent: For research involving human subjects, authors should include a statement indicating that informed consent was obtained from all subjects.
Responsibilities Towards Data Sharing and Transparency
  • Data Sharing: Authors are encouraged to share or make their data that supports the findings of their research available in a public repository whenever possible. At a minimum, authors should cite the data repository in their manuscript.
  • Standards of Reporting: Authors should adhere to community standards for reporting their research. This includes following relevant reporting guidelines and protocols for data collection and analysis.

Responsibilities of Reviewers

Contribution to Editorial Decisions
  • Expert Evaluation: Reviewers assist editors in making editorial decisions and, through the editorial communications with the author, may also assist the author in improving the paper.
  • Timeliness: If a selected reviewer feels unqualified to review the research reported in a manuscript or knows that its prompt review will be impossible, the reviewer should notify the editor and excuse themselves from the review process.
  • Respect for Privacy: Any manuscripts received for review must be treated as confidential documents. They must not be shown to or discussed with others except as authorized by the editor.
  • Anonymity: The review process should be conducted anonymously, and the identities of reviewers should not be disclosed to the authors or other parties without permission from both the editor and the reviewer.
Standards of Objectivity
  • Constructive Criticism: Reviews should be conducted objectively. Personal criticism of the author is inappropriate. Reviewers should express their views clearly with supporting arguments.
  • Acknowledgment of Sources: Reviewers should identify relevant published work that has not been cited by the authors. Any statement that an observation, derivation, or argument had been previously reported should be accompanied by the relevant citation.
Disclosure and Conflict of Interest
  • Unpublished Material: Reviewers must not use unpublished materials disclosed in a submitted manuscript for their own research without the express written consent of the author(s).
  • Conflicts of Interest: Reviewers should not review manuscripts in which they have conflicts of interest resulting from competitive, collaborative, or other relationships or connections with any of the authors, companies, or institutions connected to the papers.
  • Review Timeline: Reviewers should complete their reviews within the time period specified by the journal. This is crucial in ensuring a timely review process for manuscripts, benefiting both authors and the editorial decision-making process.
Specific Observations
  • Detailed Feedback: Reviewers should provide detailed, constructive feedback that helps both the editor make a decision and the author improve their manuscript. This includes articulating the strengths as well as the weaknesses of the manuscript, with clear and supported suggestions for improvement.
Evaluation of Ethics
  • Ethical Concerns: Reviewers should be alert to potential ethical issues in the paper and should bring these to the attention of the editor, including any possible evidence of dual submission, plagiarism, manipulation of data, or inappropriate authorship.
Respect for the Integrity of the Record
  • Consistency and Fairness: Reviewers should ensure that their reviews are consistent and fair, applying the same standards to all manuscripts irrespective of the authors' nationality, religious or political beliefs, gender, or other characteristics.

Responsibilities of Editors

Decision-Making and Fairness
  • Editorial Decisions: Editors are responsible for deciding which of the submitted articles should be published. Decisions should be based on the manuscript's importance, originality, clarity, and relevance to the journal's scope.
  • Fair Review: Editors should ensure that each manuscript received by the journal is reviewed for its intellectual content without regard to race, gender, sexual orientation, religious belief, ethnic origin, citizenship, or political philosophy of the authors.
  • Protecting Information: Editors and editorial staff must not disclose any information about a submitted manuscript to anyone other than the corresponding author, reviewers, potential reviewers, other editorial advisers, and the publisher, as appropriate.
Conflict of Interest
  • Disclosure and Conflicts of Interest: Editors must not use unpublished information disclosed in a submitted manuscript for their own research without the express written consent of the author(s), under any circumstances.
  • Managing Conflicts: Editors should require all contributors to disclose relevant competing interests and publish corrections if competing interests are revealed after publication.
Involvement and Cooperation in Investigations
  • Ethical Concerns: Editors should take reasonably responsive measures when ethical complaints have been presented concerning a submitted manuscript or published paper. This includes contacting the author of the manuscript or paper and giving due consideration to the respective complaint or claims made, but may also involve further communications to the relevant institutions and research bodies.
Publication Decisions and Peer Review
  • Responsibility for Peer Review: Editors should ensure that the peer review process is fair, unbiased, and timely. The process should be clearly described on the journal's website, and editors should use appropriate peer reviewers for papers that are considered for publication by selecting individuals with sufficient expertise and avoiding those with conflicts of interest.
Vigilance Over the Published Record
  • Monitoring and Safeguarding Publishing Ethics: Editors should guard the integrity of the published record by issuing corrections and retractions when needed and pursuing suspected or alleged research and publication misconduct.
  • Guidance on Ethical Requirements: Editors should provide guidance to authors and reviewers on everything that is expected of them. This includes providing policies on authorship, originality, and conflicts of interest.
Engagement and Communication
  • Feedback and Complaints: Editors should encourage and be willing to consider critiques of their work and to respond to them constructively.
  • Continuous Improvement: Editors should work to improve the quality of the journal, including its systems for selecting and processing manuscripts, through the ongoing review of the journal's policies and practices.
Promoting Access and Inclusiveness
  • Inclusiveness: Editors should seek to engage a diverse group of authors and reviewers to represent the community the journal serves.
  • Accessibility: Efforts should be made to ensure the accessibility of the journal's content, including adherence to open access policies where applicable.

Conflict of Interest

Disclosure Requirements
  • For Authors: Authors must disclose any financial, personal, or professional relationships that could be viewed as potential conflicts of interest in relation to their submissions. This includes, but is not limited to, employment, consultancies, stock ownership, honoraria, patents, and grants or other funding. Authors should provide a detailed acknowledgment of any potential conflict of interest in their manuscript, typically in an acknowledgment section or a separate statement.
  • For Reviewers: Reviewers should disclose to editors any conflicts of interest that could bias their opinions of the manuscript, and they should recuse themselves from reviewing specific manuscripts if the potential for bias exists. Reviewers must not use knowledge of the work they’re reviewing before its publication to further their own interests.
  • For Editors: Editors who make final decisions about manuscripts must have no personal, professional, or financial involvement in any of the issues they might judge. If a potential conflict of interest arises, editors should delegate manuscript handling and decisions to other editorial staff or associate editors without such conflicts.
Management of Conflicts
  • Transparency: Upon disclosure of any potential conflicts of interest, the journal should assess the nature and extent of the conflict and decide on the appropriate course of action, which may include publishing a statement with the article detailing the conflict.
  • Recusal: In cases where the conflict of interest is considered significant, individuals (authors, reviewers, editors) should recuse themselves from the review process or decision-making related to the manuscript in question.
Role of the Publisher
  • The Publisher has a crucial role in supporting journal editors in identifying and managing potential conflicts of interest to protect the integrity of the academic record. The publisher should ensure that all participants in the publication process are educated about what constitutes a conflict of interest and the importance of disclosing any potential conflicts.
Procedures for Handling Conflicts
  • Clear procedures should be in place for handling conflicts of interest of the editorial staff, reviewers, and authors. This includes steps for identifying potential conflicts, disclosing them appropriately, and deciding on the actions to be taken when a conflict of interest is identified.

Authorship and Contributorship

Authorship should accurately reflect individuals’ contributions to the work and its reporting. Criteria for authorship are based on significant contributions to (a) the conception and design of the study, or acquisition of data, or analysis and interpretation of data; (b) drafting the article or revising it critically for important intellectual content; and (c) final approval of the version to be published. All three criteria must be met for authorship.

Responsibilities of Authors
  • Agreement on Authorship: Before submitting the manuscript, all authors should agree on the manuscript’s content and on their listing as authors. The corresponding author is responsible for ensuring that all co-authors have approved the final version of the manuscript and have agreed to its submission for publication.
  • Changes in Authorship: Any addition, deletion, or rearrangement of author names should be made only before the manuscript has been accepted and only if approved by all authors. To request such a change, the corresponding author must send a letter to the journal, explaining the reason for the change and declaring that all authors have agreed to the change.
Acknowledgment of Contributions
  • Contributions from individuals who do not meet the criteria for authorship, such as technical help, writing and editing assistance, or general support, should be acknowledged in the manuscript, typically in an "Acknowledgments" or "Contributors" section. Permission should be obtained from all individuals mentioned in these sections.
Contributorship Statements
  • To promote transparency, authors are encouraged to include a statement specifying the contributions of each co-author. This may involve detailing who contributed to the study design, data collection, data analysis, and writing of the manuscript.
Resolution of Disputes
  • In the case of disagreement among co-authors regarding authorship that cannot be resolved at the authorial level, the matter should be brought to the attention of the institution(s) where the work was conducted. The journal may mediate in authorship disputes but usually relies on the institutions’ resolution.
Ghost, Guest, or Gift Authorship
  • Ghost Authorship: Where someone has made significant contributions to the writing or research but is not named as an author, is unacceptable.
  • Guest (Honorary) Authorship: Naming someone as an author who does not meet authorship criteria, to increase the paper's prestige or credibility, is unethical.
Ethics of Contributorship
  • Ensuring that all contributors are appropriately acknowledged and that authorship accurately reflects individuals’ contributions is a matter of ethical integrity. Journals and institutions should promote practices that prevent authorship disputes and ensure the responsible reporting of research contributions.

Appeals and Complaints

Post-Publication Discussions and Corrections

We encourage readers and authors to engage in constructive dialogue regarding content published in our journal, facilitating further understanding and development in the field.

Comment and Critique Policy
  • Open Forum: We provide an open forum for readers to express views and ask questions about published articles. This may be through letters to the editor, comment sections on article web pages, or other appropriate channels.
  • Moderation: To ensure constructive and respectful dialogue, all comments and critiques are subject to moderation according to the journal's standards for professional and respectful communication.
Corrections and Retractions
  • Corrections: If errors that significantly affect the interpretation or conclusions of a published work are identified, STM Journals will publish a correction notice as soon as possible, detailing the nature of the error and the correct information.
  • Retractions: In cases of serious errors, ethical breaches such as plagiarism, or fraudulent data, articles may be retracted to maintain the integrity of the academic record. A retraction notice will be published, clearly identifying the retracted article and the reason for retraction.
  • Expressions of Concern: If there are well-founded concerns or ongoing investigations into the integrity of a work, STM Journals may choose to publish an expression of concern pending the outcome of the investigation.
Handling Post-Publication Critiques
  • Investigation: All substantive critiques of published work will be carefully considered. If necessary, STM will consult with the authors and, if appropriate, seek advice from peer reviewers or external experts.
  • Response to Critiques: Authors of the original article will be given the opportunity to respond to any critiques. Responses and discussions will be published alongside the critique to provide a balanced view.
Amendments to the Published Record
  • Linking Corrections: Corrections, retractions, and expressions of concern will be linked to the original articles, ensuring that readers accessing the original work will be informed of any amendments.
  • Preserving the Historical Record: The original article will remain accessible, preserving the historical scientific record and ensuring transparency in the correction process.

Ethical Oversight of the Review Process

STM is dedicated to maintaining the highest ethical standards in the peer review process. We recognize the critical role of peer review in upholding the quality and integrity of the scientific discourse and are committed to ensuring that this process is fair, unbiased, and transparent.

Responsibilities of the Editorial Team
  • Selection of Reviewers: The editorial team is responsible for selecting reviewers with the appropriate expertise and without conflicts of interest. The selection process should be free from bias, promoting a fair and objective review.
  • Confidentiality: Editors must ensure the confidentiality of the review process, protecting the identity of reviewers and the content of manuscripts under review.
  • Guidance for Reviewers: Clear guidance should be provided to reviewers on how to conduct an ethical and effective review. This includes evaluating the manuscript fairly, providing constructive feedback, and identifying potential ethical concerns.
  • Monitoring the Review Process: The editorial team should monitor the review process for any signs of unfairness or breach of ethical standards, taking corrective action when necessary.
Handling Allegations of Misconduct
  • Investigating Concerns: Any allegations of misconduct, including biased review, breach of confidentiality, or conflicts of interest, will be thoroughly investigated in accordance with [Journal Name]'s misconduct policy.
  • Corrective Actions: If misconduct is confirmed, appropriate corrective actions will be taken, which may include revising editorial decisions, implementing additional review processes, or involving external authorities.
Promoting Transparency
  • Anonymity vs. Openness: STM clearly articulates its policy on reviewer anonymity versus openness, explaining the rationale behind the chosen approach and how it supports ethical oversight.
  • Decision Explanation: When possible, editors should provide explanations for editorial decisions, especially when these decisions are contrary to the reviewers' recommendations, to ensure transparency and accountability.

Data Sharing and Reproducibility

  • Mandate for Data Availability: Authors are required to make their research data, methods, and protocols available to readers upon publication. Data should be deposited in a recognized, accessible data repository, enabling validation of the results presented and facilitating further research.
  • Conditions and Exceptions: While we advocate for the openness of data, we also recognize the importance of privacy, confidentiality, and sensitivity concerns related to certain types of data. Authors should anonymize sensitive data appropriately and may restrict access to data if necessary, provided that they furnish a compelling ethical or legal reason supported by a statement within the manuscript.
  • Supporting Reproducibility: Authors are encouraged to provide sufficient detail about their methodologies and analysis procedures to allow their experiments and studies to be reproduced by others. Supplementary materials, including but not limited to datasets, code, and algorithms, should be made publicly available when possible.
  • Detailed Methodological Transparency: Submissions must include comprehensive descriptions of the procedures and materials used, allowing others in the field to replicate the work. Where applicable, standardized reporting guidelines should be followed to ensure clarity and consistency.
  • Verification and Validation: STM supports the verification of key results by independent researchers. To this end, we encourage authors to make available any additional resources that would facilitate the reproduction of experiments, such as software and data files.
  • Ethical Data Use: Authors must ensure that all data collection and analysis conducted adhere to ethical guidelines and legal standards, including obtaining informed consent and approvals from relevant ethics committees.
  • Responsibility for Accuracy: Authors bear the primary responsibility for the accuracy of the data presented and must confirm that all data are real and authentic. Fabrication, falsification, or manipulation of data constitutes unethical behavior and will result in action according to our misconduct policy.

Ethical Considerations in Research

Research Involving Human Subjects

Human subjects are at the core of many scientific studies and are protected by stringent regulations and ethical guidelines. No research activities involving human subjects should commence without:

  • IRB Approval: All research involving human subjects must have received approval from an Institutional Review Board (IRB) or equivalent ethics committee. This approval ensures the study's compliance with both local and international ethical standards, including the Declaration of Helsinki (World Medical Association Declaration of Helsinki), which outlines the ethical principles for medical research involving human subjects.
  • Informed Consent: Participants must be fully informed about the study's purposes, methods, risks, benefits, and their rights to confidentiality and withdrawal without penalty. Informed consent must be documented and retained.
  • Adverse Event Reporting: Researchers must report any adverse events or unintended effects experienced by participants to their supervising IRB promptly.
Research Involving Animals

Research involving animals must be carried out under the guidance of the principles outlined in the Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals (National Research Council) and should only be conducted when no alternative methods exist. Key considerations include:

  • Ethical Review: Studies must have approval from an appropriate animal care and use committee, ensuring that the research minimizes discomfort, distress, and pain to the animals.
  • Humane Treatment: Researchers must employ humane methods of animal maintenance and experiment termination, adhering to established standards for animal care.
  • Protect Participant Privacy: Ensure all personal information is anonymized or securely stored, protecting participants' privacy and confidentiality.
  • Comply with Data Protection Laws: Adhere to relevant local and international data protection regulations, including GDPR for research involving subjects from the European Union (General Data Protection Regulation).
  • Authors must include an Institutional Review Board Statement in their manuscript, which should at a minimum contain:
  • Project Identification Code
  • Date of Approval
  • Name of the Ethics Committee or Institutional Review Board
  • This statement confirms that the research adheres to the applicable ethical standards and regulations.
Research Involving Animals
  • Welfare Standards: Research must treat animals humanely, minimizing discomfort and distress. Procedures should comply with the ARRIVE guidelines or equivalent standards. [Include link to the ARRIVE guidelines.]
  • Ethical Review: Studies must have approval from an appropriate animal ethics committee, ensuring that the research is justified and humane. [Link to guidelines from the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) or similar.]
Environmental Considerations
  • Sustainability and Impact: Research should assess and minimize environmental impacts, promoting sustainability and ethical use of resources. [Include link to relevant environmental ethics guidelines.]
  • Ethics Approval: Studies involving humans must have approval from an institutional review board (IRB) or an equivalent ethics committee. [Link to IRB standards or ethical guidelines.]
  • Privacy and Confidentiality: Researchers must protect participants' privacy and confidentiality, adhering to data protection laws. [Link to General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) or similar regulations.]

If the research work involves chemicals, procedures or equipment that have any unusual hazards inherent in their use, the author must clearly identify these in the manuscript. If the work involves the use of animal or human subjects, the author should ensure that the manuscript contains a statement that all procedures were performed in compliance with relevant laws and institutional guidelines and that the appropriate institutional committee(s) has approved them.

Digital Preservation and Accessibility


Handling of Unethical Publishing Behavior

In cases of alleged or proven scientific misconduct, fraudulent publication or plagiarism, the publisher, in close collaboration with the editors, will take all appropriate measures to clarify the situation and to amend the article in question. This includes the prompt publication of an errand, clarification or, in the most severe case, the retraction of the affected work.

Ethics Statement

At STM, we believe that ethical principles are integral to the production and dissemination of quality research. We are committed to upholding the highest ethical standards in all stages of the publication process, from manuscript submission to post-publication corrections.

Our core ethical principles are honesty, integrity, transparency, objectivity, fairness, and respect for intellectual property rights. We strongly adhere to the guidelines and recommendations of the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE), the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE), and other relevant professional organizations.

We expect our authors, reviewers, and editors to follow these ethical principles and guidelines, ensuring that they conduct their research and publish their work in a responsible and ethical manner.

  • Requirement for authors to declare potential conflicts of interest and prompt resolution of ethical concerns
  • Prioritization of diversity, inclusivity, and accessibility in research production and dissemination
  • Commitment to providing a safe and respectful environment for all individuals involved in the publication process
  • Prohibition of harassment, discrimination, and bullying
  • Dedication to maintaining the highest ethical standards in publications and continuous improvement of policies and procedures
  • Welcoming of feedback and suggestions from readers, authors, reviewers, and editors to promote responsible conduct of research.

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