Cuestiones de Fisioterapia (Issues of Physiotherapy) is responsible for ensuring the integrity of the publication of articles and promote ethical conduct in all participants in the editorial process, therefore it adheres to the guidelines contained in the White Paper on Publication Ethics approved by the Board of the Council of Science Editors on March 30, 2012, available at http://www.councilscienceeditors.org/resource-library/editorial-policies/white-paper-on-publication-ethics/ (accessed 08/19/2014).
Cuestiones de Fisioterapia aims at selecting relevant scientific information for the practice of Physiotherapy through the process of peer review, assessing only the scientific quality of the articles and their usefulness and applicability. Therefore it does not discriminate authors due to their academic or professional status, nor sex, nor geographic origin.
Cuestiones de Fisioterapia is aware that the editorial process that an article follows from its receipt and preliminary evaluation until its publication should be thorough, conscientious, objective, unbiased and fair; so that almost all the steps involved in this process require the mediation of important ethical principles in decision-making, which we wish to put on record in these rules. Likewise, we recognize that the prestige of Cuestiones de Fisioterapia depends on the confidence that the different actors who are involved deposit on it: readers, authors, reviewers, editors, etc. and said confidence will be enhanced if the detailed knowledge of the policy of ethical principles that the journal follows is known. Thus these ethical standards describe the policy of Cuestiones de Fisioterapia to ensure ethical and equitable conduct of all those involved in the publication process, making them known and available to anyone interested.
These ethics policy are based on the Recommendations on Publication Ethics Policies for Medical Journals of the World Association of Medical Editors (WAME), available at http://www.wame.org/about/recommendations-on-publication-ethics-policie (accessed 19/08/2014). Certain references also adapt to the Ethical Standards of the journal Gaceta Sanitaria available at http://www.gacetasanitaria.org/contenidos/normas_eticas.pdf (accessed 26/08/2014).
Conflict of interest
A conflict of interest occurs when there is a divergence between an individual's personal interests and their responsibilities in regard to the scientific and publishing activities that they carry out in such a way that an observer might reasonably question whether the individual's given behavior or judgment has been targeted or been influenced by their own interests. These are facts or circumstances that coincide in the different actors involved in the process of publishing a scientific article (authors, reviewers and editorial board members) and can influence their critical judgment and integrity of their actions, thus affecting the credibility of the scientific article. Events or circumstances that may create a potential conflict of interest should always be declared, as there is a potential conflict of interest independently in the manner that people consider such facts or circumstances have affected their judgment or integrity. Certainly, having a competitor interest does not involve committing misrepresentation or perversion, but it constitutes a major problem when it can give rise to authors, reviewers and editors taking decisions, consciously or unconsciously, that tend to serve their interests at the expense of their responsibilities in the publishing process, thus distorting the process. Therefore it is necessary to effectively manage conflicts of interest by starting to make them apparent. Finally, we must add that the mere appearance of conflict of interest, even where it does not really exist, can erode confidence in a scientific journal, damaging its reputation and credibility.
Types of conflicts of interest
Conflicts of interest can be of various kinds:
Financial ties. This conflict is present when a participant in the publication process (author, reviewer, editor) has received or expects to receive money or other economic benefits such as: research grants, patents, ownership of shares, gifts, financing studies, consulting fees for lecturing or membership on advisory boards, fees for services related to clinical research, etc.
Academic commitments. This conflict is present when reviewers or editors are strongly attached to a particular methodological or ideological tendency so that they may be biased when evaluating others’ work that agree or disagree with their tendencies, making extra efforts to find errors in manuscripts of opposing teams to delay publication or consign the work to an inferior journal.
Personal relationships. Personal relationships with family, friends, enemies, competitors and colleagues can pose a conflict of interest. For example, an editor or reviewer may have difficulty in being impartial to articles written by researchers who are or have been co-workers; or are competitors as they have a similar project near to completion, or a close collaboration or antagonism with some of the authors.
Labor. A conflict of interest arises when a participant in the publication process is employed by a company or belongs to an institution that has an interest in the publication of research results. For example if the researcher, editor or reviewer is an employee of the company that manufactures the device whose effectiveness is being investigated or whether the institution or the participant holds the patent for said device.
Moral. A strong religious conviction or a strong political commitment to a particular political vision may involve a conflict of interest for a given publication, whether these religious or political matters are asserted or are challenged in the publication. For example, research related to abortion, sexuality and purpose of life.
Cuestiones de Fisioterapia believes that the first step for effective management of conflicts of interest is to make them visible, therefore, depending on the roles that the different actors involved in the process of publishing scientific articles develop, the following criteria for conflict of interest statement is applied:
Criteria regarding conflicts of interest of authors
The authors, on sending the manuscript to Cuestiones de Fisioterapia, must indicate in writing the existence of any conflicts of interest that each of the signatories may have. Especially, the authors will explicitly indicate, where appropriate, funding sources and whether the organization which funded the research participated in the collection and analysis of data and the interpretation and communication of results. Similarly, if there is no conflict of interest they should also explicitly state so. All manuscripts submitted must meet this requirement, as it will be essential for the manuscript to pass the preliminary review. Where appropriate, the editors may require authors to extend the declaration of conflicts of interest presented.
Criteria regarding conflicts of interest of reviewers
Reviewers, before they agree to review the manuscript they will be asked if they have any conflict of interest with its content. As the review is anonymous conflicts of interest regarding the authors should not be presented. However, if this should occur, the reviewers must declare it. The publisher will take good care that the reviewers do not belong to the same institution as the authors. Reviewers will not take charge of evaluating manuscripts for which they have declared a conflict of interest.
Criteria regarding conflicts of interest of the publishers
The editors of Cuestiones de Fisioterapia will not take any editorial decision or participate in the editorial process of a manuscript submitted to the journal if he personally, a close family member or a person who lives with him, has a financial or another type of conflict of interest with respect to this manuscript. So those authors who work at the same center will not be responsible for manuscripts, whether they are family, come from the same department, have or have had professional relationships, etc. When an editor is the author of a manuscript sent to Cuestiones de Fisioterapia, another editor will be the one to handle it, so that during the editing process the editor/author not only refrains from participating in the discussion and decisions on the manuscript, but is not even able to access any information on its editorial process and status. If after the external and editorial review, the article is accepted for publication, particular attention explicitly stating a conflict of interest, that one or more of the signatories are part of the editorial team of the journal will be provided. Cuestiones de Fisioterapia will carefully check the strict compliance with these criteria.
Ethics and study design
The manuscripts submitted to Cuestiones de Fisioterapia will be based on research conducted with high standards of quality control in both its design and implementation as well as the analysis of data. Authors will retain data and data records of studies on which the manuscripts submitted are based, as reviewers and editors may request that the authors develop a new analysis or may even ask for the original databases for their review and verification that they deem appropriate.
The biased handling, invention, falsification, selective communication, concealment, misleading information or misrepresentation of information is an unacceptable scientific fraud against which Cuestiones de Fisioterapia will fight. Thus, cases of scientific fraud that are detected may be published in the journal and reported to the authorities.
Cuestiones de Fisioterapia adheres to the basic principles of the Declaration of Helsinki of the World Medical Association (http://www.wma.net/es/30publications/10policies/b3/index.html). When the manuscripts submitted to Cuestiones de Fisioterapia describe studies on human beings, it will be an indispensable condition that they have been previously evaluated and approved by the relevant Ethics Committee (institutional or regional). When animal experiments are described they will indicate that the rules of the institution or the National Research Council, or national laws regarding the care and use of laboratory animals have been followed. Likewise, the procedures used in patients and controls will have been carried out after obtaining informed consent. The authors will declare explicitly in their manuscripts that they have met these requirements and are holding all of these documents, which may be required by the editors.
Cuestiones de Fisioterapia adheres to the criteria for authorship contained in Recommendations for the Conduct, Reporting, Editing, and Publication of Scholarly work in medical journals, of the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (www.icmje.org). Therefore, it considers that authorship implies a significant intellectual contribution to the manuscript, a role in its drafting and revision of the final draft. All authors are responsible for the quality, accuracy and ethics of the paper, but one, usually the corresponding author, will assume responsibility for the work as a whole. In all manuscripts, the corresponding author will detail the specific contributions that each of the authors have made in the covering letter, which will be stated in the article. When the editor deems it appropriate, he will request each author to describe what their contributions to the manuscript were. Cuestiones de Fisioterapia will pay attention to the possibility of irresponsible authorship (authorship fraud), both in cases of unjustified authorship, in which "guest" authors (persons who do not meet the criteria for authorship but the work) are presented as well as in cases of incomplete or "ghost" authorship (people who meet the criteria for authorship but do not sign the work); these aspects will be monitored especially in those manuscripts with seven or more authors.
Those persons who engage exclusively in obtaining funds, collecting data, in the general supervision of the research group, or facilitating the study or manuscript, should not appear as authors as they do not meet the criteria for authorship. Such persons or institutions should be cited in the acknowledgments, provided they have given their consent.
Peer review is fundamental in the process of scientific publication and dissemination of sound scientific knowledge. External reviewers of Cuestiones de Fisioterapia are experts in the scientific subject that the articles they review address and they are selected by editors based on objectivity and scientific knowledge, with the aim of providing a written assessment of the strengths and weaknesses about the manuscript that is sent to them, so as to improve the quality of the dissemination of research and identify the most suitable materials for the journal.
Before undertaking the work of revising a manuscript, the reviewers state that they considered themselves competent to carry out the review and do not present any conflict of interest. Reviewers know that the manuscript under review is privileged information and must treat it as confidential. They must not retain, save, copy, or share it with any other colleague without explicit permission of the management. Reviewers and editors will make no personal or professional use of manuscripts and keep the reviews and comments about them in the confidentiality of the review process, unless they are commissioned to write an editorial or a commentary to accompany the publication of article. If reviewers suspect the existence of some kind of fraud they shall notify the editor in confidence and will not share it with others unless the director officially authorizes it.
All manuscripts that pass the initial screening are reviewed by an editorial board member, and at least two external reviewers. A third reviewer or a methodological reviewer will be involved when deemed necessary.
Authors may suggest names of persons who can review their study as well as names of people who they feel must not, detailing the reasons for it.
Editorial decisions and appeals
Decisions on the publication of an article are based on their importance, originality, clarity, methodological quality and relevance to the scope and
content of Cuestiones de Fisioterapia. Studies with negative results, or those that contradict the results of previously published works, will
receive the same consideration.
Authors may appeal the decision by sending a letter to the management in which they request a further review arguing the reasons for their appeal (errors or bias committed by the editors or reviewers) and not only expressing their disagreement. Directors, advised where appropriate by the advisory board of directors, will resolve on appeal.
If errors or major defects are found in an article, after its publication, the publisher will be responsible for correcting them promptly. The notice of correction will appear in the index and specify whether the errors originated in the author or journal.
Original works and previous publications
Cuestiones de Fisioterapia only accepts to publish original papers, which have not been previously published or submitted or under consideration for any other publication in whole or in any part thereof. Therefore, it does not accept redundant or duplicate publications either in print or electronic media. Redundant publication is considered when several manuscripts, which do not include the full text, share the same data or results. At the time of submission, authors should report the existence of related articles that have been published previously or are currently under review by another journal, albeit in another language. Published abstracts of communications, presentations or lectures presented at national or international scientific meetings do not preclude their subsequent submission for publication, but the authors shall state this therein.
Plagiarism is taking the ideas or words (or other intellectual property) of others, published in any format (print or electronic) or unpublished, without having obtained permission, and presenting them as new and original rather than originating from an existing source . The purpose of plagiarism is to mislead the reader so that they consider the author as the plagiarist. Self-plagiarism occurs when an author uses portions of their previous writings in another publication without specifying it by reference. Plagiarism is scientific fraud, so if editors or reviewers of Cuestiones de Fisioterapia detect the existence of plagiarism or self-plagiarism in a manuscript it will be automatically rejected. If it were detected after publication, the editors of the journal will inform the authors and those concerned, will publish a retraction and, where appropriate, collaborate with justice.
Cuestiones de Fisioterapia does not include advertising.
Responses to possible misconduct
Cuestiones de Fisioterapia is responsible for helping to protect the integrity of scientific publications, thus it will fight against all kinds of scientific misconduct that may arise, whether it comes from authors, reviewers, editors, or other possible actors in the process of publishing an article. Potentially fraudulent acts or omissions may be made deliberately due to reckless disregard of the possible consequences, or because of ignorance. Since the underlying goal of misconduct is to deliberately deceive others as to the truth, in the presence of a possible case of scientific misconduct, Cuestiones de Fisioterapia will consider not only the act or omission in particular, but also the apparent intention (as best can be determined) of the person involved. Misconduct does not include unintentional error. Therefore, only cases where deliberate, bad faith and intention to deceive will be considered as misconduct. Faced with a complaint of scientific misconduct, the editorial board will act according to the guidelines provided in the Office of Research Integrity of the US guide (Analysis of Institutional Policies for Responding to Allegations of Scientific Misconduct, available at: http://ori.hhs.gov/documents/institutional_policies.pdf , accessed 08/26/2014).
Assuming that there is the possibility of scientific fraud, Cuestiones de Fisioterapia will answer in accordance to the severity of the case with the following actions:
- written reprimand, warning that in future such cases shall not be considered as innocent misunderstandings.
- Request the persons in charge of the center where the authors work to open an investigation or complaint to the ones who conducted the fraudulent incident.
- Public retraction of the article, revealing all relevant information in an editorial note.
When reviewers and editors participate in scientific misconduct, Cuestiones de Fisioterapia will break off all relations with them and inform the authorities of their workplace.
Relationship of Cuestiones de Fisioterapia with the Sociedad Andaluza de Fisioterapia “SOFIA” and the collaborating institutions
In a climate of respect, trust and recognition of authority and responsibilities, the management and the editorial board of Issues of Physiotherapy act entirely independent of the sponsoring company and the collaborating entities in the fulfillment of its mission: to establish and develop the editorial policy and responsibility for the quality and interest of the contents of the journal, etc.
Cuestiones de Fisioterapia is financed solely through subscriptions and both the directors and the rest of the editorial board are unpaid.
The relationship of Cuestiones de Fisioterapia with Professional Associations of Physiotherapists, who have adopted it as their scientific publication, is circumscribed to such colleges making a collective subscription for all their members. Cuestiones de Fisioterapia considers that the Presidents/Deans of said Colleges should be part of an advisory committee of the journal management, in which they are incorporated after being invited and explicitly accepting it.