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Caroline Whitbeck Elmer G. Beamer-Hubert H. Schneider Emerita Professor in Ethics Case Western Reserve University Case Western Reserve University More Posts
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Responsibilities of Editors and Reviewers


Author(s) Caroline Whitbeck

A module covering ethical issues that arise in publishing and reviewing articles.

Author(s): Caroline Whitbeck

Background and Module Content

Ethical norms for reviewers and editors, field-dependent conventions, and guidelines from particular journals as to how authors, editors, and reviewers of manuscripts and grant proposals are to behave.

Method and Scenarios

Distribution of scenarios for discussion.

Panel discussion or small group discussion based on those scenarios and questions and any others that students or faculty wish to add.

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Readings Physical Sciences and Engineering

Recommended for discussion of scenarios

For those in the physical sciences and engineering, it is useful to read:

  • The "Obligations of Editors" and the "Obligations of Reviewers" sections of the Ethical Guidelines to Publication of Chemical Research by the American Chemical Society (ACS). These guidelines have served as a model for many other societies including the Optical Society of America and the American Geological Society. There is also a 2000 updated version of the ACS Guidelines, not yet on the ACS web site which differs from the 1995 version only in the addition of an eleventh item under the obligations for reviewers, which states,

    "The review of a submitted manuscript may sometimes justify criticism, even severe criticism, from a reviewer. When appropriate, such criticism may be offered in published papers. However, in no case is personal criticism of the author considered to be appropriate."

    Reading Questions for the Guidelines can be found here.

  • A section from the second (1995) edition of On Being a Scientist (OBAS) from National Academy Press: Conflict of Interest Note especially the conflict of interest scenario.

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Readings Biomedicine

Recommended for discussion of scenarios

If your research is in biomedicine, it is useful to read the following very brief sections of the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors' (ICMJE) "Uniform Requirements for Manuscripts Submitted to Biomedical Journals" updated May 2000 on the subjects of:

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  • Understanding of the responsibilities of journal editors and or reviewers of manuscripts, journal articles and grant proposals and the implications for authors, reviewers, and editors of those responsibilities.
  • Increased ability to discuss responsible authorship issues and to prevent misunderstandings.
  • Increased ability to solve problems that confront reviewers and editors.
  • Familiarity with avenues for raising concerns.

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Bibliography (for further reading)

Council of Biology (CBE) Editors Editorial Policy Committee. (John C. Bailar, Marcia Angell, Sharon Boots, Karl Heumann, Melanie Miller, Evelyn Myers, Nancy Palmer, Sidney Weinhouse, and Patricia Woolf). 1990. Ethics and Policy in Scientific Publication. Bethesda, Maryland: Council of Biology Editors, Inc. This volume contains descriptions of ethical problems and abuses that arise or are discovered in the process of publishing scientific research, together with the results of an empirical study of the frequency with which scientific journal editors encounter them. Topics include redundant publication, data-dredging, conflicts of interest, withdrawal of an accepted paper, prior publication in a "throwaway" journal, prior publication in a non-English journal, disputes over authorship. Note that the Council of Biology Editors has now become the Council of Science Editors.

Ethical Issues in Biomedical Publication. Jones, Anne Hudson and Faith McLellan (Editors). 2000. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press. This collection of essays includes several that specifically address issues of reviewing and editing including: "The Ethics of Peer Review," "Peer Review and the Ethics of Internet Publishing," "Educating the Leaders: Toward Systemic Change," and "Ethics in Cyberspace: The challenges of Electronic Scientific Publishing." Also included are essays about remedies and responses to problems which include attention to authorship issues.

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Publisher provided Keywords Authorship BIOLOGY ENGINEERING MEDICINE Peer review Physics Chemistry PSYCHOLOGY SCIENCE
Publisher National Academy of Engineering, Online Ethics Center
Language English
Cite this page: "Responsibilities of Editors and Reviewers" Online Ethics Center for Engineering 9/10/2006 OEC Accessed: Sunday, December 11, 2016 <>