Ethical policy for journals
This policy should be read in conjunction with our guidelines for authors and reviewers. This policy applies to all IOP-owned journals and to those journals published with partner organisations that are listed in the appropriate section below.
IOP Publishing is a member of the Committee for Publication Ethics (COPE), and apply the principles of publication ethics outlined in the COPE Core Practices. We take publishing ethics very seriously and accept our responsibility to maintain the integrity of the scientific record as much as possible.
Unbiased consideration is given to all manuscripts offered for publication regardless of the race, gender, religious belief, ethnic origin, citizenship, political philosophy, sexual orientation, age or reputation of the authors.
Open Handling cases of misconduct
IOP Publishing is a member of the Committee for Publication Ethics (COPE) and adheres to the COPE Guidelines regarding misconduct and retractions. We take ethical allegations very seriously and believe it is our responsibility to maintain the integrity of the scientific record as far as possible.
Our relationship with our authors is based on trust and we publish submitted material in good faith. However, if a possible breach of ethics is brought to our attention, we will refer the case to our Research Integrity Panel for investigation. The panel includes representation from our legal department, as well as senior management and editorial staff. The panel may seek advice from the journal’s Editorial Board, and may need to escalate an investigation to author’s institution(s) for further information. The panel will decide the most appropriate course of action to take according to industry guidelines and advise on any corrections (including retractions) that may be required to the published record, following the STM Guideline for the Preservation of the Objective Record of Science (2006).
- Misconduct investigations are sensitive and can take time
- IOP Publishing has the right to contact an individual’s institution regarding allegations of misconduct, according to the COPE Guidelines
- IOP Publishing reserves the right not to work with anyone who is abusive to our staff, authors, reviewers or editors
To report any concerns relating to potential misconduct, please contact the editorial office for the relevant journal. You can find contact information for all IOP journals here. Alternatively you can contact our Research Integrity and Inclusion Manager directly. We follow the COPE guidelines on responding to whistleblowers, which includes protecting your anonymity.
Open Respect for others
IOP Publishing believe everyone is entitled to courtesy, civility and respect. We commit to treating everyone we work with fairly, professionally and without bias, and we expect our staff to be treated in the same way at all times. Discrimination against any person will not be tolerated, including, but not limited to, discrimination on the grounds of race, age, gender, location, sexual orientation, disability, appearance, religion / belief, human rights, social / economic status, political philosophy, reputation and/or scientific viewpoint. In addition, any form of behaviour which IOP Publishing considers to be bullying and/or harassment and/or the cause of another person’s distress or discomfort is unacceptable. IOP Publishing reserves the right to refuse to interact further with any person whose behaviour it considers has contravened any of the above.
Open Parallel submission
It is unethical to submit the same, or essentially the same, article to a second primary research journal whilst it remains under active consideration by another.
It is the corresponding author’s responsibility to ensure the paper is not under consideration by any other journal at the time of submission.
Open Research Results
Authors must not fabricate, falsify or misrepresent data or results. They should strive to be objective, unbiased and truthful in all aspects of their work.
Authors must be honest in making claims for the results and conclusions of their research. Making inflated claims for a project interferes with the objective evaluation of its results and applications, and can lead to an unfair and wasteful distribution of resources.
Authors should strive to avoid mistakes in research and exercise due diligence in presenting high quality work for publication. They should critically assess the likelihood of experimental, methodological and human errors and avoid self-deception and bias. Where possible they should conduct an internal review to assess the validity of their work before publication.
If an error occurs
It is, of course, recognised that errors will occur from time to time. When an error is discovered in published or submitted work, the mistake should be admitted and a corrigendum, erratum or retraction should be published. Corrections should be approved by all authors of the original article unless there is a particular reason why this is not possible. In these cases any dissent among the authors should be noted in the published correction.
IOP Publishing does not require the raw data from an experiment to be submitted for publication, although some of our journals do offer the option to supply this data as supplementary information. However, we expect that all authors follow established best scientific practice and record (and retain) source material of experiments and research results, in an auditable manner that allows for scrutiny and verification by other scientists. Exceptions may be appropriate to preserve privacy or patent protection. There may also be specific instructions from your funding agency or university.
Open Investigations involving live subjects
All investigations involving humans must be conducted in accordance with the principles embodied in the Declaration of Helsinki and in accordance with local statutory requirements. Articles relying on clinical trials should quote the trial registration number at the end of the abstract. IOP also encourages the registration of such studies in a public trials registry prior to publication of the results in the journal.
Informed consent to participate in the study should be obtained from participants (or their parent or legal guardian in the case of children under 16) for all research involving human subjects. In order to protect participant anonymity, authors do not need to send proof of this consent to us at IOP Publishing.
All investigations involving animal experimentation must be conducted in accordance with the Guiding Principles for Research Involving Animals and Human Beings as adopted by the American Physiological Society, and with local statutory requirements.
Open Participant consent to publish
Researchers should not generally publish or share identifiable individual data collected in the course of research without specific consent from the individual (or their representative).
Informed consent to publish should be obtained from participants (or their parent or legal guardian in the case of children under 16) for all research involving identifiable human subjects. This requirement also applies for deceased persons, in which case consent should be given by the next of kin. Authors are required to attest that consent has been obtained and that any identifiable individuals are aware of intended publication. Examples of identifying information are descriptions of individual case histories, photos, video, x-rays, or genetic pedigrees.
In order to protect participant anonymity, authors do not need to send proof of this consent to us at IOP Publishing. A statement confirming that consent was obtained for all identifiable individuals should appear in the manuscript.
Source: Barbour V on behalf of COPE Council, Journals’ Best Practices for Ensuring Consent for Publishing Medical Case Reports: guidance from COPE, December 2016 www.publicationethics.org
Open Vulnerable populations
We follow COPE guidelines on studies involving vulnerable populations as set out in the COPE Core Principles (https://publicationethics.org/core-practices).
Open Ethical statements
Authors should include the following statements (if applicable) when submitting a paper. Any manuscript submitted without the relevant statement(s) will be returned to the authors and will not be considered further until an explicit statement is included.
1. Articles relying on clinical trials should quote the trial registration number at the end of the abstract.
2. All submitted manuscripts containing research which involves identifiable human subjects (including donors of cells or tissues) must include a statement confirming that consent was obtained for all identifiable individuals and that any identifiable individuals are aware of intended publication. In order to protect participant anonymity, authors do not need to send proof of this consent to us at IOP Publishing.
3. All submitted manuscripts containing research which involves human participants and/or animal experimentation must include a statement confirming that it was carried out in accordance with the principles outlined in our ethical policy and identifying the appropriate institutional and/or national research ethics committee, along with approval number/ID.
Open Funding declarations
IOP Publishing requires all authors to declare any funding they received related to their research. When you submit your paper, you will be asked to provide information on all funders associated with your work. It is vital that you enter this information as it helps you to meet your funder requirements as well as to make your research more discoverable and transparent (for example, IOP Publishing is a member of CHORUS – Clearinghouse for the Open Research of the United States). When asked about funding on the submission form please search the Open Funder Registry for your funding institutions, and provide grant numbers wherever possible.
You should ensure you have permission from your funder(s) before submitting your article.
Open Referencing, citation and novelty
IOP Publishing is a member of the Committee for Publication Ethics (COPE), and apply the principles of publication ethics outlined in the COPE Core Practices.
Authors have a responsibility to acknowledge the work of others used in their research and to cite publications that have influenced the direction and course of their study. Information obtained in private correspondence or conversation should only be used with the explicit permission of the individuals involved. Information obtained whilst providing confidential services, such as refereeing research articles or grant applications, should not be used without permission of the original author.
All sources for the article must be clearly disclosed and permissions obtained from the original authors (and original publishers if they hold the copyright) for any figures or significant extracts that are to be reproduced or quoted. Collection of such permissions is the responsibility of the authors.
References should be helpful to the reader and advance the article, so authors should ensure they are relevant, recent and easy to find.
Submitted articles must be the authors’ own work. Plagiarism constitutes unethical scientific behaviour and is never acceptable. Plagiarism ranges from the unreferenced use of others’ ideas, to replication (without attribution) of sections of text from other publications, to submission of a complete paper under ‘new’ authorship. IOP Publishing routinely screens submissions for originality via iThenticate, industry standard plagiarism detection software.
Duplicate publication is the production of multiple papers with the same, or essentially the same, content by the same authors and is viewed as unacceptable. Submitted research articles must be novel and original.
In the case of articles that expand upon previously published conference proceedings, or conference write-ups that discuss work already published in an earlier paper, some limited exceptions to this rule may apply. However, in these cases authors should consult with the journal staff before submission. In all instances, articles must clearly cite their sources and present some new contribution to the published literature otherwise such articles will be rejected.
Multiple publications arising from a single research project should be clearly identified as such and the primary publication should be referenced. Translations and adaptations for different audiences should be clearly identified as such, should acknowledge the original source, and should respect relevant copyright conventions and permission requirements. If in doubt, authors should seek permission from the original publisher before republishing any work.
Text recycling occurs when authors publish sections of the same text in more than one of their own publications. Authors should always be clear and cite any re-used text in the manuscript, respecting relevant copyright conventions and permission requirements. Authors should state in their cover letter if there are sections of the article that have already been published elsewhere. We acknowledge there are some instances where text recycling may be acceptable, and others where it is unacceptable. All text recycling will be investigated and considered on an individual basis by our Editors.
It is also unethical to submit the same, or essentially the same, article to a second primary research journal whilst it remains under active consideration by another.
To aid us in detecting any submissions that do not meet the above requirements, we regularly use plagiarism-detection software to screen articles.
Open Conflicts of interest
All authors and co-authors are required to disclose any potential conflicts of interest when submitting their article. Any conflicts of interest should be included in an acknowledgements section.
Examples of financial interests that should be disclosed:
Any direct sources of funds (employment, grants, patents, stock ownership, sponsorships etc.) or indirect sources of funds (consulting fees, honoraria, equipment supplies etc.) where the funding organisation stands to gain/lose from the publication of the article or could be seen to have influenced the submitted work.
Examples of personal relationships/academic competitions that should be disclosed:
Any unpaid roles that the authors have that could influence the publication process. These would include unpaid advisory affiliations and memberships of professional organisations.
Any personal relationships/beliefs that could be seen as a conflict should also be disclosed. This would include having a relative who works for an organisation funding the work.
It is difficult to specify the threshold at which a financial or other interest becomes significant. Two practical guidelines are:
to declare any competing interests that could embarrass you were they to become publicly known after your work was published;
to declare any information which, when revealed later, would make a reasonable reader feel misled or deceived.
Declaring conflicts of Interest:
Any potential conflicts of interest should be declared in the acknowledgements section.
If you are submitting to a double-blind review journal, the full disclosure should be included in the Title Page document.
To uphold impartiality, reviewers should consider any potential conflict of interest before agreeing to review and should decline in the following instances:
- You are in direct competition with the authors
- You are a co-worker or collaborator or have a personal relationship with one of the authors
- You are affiliated with the same institution as one of the authors
- You are in a position to exploit the authors’ work (commercially or otherwise)
- You are in a position which prevents you from giving an objective opinion of the work.
Reviewers are expected to act within the spirit of the Nolan principles of public life.
If you are unable to act as a reviewer due to a conflict of interest, we will select an alternative reviewer
If you have been asked to review an article for one of our double-blind journals, but suspect you know the identity of the author(s), please notify the journal staff if you suspect a potential conflict of interest.
Open Ethics for reviewers
Conflicts of interest
To uphold impartiality, you should consider any potential conflict of interest before agreeing to review and should contact the editorial office in the following instances:
- You are in direct competition with the authors
- You are a co-worker or collaborator with one of the authors
- You are in a position to exploit the authors’ work (commercially or otherwise)
- You are in a position which prevents you from giving an objective opinion of the work.
Minor conflicts do not disqualify you from reporting on an article, but will be taken into account when considering the reviewers’ recommendations. Major conflicts of interest (especially relating to a financial commercial interest >£5000/year) do disqualify you. You should act within the spirit of the Nolan principles of public life.
If you are unable to act as a reviewer due to a conflict of interest, we will select an alternative reviewer.
Anonymity and confidentiality
Reviewer names are kept strictly confidential. Reviewer identities may only be disclosed to journal Editorial Board members, who are also instructed to maintain confidentiality. You should not disclose your identity to the authors, including sending reports directly to the authors.
Information and ideas obtained whilst acting as a reviewer must be kept confidential and not used for competitive advantage.
We also ask that you do not discuss the papers you have reviewed with colleagues unless they have been published.
Reviewers should judge objectively the quality of the research reported, give fair, frank and constructive criticism and refrain from personal criticism of the authors. Reviewers’ judgements should be explained and supported so that authors can understand the basis of the comments and judgements.
Reviewers should inform the journal if they are unable to review a paper or can only do so with some delay. Reviewers should not delay the peer review process unnecessarily, either deliberately or inadvertently.
Reviewers are expected to point out relevant work that has not been cited, and use citations to explain where elements of the work have been previously reported. When writing a report reviewers should justify any literature references suggested for inclusion in the work. Please note that the Editor reserves the right to challenge excessive citation suggestions, especially to the reviewer’s own work. The Editor also reserves the right to exclude citation suggestions from reports to protect reviewers’ anonymity.
Suspected author misconduct
If a reviewer believes the work is substantially similar to a manuscript or any paper published or submitted to any other journal, they should report this to the journal staff for investigation. We follow the COPE guidelines on responding to whistleblowers, which includes protecting your anonymity.
For more information on ethics please read our ethical policy.
Open Journals which the Ethical Policy applies to
The IOP Ethical Policy for Journals applies to all the titles listed below. Other journals we publish with partner organisations not listed operate using the partners’ ethical policies.
- 2D Materials
- Advances in Natural Sciences: Nanoscience and Nanotechnology*
- Bioinspiration & Biomimetics
- Biomedical Materials
- Biomedical Physics & Engineering Express
- Chinese Physics B* (published by the Chinese Physical Society and hosted online by IOP Publishing)
- Classical and Quantum Gravity
- Engineering Research Express
- Electronic Structure
- Environmental Research Communications
- Environmental Research Letters
- European Journal of Physics*
- Flexible & Printed Electronics
- Fluid Dynamics Research* (published on behalf of The Japan Society of Fluid Mechanics)
- Functional Composites and Structures
- IOP Conference Series: Earth and Environmental Science*
- IOP Conference Series: Materials Science and Engineering*
- IOP SciNotes
- Inverse Problems
- Journal of Breath Research
- Journal of Micromechanics and Microengineering
- Journal of Neural Engineering
- Journal of Optics
- Journal of Physics A: Mathematical and Theoretical
- Journal of Physics B: Atomic, Molecular and Optical Physics
- Journal of Physics Communication
- Journal of Physics D: Applied Physics
- Journal of Physics G: Nuclear and Particle Physics
- Journal of Physics: Complexity
- Journal of Physics: Condensed Matter
- Journal of Physics: Conference Series*
- Journal of Physics: Energy*
- Journal of Physics: Materials
- Journal of Physics: Photonics
- Journal of Radiological Protection (published on behalf of the Society for Radiological Protection)
- Machine Learning: Science and Technology*
- Materials for Quantum Technology
- Materials Research Express
- Measurement Science and Technology
- Methods and Applications in Fluorescence
- Modelling and Simulation in Materials Science and Engineering
- Multifunctional Materials
- Nano Express
- New Journal of Physics* (published on behalf of the Institute of Physics and Deutsche Physikalische Gesellschaft)
- Nonlinearity* (published jointly with the London Mathematical Society)
- Nuclear Fusion* (co-published and edited by the International Atomic Energy Agency and IOP Publishing)
- Publications of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific * (published on behalf of The Astronomical Society of the Pacific)
- Physica Scripta*
- Physical Biology
- Physics Education
- Physics in Medicine and Biology (published on behalf of the Institute of Physics and Engineering in Medicine)
- Physiological Measurement (published on behalf of the Institute of Physics and Engineering in Medicine)
- Plasma Physics and Controlled Fusion
- Plasma Research Express
- Plasma Sources Science and Technology
- Progress in Biomedical Engineering
- Progress in Energy
- Quantum Science and Technology
- Reports on Progress in Physics
- Semiconductor Science and Technology
- Smart Materials and Structures
- Superconductor Science and Technology
- Surface Topography: Metrology and Properties
* These journals are not members of COPE.