Ethical Standards

All AIMS journals adhere to the publication ethics and malpractice policies outlined by COPE .
In cases of suspected or alleged misconduct, we will follow COPE standards and practices and may seek advice from the COPE forum if needed1.
Any concerns should be addressed to the Communications office at
More extensive resources are available from COPE and World Association of Medical Editors (WAME).

The author, journal editor, peer-reviewer and publisher have responsibilities to meet expected ethical standards at all stages in their involvement from submission to publication of an article. These responsibilities are outlined below.



  1.   •   Act in a balanced, objective and fair way while carrying out expected duties without discrimination on grounds of gender, sexual orientation, religious or political beliefs, ethnic or geographical origin of the authors.
  2.   •   Handle submissions for sponsored supplements or special issues in the same way as other submissions so that articles are considered and accepted solely on their academic merit and without commercial influence.
  3.   •   Adopt and follow reasonable procedures in the event of complaints of an ethical or conflict nature.
    • Give authors a reasonable opportunity to respond to any complaints.
    • All complaints should be investigated no matter when the original publication was approved.
    • Documentation associated with any such complaints should be retained.


  1.   •   To contribute to the decision-making process, and to assist in improving the quality of the published paper by reviewing the manuscript objectively, in a timely manner.
  2.   •   To maintain the confidentiality of any information supplied by the editor or author.
  3.   •   To not retain or copy the manuscript.
  4.   •   To alert the editor to any published or submitted content that is substantially similar to that under review.
  5.   •   To be aware of any potential conflicts of interest (financial, institutional, collaborative or other relationships between the reviewer and author) and to alert the editor to these and, if necessary, withdrawing their services for that manuscript.



  1.   •   Be aware of and comply with best practice in publication ethics, specifically with regard to authorship, dual submission, plagiarism, figure manipulation, competing interests, and compliance with standards of research ethics.
  2.   •   Maintain accurate records of data associated with submitted manuscripts, and supply or provide access to these data upon reasonable request.
  3.   •   Where appropriate and where allowed by employer, funding body and others who might have an interest, deposit data in a suitable repository or storage location for sharing and further use by others.
  4.   •   Confirm/assert that the manuscript as submitted is not under consideration or accepted for publication elsewhere.
    • Where portions of the content overlap with published or submitted content, acknowledge and cite those sources.
    • Obtain permission to reproduce any content from other sources.
    • Provide the editor with a copy of any submitted manuscript that might contain overlapping or closely related content.
  5.   •   Limit authorship to those that have made a significant contribution to conception, design, execution, or interpretation of the reported study.
    • Others who have made substantial contributions should be listed as co-authors.
    • Additional participants such as language editors may be recognized in the acknowledgements section.
  6.   •   Ensure that any studies involving human or animal subjects conform to national, local and institutional laws and requirements, and confirm that approval has been sought and obtained where appropriate. Authors should obtain express permission from human subjects and respect their privacy.
  7.   •   Declare any potential conflicts of interest (e.g. where the author has a competing interest (real or apparent) that could be considered or viewed as exerting an undue influence on his or her duties at any stage during the publication process).
  8.   •   Promptly notify the journal editor or publisher if a significant error in their publication is identified. Cooperate with the editor and publisher to publish an erratum, addendum, corrigendum notice, or to retract the paper where this is deemed necessary.


  1.   •   Ensure that good practice is maintained to the standards outlined above.
  2.   •   Adhere to the Principles of Transparency and Best Practice in Scholarly Publishing 
  3.   •   Vigorously investigate allegations of publication misconduct both before and after publication.
    • We reserve the right to contact authors' institutions, funders, or regulatory bodies if needed.
    • If we find conclusive evidence of misconduct, we will take steps to correct the scientific record, which may include issuing a correction or retraction.


Identification of unethical behavior

  1.   •   Misconduct and unethical behavior may be identified and brought to the attention of the editor and publisher at any time, by anyone.
  2.   •   Misconduct and unethical behavior may include, but is not limited to concerns about integrity of published work, handling of retraction, plagiarism, conflict of interest or peer reviewer manipulation.
  4.   •   Whoever informs the editor or publisher of such conduct should provide sufficient information and evidence in order for an investigation to be initiated.
  5.   •   All allegations should be taken seriously and treated in the same way until a successful decision or conclusion is reached.


  1.   •   An initial decision should be made by the editor, who should consult with or seek advice from the publisher if appropriate.
  2.   •   Evidence should be gathered while avoiding spreading any allegations beyond those who need to know.

Minor breaches

  1.   •   Minor misconduct might be dealt with without the need to consult more widely.
  2.   •   The author should be given the opportunity to respond to any allegations.

Serious breaches

  1.   •   Serious misconduct might require that the employers of the accused be notified. The editor, in consultation with the publisher, should make the decision whether or not to involve the employers, either by examining the available evidence themselves or by further consultation with a limited number of experts.  

Outcomes (in increasing order of severity; may be applied separately or in conjunction)

  1.   •   Informing or educating the author or reviewer where there appears to be a misunderstanding or misapplication of acceptable standards.
  2.   •   A more strongly worded letter to the author or reviewer covering the misconduct and as a warning to future behavior.
  3.   •   Publication of a formal notice detailing the misconduct.
  4.   •   Publication of an editorial detailing the misconduct.
  5.   •   A formal letter to the head of the author's or reviewer's department or funding agency.
  6.   •   Formal retraction or withdrawal of a publication from the journal, in conjunction with informing the head of the author or reviewer's department, Abstracting & Indexing services and the readership of the publication.
  7.   •   Imposition of a formal embargo on contributions from an individual for a defined period.
  8.   •   Reporting the case and outcome to a professional organization or higher authority for further investigation and action.

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