Appeals, complaints, or allegations of misconduct will be taken with utmost seriousness, regardless of whether those involved are internal or external to the journal, or whether the submission in question is pre- or post-publication. If an allegation is made to the journal, it must also be passed on to the publisher, who will follow guidelines from the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) on how to address the nature of the problem.
Appeals to editorial decisions will be handled by the editor in chief, who will audit the decision making process to assess whether there are grounds for an appeal. Should the appeal be deemed valid, additional review will be requested from the editorial board and/or external peer reviewers until a new editorial decision can be made based on the feedback received.
Where misconduct is reported and proven or strongly suspected, the journal has an obligation to report the issue to the relevant individual’s institution, who may conduct their own investigation. This applies to both research misconduct (e.g. completing research without ethical approval and consent, fabricating or falsifying data etc.) and publication misconduct (e.g. manipulating the peer review process, plagiarism, editorial malpractice etc.). Should the publication record need to be corrected, the publisher's correction policy will be followed.
Should an individual lodge a complaint against an editorial decision, the editorial process, or other actions by journal members, they should first approach the editor-in-chief of the journal, explaining their complaint, and ask for a reasoned response. Should this not be forthcoming or adequate, the individual should raise the matter with the publisher (via the journal's online support system or direct email), who will investigate the nature of the complaint and act as arbiter on whether the complaint should be upheld and investigated further. This will follow guidelines set out by COPE. Should a case be particularly complex, it may be submitted to COPE directly for advice on how to proceed.
Complaints should be submitted by email, so that they can be best audited. A complaint will be acknowledged within 3 working days of receipt and the complainant will be kept updated with the expected process and timelines from that point until a resolution is found. If the complainant is unhappy with the response, they can ask for the complaint to be escalated to the head of the editorial team, who will review and supervise the matter from that point.
Should the matter involve allegations against a member of the publisher’s team, senior management will be informed to review and supervise an investigation. If conflict of interests become apparent then an independent and objective individual, or individuals, may be sought to lead the investigation.
If a complainant remains unhappy once the case has been closed by the journal/publisher then the matter may be passed to COPE or an alternative suitable external body. COPE will only consider such complaints once a journal's own complaints procedures have been exhausted.
Should an individual wish to submit an appeal, complaint or raise an issue of potential misconduct regarding the journal or its content, they should contact that editor in chief and/or the publisher’s Editorial Account Manager to explain their concerns.
The journal does not tolerate abusive behaviour or correspondence towards its staff, academic editors, authors, or reviewers. Any person engaged with the journal who resorts to abusive behaviour or correspondence will have their contribution immediately withdrawn and future engagement with the journal will be at the discretion of the editor and/or publisher.