Editorial Policy

Ethical Research

Authors submitting papers for publication containing original research should ensure that the quality of the research complies with high ethical standards. In this respect authors should consult “Uniform Requirements for Manuscripts Submitted to Biomedical Journals: Writing and Editing for Biomedical Journals” issued by the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors. Such considerations should form part of the planning process prior to undertaking the study.

Approval from a properly constituted ethical committee or ethical review board is essential, and authors submitting papers may be asked to provide documentary evidence of this requirement, in addition to a written statement to this effect in the body of the paper.

Informed Consent One of the most important areas of ethical consideration is the obtaining of informed consent from subjects participating in medical research. This issue, of course, is one in which ethical committees have a vital interest. In many countries the issue of informed consent is laid down in statute, with regulations derived from the Nuremberg Code and the Declaration of Helsinki. Articles submitted to the JLO will be expected to demonstrate a valid and ethical process of informed consent for all participants in research studies.

If the Editors of the JLO consider the content of a submitted article to be ethically unsound, they may seek further advice or recommend investigation or action. This may be in addition to rejection of the article for publication. In the first instance this would involve the authors to respond to editorial concern. In addition the Editors may contact the head of department where the work was undertaken for comments and a possible investigation. In the most extreme cases, where scientific fraud or serious ethical misconduct is suspected the Editors may inform the medical registration body of the article guarantor or senior investigator.

Patient Confidentiality Publication of any patient information usually requires informed consent – even if identifying features are removed. There are occasional exemptions to this policy, such as instances in which either the patient or next of kin are untraceable or when there is an overriding public health concern making publication of patient information desirable. Authors should note that blacking out of the eyes in patient photographs is, in itself, insufficient as a protection of anonymity and that photographs such as this must be accompanied by a signed statement from the patient giving explicit consent to the publication process.

Duplicate Publication Articles are submitted to the JLO on the understanding that they are submitted solely to this journal and that they have not in whole or part been submitted to or previously published by another journal. Duplicate publication occurs when two or more papers submitted for publication share the same hypothesis, data and conclusions without cross-reference between the two papers.

Author Misconduct The Editors appreciate that some minor lapses of ethical standards occur as a result of a genuine misunderstanding of research methods and ethical principles. In these instances an explanatory letter from the Editor will inform the authors of shortcomings in their submission. Authors will have the opportunity to respond to such allegations. Where serious misconduct, including blatant scientific fraud is uncovered Editors have a duty to pursue the case, in the manner documented above. A number of additional sanctions will also be considered by the Editors. These include publication of an editorial giving details of the misconduct, formal retraction of the paper, and a bar on future submissions from the authors for a specified period of time. Medical Journal Editors are increasingly in contact with one another. Otolaryngology journals in North America have formed a consortium to provide a unified approach to ethical misconduct, which includes limitation of author’s privileges to publish in all the consortium’s journals for a specified period of time. It is also the intention of the JLO to share information with both the American consortium and our sister United Kingdom journal, Clinical Otolaryngology and Allied Sciences.

Further Reading

  • International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE). Uniform requirements for manuscripts submitted to biomedical journals: writing and editing for biomedical publication, http://www.icmie.org 2005
  • The Nuremburg Code. JAMA 1996;276:1691
  • World Medical Association. Declaration of Helsinki. JAMA 1997;277:925-926
  • Thibeault SL, Benninger M. Informed Consent in Otolaryngology Research. Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg 2005;133:651-653
  • Benninger MS, Jackler RK, Johns MME, Johnson JT, Kennedy DW, Ruben RJ, Sataloff RT, Smith RJH, Weber PC, Weber RS, Young ED. Consortium of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery Journals to Collaborate in Maintenance of High Ethical Standards. Arch Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg 2005; 131:381-382
  • Youngs R, Kenyon G. Maintaining ethical standards in medical publishing. J Laryngol Otol 2006; 120: 1-2