As one of the leading publisher of high-quality scholarly journals, HORIZON is committed to maintaining the highest standards of Code of Conduct and to supporting ethical research practices. HORIZON adheres to the principles of the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) (http://publicationethics.org/) and follows the COPE Code of Conduct for Journal Publishers. We encourage journal editors to follow the COPE Code of Conduct for Journal Editors and to refer reviewers to the COPE Ethical Guidelines for Peer Reviewers as appropriate. Allegations of misconduct, if any will be investigated in accordance with the COPE Best Practice Guidelines as far as is practicable.
We take publication ethics very seriously. HORIZON supports its journal editorial teams and authors providing best practice guidelines in the following key areas:
- Article submission
- Conflict of interest
- Fair editing and peer review
- Promoting ethical research
Horizon expects all published articles to contain clear and accurate attribution of authorship. It is the responsibility of the author to ensure that all authors that contributed to the work are fairly acknowledged and that the published author list accurately reflects individual contributions. Where authorship disputes arise, Horizon encourages journal editorial teams to follow the COPE guidelines detailed here. Where authors employ the services of third party agencies prior to submission, for instance in language editing or manuscript formatting/preparation, they must ensure that all services comply with the following guidelines.
Attribution and acknowledgement
HORIZON supports the ICMJE definitions of authorship as published here. HORIZON journals take the extra step of emailing named authors at the point of submission (usually via the journal submission system or via email) to confirm participation.
Changes in authorship
Requests for changes to authorship must be directed to the journal’s chief executive editor. Changes in authorship will only be permitted where valid reasons are provided and all authors are in agreement with the change. Post-publication changes to authorship will typically be made via a published correction and authors may be charged for this additional service.
‘Ghost,’ ‘guest,’ or ‘gift’ authorship
HORIZON considers all forms of ghost, guest, and gift authorship to be unethical and works closely with editors and publishing partners to take a firm stance against such practices. Any allegation of ghost, guest, or gift authorship will be investigated in accordance with the COPE guidelines listed here. Where such practices are identified the authors in question will be removed from an article through a post-publication correction or erratum. In addition the journal may choose to notify the institutional or local ethics committee for the authors in question.
‘Ghost’ authorship refers to the practice of using a non-named author to write or prepare an article for publication. Ghost authors are typically (but not exclusively) paid sponsors, employees, junior researchers, or external academic affiliates.
‘Guest’ or ‘gift’ authorship refers to the practice of naming an individual that made little or no contribution to a study as an author on an article. Gift authors are typically (but not exclusively) senior researchers, affiliated researchers, friends, or colleagues of the principle author. There are also organisations that offer gift authorship for a fee.
HORIZON takes every effort to ensure that editors, peer reviewers, and journal editorial staff treat all submissions respectfully, in confidence, and in accordance with COPE ethical guidelines. Horizon expects that all individuals submitting manuscripts to HORIZON-published journals abide by established publishing standards and ethics. In proven cases of misconduct, the action taken will vary by journal and by context, but could result in one or more of the following:
• Retraction of published work.
• Publication of a correction or statement of concern.
• Refusal of future submission.
• Notification of misconduct sent to an author’s local institution, superior, and/or ethics committee.
Redundant publication (dual submission or publication)
HORIZON-published journals evaluate submissions on the understanding that they have not been previously published in or simultaneously submitted to another journal. We encourage all HORIZON-published journals to investigate allegations of redundant publication thoroughly and in accordance with COPE guidelines detailed here. We also encourage editors and journal editorial staff to keep a clear record of all communications between authors, editors, and peer reviewers regarding the submissions they handle. These records are carefully stored and may be used to facilitate investigations into possible cases of misconduct. Where necessary we will contact and/or co-operate with other publishers and journals to identify cases of redundant publication.
Whilst striving to promote freedom of expression wherever possible, HORIZON aims to avoid publishing anything that harms the reputation of an individual, business, group, or organization unless it can be proven to be true. We take all possible measures to ensure that published work is free of any text that is, or may be considered to be libelous, slanderous, or defamatory.
Conflict of interest
HORIZON is committed to transparency in areas of potential conflict of interest. We encourage our journals, and editors to publish and regularly review policies on Conflict of Interest as they relate to authors, editors and peer reviewers.
Conflict of interest exists when an author’s private interests might be seen as influencing the objectivity of research or experiment, to the point that a reasonable observer might wonder if the individual’s behaviour or judgement was motivated by considerations of his or her competing interests. It is the responsibility of a manuscript’s corresponding author to confirm if co-authors hold any conflict of interest. The corresponding author may be required to co-ordinate completion of written forms from each co-author and submit these to the editor or journal administrator prior to acceptance. The following should also be declared, either through the Acknowledgements section of the manuscript or at the point of submission:
All sources of research funding, including direct and indirect financial support, supply of equipment, or materials (including specialist statistical or writing assistance).
The role of the research funder(s) or sponsor(s), if any, in the research design, execution, analysis, interpretation, and reporting.
Any relevant financial and non-financial interests and relationships that might be considered likely to affect the interpretation of their findings or that editors, reviewers, or readers might reasonably wish to know. These might include, but are not limited to, patent or stock ownership, membership on a company’s board of directors, membership of an advisory board or committee for a company, consultancy for a company, or receipt of speaker’s fees from a company.
HORIZON expects its journal editors to declare competing interests at the point of agreeing their position and update them annually. HORIZON’s standard editor agreement obliges the editor to declare any potential conflict of interest that might arise during the term of editorship prior to entry into any agreement or position.
Editors are required to recuse themselves from individual manuscripts if they themselves have a potential conflict of interest and to avoid creating potential conflicts of interest through assignment of handling editors or peer reviewers.
We encourage editors and journal administrators to consider potential conflicts of interest when assigning reviewers. Where a reviewer declares potential conflict of interest the editor would select alternative reviewers. Failure to declare conflict of interest may result in removal of the reviewer from our journal database.
Fair editing and peer review
HORIZON encourages all participants in the publishing process to adhere to established principles of ethical publishing. This extends from authors to journal editors, reviewers, journal editorial and publishing staff.
Editors have full editorial independence. Although HORIZON may discuss strategy, process, and policy with editors, we will never knowingly exert pressure on editors to accept manuscripts for commercial or political reasons. We do, however, expect and encourage HORIZON-published journals to have clearly defined processes and policies for the handling of contributions by the editor or members of the editorial board to ensure that, where appropriate, these submissions receive an equivalent level of peer review to any other submission.
Peer review and reviewer conduct
HORIZON supports and refers its editors to the COPE Ethical Guidelines for Peer Reviewers. HORIZON does support a double-blind peer review system. and publishes its review procedure as part of our submission guidelines, for instance:
Manuscripts are reviewed by two independent experts in the relevant area. The reviewers make a scientific assessment and a recommendation to the editors. Reviewers remain unknown to authors. The Handling editor considers the manuscript and the reviewers’ comments before making a final decision either to accept, accept with revision or to reject a manuscript.
Unless otherwise specified, HORIZON expects editors and reviewers to handle all submissions in confidence. If a reviewer wishes to delegate the review or seek the opinion of a colleague on a specific aspect of the paper, they are expected to clear this with the editor in the first instance.
Peer review fraud
Like many other journals, Horizon journals also provide the option for submitting authors to suggest preferred reviewers. It is the responsibility of the lead author to ensure that only genuine reviewers and reviewer contact details are put forward. Any suspected or alleged instances of authors submitting fabricated reviewer details will be thoroughly investigated. If such allegations are proven, the article in question will be immediately rejected or, if already published, retracted. The journal would typically notify the authors’ institutional or local ethics council and may also impose a ban on further submissions from the author group.