CODE OF CONDUCT of the “Social Studies” Journal
The Code of Conduct of the “Social Studies” Journal (later SSJ) is originally adopted at the Constituent meeting of the Albanian Institute of Sociology (later AIS), held in Tirana-Albania in 1st December 1999 where the AIS was formally established, including its Journal named “Social Studies” [AIS is reorganised in 21 November 2006, and in 22 November 2013]. This document is based on the Ethical documents of International Sociological Association (ISA, where the AIS-ALBSA is regular member since 2006) such ISA Code of Ethics (1), and AIS Code of Ethics (2). SSJ is affiliated with the Albanian Sociological Association, ALBSA, since 22 November 2013, where the association is reorganized and named ALBSA. The “Social Studies Author’s guide” is partly included in this document (3).
The Code of Conduct of the Journal “Social Studies” has been revised and adopted by the joint meeting of the AIS Academic Board and the International Additional Board (IAB) of the SSJ, held in Durres-Albania, in 21 November 2013. This version is adapted after a wide consultation with the “Code of Conduct and the Best Practice Guidelines” of COPE, approved by the COPE Council, on 7 March 2011 (4).
SSJ is certified as Scientific Journal by the Albanian High Commission for the Assessment of Academic Institutions and Titles [Alb., KVTA], of Albanian Ministry of Education and Science, with the decision No. 170, date 20. 12. 2010.
SSJ is in Open Accessed Journal, i.e., it is open to all, with no access fees. It is published with ISSN 2309-3455 (Print), and ISSN 2309-3471 (Online). SSJ is bilingual Journal, with articles in English or Albanian language.
The Code of Conduct of the journal “Social Studies” is designed to provide a set of standards to which the editors, the authors and co-authors, reviewers and other co-operators are expected to adhere.
The staff of SSJ is engaged to adhere the Code of Conduct for Journal Editors of COPE, and has the objective to implement the Best Practice recommendations (which are therefore voluntary), in any case, considering that suggestions important to identify aspects of SSJ policy and practice. SSJ attend to be member of COPE, in the future.
Note: In this document SSJ - as subject, means the Editors (Editor-in-Chief, Associate editors, and the International Editorial Board), the AIS Academic Board (the publisher), and the ALBSA (where the SSJ is associated with, since 22 November 2013).
1. General duties and responsibilities of SSJ
SSJ should be accountable for everything published, meaning that the SSJ editors should
1.1. strive to meet the needs of readers and authors;
1.2. strive to constantly improve their journal;
1.3. have processes in place to assure the quality of the material they publish;
1.4. champion freedom of expression;
1.5. maintain the integrity of the academic record;
1.6. preclude business needs from compromising intellectual and ethical standards;
1.7. always be willing to publish corrections, clarifications, retractions and apologies when needed;
1.8. actively seeking the views of authors, readers, reviewers and editorial board members about ways of improving the SSJ’s processes;
1.9. encouraging and being aware of research into peer review and publishing and reassessing the SSJ’s processes in the light of new findings;
1.10. supporting initiatives designed to reduce research and publication misconduct;
1.11. supporting initiatives to educate researchers about publication ethics;
1.12. assessing the effects of SSJ policies on author and reviewer behaviour and revising policies, as required, to encourage responsible behaviour and discourage misconduct;
1.13. ensuring that any press releases issued by the SSJ reflect the message of the reported article and put it into context
2. Relations with readers
2.1. Readers should be informed about who has funded research or other scholarly work and whether the funders had any role in the research and its publication and, if so, what this was.
2.2. Ensuring that all published reports and reviews of research have been reviewed by suitably qualified reviewers (including statistical review where appropriate),
2.3. Ensuring that non-peer-reviewed sections (if any) of the SSJ are clearly identified.
2.4 Adopting processes that encourage accuracy, completeness and clarity of research reporting including technical where is possible.
2.5 Editing and the use of appropriate guidelines and checklists.
2.6. Informing readers about steps taken to ensure that submissions from members of the SSJ’s staff receive an objective and unbiased evaluation.
3. Relations with authors
3.1. SSJ Editors’ decisions to accept or reject a paper for publication should be based on the paper’s importance, originality and clarity, and the study’s validity and its relevance to the remit of the journal.
3.2. SSJ Editors should not reverse decisions to accept submissions unless serious problems are identified with the submission.
3.3. New editors should not overturn decisions to publish submissions made by the previous editor unless serious problems are identified.
3.4. A description of peer review processes should be published, and editors should be ready to justify any important deviation from the described processes.
3.5. SSJ should have a declared mechanism for authors to appeal against editorial decisions.
3.6. SSJ Editors should publish guidance to authors on everything that is expected of them. This guidance should be regularly updated and should refer or link to this code (5).
3.7. Editors should provide guidance about criteria for authorship and/or who should be listed as a contributor following the standards within the relevant field.
3.8. Reviewing author instructions regularly and providing links to relevant guidelines.
3.9. Publishing relevant competing interests for all contributors and publishing corrections if competing interests are revealed after publication.
3.10. Ensuring that appropriate reviewers are selected for submissions (i.e. individuals who are able to judge the work and are free from disqualifying competing interests).
3.11. Respecting requests from authors that an individual should not review their submission, if these are well-reasoned and practicable.
3.12. Being guided by the COPE flowcharts (6) in cases of suspected misconduct or disputed authorship.
3.13. Publishing details of how they handle cases of suspected misconduct (e.g. with links to the COPE flowcharts).
3.14. Publishing submission and acceptance dates for articles.
4. Relations with editors
4.1. SSJ Editors should provide guidance to reviewers on everything that is expected of them including the need to handle submitted material in confidence.
4.2. SSJ Editors should require reviewers to disclose any potential competing interests before agreeing to review a submission.
4.3. SSJ Editors should have systems to ensure that peer reviewers’ identities are protected unless they use an open review system that is declared to authors and reviewers.
4.4. Encouraging reviewers to comment on ethical questions and possible research and publication misconduct raised by submissions (e.g. unethical research design, insufficient detail on patient consent or protection of research subjects (including animals), inappropriate data manipulation and presentation).
4.5. Encouraging reviewers to comment on the originality of submissions and to be alert to redundant publication and plagiarism.
4.6. Sending reviewers’ comments to authors in their entirety unless they contain offensive or libellous remarks.
4.7. Encouraging academic institutions to recognise peer review activities as part of the scholarly process.
4.8. Monitoring the performance of peer reviewers and taking steps to ensure this is of high standard.
4.9. Developing and maintaining a database of suitable reviewers and updating this on the basis of reviewer performance, and ceasing to use reviewers who consistently produce discourteous, poor quality or late reviews.
4.10. Ensuring that the reviewer database reflects the community for their journal and adding new reviewers as needed.
4.11. Using a wide range of sources (not just personal contacts) to identify potential new reviewers (e.g. author suggestions, bibliographic databases).
5. Relations with editorial board members
5.1. SSJ Editors should provide new editorial board members with guidelines on everything that is expected of them and should keep existing members updated on new policies and developments.
5.2. Having policies in place for handling submissions from editorial board members to ensure unbiased review identifying suitably qualified editorial board members who can actively contribute to the development and good management of the journal.
5.3. Regularly reviewing the composition of the editorial board.
5.4. Providing clear guidance to editorial board members about their expected functions and duties, which might include: (1) acting as ambassadors for the journal; (2) supporting and promoting the SSJ; (3) seeking out the best authors and best work (e.g. from meeting abstracts) and actively encouraging submissions; (4) reviewing submissions to SSJ; (5) accepting commissions to write editorials, reviews and commentaries on papers in their specialist area; (6) attending and contributing to editorial board meetings.
4.5. Consulting editorial board members periodically to gauge their opinions about the running of the journal, informing them of any changes to journal policies and identifying future challenges.
6. Relations between AIS, ALBSA, SSJ Editorial Board and SSJ Editors
6.1. The relationship of institutions cooperating in SSJ is based firmly on the principle of editorial independence.
6.2. SSJ Editors should make decisions on which articles to publish based on quality and suitability for the journal and without interference from the others.
6.3. Editors should have a written contract(s) setting out their relationship with the AIS (as journal’s owner and publisher). The terms of this contract should be in line with the COPE Code of Conduct for Journal Editors.
6.4. Establishing mechanisms to handle disagreements between AIS, ALBSA, SSJ Editorial Board and SSJ Editors, and communicating regularly with each other.
7. Editorial and peer review processes
7.1. SSJ Editors should strive to ensure that peer review at their journal is fair, unbiased and timely.
7.2. SSJ Editors should have systems to ensure that material submitted to their journal remains confidential while under review.
7.3. Ensuring that people involved with the editorial process (including themselves) receive adequate training and keep abreast of the latest guidelines, recommendations and evidence about peer review and SSJ management.
7.4. Keeping informed about research into peer review and technological advances; adopting peer review methods best suited for their journal and the research community it serves, and reviewing peer review practices periodically to see if improvement is possible.
7.5. referring troubling cases to COPE, especially when questions arise that are not addressed by the COPE flow charts, or new types of publication misconduct are suspected, and considering the appointment of an ombudsperson to adjudicate in complaints that cannot be resolved internally.
8. Editorial and peer review processes
8.1. SSJ Editors should take all reasonable steps to ensure the quality of the material they publish, recognising that journals and sections within journals will have different aims and standards.
8.2. Using systems in place to detect falsified data, and basing decisions about journal house style on relevant evidence of factors that raise the quality of reporting.
9. Protecting individual data
9.1. Editors must obey laws on confidentiality in their own jurisdiction. Regardless of local statutes, however, they should always protect the confidentiality of individual information obtained in the course of research or professional interactions (e.g. between doctors and patients). It is therefore almost always necessary to obtain written informed consent for publication from people who might recognise themselves or be identified by others (e.g. from case reports or photographs). It may be possible to publish individual information without explicit consent if public interest considerations outweigh possible harms, it is impossible to obtain consent and a reasonable individual would be unlikely to object to publication.
9.2. Publishing their policy on publishing individual data (e.g. identifiable personal details or images) and explaining this clearly to authors;
[Note that consent to take part in research or undergo treatment is not the same as consent to publish personal details, images or quotations].
10. Encouraging ethical research (e.g. research involving humans or animals)
10.1. SSJ Editors should endeavour to ensure that research they publish was carried out according to the relevant internationally accepted guidelines, e.g. the Declaration of Helsinki (7) for clinical research, the AERA and BERA guidelines for educational research (8; 9).
10.2. SSJ Editors should seek assurances that all research has been approved by an appropriate body (e.g. research ethics committee, institutional review board) where one exists. [However, editors should recognise that such approval does not guarantee that the research is ethical].
10.3. Being prepared to request evidence of ethical research approval and to question authors about ethical aspects (such as how research participant consent was obtained or what methods were employed to minimize animal suffering) if concerns are raised or clarifications are needed.
11. Dealing with possible misconduct
11.1. SSJ Editors have a duty to act if they suspect misconduct or if an allegation of misconduct is brought to them (This duty extends to both published and unpublished papers).
11.2. SSJ Editors should not simply reject papers that raise concerns about possible misconduct. They are ethically obliged to pursue alleged cases.
11.3. SSJ Editors should follow the COPE flowcharts (10) where applicable.
11.4. SSJ Editors should first seek a response from those suspected of misconduct. If they are not satisfied with the response, they should ask the relevant employers, or institution, or some appropriate body (perhaps a regulatory body or national research integrity organization) to investigate.
11.5. SSJ Editors should make all reasonable efforts to ensure that a proper investigation into alleged misconduct is conducted; if this does not happen, editors should make all reasonable attempts to persist in obtaining a resolution to the problem. This is an onerous but important duty.
12. Ensuring the integrity of the academic record
12.1. Errors, inaccurate or misleading statements must be corrected promptly and with due prominence.
12.2. SSJ Editors should follow the COPE guidelines on retractions.
13. Intellectual property
13.1. SSJ Editors should be alert to intellectual property issues and work with their publisher to handle potential breaches of intellectual property laws and conventions.
13.2. SSJ intend to adop systems for detecting plagiarism (e.g. software, searching for similar titles) in submitted items (either routinely or when suspicions are raised).
13.3. SSJ will support authors whose copyright has been breached or who have been the victims of plagiarism.
14. Encouraging debate
14.1. SSJ Editors should encourage and be willing to consider cogent criticisms of work published in their journal.
14.2. Authors of criticised material should be given the opportunity to respond.
14.3. Studies reporting negative results should not be excluded.
14.4. SSJ is open to research that challenges previous work published in the journal.
15.1. SSJ Editors should respond promptly to complaints and should ensure there is a way for dissatisfied complainants to take complaints further. This mechanism should be made clear in the journal and should include information on how to refer unresolved matters to COPE.
15.2. SSJ Editors should follow the procedure set out in the COPE flowchart on complaints.
16. Commercial considerations
16.1. SSJ should have policies and systems in place to ensure that commercial considerations do not affect editorial decisions (e.g. advertising departments should operate independently from editorial departments).
16.2. SSJ Editors should have declared policies on advertising in relation to the content of the journal and on processes for publishing sponsored supplements.
16.3. Reprints should be published as they appear in the journal unless a correction needs to be included in which case it should be clearly identified.
17. Conflicts of interest
17.1. SSJ Editors should have systems for managing their own conflicts of interest as well as those of their staff, authors, reviewers and editorial board members.
17.2. SSJ should have a declared process for handling submissions from the editors, employees or members of the editorial board to ensure unbiased review.
3. Studies Author’s guide; https://www.sociology.al/en/social-studies-journal
5. https://www.sociology.al/sq/revista-studime-sociale-kriteret-e-botimit (Albanian), and: https://www.sociology.al/en/social-studies-journal (English).
7. World Medical Association Declaration of Helsinki: http://www.wma.net/e/ethicsunit/helsinki.htm
8. American Educational Research Association ethical standards: http://www.aera.net/AboutAERA/Default.aspx?menu_id=90&id=222
9. American Psychological Association ethical principles: http://www.apa.org/ethics/code/index.aspx
10. COPE flowcharts: http://publicationethics.org/flowcharts