Module 12: Ethical Issues in Editing Scholarly Journal


This module provides an introduction to ethical issues in editing scholarly journals. It highlights such issues as plagiarism, confidentiality, fabrication or falsification of data, conflicts of interest etc. It also provides some ethical guidelines for publications and how best they could be practiced. This unit is important because application of lessons from this module by journal editors will guarantee trust and support from society and credibility from the scientific community as a whole.

This module makes extensive use of the outstanding resources provided under a Creative Commons license by the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE). We gratefully acknowledge their generousity in openly sharing their valuable resources. We’ve summarized the highlights here, but strongly recommend that you visit their site and dig into the details of this crucial issue.

Learning Objectives

By the end of this module, you will:

  • Have a basic understanding of the various ethical issues that could arise in the process of editing scholarly journals
  • Know how to apply the guidelines given to any ethical issue that arises
  • Know how to implement all the best practices recommended in dealing with ethical issues


A survey investigating the concerns of over 120 journal editors and editorial staff at scholarly publications reveals that issues of ethics top the list of their most pressing challenges. When queried, journals editors listed five leading challenges – plagiarism, data falsification, poorly designed studies, conflict of interest and pressure to publish – as the greatest threats to the integrity of journal publishing. This reinforces the importance for editors and would-be editors to understand and be up to date with the complex ethical dilemmas that various actors in the research process might face and how that could impact on the integrity of journals.


Further Reading

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