BJGP supports the ethical principles set out by the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE): see their reviewer and author guidelines. Research must conform to the Helsinki declaration, and you will normally have to confirm that the study has been approved by a named research ethics committee. In addition, you must ensure that there is no risk of you being charged with duplicate publication.
Authors must declare any competing interests by completing a standard form, which will be sent to all authors at the conclusion of the peer review process. This should be returned with the revised manuscript.
Writers of letters and editorials must also declare competing interests. Steps are also taken to ensure that reviewers declare competing interests or, if there is a conflict and they feel it is appropriate, to decline to review an article.
COPE has given guidance on competing interests. They are defined as factors which could influence the judgement of an author, reviewer or editors, and may be personal, commercial, political, academic, or financial in nature. As a rough guide, they have been described as interests which, if revealed later, would make a reasonable reader feel misled or deceived. Statements of competing interests are included in online versions of research articles.
All authors must declare that, where relevant, patient consent has been obtained and that all reasonable steps have been taken to maintain patient confidentiality.
Medical editors have expressed concern about the practice of generating numbers of related articles from the same study (sometimes called ‘salami publication’).
This a matter or good publication practice rather than ethics. When considering whether to publish findings separately or together, authors should consider the degree of overlap according to the following questions:
- is this the same, related or a completely different question?
- is it using the same or different methods to answer the question?
- is it assessing the same, overlapping, or a completely different population of participants?
BJGP supports a general policy of encouraging more complete publishing: combining findings into single articles rather than separating them. Where authors are considering how to present findings, they should discuss with the Editor the extent to which submitting a more complete report will require the word limit to be extended.
To enable the Editor to make a judgement, authors should include with the submitted file, abstracts or full copies of other articles published, in press, submitted or planned, that have come from the same study.