WikiJournal User Group/Ethics statement

WikiJournal User Group
Open access • Publication charge free • Public peer review • Wikipedia-integrated

WikiJournal User Group is a publishing group of open-access, free-to-publish, Wikipedia-integrated academic journals. <seo title=" Wikiversity Journal User Group, WikiJournal Free to publish, Open access, Open-access, Non-profit, online journal, Public peer review "/>

This is the ethics statement for WikiJournal User Group. This statement has been adapted from the principles of the Committee on Publication Ethics.[1][2] In addition, the journal follows the ICMJE’s Recommendations for the Conduct, Reporting, Editing and Publication of Scholarly Work in Medical Journals. This statement covers the code of ethics for the editor-in-chief, editorial board members, associate editors, peer reviewers and authors. Editors refer to editorial board members and associate editors.

Many of the issues are common to all of academic publishing. In addition, the unique Wikipedia-integration features of WikiJournals require specific note: large group authorship, attribution, ownership, what constitutes a preprint server, and dual publication.

Duties of the authors

When authors submit their works they agree to that their content may be kept permanently on a Wikimedia project, and that author requests for removal of their content may not be approved.

Author attribution

Named authors must have contributed to all of the following aspects of a submitted article, unless otherwise stated in a section of the work that details the contributions of each named author:

  1. Substantial contributions to the conception or design of the work; or the acquisition, analysis, or interpretation of data for the work; AND
  2. Drafting the work or revising it critically for important intellectual content; AND
  3. Final approval of the version to be published; AND
  4. Agreement to be accountable for all aspects of the work in ensuring that questions related to the accuracy or integrity of any part of the work are appropriately investigated and resolved.

Contributors who don't meet all of these requirements can still be included in the acknowledgements section.

The corresponding author is expected to correspond for the rest of the named authors, including submitting the authorship declaration forms, listing conflicts of interest, etc. The corresponding author must provide a contact address (or several) at which they can reasonably be contacted for questions pertaining to the works content. This address should have the reasonable expectation of being contactable for the foreseeable future.

If a large amount of material (typically >1 paragraph or >10% of total) is imported from a compatible collaborative platform (e.g. Wikipedia) the author list must include a hyperlink to the full list of contributors (typically as a hyperlinked "et al"). For more detail see Acknowledgement of sources. This is considered as a form of "Group authorship" as per the guidelines of the Council of Scientific editors, since they effectively contributed to criteria 1 and 2 of the ICMJE author requirements (above). Contributors listed on such a hyperlinked page do not necessarily need to satisfy criteria 3 and 4.

Authorship disputes

Discussions regarding which people to include in the author list of a work, and in which order, should be handled among the contributors and be based on facts.


Authors should be given by real names in their articles, with a contact address for at least one corresponding author. Readers may potentially infer the identity of any pseudonymous username used by authors when contributing to the article online.

Authors have the option to keep the article and/or their names confidential to the public and peer reviewers until article publication, by requesting such processing in the authorship declaration form.

Further reading

Originality of publication and plagiarism

The work must not contain plagiarised material of any kind. This includes:

  • Unattributed text, images, or data that is copied from any other source
  • Unattributed ideas, concepts, or analysis from any other source
  • Material that is copied from the authors' own published works and without attribution or agreement of the editor of that work

Any significant overlap with another paper must be cited in the work. Any copyrighted material included must have the consent of the copyright holder, in addition to being attributed.

Each submission must be checked for possible plagiarism before consideration for inclusion in the journal by the editorial board. The peer review coordinator of the submission is responsible for carrying out this task.

Further reading

Duplicate, redundant or concurrent submission and publication

WikiJournal User Group cannot commit to peer review and publication of a work that has been submitted elsewhere for peer review and publication without explicit written consent from the other publisher. However, where the other publisher agrees, and ICMJE and COPE guidelines are followed, co-publication in multiple journals can be considered at the editor's discretion. Appropriate content that is dual-published in the journal and Wikipedia is done so under a creative commons license.

Further reading

Acknowledgement of sources

Sources of information, ideas, text and images must be acknowledged. Inline citations must be included to previous literature in support of claims made. Original authors must be referenced for any quoted text or images used under a creative commons license. If a material is imported from a compatible collaborative platform (e.g. Wikipedia), attribution depends on the content type:

  • Images, videos or other media: Attribution and license type at the end of the figure legend
  • Text less than 1 paragraph, or 10% of final work: A hyperlink to the full contributor list must be included in the 'Acknowledgements' section
  • Text more than 1 paragraph, or 10% of final work: A hyperlink to the full contributor list must be included in the author list (typically as a hyperlinked "et al") - For more detail, see Duties of the authors

Cited sources should be from reliable, published sources, preferably peer-reviewed, secondary sources. Authors should read sources before citing them, and their statements should accurately represent the cited sources.

Peer reviewers and editors should only recommend references to be added to a work where they are relevant and beneficial to the work, without unduly compelling authors to cite their own publications, or those from a WikiJournal.

Further reading

Preprints and postprints

WikiJournal User Group permits and encourages authors to share their works via any preprint servers (including the WikiJournal Preprint server) before, during and after submission to the journal. Similarly material previously published under a compatible license is admissible (see the Copyright and licensing section). For these purposes, Wikipedia is considered a preprint server, and content first posted in Wikipedia can be used in submissions.

Authors may also share postprints of their works on any service (in any manner compatible with the license).

Authors are recommended to ensure that preprints and postprints clearly link back to the version as published in WikiJournal User Group. WikiJournal works can likewise link to preprints hosted elsewhere.

WikiJournal preprints server

Preprints (works in preparation and those not yet accepted for WikiJournal User Group) must be clearly marked as such. Peer review is required before a work is considered for accepted into the journal by the editorial board. Peer review is defined as obtaining advice on individual works from reviewers expert in the field who are not part of the journal’s editorial staff. This process is described at WikiJournal User Group/Peer reviewers.

Human research and cases

When a study involves the use human subjects (e.g. patients, research subjects, questionnaire participants), the 'Methods/Experimental' section of the submitted work must state whether experiments were performed in compliance with the relevant laws and institutional guidelines, and which institutional ethics committee(s) approved the experiments.

Journal participants must ensure that proper consent for publication has been obtained from individuals who are reported on in a submitted work, or from a proxy thereof. This includes case details. The individual(s) being reported on should be aware of the possible consequences of that reporting. For case studies, and in any work where a study subject may be identified, WikiJournal User Group requires authors to assert that a written informed consent was received. The author must specify whether or not the subject or proxy has seen the final version the details to be published (including pictures). If a final version has not been shown, the author should specify what the study subject or proxy has seen and that he or she has agreed to include in the publication. This requirement also applies when a report involves deceased persons. Journal participants do not themselves collect the signed consent forms routinely, but it should be kept by the author, and may need to be shown at a later time in case of suspected scientific misconduct. The consent form must include:

  • Specifics about what material will be published.
  • An agreement to the online publication of the material.
  • Place for the name as well as for the signature of the subject.
  • Revocation rights: Information to the subject that she/he may revoke the consent at any time. The signer should receive contact information to the person who has explained and administered the form. Before a work is published, a revoked consent must result in the removal of subject details from the submitted work. After work publication, removal of subject details may not be possible, but consideration should be made to minimize the amount of subject details.

The wording of the form should make it clear that, even with the best efforts at keeping confidentiality, anonymity cannot be guaranteed. There is a risk that the patient may be identified by someone, somewhere, once the work is published.

Additional information should be included in certain cases:

  • For patients, the form should indicate that signing it does not remove their rights to privacy.
  • Hazards: A statement of regulatory compliance is required if the work involves chemicals, procedures or equipment that have any unusual hazards inherent in their use.
  • If the study subject is not the signer, the relationship of the signer (i.e., the proxy) to the subject must be included. The form should include a statement to indicate that the individual or group does not have legal, mental, or physical capacity to consent, and the reason why. Examples include underage children, persons with cognitive or intellectual disabilities, or deceased persons.
  • If one person is signing for a family or other group, that person should attest that all relevant members of the family or group have been informed.
  • If there is a compensation or any form of financial benefit to the subject, the nature thereof should be clearly stated on the form. Preferably, study subjects should not expect to derive any financial benefit from publication of the case.
Further reading

Animal research

When a study involves the use of live animals, the 'Methods/Experimental' section of the submitted work must state whether experiments were performed in compliance with the relevant laws and institutional guidelines, and which institutional ethics committee(s) approved the experiments. Furthermore, no papers will be accepted where animal experimentation has been used when alternative methods were available, and the aim of the research must be directly related to some potential benefit to humans or animals. The editorial board may ask peer reviewers to specifically comment on cases of concern.

Further reading

Errors in published works

Trivial errors in published works, such as spelling or formatting errors, may be corrected by anyone even after publication. It is preferable that the authors are informed about changes to their articles, but it is ultimately the responsibility of the authors to keep track of such changes, such as by adding their articles to their watchlists.

Significant errors that affect the meaning of the work may require the paper to be corrected and re-checked by peer review, or retracted. If an author discovers an error or inaccuracy in their published work, they are obliged to inform the editors. Similarly, when an editor is informed of a significant error in a published paper from the author or a third party, they must inform the author that the error must be corrected, explained, or the paper retracted.

Other unacceptable submitted content

In addition to plagiarised material, WikiJournal User Group cannot accept submission of material that contains:

  • Breaches of copyright
  • Data or images that have been forged, manipulated, adjusted or misrepresented in any way that may mislead a reader
  • Knowingly falsified information
  • Libellous content

Duties of the peer reviewers

Potential peer reviewers should provide the peer review coordinator or corresponding editorial board member with personal and professional information that is accurate and a true representation of their expertise. Peer reviewers should only agree to review submissions for which they have the subject expertise required to make a proper assessment, and for which they can review in a timely manner. Peer reviewers should not use information obtained during the peer review process for their own or any other person's or organization’s advantage, nor should they use it to disadvantage or discredit others. Peer reviewers should declare all potential conflicting interests, and should seek advice from the peer review coordinator or the editorial board if they are unsure whether something constitutes a relevant conflict of interest. Peer reviewers should not allow their reviews to be influenced by the origins of a submission, by the nationality, religious or political beliefs, gender or other characteristics of the authors, or by commercial considerations.

Assessment aspects

The reviews should be objective and constructive, with avoidance of hostile, libellous or derogatory personal comments.

A peer reviewer who suspects research misconduct should notify the peer review coordinator or the editorial board about this issue, and present all given evidence. Subsequently, the peer reviewer should not personally perform an investigation unless the journal asks for additional information or advice.


Peer reviewers must keep the confidentiality of works and author identities unless permission has been granted to disclose such material or information. Peer reviewers must not retain confidential works for their personal use.

Peer reviewers have the option to keep their names confidential to the public and authors by requesting such processing in the peer review submission form.

Public peer review

WikiJournal User Group uses a public peer review process. Peer reviewers' comments and author responses are published alongside the work under an open access license. The version of the work at the time of review is also indicated. Optionally, if the reviewer explicitly chooses to waive their confidentiality, their name is included on the peer review reports (open peer review).

Further reading

Duties of the editorial board

Editorial board members should have a set of talents, experience, and competencies that will best fulfill the needs of the WikiJournal User Group. The full names and affiliations of the editorial board members should be displayed online.


Editorial board members must keep the confidentiality of works, author or peer reviewer identities, or other privileged information unless permission has been granted to disclose such material or information. Editorial board members must not retain confidential works or information for their personal use.

Scientific misconduct

Scientific misconduct is defined as intention or gross negligence leading to fabrication of the scientific message or a false credit or emphasis given to a scientist. The editorial board members should inform institutions if they suspect misconduct by their researchers, and provide evidence to support these concerns, such as analysis of text similarity in cases of suspected plagiarism, or evidence of inappropriate image manipulation. They should cooperate with investigations and respond to institutions’ questions about misconduct allegations. They should be prepared to issue retractions or corrections when provided with findings of misconduct arising from investigations. They should correct or retract findings that are invalid or unreliable, both when caused by misconduct and by honest errors. Publications should be retracted if they are evidenced to be generally unreliable, while on the other hand a correction should be made in cases where only a small part of the publication is affected while the majority of findings and conclusions are valid.

Editorial board members should investigate allegations of misconduct targeted at peer reviewers of the journal. However, editorial board members may be obliged to protect the identity of whistleblowers.

In cases of scientific misconduct involving several journals, these journals should cooperate and share information as required to resolve the issues.

Editorial board members should keep communications relating to ongoing misconduct investigations confidential between parties.

Expression of concern

An Expression of Concern may be used to inform readers about serious allegations likely to affect the reliability or integrity of a work. Expressions of Concern should not be viewed as ‘milder’ versions of retractions. The editorial board should consider issuing an Expression of Concern if:

  • There is inconclusive evidence scientific misconduct by the authors
  • There is evidence that the findings are unreliable, but there is no institution or entity available to properly investigate the case
  • There is reason to believe that an investigation into alleged misconduct either has not been, or would not be, fair and impartial or conclusive
  • An investigation is underway but a decision thereof will not be available for a considerable time


The editorial board should consider issuing a correction if:

  • A small portion of an otherwise reliable publication is evidenced to be misleading, particularly if it appears to be an honest error such as a methodological error or a miscalculation
  • The author list is incorrect. For example, a deserving author may have been omitted or somebody who does not meet authorship criteria may have been included


The editorial board should consider retracting a publication if:

  • There is clear evidence that the findings are unreliable, either as a result of honest error or scientific misconduct such as data fabrication
  • The findings have previously been published elsewhere without proper permission or justification for publication in WikiJournal User Group as well
  • It contains plagiarism
  • It reports unethical research

Retractions are not usually appropriate in cases where the authorship needs to be changed but there is no reason to doubt the validity of the findings.

A retraction statement must be added in each retraced work. A retraction statements should:

  • Be clearly identifiable as a retraction statement, including having a title starting "Retraction statement"
  • Include the reasons for the retraction
  • Distinguish between cases of misconduct and honest error to encourage researchers to report errors when they occur and ensure no stigma is attached to this.
  • Be linked to the retracted work and be open access
  • Clearly identify which work it refers to, by at least title and authors
  • Be published promptly after the retraction decision
  • State that the editorial board has made the retraction decision

If a retraction is due to the actions of only some of the authors, the statement should mention this. However, authorship entails some degree of joint responsibility for the entire work, so the author list of a work should not change after retraction.

A retraction statement may undergo amendments by consensus of the editorial board.

Further reading

Duties of the associate editors

The full names and affiliations of the associate editors should be displayed online.

In case of transfer of the peer review coordinator task to another person for a particular submission, there should be a handover period with the new and old coordinator working together. The duration of this period should be established in agreement with the editorial board. Acceptance decisions of the previous editor should not be overturned unless there are substantial issues such as plagiarism or data fabrication.


Associate editors must keep the confidentiality of works, author or peer reviewer identities, or other privileged information unless permission has been granted to disclose such material or information. Associate editors must not retain such works for their personal use.

Scientific misconduct

In case of suspected scientific misconduct, associate editors should inform the editor-in-chief or an editorial board member. Unless advised otherwise by the editorial board, the next step for the editor is to seek a response from those suspected of misconduct. If they are not satisfied with the response, they should ask the relevant employers or institution to investigate. When available, it is generally the responsibility of the relevant employers or institution to investigate those suspected of misconduct, and to potentially discipline them and take measures to prevent further misconduct.

Further reading

Duties of the editor-in-chief

The editor-in-chief has final responsibilities for the operations and policies of the journal. Contact details of the editor-in-chief should be stated online. The editor-in-chief should act as the point of contact for questions relating to research and publication ethics. The editor-in-chief should acknowledge receipt of communications from institutions and should promptly bring the matter to the editorial board for action. The editor-in-chief should keep the public informed about any changes in the aims and scope of the journal.

The editor-in-chief should not disclose confidential details about work submissions with editor-in-chiefs of other journals, unless the following requirements are fulfilled:

  • Such sharing is a necessary part of fulfilling the obligation to prevent and respond to suspected research misconduct
  • The authors of the work have been informed about the issue at hand, and have not given a response, or the response was not satisfactory
  • The disclosure is limited to journals which are suspected of having been targeted by the research misconduct at hand, or are believed to have pertinent information of the case at hand.
  • The recipient editor-in-chief is notified about the sensitive nature of the information.

The amount of disclosed information should be limited to the minimum required. The shared information should be factual, while avoiding conjecture and speculation.

Further reading

Duties of the publisher

The publisher of WikiJournal User Group is WikiJournal User Group. Both the editorial board and the associate editors are part of the publisher.

Publication decisions

The publisher is responsible for identifying and preventing the publication of works involving scientific misconduct such as plagiarism, citation manipulation, and data falsification/fabrication

Handling of unethical publishing behavior

Data retention policy

All previous versions are stored and are readily available through the View history tabs of each work. Additionally, the version of the work as initially submitted for peer review is specifically highlighted. The journal is also archived on several external sites[3] [1].


Any direct marketing activities, including solicitation of works that are conducted on behalf of the publisher or journal, shall be appropriate, well targeted, and unobtrusive.

All WikiJournal User Group publications are open access. They are by default published under a Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY), however other compatible OA licences can be requested by authors. WikiJournal User Group works meet or exceed all funder and institutional requirements for being considered Open Access. The licensing of a work must be displayed among the details on the same online page and PDF document.

For all publications, authors retain copyright (but allow sharing and reuse as per the license).


In accordance with the specific license used, the work's content can be shared, copied, distributed, transmitted, adapted and used without needing to provide additional permission, provided appropriate attribution is made to the original author or source.


For any material within a work that is not available under a compatible license, authors must gain written consent from the copyright holder(s).

Further reading

Research data

Data and factual information are not protected by copyright, and considered to be public domain once published. Additionally, simple representations and visualisations of data (e.g. tables and barcharts) are typically not creative enough to be eligible for copyright protection. As such, these types of material may be freely reused, adapted and mined without permission.

Ownership of Wikipedia-integrated content

For published works that are integrated into Wikipedia under a creative commons license, the publisher, authors, and editors retain no special rights above the rest of the Wikimedia community. The authors of works may update the relevant Wikipedia pages (and are encouraged to do so) in the same manner as anyone else, within Wikipedia's terms of use.

Further reading


WikiJournal User Group has no publication fees of any kind for authors, and no fees for accessing published works. The revenue source for the journal is by donations to the Wikimedia Foundation. The journal does not display paid advertisements.

Code of conduct

Disclosure and Conflict of Interest

All parties involved in a publication (including authors, reviewers and editors) are required to declare any potential or perceived Conflicts of Interest (COI). Such a disclosure is vital for maintaining transparency, but does not preclude the party from performing their role. Rather, the aim is to ensure that all parties and future readers are informed of relevant information. For example:

  • Material or financial gain relating to the work's content
  • Material or financial gain relating to the work's publication
  • Patent activity related to, or potentially related to, the work's content
  • Prior relationships (professional or personal) between people of different roles (authors, reviewers and editors) for a submission
  • Personal convictions which may influence the work's contents

Authors should declare any conflicts of interest in the 'Additional Information' section at the end of their work. COI declarations should be made by authors at the point of submission for peer review, by reviewers when they agreeing to perform the peer review, and by editors if handling the submission. An editor with a significant COI for a particular work should recuse themselves from publication decisions on that work.

Direct funding sources that supported the work should be listed in the work's 'Acknowledgements' section (e.g. grants, fellowships, corporate, institutional or private funding).


Editors, reviewers, readers and publishers have the right to assume that submitted (and published) works do not contain scientific dishonesty and/or fraud comprising among others fictitious or manipulated data, plagiarised material (either from the previous work of the authors or that of other persons), reference omissions, false priority statements, 'hidden' multiple publication of the same data and incorrect authorship. Authors must not breach any copyright.

When reproducing figures and/or schemes from previous publications, it is the author's responsibility to seek appropriate permission from the relevant publishers.

Harassment and discrimination

All participants are expected to be able to contribute to WikiJournal User Group activities and processes free from harassment or discrimination. Harassment of any kind undermines the ability of members to freely express and exchange ideas and is considered a form of misconduct. All participants are expected to act in a manner that does not discriminate against or disenfranchise any member on the basis of their personal characteristics (e.g. race, nationality, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, religion, age, appearance, or disability).

Editors should treat their colleagues with respect and avoid harassment of any kind (sexual or otherwise), victimisation, or bullying. Differences of opinion should be handled in a polite, professional, and constructive manner. Conflicts should be resolved by avoiding aggression or escalation.

Further reading

Contact and dispute resolution

Breaches of policy should be reported to the journal's Editor in Chief. Those thought to have breached policy will be given opportunity to respond, and arbitration may be recommended. Those found to have performed serious violations of the policies outlined in this ethics statement will be subject to disciplinary action including but not limited to manuscript rejection or retraction, expulsion of editorial members, blocking from further contribution to the journals, or reporting to relevant authorities. Exceptional cases may be submitted to COPE for further comment.

Further information


  1. "Code of conduct and best practice guidelines for journal editors" (PDF). COPE.
  2. "Code of conduct and best practice guidelines for publishers" (PDF). COPE.
  3. "Mirrors".