- Competing interests
- Peer review
- Trial registration
- Registration of systematic reviews
- Standards of reporting
- Publication of clinical datasets
- Data and material release
- Describing new taxa
- Duplicate publication
- Text recycling
- Correction and retraction articles
- Comments policy
- Appeals or complaints
BioMed Central is a member of the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) and endorses the World Association of Medical Editors (WAME) Policy Statement on Geopolitical Intrusion on Editorial Decisions. Submission of a manuscript to a BioMed Central journal implies that all authors have read and agreed to its content and that the manuscript conforms to the journal’s policies.
To give appropriate credit to each author, the individual contributions of authors should be specified in the manuscript.
An 'author' is generally considered to be someone who has made substantive intellectual contributions to a published study. According to the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE) guidelines, to qualify as an author one should have:
- made substantial contributions to conception and design, or acquisition of data, or analysis and interpretation of data;
- been involved in drafting the manuscript or revising it critically for important intellectual content;
- given final approval of the version to be published. Each author should have participated sufficiently in the work to take public responsibility for appropriate portions of the content; and
- agreed 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.
Acquisition of funding, collection of data, or general supervision of the research group, alone, does not usually justify authorship.
Please see individual journal Instructions for Authors for information on the format for listing author contribution.
All contributors who do not meet the criteria for authorship should be listed in an ‘acknowledgements’ section. Examples of those who might be acknowledged include a person who provided purely technical help, writing assistance, or a department chair who provided only general support.
Changes in authorship
In line with COPE guidelines, BioMed Central requires written confirmation from all authors that they agree with any proposed changes in authorship of submitted manuscripts or published articles. This confirmation must be via direct email from each author. It is the corresponding author’s responsibility to ensure that all authors confirm that they agree with the proposed changes. If there is disagreement amongst the authors concerning authorship and a satisfactory agreement cannot be reached, the authors must contact their institution(s) for a resolution. It is not the Editor’s responsibility to resolve authorship disputes. A change in authorship of a published article can only be amended via publication of a Correction Article.
Scientific (medical) writers
The involvement of scientific (medical) writers or anyone else who assisted with the preparation of the manuscript content should be acknowledged, along with their source of funding, as described in the European Medical Writers Association (EMWA) guidelines. The role of medical writers should be acknowledged explicitly in the ‘acknowledgements’ or ‘authors’ contributions’ section as appropriate.
BioMed Central requires authors to declare all competing interests in relation to their work. All submitted manuscripts must include a ‘competing interests’ section at the end of the manuscript listing all competing interests (financial and non-financial). Where authors have no competing interests, the statement should read “The author(s) declare(s) that they have no competing interests”. Editors may ask for further information relating to competing interests.
Editors and reviewers are also required to declare any competing interests and will be excluded from the peer review process if a competing interest exists.
What constitutes a competing interest?
Competing interests may be financial or non-financial. A competing interest exists when the authors’ interpretation of data or presentation of information may be influenced by their personal or financial relationship with other people or organizations. Authors should disclose any financial competing interests but also any non-financial competing interests that may cause them embarrassment if they were to become public after the publication of the article.
Please see Commercial organizations for more information relating to competing interests on manuscripts from commercial organizations.
Financial competing interests
Financial competing interests include (but are not limited to):
- Receiving reimbursements, fees, funding, or salary from an organization that may in any way gain or lose financially from the publication of the article, either now or in the future.
- Holding stocks or shares in an organization that may in any way gain or lose financially from the publication of the article, either now or in the future.
- Holding, or currently applying for, patents relating to the content of the manuscript.
- Receiving reimbursements, fees, funding, or salary from an organization that holds or has applied for patents relating to the content of the manuscript.
Non-financial competing interests
Non-financial competing interests include (but are not limited to) political, personal, religious, ideological, academic, and intellectual competing interests. If, after reading these guidelines, you are unsure whether you have a competing interest, please contact the Editor.
Authors from pharmaceutical companies, or other commercial organizations that sponsor clinical trials, should declare these as competing interests on submission. They should also adhere to the Good Publication Practice guidelines for pharmaceutical companies, which are designed to ensure that publications are produced in a responsible and ethical manner. The guidelines also apply to any companies or individuals that work on industry-sponsored publications, such as freelance writers, contract research organizations and communications companies. BioMed Central will not publish "advertorial" content.
All research articles, and most other article types, published in BioMed Central journals undergo thorough peer review. This usually involves review by two independent peer reviewers. Individual journals may differ in their peer review processes; for example, some journals operate an open and others a closed peer review system. For an individual journal’s peer review policy, please select the journal you are interested in from the drop-down menu below.
All submissions to BioMed Central journals are assessed by an Editor, who will decide whether they are suitable for peer review. Submissions felt to be suitable for consideration will be sent for peer review with appropriate independent experts. Editors will make a decision based on the reviewers’ reports and authors are sent these reports along with the editorial decision on their manuscript. Authors should note that even in light of one positive report, concerns raised by another reviewer may fundamentally undermine the study and result in the manuscript being rejected.
Open peer review
For journals operating an open peer review process, reviewers’ names are included in the peer review reports, and if the manuscript is published, the reports are made available online along with the final version of the manuscript. The published article will provide a link to its 'pre-publication history', which lists all the versions of the manuscript, all the signed reviews, and all responses to the reviewers. Here is an example of a medical article with a pre-publication history. On rare occasions, the pre-publication history may not be available for a specific article.
Closed peer review
Most journals operate a closed peer review process. Reviewers will be treated anonymously and the pre-publication history of each article will not be made available online.
Authors are encouraged to suggest potential reviewers; however, it is at the Editor(s)’ discretion whether to invite these reviewers. Authors should avoid suggesting recent collaborators or colleagues who work in the same institution as themselves and should not knowingly provide false information. Authors may exclude individuals as peer reviewers, but they should explain the reasons in their cover letter on submission. Authors should not exclude too many individuals as this may hinder the peer review process.
Portability of peer review
Within BioMed Central
To support efficient and thorough peer review, we aim to reduce the number of times a manuscript is re-reviewed after rejection from a BioMed Central journal, thereby speeding up the publication process and reducing the burden on peer reviewers. If a manuscript does not reach the interest criteria of a given BioMed Central journal, but is sound and in scope for another BioMed Central journal, we offer authors the option to transfer the manuscript together with the reviewer reports to the other journal.
Editors may share manuscripts with Editors of other BioMed Central journals before contacting authors in order to assess suitability for transfer to another journal. Authors who do not wish their manuscript to be shared with other BioMed Central journals should indicate this in their cover letter on submission. Reviewers who do not wish us to share their report with another BioMed Central journal should indicate this in the confidential section of their report. Transfer of a manuscript does not imply that it will be automatically accepted by the receiving journal, and on some occasions the Editors of the receiving journal may need to conduct their own peer review and/or reject the manuscript if it is not suitable.
If a manuscript is transferred to, and published in, a journal with open peer review, we will, wherever possible, make the reviewers' reports available through the pre-publication history of the article (see ‘Open peer review’ above). On some occasions this will not be possible, for example, when the manuscript has been peer reviewed in a closed peer review journal first. Although we will ask reviewers to make their reports available, reviewers providing reports for closed peer review journals will sometimes prefer to maintain this confidentiality and their anonymity. In such cases we will publish a note from the Editor on the pre-publication history of the manuscript to explain the peer review history for that particular case.
Where a manuscript was initially reviewed in an open peer review journal and is subsequently transferred to a closed peer review journal and published, the reviews will not be published alongside the article. If reviewers wish to make their report publicly available, they can post it as a comment on the article upon publication.
Between BioMed Central and other publishers/third parties
BioMed Central supports innovations in peer review which can improve efficiency and save peer reviewers’ time and effort. Some BioMed Central journals will consider manuscripts from other publishers, for example journals in the Neuroscience Peer Review Consortium and from journals in the eLife consortium. We are also willing to consider manuscripts which have been reviewed by third parties, for example, Peerage of Science and Axios Review. However, submission of a manuscript with reviewer reports from another journal or an independent review service does not imply that it will be automatically accepted by the receiving journal and additional peer review may be required.
Editors will treat all manuscripts submitted to all BioMed Central journals in confidence. Reviewers are also required to treat manuscripts confidentially. BioMed Central will not share manuscripts with third parties outside of BioMed Central except in cases of suspected misconduct. See our Misconduct policy for further information. Manuscripts may be shared with other Editors at BioMed Central, unless authors indicate on submission that they do not wish for their manuscript to be passed on beyond the journal they submitted to. See portability of peer review for more information.
All research must have been carried out within an appropriate ethical framework. If there is suspicion that work has not taken place within an appropriate ethical framework, Editors will follow the Misconduct policy and may reject the manuscript, and/or contact the author(s)’ institution or ethics committee. On rare occasions, if the Editor has serious concerns about the ethics of a study, the manuscript may be rejected on ethical grounds, even if approval from an ethics committee has been obtained.
Research involving human subjects, human material, or human data
Research involving human subjects, human material, or human data, must have been performed in accordance with the Declaration of Helsinki and must have been approved by an appropriate ethics committee. A statement detailing this, including the name of the ethics committee and the reference number where appropriate, must appear in all manuscripts reporting such research. If a study has been granted an exemption from requiring ethics approval, this should also be detailed in the manuscript (including the name of the ethics committee that granted the exemption). Further information and documentation to support this should be made available to Editors on request. Manuscripts may be rejected if the Editor considers that the research has not been carried out within an appropriate ethical framework. In rare cases, Editors may contact the ethics committee for further information.
Retrospective ethics approval
If a study has not been submitted to an ethics committee prior to commencing, retrospective ethics approval usually cannot be obtained and it may not be possible to consider the manuscript for peer review. How to proceed in such cases is at the Editor(s)’ discretion.
New clinical tools and procedures
Authors reporting the use of a new procedure or tool in a clinical setting, for example as a technical advance or case report, must give a clear justification in the manuscript for why the new procedure or tool was deemed more appropriate than usual clinical practice to meet the patient’s clinical need. Such justification is not required if the new procedure is already approved for clinical use at the authors’ institution. Authors will be expected to have obtained ethics committee approval and informed patient consent for any experimental use of a novel procedure or tool where a clear clinical advantage based on clinical need was not apparent before treatment.
For all research involving human subjects, informed consent to participate in the study should be obtained from participants (or their parent or guardian in the case of children under 16) and a statement to this effect should appear in the manuscript.
Consent for publication of individual patient data
For all manuscripts that include details, images, or videos relating to individual participants, written informed consent for the publication of these must be obtained from the participants (or their parent or legal guardian in the case of children under 16) and a statement to this effect should appear in the manuscript. If the participant has died, then consent for publication must be sought from the next of kin of the participant. You can use our consent form to obtain consent for publication from the participant(s), or a consent form from your own institution or region if you prefer. This documentation must be made available to Editors on request, and will be treated confidentially. In cases where images are entirely unidentifiable and there are no details on individuals reported within the manuscript, consent for publication of images may not be required. The final decision on whether consent to publish is required lies with the Editor.
Research involving animals
Experimental research on vertebrates or any regulated invertebrates must comply with institutional, national, or international guidelines, and where available should have been approved by an appropriate ethics committee. The Basel Declaration outlines fundamental principles to adhere to when conducting research in animals and the International Council for Laboratory Animal Science (ICLAS) has also published ethical guidelines.
A statement detailing compliance with relevant guidelines (e.g. the revised Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 in the UK and Directive 2010/63/EU in Europe) and/or ethical approval (including the name of the ethics committee and the reference number where appropriate) must be included in the manuscript. If a study has been granted an exemption from requiring ethics approval, this should also be detailed in the manuscript (including the name of the ethics committee that granted the exemption and the reasons for the exemption). The Editor will take account of animal welfare issues and reserves the right to reject a manuscript, especially if the research involves protocols that are inconsistent with commonly accepted norms of animal research. In rare cases, Editors may contact the ethics committee for further information.
For experimental studies involving client-owned animals, authors must also document informed consent from the client or owner and adherence to a high standard (best practice) of veterinary care.
Field studies and other non-experimental research on animals must comply with institutional, national, or international guidelines, and where available should have been approved by an appropriate ethics committee. A statement detailing compliance with relevant guidelines and/or appropriate permissions or licences must be included in the manuscript. We recommend that authors comply with the Convention on the Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora and the IUCN Policy Statement on Research Involving Species at Risk of Extinction.
Authors are strongly encouraged to conform to the Animal Research: Reporting In Vivo Experiments (ARRIVE) guidelines, developed by the National Centre for the Replacement, Refinement and Reduction of Animals in Research (NC3Rs), for reporting animal studies.
For studies reporting livestock trials with production, health and food-safety outcomes, authors are encouraged to adhere to the Reporting Guidelines for Randomized Controlled Trials in Livestock and Food Safety (REFLECT).
Research involving plants
Experimental research on plants (either cultivated or wild) including collection of plant material, must comply with institutional, national, or international guidelines. Field studies should be conducted in accordance with local legislation, and the manuscript should include a statement specifying the appropriate permissions and/or licences. We recommend that authors comply with the Convention on the Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora. Voucher specimens must be deposited in a public herbarium or other public collection providing access to deposited material. They should include details on the site of collection(GPS coordinates), date of collection, and document the part(s) used in the study where appropriate. Information on the voucher specimen and who identified it must be included in the manuscript.
BioMed Central supports initiatives to improve reporting of clinical trials. This includes prospective registering of clinical trials in suitable publicly available databases. In line with ICMJE guidelines, BioMed Central requires registration of all clinical trials that are reported in manuscripts submitted to its journals.
The ICMJE use the World Health Organization (WHO) definition of a clinical trial, which is "any research study that prospectively assigns human participants or groups of humans to one or more health-related interventions to evaluate the effects on health outcomes". This definition includes phase I to IV trials. The ICMJE define health-related interventions as "any intervention used to modify a biomedical or health-related outcome" and health-related outcomes as "any biomedical or health-related measures obtained in patients or participants". If you are unsure whether your trial needs registering, see the ICMJE FAQs for further information.
Suitable publicly available registries are those listed on the ICMJE website as well as any of the primary registries that participate in the WHO International Clinical Trials Registry Platform, including the ISRCTN register administered by Current Controlled Trials, part of the BioMed Central group.
The trial registration number (TRN) and date of registration should be included as the last line of the manuscript abstract.
For clinical trials that were not registered prospectively, BioMed Central encourages retrospective registration to ensure the complete publication of all results. Further information on retrospective registration is available from the AllTrials campaign, the Public Accounts Committee and the Department of Health. Many journals published by BioMed Central consider manuscripts describing retrospectively registered studies. The TRN and date of registration should be included as the last line of the manuscript abstract.
Registration of systematic reviews
BioMed Central supports the prospective registration of systematic reviews and encourages authors to register their systematic reviews in a suitable registry (such as PROSPERO). Authors who have registered their systematic review should include the registration number in the last line of the manuscript abstract.
Standards of reporting
BioMed Central supports initiatives aimed at improving the reporting of biomedical research. We recommend authors refer to the EQUATOR network website for further information on the available reporting guidelines for health research and the MIBBI Portal for reporting checklists for biological and biomedical research where applicable. Authors are requested to make use of these when drafting their manuscript, and peer reviewers may also be asked to refer to these checklists when evaluating such studies. Checklists are available for a number of study designs, including randomized controlled trials (CONSORT), systematic reviews (PRISMA), observational studies (STROBE), meta-analyses of observational studies (MOOSE), diagnostic accuracy studies (STARD), qualitative studies (RATS), and economic evaluations (CHEERS). For authors of systematic reviews, an additional file, linked from the ‘methods’ section, should reproduce all details concerning the search strategy. For an example of how a search strategy should be presented, see the Cochrane Reviewers' Handbook.
Standardized gene nomenclature should be used throughout. Human gene symbols and names can be found in the HUGO Gene Nomenclature Committee (HGNC) database and any enquiries, or requests for new gene symbols, should be directed via email to email@example.com. Nomenclature committees for other species are listed here. For mutation nomenclature, please use the guidelines suggested by the Human Genome Variation Society.
To drive the maximum re-use and utility of published research, we expect authors to comply with available field-specific standards for the preparation and recording of data. Please see the BioSharing website for information on field-specific data standards. Authors must comply with best practice in their field for sharing of data, with particular attention to maintaining patient confidentiality.
Authors using unpublished genomic data are expected to abide by the guidelines of the Fort Lauderdale and Toronto agreements. Based on broadly accepted scientific community standards, the key requirement for the third parties using genomic data is to contact the owners of unpublished data (i.e., the principal investigator and sequencing center) prior to undertaking their research, to advise them about their planned analyses.
Publication of clinical datasets
Several BioMed Central journals publish datasets. For datasets containing clinical data, authors have an ethical and legal responsibility to respect participants’ rights to privacy and to protect their identity. Ideally, authors should gain informed consent for publication of the dataset from participants at the point of recruitment to the trial. If this is not possible, authors must demonstrate that publication of such data does not compromise anonymity or confidentiality or breach local data protection laws, for the dataset to be considered for publication. Authors must consider whether the dataset contains any direct or indirect identifiers (see here for further information) and consult their local ethics committee or other appropriate body before submission if there is any possibility that participants will not be fully anonymous. Authors must state in their manuscript on submission whether informed consent was obtained for publication of patient data. If informed consent was not obtained, authors must state the reason for this, and which body was consulted in the preparation of the dataset.
Data and material release
Submission of a manuscript to a BioMed Central journal implies that readily reproducible materials described in the manuscript, including all relevant raw data, will be freely available to any scientist wishing to use them for non-commercial purposes, without breaching participant confidentiality. Nucleotide sequences, protein sequences, and atomic coordinates should be deposited in an appropriate database in time for the accession number to be included in the published article. In computational studies where the sequence information is unacceptable for inclusion in databases because of lack of experimental validation, the sequences must be published as an additional file with the article. See here for further information on the availability of supporting data.
Nucleotide sequences can be deposited with the DNA Data Bank of Japan (DDBJ), the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL/EBI) Nucleotide Sequence Database, or GenBank (National Center for Biotechnology Information).
The accession numbers of any nucleic acid sequences, protein sequences, or atomic coordinates cited in the manuscript should be provided, in square brackets with the corresponding database name; for example, [EMBL:AB026295, EMBL:AC137000, DDBJ:AE000812, GenBank:U49845, PDB:1BFM, Swiss-Prot:Q96KQ7, PIR:S66116].
Mass spectrometry data should be supplied in the mzML format recommended by the HUPO Protein Standards Initiative Mass Spectrometry Standards Working Group guidelines. We also recommend that the data is deposited in the ProteomeExchange through the PRIDE website, and protein interaction data can be submitted to members of the IMEx consortium.
Protein structures can be deposited with one of the members of the Worldwide Protein Data Bank. Nucleic acid structures can be deposited with the Nucleic Acid Database at Rutgers. Crystal structures of organic compounds can be deposited with the Cambridge Crystallographic Data Centre.
Chemical structures and assays
Functional genomics data (such as microarray, RNA-seq or ChIP-seq data)
Where appropriate, authors should adhere to the standards proposed by the Functional Genomics Data Society and must deposit microarray data in MIAME-compliant format in one of the public repositories, such as ArrayExpress or Gene Expression Omnibus (GEO). Deposition of high-throughput functional genomics sequencing data (such as RNA-Seq or ChIP-Seq data) with ArrayExpress or GEO in compliance with MINSEQE is also required.
We encourage authors to prepare models of biochemical reaction networks using the Systems Biology Markup Language and to deposit the model with the BioModels database, as well as submitting it as an additional file with the manuscript.
Phylogenetic data (alignments, phylogenetic trees, or other relevant primary data) should be deposited in either TreeBase or Dryad. BioMed Central is a member of Dryad and participates in sharing knowledge and coordinating action around data policies.
We encourage authors to deposit ecological data in Dryad.
Plant raw materials, derivatives, and extracts
Investigations on the biological activity of plant raw materials, derivatives, or extracts, including essential oils, must be standardized in order to elucidate their qualitative and quantitative phytochemical composition, at least of major compounds. The methodology used must be described in detail, including procedures, apparatus, columns, stationary and mobile phases, detection, etc.
For all plant species used in such investigations, either from wild populations or cultivations, a voucher specimen must be deposited in a public herbarium or other public collection providing access to deposited material. Voucher specimens should include details on the site of collection(GPS coordinates), date of collection, and document the part(s) used in the study where appropriate. Information on the voucher specimen and who identified it must be included in the manuscript.
Any software application or tool described in the manuscript should be available for testing by reviewers in a way that preserves their anonymity. Your manuscript should include a description in the ‘availability and requirements’ section of how the reviewers can access the software. The software should be available through a website (e.g. GitHub or Sourceforge) or be included with the manuscript as an additional file. If published, the software application/tool should be readily available to any scientist wishing to use it for non-commercial purposes, without restrictions, such as the need for a material transfer agreement. If the implementation is not made freely available, then the manuscript should focus clearly on the development of the underlying method and not discuss the tool in any detail.
Describing new taxa
Algal, fungal, and botanical names
From January 2012, electronic publication of algal, fungal, and botanical names is a valid form of publication. Manuscripts containing new taxon names or other nomenclatural acts must follow guidelines set by the International Code of Nomenclature for algae, fungi, and plants. Further helpful information by Sandra Knapp et al. is available here.
Authors describing new fungal taxa should register the names with a recognized repository such as Mycobank, and request a unique digital identifier which should be included in the published article.
From January 2012 electronic publication of zoological names is a valid form of publication if certain conditions are met. Manuscripts containing new taxon names or other nomenclatural acts must follow guidelines set by the International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature. We require the new taxon name and the article it is published in to be registered with ZooBank. The unique identifier provided by ZooBank should be included in the published article. Authors will be able to update ZooBank with the final citation following publication. Further helpful information by Frank-T. Krell is available here.
In accordance with the International Code of Nomenclature of Prokaryotes (ICNP) effective publication of new prokaryotic names in electronic journals is possible. In order to comply with rules of the International Committee on Systematics of Prokaryotes (ICSP) for valid publication authors must submit a copy of the published article in its final form, together with certificates of deposition of the type strain (for unrestricted distribution) in at least two internationally recognized, publicly accessible culture collections located in different countries, to the International Journal of Systematic and Evolutionary Microbiology (IJSEM) editorial office. Following review by the List Editor, effectively published names that conform to all of the rules of the ICNP will appear on a subsequent Validation List, in the order received, thereby becoming validly published.
The proposal of new virus names must follow guidelines established by the International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses (ICTV) in the International Code of Virus Classification and Nomenclature. Proposals for new virus taxa should be forwarded to the relevant Study Group of the ICTV for consideration.
Any manuscript submitted to a BioMed Central journal must be original and the manuscript, or substantial parts of it, must not be under consideration by any other journal. In any case where there is the potential for overlap or duplication we require that authors are transparent. Authors should declare any potentially overlapping publications on submission and, where possible, upload these as additional files with the manuscript. Any overlapping publications should be cited. Any ‘in press’ or unpublished manuscript cited, or relevant to Editors’ and reviewers' assessment of the manuscript, should be made available if requested by the Editors. BioMed Central reserves the right to judge potentially overlapping or redundant publications on a case-by-case basis.
In general, the manuscript should not already have been formally published in any journal or in any other citable form. If justified and made clear upon submission, there are exceptions to this rule. Details of these exceptions follow below and are also summarized in Table 1.
BioMed Central is a member of CrossCheck’s plagiarism detection initiative and takes seriously all cases of publication misconduct. Any suspected cases of covert duplicate manuscript submission will be handled as per the COPE guidelines and the Editor may contact the authors’ institution (see Misconduct policy for more information). BioMed Central endorses the policies of the ICMJE in relation to overlapping publications.
Cochrane systematic reviews
BioMed Central does not currently have a co-publication agreement with the Cochrane Library for its systematic reviews. BioMed Central will therefore only consider publishing novel Cochrane systematic reviews, or updated versions of articles in the Cochrane Library if they provide substantial new information.
Co-publication in multiple journals
If transparent, with prior agreement of the relevant journals and under the conditions specified in the ICMJE guidelines, co-publication in multiple journals will be considered at the Editor(s)' discretion.
Health technology assessment
The reports of the NHS Health Technology Assessment (HTA) programme are freely accessible in full online. At the Editor(s)’ discretion, some BioMed Central journals will consider full or shortened versions of these articles for peer review. See here for more information on the HTA policy on duplicate publication.
Pre-print servers and author/institutional repositories
Posting a manuscript on a pre-print server such as ArXiv, BioRxiv, Peer J Preprints or similar platforms (both commercial and non-commercial) is not considered to be duplicate publication. BioMed Central will also consider peer reviewing manuscripts that have been posted on an author's personal or institutional website. Material that has formed part of an academic thesis and been placed in the public domain, as per the awarding institution's guidelines, will also be considered by BioMed Central's journals.
BioMed Central also encourages self-archiving by authors of manuscripts accepted for publication in its journals.
Authors should comply with the ICMJE guidelines and seek approval from the original publisher to check that they do not breach the copyright terms of the original publication and that they agree to publication of the translation under the Creative Commons Attribution License 4.0.
At the Editor(s)' discretion, some BioMed Central journals will consider manuscripts that are substantially extended versions of articles that have previously been published in another peer reviewed journal. The journal Trials, in particular, actively encourages this activity. In such cases the prior publication of an abridged version of the article would therefore not preclude publication, provided the new manuscript represents a substantially novel contribution to the scientific record. If applicable, the authors should seek approval from the original publisher before submitting the extended version of the manuscript.
Prior abstracts of up to 400 words and posters presented at, or published as part of, academic meetings do not preclude consideration for peer review of a full manuscript as the full manuscript represents a formal advance to the citable scientific record. Published abstracts should be cited. Authors should be aware that many conference proceedings exceed the allowable limit and constitute a citable form.
Making scientific data sets publicly available before associated manuscripts are submitted will not preclude consideration by a BioMed Central journal. Because an increasing number of research funding-agencies require that their grant holders share the 'raw data' research outputs; such data sharing is encouraged by BioMed Central, provided appropriate safeguards are in place to protect personal or sensitive information. See policy on Publication of clinical datasets for more information.
Authors of non-research articles (usually commissioned reviews and commentaries) can include figures and tables that have been previously published in other journals provided they confirm on submission that permission has been obtained from the original publisher (if applicable) and cite the original article. Documentary evidence to support this permission must be made available to the Editor on request.
In order to avoid the potential for self-plagiarism, inadvertently or otherwise, authors agreeing to write commissioned articles should notify the Editor of any recent publications or invitations to write on a similar topic.
Articles may be submitted to BioMed Central's journals when data have been previously discussed or posted in such venues as blogs, wikis, social networking websites, or online electronic lab notebooks.
However, given the rapidly evolving nature of these resources, where discussion of data or manuscripts posted to these venues has subsequently been incorporated into the manuscript, the Editors may make their own assessment as to whether there may be duplication in the submitted manuscript.
Publication of study protocols reduces the risk of non-publication of research findings and facilitates methodological discussion and is encouraged by a number of BioMed Central journals. As such prior publication of a study protocol before submission of a manuscript reporting the results should not be considered duplicate publication.
Summary clinical trial results in public registries
Posting of summary clinical trial results in publicly accessible databases is generally not considered duplicate publication. BioMed Central requires authors of manuscripts reporting clinical trials to have registered their trial in a suitably accessible registry (see our Trial Registration policy for more information). In the US, submission of trial results to ClinicalTrials.gov is a statutory requirement. More information on this requirement can be found here.
Table 1. Generally permissible and non-permissible forms of duplicate/overlapping publication
|Proposed publication||Guidance on permissibility|
|Abridged articles||At the Editor(s)' discretion, provided there is agreement with the original journal/publisher and the original publication is cited|
|Abstracts up to 400 words or posters presented at scientific meetings||Yes - published abstracts should be cited|
|Co-publication in multiple journals||At the Editor(s)' discretion and with conditions, as per ICMJE guidelines|
|Cochrane systematic reviews||No, unless original or substantially updated|
|Dataset in public or restricted access repositories||Yes - datasets should be cited in/hyperlinked from the manuscript if possible|
|Figures and tables in non-research articles||Yes, if, where applicable, permission has been obtained from the original publisher by the submitting author|
|Health Technology Assessment||At the Editor(s)' discretion - contact the Editor for more information|
|Open science - data posted and discussed on wikis, blogs, online electronic lab notebooks, networking websites incorporated into submitted manuscript||Yes, usually permissible|
|Pre-print servers including authors' personal and institutional websites||Yes|
|Study protocol published||Yes - published protocols should be cited|
|Summary results in clinical trial registries||Yes - accession number should be included in the abstract|
|Translations||At the Editor(s)’ discretion, provided there is agreement with the original journal/publisher, no breach of copyright and the original publication is cited.|
Authors should be aware that replication of text from their own previous publications is text recycling (also referred to as self-plagiarism), and in some cases is considered unacceptable. Where overlap of text with authors’ own previous publications is necessary or unavoidable, duplication must always be reported transparently and be properly attributed and compliant with copyright requirements. In collaboration with COPE, BioMed Central has created guidelines for Editors on how to deal with text recycling which provide further detailed information on when text recycling is or is not considered acceptable. Where there is the potential for text recycling, authors should notify the Editor of this on submission.
Research articles and non-research articles (e.g. Opinion, Review and Commentary articles) must cite appropriate and relevant literature in support of the claims made. Excessive and inappropriate self-citation or coordinated efforts among several authors to collectively self-cite is strongly discouraged.
Authors should consider the following guidelines when preparing their manuscript
- Any statement in the manuscript that relies on external sources of information (ie not the authors own new ideas or findings or general knowledge) should use a citation.
- Authors should avoid citing derivations of original work. For example, they should cite the original work rather than a review article that cites an original work.
- Authors should ensure that their citations are accurate (ie they should ensure the citation supports the statement made in their manuscript and should not misrepresent another work by citing it if it does not support the point the authors wish to make).
- Authors should not cite sources that they have not read.
- Authors should not preferentially cite their own or their friends’, peers’ or institution’s publications.
- Authors should avoid citing work solely from one country.
- Authors should not use an excessive number of citations to support one point.
- Ideally, authors should cite sources that have undergone peer review where possible.
- Authors should not cite advertisments or advertorial material.
BioMed Central has a legal responsibility to ensure that its journals do not publish material that infringes copyright or includes libellous or defamatory content. If a manuscript is perceived to contain potentially libellous content the Editors, with assistance from the publisher if required, will work with authors to remove the potentially problematic sections. Manuscripts containing material that infringes copyright or is potentially libellous or defamatory may be rejected at the Editor(s)’ discretion.
Authors must have permission from the copyright holder to reproduce any figures that are covered by copyright and cite the original source. Documentary evidence to support this permission must be made available to the Editor on request. Figures reproduced from those published under the Creative Commons Attribution License 4.0 may be reproduced, but only with correct attribution.
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In cases of suspected research or publication misconduct, it may be necessary for Editors to contact and share manuscripts with third parties, for example, author(s)’ institution(s) and ethics committee(s). BioMed Central may also seek advice from COPE and discuss anonymized cases in the COPE forum. Editors may also involve BioMed Central’s independent ombudsman.
All research involving humans (including human data and human material) and animals must have been carried out within an appropriate ethical framework (see our Ethics policy for further information). If there is suspicion that research has not taken place within an appropriate ethical framework, Editors may reject a manuscript and may inform third parties, for example, author(s)’ institution(s) and ethics committee(s).
In cases of proven research misconduct involving published articles, articles may be retracted. See our Retraction policy for further information.
We endorse the guidelines given in the Instructions for Authors of the Journal of Cell Biology, from where the following is adapted with kind permission of Rockefeller University Press:
All digital images in manuscripts considered for publication will be scrutinized for any indication of manipulation that is inconsistent with the following guidelines. Manipulation that violates these guidelines may result in delays in manuscript processing or rejection, or retraction of a published article.
No specific feature within an image may be enhanced, obscured, moved, removed, or introduced.
The grouping of images from different parts of the same gel, or from different gels, fields, or exposures, must be made explicit by the arrangement of the figure (i.e. using dividing lines) and in the text of the figure legend.
Adjustments of brightness, contrast, or color balance are acceptable if they are applied to every pixel in the image and as long as they do not obscure, eliminate, or misrepresent any information present in the original, including the background. Non-linear adjustments (e.g. changes to gamma settings) must be disclosed in the figure legend.
Any questions raised during or after the peer review process will be referred to the Editors, who will request the original data from the author(s) for comparison with the prepared figures. If the original data cannot be produced, the manuscript may be rejected or, in the case of a published article, retracted. Any case in which the manipulation affects the interpretation of the data will result in rejection or retraction. Cases of suspected misconduct will be reported to the author(s)’ institution(s).
Correction and retraction articles
In line with Biomed Central’s Permanency policy, corrections to, or retractions of, published articles will be made by publishing a Correction or Retraction article, without altering the original article in any way other than to add a prominent link to the Correction/Retraction article. The original article remains in the public domain and the subsequent correction or retraction will be widely indexed. In the exceptional event that material is considered to infringe certain rights or is defamatory we may have to remove that material from our site and archive sites.
It may be possible for minor corrections to published articles to be made by the original author(s) posting a comment on the published article. This would only be appropriate where the changes do not affect the results or conclusions of the article. See our Comments policy for further information on posting comments.
Changes to published articles that affect the interpretation and conclusion of the article, but do not fully invalidate the article, will, at the Editor(s)’ discretion, be corrected via a Correction article that is indexed and linked to the original article. Changes in authorship of published articles are corrected via a Correction article. See Changes in authorship for further information.
On rare occasions, when the scientific information in an article is substantially undermined, it may be necessary for published articles to be retracted. BioMed Central will follow COPE guidelines in such cases. Retraction articles are indexed and linked to the original article.
Appeals or complaints
Authors have the right to appeal rejection of their manuscript. Appeals should be based on the scientific content of the manuscript and its suitability for publication rather than concerns about the process. Authors wishing to appeal a rejection should contact the Editor of the specific journal. Authors should note that new submissions are prioritized over appeals, so authors may not receive a decision on their appeal immediately. The Editor’s decision on the appeal is final.
Authors wishing to make a complaint should, in the first instance, contact the Editor of the specific journal who will make them aware of the individual journal’s complaints procedure. For complains that cannot be resolved with the Editor (for example, complains about the Editors themselves), the authors should contact BioMed Central, the publisher.