- Ethics and consent
- Research involving human embryos, gametes, and stem cells
- Sex and gender in research (SAGER)
- Research involving animals
- Research involving plants
- Research involving palaeontological and geological material
- Biosafety and biosecurity
- Standards for research in complementary and alternative medicine
- Consent for publication
- Trial registration
- Availability of data and materials
- Standards of reporting
- Describing new taxa
- Competing interests
- Preprint sharing and citation
- Duplicate publication
- Communications of findings prior to publication
- Text recycling
- Peer review
- Corrections and retractions
- Appeals and complaints
Table of contents
BMC 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. BMC also endorses the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE) Recommendations for the Conduct, Reporting, Editing and Publication of Scholarly Work in Medical Journals.
Submission of a manuscript to a BMC journal implies that all authors have read and agreed to its content and that the manuscript conforms to the journal’s policies.
Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.
Research involving human participants, 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 the Editor 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, the Editor may contact the ethics committee for further information.
Retrospective ethics approval
If a study has not been granted ethics committee approval prior to commencing, retrospective ethics approval usually cannot be obtained and it may not be possible to consider the manuscript for peer review. The decision on whether to proceed to peer review 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.
Consent to participate
For all research involving human participants, informed consent to participate in the study should be obtained from 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. For manuscripts reporting studies involving vulnerable groups (for example, unconscious patients) where there is the potential for coercion (for example prisoners) or where consent may not have been fully informed, manuscripts will be considered at the editor’s discretion and may be referred to an internal editorial oversight group for further scrutiny. Consent must be obtained for all forms of personally identifiable data including biomedical, clinical, and biometric data. In the case of articles describing human transplantation studies, authors must include a statement declaring that no organs/tissues were obtained from prisoners and must also name the institution(s)/clinic(s)/department(s) via which organs/tissues were obtained. Documentary evidence of consent must be supplied if requested.
Manuscripts that report experiments involving the use of human embryos and gametes, human embryonic stem cells and related materials, and clinical applications of stem cells must include confirmation that all experiments were performed in accordance with relevant guidelines and regulations (See also Ethics and Consent)
The manuscript should include an ethics statement identifying the institutional and/or national research ethics committee (including the name of the ethics committee) approving the experiments and describing any relevant details. Authors should confirm that informed consent (See also Ethics and Consent and Consent for publication) was obtained from all recipients and/or donors of cells or tissues, where necessary, and describe the conditions of donation of materials for research, such as human embryos or gametes. Copies of approval and redacted consent documents may be requested by the Editor.
We encourage authors to follow the principles laid out in the 2016 ISSCR Guidelines for Stem Cell Research and Clinical Translation.
In deciding whether to publish papers describing modifications of the human germline, the Editors are guided by safety considerations, compliance with applicable regulations, as well as the status of the societal debate on the implications of such modifications for future generations. In case of concerns regarding a particular type of study the Editor may seek advice from the Springer Nature Research Integrity Group.
The decision to publish a paper is the responsibility of the Editor-in-Chief of the Journal.
We encourage our authors to follow the ‘Sex and Gender Equity in Research – SAGER – guidelines’ and to include sex and gender considerations where relevant. Authors should use the terms sex (biological attribute) and gender (shaped by social and cultural circumstances) carefully in order to avoid confusing both terms. Article titles and/or abstracts should indicate clearly what sex(es) the study applies to. Authors should also describe in the background, whether sex and/or gender differences may be expected; report how sex and/or gender were accounted for in the design of the study; provide disaggregated data by sex and/or gender, where appropriate; and discuss respective results. If a sex and/or gender analysis was not conducted, the rationale should be given in the Discussion. We suggest that our authors consult the full guidelines before submission.
- Definition of Sex and Gender (taken from Office of Research in Women’s Health, NIH).
- Sex - refers to biological differences between females and males, including chromosomes, sex organs, and endogenous hormonal profiles.
- Gender- refers to socially constructed and enacted roles and behaviors which occur in a historical and cultural context and vary across societies and over time.
- Applications of the guidelines: These guidelines apply to studies involving humans, vertebrate animal and cell lines.
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, the Editor may contact the ethics committee for further information.
Manuscripts presenting studies that have employed anesthesia or euthanasia methods inconsistent with the commonly accepted norms of veterinary best practice (e.g. chloral hydrate, ether, and chloroform) will not be considered. Decisions to not consider manuscripts presenting such anesthesia or euthanasia methods are independent of the approving ethics committee and any previously published work. We recommend that authors consult the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) Guidelines for the Euthanasia of Animals (2020), as a comprehensive resource for guidance on veterinary best practice for the anesthesia and euthanasia of animals.
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 IUCN Policy Statement on Research Involving Species at Risk of Extinction and the Convention on the Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora.
Experimental research and field studies on plants (either cultivated or wild), including the collection of plant material, must comply with relevant institutional, national, and international guidelines and legislation.
Manuscripts should include a statement specifying the appropriate permissions and/or licences for collection of plant or seed specimens. We recommend that authors comply with the IUCN Policy Statement on Research Involving Species at Risk of Extinction and the Convention on the Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora.
To support reproducibility, voucher specimens for all wild plants described in a manuscript must be deposited in a public herbarium or other public collection that provides access to deposited material. Information on the voucher specimen and who identified it must be included in the manuscript.
Research involving palaeontological and geological material
Details of palaeontological specimens and geological samples should include clear provenance information to ensure full transparency of the research.
It is recognized that precise provenance information may not be available for older museum collections. In circumstances where providing specific provenance information may compromise the security of palaeontological or geological sites it may be appropriate to exclude detailed locality information.
Samples must always be collected and exported in a responsible manner and in accordance with applicable local and national laws. Any submission detailing new material should include information regarding the requisite permissions obtained and the issuing authority. Authors may be required to provide specific supporting documentation upon request.
Type, figured and cited palaeontological specimens, should be deposited in a recognised museum or collection to permit free access by other researchers in perpetuity. Sufficient information on the repository, including the assigned unique catalogue numbers (where applicable), should be provided to allow the specimens to be traced.
We encourage deposition of 3-D scans of fossil specimens (where appropriate) within a permanent, accessible repository to facilitate study by the scientific community.
Springer Nature requires that submitted content adheres to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) normative instruments for the protection of cultural heritage, and Resolutions, Motions, guidance and other statements of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
Biosafety and biosecurity
It is expected that research submitted to any BMC journal is carried out in compliance with relevant institutional biosafety and biosecurity protocols and any national or international recommendations relevant to the research field. For example, for life sciences research, the WHO information DURC for life sciences research. Researchers are expected to be aware of dual-use concerns related to their work and take steps to minimise misuse of their work. Where submitted research is deemed to present a potential dual-use risk, the Editor may ask authors to provide details of how such a risk has been mitigated and how it complies with their institutional and funder’s requirements, as well as any national regulations. We reserve the right to take expert advice in cases where we believe that concerns may arise and may require a manuscript to undergo peer review specifically to assess the dual use risk. Thus, authors may be asked to revise their manuscript before normal journal peer-review.
We recognize the widespread view that openness in science helps to alert society to potential threats and to defend against them, and we anticipate that only very rarely (if at all) will the risks be perceived as outweighing the benefits of publishing a paper that has otherwise been deemed appropriate for publication. Once a decision has been reached, authors will be informed if biosecurity advice has informed that decision.
Springer Nature journals are committed to evidence-based research. We believe that Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) research should be held to the same standards and evidence threshold as those of medicine research.
We welcome manuscripts for submission which meet the following clinical research standards:
- Clinical research manuscripts that comply with international and national standards for such work (such as the Declaration of Helsinki or relevant Governmental regulation e.g. the UK’s The Medicines for Human Use (Clinical Trials) Regulations).
- Studies which are adequately controlled (be that compared to a placebo or conventional medicine), blinded (where appropriate), randomised and of sufficient statistical power to confidentially and accurately interpret the effect reported. Studies reporting a CAM treatment/technique compared only to another CAM treatment/technique are not sufficient to test the efficacy of the CAM treatment in question. Studies in which a conventional treatment is supplemented with a CAM technique are only valid if compared to the same conventional treatment supplemented with a placebo.
- CAM treatments/techniques tested on animal models and/or human patients: It is unethical for such work, on humans or animals, to have taken place without adequate prior evidence that the treatment/technique shows some potential of being therapeutic. Manuscripts must include evidence that takes the form of objective, measurable data from previously published peer reviewed literature which adheres to scientific principles (for instance in vitro or cellular work). Other forms of evidence are not valid. Manuscripts describing work lacking this evidence will not be considered on ethical grounds.
For all manuscripts that include details, images, or videos relating to an individual person, written informed consent for the publication of these details must be obtained from that person (or their parent or legal guardian in the case of children under 18). The consent must be for publication of their details under the Creative Commons Attribution License 4.0 (such that they will be freely available on the internet). If the person has died, consent for publication must be obtained from their next of kin. The manuscript must include a statement that written informed consent for publication was obtained.
Authors can use the BMC consent form to obtain consent for publication, or a consent form from their own institution or region if appropriate. The consent form must state that the details/images/videos will be freely available on the internet and may be seen by the general public. The consent form must be made available to the Editor if requested, 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.
BMC supports initiatives to improve reporting of clinical trials. This includes prospective registration of clinical trials in suitable publicly available databases. In line with ICMJE guidelines, BMC requires registration of all clinical trials that are reported in manuscripts submitted to its journals.
The ICMJE uses 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 defines 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". Authors who are unsure whether their trial needs registering should consult 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 registry, which is administered and published by BMC.
The trial registration number (TRN) and date of registration should be included as the last line of the manuscript abstract.
Publication of study protocols reduces the risk of non-publication of research findings and facilitates methodological discussion, and is encouraged by a number of BMC journals. If the study protocol for a trial has been published, then it should be cited in the manuscript.
For clinical trials that have not been registered prospectively, BMC 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 BMC will consider manuscripts describing retrospectively registered studies. The TRN, date of registration and the words 'retrospectively registered’ should be included as the last line of the manuscript abstract.
Registration of systematic reviews
BMC 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 as the last line of the manuscript abstract.
Submission of a manuscript to a BMC journal implies that 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.
For all journals, BMC strongly encourages that all datasets on which the conclusions of the paper rely should be available to readers, and where there is a community established norm for data sharing, BMC mandates data deposition (for data types with required deposition, see below).
We encourage authors to ensure that their datasets are either deposited in publicly available repositories (where available and appropriate) or presented in the main manuscript or additional supporting files, in machine-readable format (such as spreadsheets rather than PDFs) whenever possible. Please see the list of recommended repositories. For several journals, deposition of the data on which the conclusions of the manuscript rely is required. Please check the individual journal’s Submission Guidelines for more information.
Authors who need help understanding our data sharing policies, finding a suitable data repository, or organising and sharing research data can access our Author Support portal for additional guidance.
Mandated data deposition based on community-established norms
For certain data types (for example genomic data, nucleic acid or protein sequences), BMC mandates data deposition in a public access repository upon submission as there is a community-accepted standard of data deposition and data sharing.
Please consult this list of mandated data types, ensuring any relevant data are deposited in an appropriate repository and linked from your manuscript.
Such data must be available to editors and reviewers to evaluate during peer review and has to be released without restriction to the public upon publication.
*DNA and RNA sequences: Deposition of novel DNA and RNA sequence, and novel genome assembly data is mandated while we strongly encourage depositions of all DNA and RNA sequences. Novel DNA sequence, novel RNA sequence, and novel genome assembly data must be deposited to repositories that are part of the International Nucleotide Sequence Collaboration (INSDC), or those which are working towards INSDC inclusion. When publishing reference genomes, the assembly must be made available in addition to the raw sequence reads. Sequences must be deposited even for short stretches of novel sequence information such as epitopes, functional domains, genetic markers, or haplotypes. We encourage short novel sequences to be supplemented with surrounding sequence information to provide context. The sequences of all small RNA probes central to the conclusions of the paper must be provided. BMC highly encourages the deposition of microbial assemblies derived from metagenomics data.
Genomics and transcriptomics datasets: When depositing genomic and transcriptomics datasets, BMC encourages the provision of the metadata to allow for reproduction of the dataset. We encourage including annotations where applicable, especially when presenting data of unsequenced genomes.
Linked phenotype and genotype data for human subjects: Should be submitted to a publicly accessible repository with appropriate access controls. Any restrictions on data access for sensitive data (for example electronic medical records, forensic data, and personal data from vulnerable populations) require an explanation of the nature of and reasons for the restrictions, and details of the conditions under which the data can be accessed or reused.
Gene expression data: Data derived from microarray studies must be MIAME compliant.
Publication of clinical 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 study or 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 another 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.
Software and code
Any previously unreported software application or custom code described in the manuscript should be available for testing by editors and reviewers in a way that preserves their anonymity. The manuscript should include a description in the Availability of Data and Materials section of how the editors and reviewers can access the unreported software application or custom code. This section should include a link to the most recent version of your software or code (e.g. Zenodo or Code Ocean) as well as a link to the archived version referenced in the manuscript. The software or code should be archived in an appropriate repository with a DOI or other unique identifier. For software in GitHub, we recommend using Zenodo. 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.
Discipline-specific community-recognized repositories
Data should be submitted to discipline-specific, community-recognized repositories where possible. See our data policy guidance for more information. Where a suitable discipline-specific resource does not exist, data should be submitted to a generalist repository.
Availability of research materials
Submission of a manuscript to a BMC journal implies that any unique materials described in the manuscript will be freely available to scientists wishing to use them for non-commercial purposes, without breaching participant confidentiality. Research materials include uniquely generated resources, such as strains, tools, chemical compounds, antibodies, cell-lines or mutant lines.
It is acceptable to request reasonable payment to cover costs of distribution, and reagents may be made available via commercial or non-commercial third party providers. For biological materials such as mutant strains and cell lines, BMC encourages authors to use established public repositories where available and persistent identifiers and/or accession numbers of such resources should be listed in the manuscript. Any restrictions on availability of materials, including if materials are to be distributed by a for-profit company, must be clearly stated in the paper.
For studies where new research materials have been generated, BMC encourages the following statement to be included in the ‘Availability of data and materials’ section:
[REAGENTS/TOOLS/MATERIALS] generated in this study are available from the corresponding author upon request.
Availability of data and materials statements
All authors must include an “Availability of Data and Materials” section in their manuscript detailing where the data supporting their findings can be found. If your data cannot be shared openly, please include a statement to this effect, and provide the reason as to why the data cannot be shared openly. On some journals, the editors may decline further consideration of the manuscript after evaluation if restrictions are found to be unduly prohibitive.
BMC encourages data availability statements for manuscripts reporting clinical trial data to follow the standards set out in the ICMJE recommendations on clinical trial data sharing suggesting the following information to be provided:
whether individual de-identified participant data (including data dictionaries) will be shared (“undecided” is not an acceptable answer); what data in particular will be shared; whether additional, related documents will be available (e.g., study protocol, statistical analysis plan, etc.); when the data will become available and for how long; by what access criteria data will be shared (including with whom, for what types of analyses, and by what mechanism).
Availability of data and materials statements can take one of the many forms (or a combination of more than one if required for multiple datasets). For more information on how to draft a Data availability statement and examples of published statements, visit Springer Nature’s guidance to Data Availability Statements here and read further tips in this blog here.
BMC endorses the Force 11 Data Citation Principles and requires that all publicly available datasets be fully referenced in the reference list with an accession number or unique identifier such as a digital object identifier (DOI). Citations of datasets, when they appear in the reference list, should include the minimum information recommended by DataCite and follow journal style. Dataset identifiers including DOIs should be expressed as full URLs.
Example of an “Availability of data and materials” statement
The data described in this article can be freely and openly accessed at Harvard Dataverse: https://doi.org/10.7910/DVN/J9EUZU .
With data cited in the reference list as
 Correndo AA, Moro Rosso LH, Ciampitti IA. Agrometeorological data using R-software. Harvard Dataverse. 2021. https://doi.org/10.7910/DVN/J9EUZU.
Post-publication access of data
BMC journals mandate that all materials described in the manuscript, including all relevant raw data, will be freely available post-publication to any scientist wishing to use them for non-commercial purposes without restriction, without breaching participant confidentiality. After publication, authors must comply with the data availability statement included in the manuscript and arrange to make the data available to any reader as indicated in the manuscript. For datasets where it is the community norm to share data, BMC expects that all datasets on which the conclusions of the paper rely are made available to readers via community-accepted repositories linked to the manuscript via permanent identifiers. If the original data cannot be produced, the Editor may investigate further and reserves the right to contact the institution or funding body. In the case of published articles, inability to gain access to the requested data may lead to a retraction.
Third party data and analysis
When a third party is used to generate or analyse part or all of the data presented in the study, this should be clearly stated within the ‘Methods’ and/or ‘Availability of data and Materials’ sections. The corresponding author is responsible for all data presented within the published manuscript (for more information, refer to the roles and responsibilities of the corresponding author under “Authorship”). When data obtained from third parties cannot be made available, the restrictions should be clearly stated in the data availability statement. Authors must make data available for purposes of peer review, if requested by reviewers, within the terms of a data use agreement and if compliant with ethical and legal requirements.
BMC advocates complete and transparent reporting of biomedical and biological research. For biomedical and biological research, the checklist below must be completed before peer review, and made available to the Editors and reviewers.
- Randomized controlled trials (CONSORT)
We strongly recommend that authors refer to the minimum reporting guidelines for health research hosted by the EQUATOR Network when preparing their manuscript, and FAIRsharing.org for reporting checklists for biological and biomedical research, where applicable.
In addition, BMC strongly encourage the use of the following checklists and reporting guidelines:
- Protocols for randomized controlled protocols (SPIRIT)
- Systematic reviews and meta-analyses* (PRISMA) and protocols (PRISMA-P)
- Observational studies (STROBE)
- Case reports (CARE)
- Qualitative research (COREQ)
- Diagnostic/prognostic studies (STARD and TRIPOD)
- Economic evaluations (CHEERS)
- Pre-clinical animal studies (ARRIVE)
- Statistics checklists for editors and reviewers to use when evaluating the statistics in manuscripts:
In addition, journals may mandate that other reporting guidelines are followed and the exact requirements may vary depending on the journal; please refer to the journal’s submission guidelines.
*Authors of systematic reviews should also provide a link to an additional file from the ‘methods’ section, which reproduces all details of the search strategy. For an example of how a search strategy should be presented, see the Cochrane Reviewers' Handbook.
Authors should include full information on the statistical methods and measures used in their research, including justification of the appropriateness of the statistical test used (see the SAMPL guidelines for more information). Reviewers will be asked to check the statistical methods, and the manuscript may be sent for specialist statistical review if considered necessary.
To enable effective tracking of the key resources used to produce the scientific findings reported in the biomedical literature, authors are expected to include a full description of all resources with enough information to allow them to be uniquely identified. In support of the Resource Identification Initiative (RII), we encourage authors to use unique Resource Identifiers (RRIDs) within their manuscript to identify their model organisms, antibodies, or tools.
Cell line authentication
If human cell lines are used, authors are strongly encouraged to include the following information in their manuscript:
- The source of the cell line, including when and from where it was obtained
- Whether the cell line has recently been authenticated and by what method
- Whether the cell line has recently been tested for mycoplasma contamination
Further information is available from the International Cell Line Authentication Committee (ICLAC). We recommend that authors check the NCBI database for misidentification and contamination of human cell lines.
Standardized gene nomenclature should be used throughout. Human gene symbols and names can be found in the HUGO Gene Nomenclature Committee (HGNC) database; requests for new gene symbols should be submitted here and any enquiries about gene nomenclature can be directed here. Alternative gene aliases that are commonly used may also be reported, but should not be used alone in place of the HGNC symbol. Nomenclature committees for other species are listed here.
Reporting of sequence variants
We recommend that authors should submit all variants described in a manuscript to the relevant public gene/disease specific database (LSDB): a list is available here. The database URL and the unique identifier should be reported in the manuscript.
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 of third parties using genomic data is to contact the owners of unpublished data (i.e. the principal investigator and sequencing centre) prior to undertaking their research, to advise them about their planned analyses.
Digital image integrity
Adapted from the Journal of Cell Biology and from Nature Research.
While a certain degree of image processing is unavoidable for some experiments, fields and techniques, in all instances, the final image presented in the published article must accurately represent the original data and conform to community standards. The guidelines on image processing presented below will aid in accurate data presentation; authors must also take care to exercise caution during data acquisition to avoid misrepresentation of the data collected.
Authors should list all image acquisition tools and image processing software packages used, noting the specific version of the software. If the data were processed with custom code, this should be fully described and deposited into a community repository. All image-gathering settings and processing manipulations should be fully described in the methods.
When preparing figures for publication, adhere to the following guidelines:
- Images gathered at different times or from different locations should not be combined into a single image, unless it is stated that the resultant image is a product of time-averaged data or a time-lapse sequence. If juxtaposing images is essential, the borders should be clearly demarcated in the figure and described in the legend.
- Touch-up tools, such as cloning and healing tools in Photoshop, or any feature that deliberately obscures manipulations, should not be used.
- Processing (such as changing brightness and contrast) is appropriate only when it is applied equally across the entire image and is applied equally to controls. Contrast should not be adjusted so that data disappear. Excessive manipulations, such as processing to emphasize one region in the image at the expense of others (e.g. through the use of a biased choice of threshold settings), are inappropriate, as is emphasizing experimental data relative to the control.
- Authors should be prepared to submit original, unprocessed images on request.
Electrophoretic gels and blots
The display of cropped gels and blots in the main paper is allowed if it improves the clarity and conciseness of the presentation. In such cases, the cropping must be mentioned in the figure legend. For some BMC journals, the inclusion of the original, uncropped gel or blot is mandatory and the full length original blot or gel should be included in the additional files.
- Quantitative comparisons between samples on different gels/blots are discouraged; if this is unavoidable, the figure legend must state that the samples derive from the same experiment and that gels/blots were processed in parallel. Vertically sliced images that juxtapose lanes that were non-adjacent in the gel must have a clear separation or a black line delineating the boundary between the gels. Loading controls must be run on the same blot.
- Cropped gels in the paper must retain important bands.
- High-contrast gels and blots are discouraged, as overexposure may mask additional bands. Authors should strive for exposures with gray backgrounds. Multiple exposures should be presented in Supplementary Information if high contrast is unavoidable. Immunoblots should be surrounded by a black line to indicate the borders of the blot, if the background is faint.
- For quantitative comparisons, appropriate reagents, controls and imaging methods with linear signal ranges should be used.
Authors should be prepared to supply the journal with original data on request, at the resolution collected, from which their images were generated. Cells from multiple fields should not be juxtaposed in a single field; instead multiple supporting fields of cells should be shown as Supplementary Information.
- Adjustments should be applied to the entire image. Threshold manipulation, expansion or contraction of signal ranges and the altering of high signals should be avoided. If 'pseudo-colouring' and nonlinear adjustment (e.g. 'gamma changes') are used, this must be disclosed. Adjustments of individual colour channels are sometimes necessary on 'merged' images, but this should be noted in the figure legend.
- In the methods, specify the type of equipment (microscopes/objective lenses, cameras, detectors, filter model and batch number) and acquisition software used. Although we appreciate that there is some variation between instruments, equipment settings for critical measurements should also be listed. In addition, processing software should be named and manipulations indicated (such as type of deconvolution, three-dimensional reconstructions, surface and volume rendering, 'gamma changes', filtering, thresholding and projection).
- Authors should state the measured resolution at which an image was acquired and any downstream processing or averaging that enhances the resolution of the image.
Algal, fungal, and botanical names
Since January 2012, the electronic publication of algal, fungal, and botanical names has been a valid form of publication. Manuscripts containing new taxon names or other nomenclatural acts must follow the 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.
Since January 2012, electronic publication of zoological names has been a valid form of publication if certain conditions are met. Manuscripts containing new taxon names or other nomenclatural acts must follow the 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 the 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.
BMC 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”. The Editor may ask for further information relating to competing interests.
Editors and reviewers are also required to declare any competing interests and may 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, or may be perceived to 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 manuscript.
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 manuscript, 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 manuscript, 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 (GPP3), 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. BMC will not publish advertorial content.
Editorial Board Members and Editors
Editorial Board Members and Editors are required to declare any competing interests and may be excluded from the peer review process if a competing interest exists.
In addition, they should exclude themselves from handling manuscripts in cases where there is a competing interest. This may include – but is not limited to – having previously published with one or more of the authors, and sharing the same institution as one or more of the authors.
Where an Editor or Editorial Board Member is on the author list they must declare this in the competing interests section on the submitted manuscript. If they are an author or have any other competing interest regarding a specific manuscript, another Editor or member of the Editorial Board will be assigned to assume responsibility for overseeing peer review. These submissions are subject to the exact same review process as any other manuscript.
Editorial Board Members are welcome to submit papers to the journal. These submissions are not given any priority over other manuscripts, and Editorial Board Member status has no bearing on editorial consideration.
All Springer Nature journal editorial staff are required to declare to their employer any interests — financial or otherwise — that might influence, or be perceived to influence, their editorial practices. Failure to do so is a disciplinary offence. Springer Nature has a strict policy of editorial independence in individual acceptance decisions and editorial standards of quality and significance should never be compromised. While some editors are financially incentivised to achieve journal growth, we are clear in our internal policies and individuals’ contracts or formal objectives that this should be achieved by ensuring submissions of sufficient quality and never by compromising editorial standards.
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 self-citation, coordinated efforts among several authors to collectively self-cite, gratuitous and unnecessary citation of articles published in the journal to which the paper has been submitted, and any other form of citation manipulation are inappropriate.
Citation manipulation will result in the article being rejected, and may be reported to authors’ institutions. Similarly, any attempts by peer-reviewers or editors to encourage such practices should be reported by authors to the publisher.
- Authors should consider the following guidelines when preparing their manuscript:
- Any statement in the manuscript that relies on external sources of information (i.e. 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 (i.e. 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 advertisements or advertorial material.
BMC journals encourage posting of preprints of primary research manuscripts on preprint servers of the authors’ choice, authors’ or institutional websites, and open communications between researchers whether on community preprint servers or preprint commenting platforms.
Preprints are defined as an author’s version of a research manuscript prior to formal peer review at a journal, which is deposited on a public server (as described in Preprints for the life sciences. Science 352, 899–901; 2016); preprints may be posted at any time during the peer review process. Posting of preprints is not considered prior publication and will not jeopardize consideration at BMC journals. Manuscripts posted on preprint servers will not be taken into account when determining the advance provided by a study under consideration at a BMC journal.
BMC has partnered with Research Square ( BMC has a majority interest in Research Square) to provide In Review, a journal-integrated solution for preprint sharing, supporting authors across all the communities we serve to share their research early. Authors submitting to some BMC journals are also able to publicly share information regarding their peer review through In Review. General information about In Review at BMC and the Research Square preprint platform can be found here and here .
Our policy on posting, licensing, citation of preprints and communications with the media about preprints of primary research manuscripts is summarized below.
Authors should disclose details of preprint posting, including DOI and licensing terms, upon submission of the manuscript or at any other point during consideration at a BMC journal. Once the preprint is published, it is the author’s responsibility to ensure that the preprint record is updated with a publication reference, including the DOI and a URL link to the published version of the article on the journal website.
Authors may choose any license of their choice for the preprint including Creative Commons licenses. The type of CC-license chosen will affect how the preprint may be shared and reused. More information to help guide licensing choices can be found in these resource documents developed by an ASAPbio licensing taskforce.
Preprints may be cited in the reference list of articles under consideration at BMC journals as shown below:
Babichev, S. A., Ries, J. & Lvovsky, A. I. Quantum scissors: teleportation of single-mode optical states by means of a nonlocal single photon. Preprint at http://arxiv.org/abs/quant-ph/0208066 (2002).
Authors posting preprints are asked to respect our policy on communications with the media. Researchers may respond to requests from the media in response to a preprint or conference presentation by providing explanation or clarification of the work, or information about its context. In these circumstances, media coverage will not hinder editorial handling of the submission. Researchers should be aware however that such coverage may reduce or pre-empt coverage by other media at the time of publication. We also advise that researchers approached by reporters in response to a preprint make it clear that the paper has not yet undergone peer review, that the findings are provisional and that the conclusions may change. More information to help guide responsible communication of research reported in preprints can be found in these resource documents developed by the ASAPbio Preprints in the Public Eye project.
Information about our self-archiving policies and release of Author’s Accepted Manuscript may be found here
Any manuscript submitted to a BMC 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. Any overlapping publications should be cited. Any ‘in press’ or unpublished manuscript cited, or relevant to the Editor’s and reviewers' assessment of the manuscript, should be made available if requested by the Editor. BMC 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.
BMC 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 outlined in the COPE guidelines and the Editor may contact the authors’ institution (see Misconduct policy for more information). BMC endorses the policies of the ICMJE in relation to overlapping publications.
Cochrane systematic reviews
BMC does not currently have a co-publication agreement with the Cochrane Library for its systematic reviews. BMC 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, and 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 BMC journals will consider full or shortened versions of these articles for peer review.
Preprint servers and author/institutional repositories
Posting a manuscript on a preprint server or an author's personal or institutional website does not constitute previous publication. Please see our preprint sharing and citation policy for further information.
BMC encourages self-archiving by authors of manuscripts accepted for publication in its journals.
BMC will consider submissions containing material that has previously formed part of a PhD or other academic thesis including those that have been made publicly available according to the requirements of the institution awarding the qualification.
Translations into English
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 the original publisher gives permission for publication of the translation under the Creative Commons Attribution License 4.0.
At the Editor's discretion, some BMC journals will consider manuscripts that are substantially extended versions of articles that have previously been published in another peer-reviewed journal. 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 word limit and constitute a citable form.
Making scientific data sets publicly available before associated manuscripts are submitted will not preclude consideration by a BMC 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 BMC, provided appropriate safeguards are in place to protect personal or sensitive information. See the policy on publication of clinical datasets (above) 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.
If authors have previously discussed or posted their own data in venues such as blogs, wikis, social networking websites, or online electronic lab notebooks, they are still able to submit their findings to BMC's journals. 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 Editor will 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 BMC journals. Therefore prior publication of a study protocol before submission of a manuscript reporting the results is not 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. BMC 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
|Previous publication/deposition||Guidance on permissibility|
At the Editor's discretion, provided there is agreement from 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 outlined in the ICMJE guidelines
Cochrane systematic reviews
No, unless original or substantially updated
Datasets 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 reports
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
Preprint servers, including authors' personal and institutional websites
Yes – this does not constitute previous publication
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 into English
At the Editor's discretion, provided there is agreement from the original journal/publisher, no breach of copyright and the original publication is cited.
BMC journals do not wish to hinder communication among researchers. We support open communications between researchers whether on a recognised community preprint server, through discussions at conferences or on online collaborative sites such as wikis or the author’s blog. Neither conference presentations nor posting on recognized preprint servers constitute prior publication.
Researchers may respond to requests from the media in response to a preprint or conference presentation, by providing explanation or clarification of the work, or information about its context. In these circumstances, media coverage will not hinder editorial handling of the submission.
Researchers should be aware that such coverage may reduce or pre-empt coverage by other media at the time of publication. We also advise that researchers approached by reporters in response to a preprint make it clear that the paper has not yet undergone peer review, that the content is provisional and that the conclusions may change. Authors are expected to keep details of the peer review and editorial processes confidential.
We believe it important that the peer-reviewed and published version of a paper should be publicly available when the work is discussed in the public media, allowing the press to provide informed comment based on this version. For that reason, we strongly discourage the direct soliciting of media coverage to appear ahead of publication of the final version of a paper.
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, BMC 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. If a manuscript contains text that has been published elsewhere, authors should notify the Editor of this on submission.
All research articles, and most other article types, published in BMC 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 see the journal's 'About' page.
Peer review policy
All submissions to BMC journals are assessed by an Editor, who will decide whether they are suitable for peer review. Where an Editor is on the author list or has any other competing interest regarding a specific manuscript, another member of the Editorial Board will be assigned to assume responsibility for overseeing peer review. Submissions felt to be suitable for consideration will be sent for peer review by appropriate independent experts identified by the Handling Editor. 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, the reviewers' names are included on the peer review reports. In addition, if the manuscript is published, the named reports are published online alongside the article. On rare occasions, information from the pre-publication history may not be available for a specific article.
Authors will be aware of the reviewers’ names during the peer review process and vice versa. However, there should not be direct correspondence between authors and reviewers. Any correspondence between the authors and the reviewers during or after the review process should be made through the journal Editors.
Transparent peer review
For journals operating a transparent peer review process, if the manuscript is published, the peer review reports are published online alongside the article. The name of the reviewer is not published. On rare occasions, information from 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 may suggest potential reviewers if they wish; however, whether or not to consider these reviewers is at the Editor's discretion. Authors should not suggest recent collaborators or colleagues who work in the same institution as themselves. Authors who wish to suggest peer reviewers can do so in the cover letter and should provide institutional email addresses where possible, or information which will help the Editor to verify the identity of the reviewer (for example an ORCID or Scopus ID).
Authors may request exclusion of 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. Please note that the Editor may choose to invite excluded peer reviewers.
Intentionally falsifying information, for example, suggesting reviewers with a false name or email address, will result in rejection of the manuscript and may lead to further investigation in line with our misconduct policy.
Portability of peer review
To support efficient and thorough peer review, we aim to reduce the number of times a manuscript is re-reviewed after rejection from a BMC 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 BMC journal, but is sound and in scope for another BMC 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 BMC 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 BMC journals should indicate this in their cover letter on submission. Reviewers who do not wish us to share their report with another BMC 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 Editor 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.
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.
Between BMC and other publishers/third parties
BMC supports innovations in peer review which can improve efficiency and save peer reviewers’ time and effort. Some BMC 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. 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 BMC journals in confidence. BMC adheres to COPE’s Ethical Guidelines for Peer Reviewers. Reviewers are therefore required to respect the confidentiality of the peer review process and not reveal any details of a manuscript or its review, during or after the peer-review process, beyond the information released by the journal. If reviewers wish to involve a colleague in the review process they should first obtain permission from the journal. The Editor should be informed of the names of any individuals who assisted in the review process when the report is returned.
BMC will not share manuscripts with third parties outside of BMC except in cases of suspected misconduct. See our Misconduct policy for further information. Manuscripts may be shared with other Editors at BMC, 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.
BMC regularly undertakes research projects designed to help improve processes for authors, reviewers and editors, and how science is communicated in our journals. Participation in this research will not affect the editorial review of manuscripts, the consideration given to reviewer reports by Editors or the confidentiality of the submission and review process. Depending on the nature of the research project we may seek ethical approval and may need to contact you for consent to participate. Research may be undertaken retrospectively after the publication of manuscripts; in all cases details of manuscripts will be kept confidential.
In cases of suspected research or publication misconduct, it may be necessary for the Editor to contact and share manuscripts with third parties, for example, author(s)’ institution(s) and ethics committee(s). BMC may also seek advice from COPE and discuss anonymized cases in the COPE Forum. The editor may consult Springer Nature’s Research Integrity Group.
A notice of suspected transgression of ethical standards in the peer review system may be included as part of the author’s and article’s bibliographic record.
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, the Editor 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, or where the scientific integrity of the article is significantly undermined, articles may be retracted. See our Retraction policy for further information.
Data falsification and fabrication
Data falsification is manipulating research data with the intention of giving a false impression. This includes manipulating images, removing outliers or “inconvenient” results, changing, adding or omitting data points, etc. Data fabrication means the making up of research findings.
Any questions regarding data integrity raised during or after the peer review process will be referred to the Editor. The Editor may request (anonymised) underlying study data from the author(s) for inspection or verification. If the original data cannot be produced, the manuscript may be rejected or, in the case of a published article, retracted. Cases of suspected misconduct will be reported to the author(s)’ institution(s).
Rarely, it may be necessary for BMC to publish corrections to, or retractions of, articles published in its journals, so as to maintain the integrity of the academic record.
In line with BMC’s Permanency policy, corrections to, or retractions of, published articles will be made by publishing a Correction or a Retraction note bidirectionally linked to the original article. Any alterations to the original article will be described in the note. 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.
Authors, readers or organizations who become aware of errors or ethics issues in a published article are encouraged to contact the individual journal in the first instance via the contact details available on the journal website. All reports will be considered by the Editors; additional expert advice may be sought when deciding on the most appropriate course of action. The Springer Nature Research Integrity Group provides support to Editors in addressing publication ethics issues in a COPE (Committee on Publication Ethics)-compliant manner.
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 publication of a Correction that is indexed and bidirectionally linked to the original article.
On rare occasions, when the interpretation or conclusion of an article is substantially undermined, it may be necessary for published articles to be retracted. SpringerOpen as part of SpringerNature will follow the COPE guidelines in such cases. Retraction notices are indexed and bidirectionally linked to the original article. The original article is watermarked as retracted and the title is amended with the prefix “Retracted article:”
Editorial Expressions of Concern
When an Editor becomes aware of serious concerns regarding interpretation or conclusion of a published article, they may choose to publish a statement alerting the readership. Scenarios in which Editorial Expressions of Concern may be published include prolonged investigations of very complex cases and when the concerns may have a significant and immediate impact on public health or public policy. An Editorial Expression of Concern may be superseded by a subsequent Correction or Retraction, but will remain part of the permanent published record.
Removal of published content
In exceptional circumstances, Springer Nature reserves the right to remove an article, chapter, book or other content from Springer Nature’s online platforms. Such action may be taken when (i) Springer Nature has been advised that content is defamatory, infringes a third party’s intellectual property right, right to privacy, or other legal right, or is otherwise unlawful; (ii) a court or government order has been issued, or is likely to be issued, requiring removal of such content; (iii) content, if acted upon, would pose an immediate and serious risk to health. Removal may be temporary or permanent. Bibliographic metadata (e.g. title and authors) will be retained, and will be accompanied by a statement explaining why the content has been removed.
Appeal against a rejection
If you wish to ask the Editor or Editorial Board to reconsider a rejection of a manuscript, you should, in the first instance, contact the Editor through the instructions on the journal website. These are considered appeals, which, by policy, must take second place to the normal workload. In practice, this means that decisions on appeals often take several weeks. Only one appeal is permitted for each manuscript. Final decisions on appeals will be made by the Editorial Board Member handling the paper or the Editor.
In general, an appeal against a rejection decision on a manuscript will only be considered if:
- the authors can demonstrate that an error that determined the final decision has been made - by a referee or the Editors - during review
- if important additional data can be provided
- if a convincing case of bias in the process can be demonstrated
Authors who wish to appeal an editorial decision should submit a formal letter of appeal to the journal by contacting the journal editorial office. Include the manuscript tracking number in the email subject line and the appeal letter. Most BMC journals use an appeal form and will not consider an appeal without it.
If appeals are successful, then authors will be given instructions on how to proceed. If an appeal merits further consideration, the Editor may send the authors' response and the revised paper out for further peer review.
For all other feedback and complaints, please check individual journal’s ‘About’ pages for more information.
Complaints about our processes or about publication ethics will in the first instance be handled by the Editor responsible for the journal. If the Editor is the subject of the complaint, please approach the editorial and publishing management team by email to email@example.com.
For complaints about processes, such as time taken for review, the Editor will review and respond to the complainant's concerns. This feedback will be provided to relevant stakeholders to guide improvements to processes and procedures.
For complaints about publication ethics or scientific content, the Editor will follow guidelines published by the Committee on Publication Ethics. The Editor may request advice from the Springer Nature Research Integrity Group on difficult or complicated cases. The Editor then decides on a course of action and provides feedback to the complainant.
If the complainant remains dissatisfied with the handling of their complaint, it will be escalated to the journal's editorial and publishing management team for investigation. If no publishing contact is identified send the query to firstname.lastname@example.org