Policies

1. Authorship

1.1 Criteria for authorship

  • An “author” is commonly considered to be an individual who has made a substantive intellectual contribution to a work.
  • Hypothesis adopts the criteria for authorship published by the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE). In short, authorship credit should be dependent on all 3 of the following conditions being satisfied: (1) substantial contributions to conception and design, or acquisition of data, or analysis and interpretation of data; (2) drafting the article or revising it critically for important intellectual content; (3) final approval of the version of the manuscript to be published.
  • All those listed as authors should qualify for authorship, and all those who qualify for authorship should be listed as authors.
  • Individuals should not be granted authorship purely because of their reputation, prestige, or position of authority (so-called “guest” or “honorary” authorship).
  • Alone, the following activities do not justify authorship: collection of data, provision of technical services, provision of materials, acquisition of funding, or general supervision of the research group. These contributions should be listed in the acknowledgements section of the manuscript.
  • Individuals who contributed to writing the manuscript should not be omitted (so-called “ghost” authorship). If writers from a sponsoring organization helped to draft or revise the manuscript, their names and affiliations should be provided in the acknowledgements.
  • All contributions that do not meet the criteria for full authorship should be listed in an acknowledgments section. Individuals must give written permission to appear in the acknowledgements, as this might be interpreted as an implicit endorsement of the work.
  • Any changes to the author list after submission (change in author order, deletion of an author, addition of an author) must be approved in writing by every author.
  • In the event of an authorship dispute, the work will not be published until the conflict has been resolved internally among the authors. Hypothesis does not arbitrate authorship disputes.

1.2 Author contributions statement

  • Hypothesis requests a statement outlining the specific contributions of each author to the work, and publishes it as an “Author Contributions Statement” at the end of the article.

1.3 Responsibilities that accompany authorship

  • Ideally, each author should be familiar with all aspects of the work. However, in the event that the work is the product of a group of individuals with specialized fields of expertise, it is reasonable for an author’s detailed understanding to be confined to a specific subset of the work. At a minimum, each author should be prepared to take public responsibility for their contribution to the work.
  • Hypothesis expects that the corresponding author will take responsibility for the work as a whole, and ensure agreement between all co-authors in dealings with the journal. The corresponding author will have primary responsibility for correspondence with Hypothesis pre- and post-publication.
  • After acceptance, proofs of the manuscript are sent to the corresponding author, who is responsible for coordinating corrections with all coauthors. The corresponding author must ensure that the proof is error-free, including coauthors names, addresses and affiliations.

2. Conflicts of Interest

2.1 Types of conflicts of interest

  • Conflicts of interest (also known as competing interests, competing loyalties, or dual commitments) occur when an individual has a financial or non- financial relationship that may inappropriately bias their actions during the publication process. Conflicts of interest that may only be “potential” or “perceived” are nonetheless relevant.
  • Financial conflicts of interest arise from relationships with organizations that stand to gain or lose financially via publication of the work. Such relationships include (but are not limited to): (1) employment; (2) stock ownership; (3) receipt of research funding; (4) receipt of honoraria or payments for consultation, expert testimony, lectures or travel.
  • Financial conflicts of interest also arise from intellectual property rights (patents, copyrights, royalties, etc.) whose value may be affected by publication of the work.
  • Non-financial conflicts of interest arise from personal relationships, academic competition, and philosophical / ideological / political / religious beliefs.

2.2 Authors’ conflicts of interest

  • Hypothesis requires that all authors explicitly state sources of research funding in the acknowledgements section of their manuscript. Additionally, authors should describe any role of the funding source in study design, collection / analysis / interpretation of data, manuscript preparation, or decision to submit for publication. Hypothesis expects that authors will not engage in agreements that compromise their scientific independence.
  • Hypothesis requires that all authors explicitly state potential conflicts of interest in the cover letter accompanying submission of their manuscript. As a general guideline, authors should declare all professional or financial affiliations that may potentially cause them embarrassment should they become publicly known after publication.
  • Hypothesis will not disclose authors’ conflicts of interest to peer-reviewers during the review process, in order to keep their consideration independent from the manuscript’s scientific assessment.
  • Hypothesis publishes author conflicts of interests in a mandatory “Conflict of Interest Statement” at the end of the manuscript. In the absence of any conflicts, this statement will read: “The authors declare no conflicts of interest.” In the event that authors are prevented from disclosing financial interests because of a confidentiality agreement, they should contact Hypothesis for further discussion. In such a situation, the journal may publish a statement that reads: “The authors declare that they are bound by confidentiality agreements that preclude disclosure of their financial interests in this work.”
  • In the event that an author fails to disclose a conflict of interest that is subsequently identified after publication, Hypothesis may publish a “Failure to Disclose Conflicts of Interest” statement in the journal.

2.3 Reviewers’ conflicts of interest

  • In addition to competing financial interests, conflicts of interest relevant to reviewers include: (1) academic competition (e.g. a similar manuscript by the reviewer that is being considered at another journal, a similar research project in the reviewer’s laboratory, a collaboration or rivalry between the reviewer and an author); (2) philosophical / ideological / political / religious beliefs pertinent to the content of the manuscript.
  • In the cover letter accompanying their submission, authors may provide Hypothesis with the names of up to 3 individuals whom they believe should not be asked to review their manuscript because of professional conflicts of interest. The journal will typically honour such requests, provided that they are supported with a satisfactory explanation.
  • Hypothesis expects peer-reviewers to excuse themselves in the event of a substantial conflict of interest where they feel unable to provide an objective assessment of the manuscript.
  • Hypothesis requires peer-reviewers to explicitly declare any potential conflicts of interest. Although such conflicts will not automatically negate their recommendations, they will be considered by the editor in the course of weighing reviewers’ comments.
  • Hypothesis expects that peer-reviewers will not use information gained from the manuscripts they review in order to further their own interests, prior to the work’s publication.

2.4 Editors’ conflicts of interest

  • Editors of Hypothesis are required to declare potential personal, professional, or financial conflicts of interest when relevant, and to excuse themselves from handling manuscripts where such conflicts exist.
  • Editors of Hypothesis must not use information gained from the manuscripts they handle in order to further their own interests, prior to the work’s publication.
  • The acceptance of a manuscript authored by an editor of Hypothesis must be reviewed by all Hypothesis Senior Editors and the Editor-in-Chief.

3. Peer Review

3.1 Content that is peer reviewed

  • All manuscripts submitted to Hypothesis are peer reviewed. Correspondence and corrections may also be peer-reviewed at the discretion of the journal.
  • Hypothesis editors reserve the right to reject manuscripts without external review (for example, because the content is outside the scope of the journal, the quality of the manuscript is poor, or instructions for manuscript formatting have not been followed). This protects the time of the journal’s editors and peer reviewers, and also allows authors to submit their manuscript elsewhere immediately.

3.2 Reviewer selection

  • In the cover letter accompanying their submission, authors may suggest the names of suitable independent reviewers for their manuscript, and may list up to 3 individuals whom they believe should not be asked to review it due to professional conflicts of interest. The journal will typically honour such requests, provided that they are supported with a satisfactory explanation. However, the choice of reviewers is ultimately the editor’s decision.
  • Hypothesis typically sends manuscripts to 2, but sometimes more, independent reviewers.
  • Hypothesis selects peer reviewers based on scientific expertise pertinent to the manuscript, and their ability to provide high quality, constructive, and objective reviews.
  • As standard practice, Hypothesis inquires with a potential reviewer if they are able to review a particular manuscript within 2 to 3 weeks.
  • Hypothesis expects reviewers to decline the invitation to review a manuscript if: (1) a substantial conflict of interest exists such that they feel unable to provide an objective assessment of the manuscript; (2) they feel they have insufficient knowledge of the subject matter to provide an authoritative review; (3) they are unable to meet the specified deadline for completion of the review.
  • In each of the above cases, reviewers who decline may be invited to suggest others who might be suitable.
  • When reviewers agree to evaluate a manuscript, Hypothesis considers this a commitment to review subsequent revisions by the authors.

3.3 Confidentiality and anonymity

  • Hypothesis expects that all reviewers will keep submitted manuscripts confidential, and will not copy or distribute them without explicit permission from the journal. Reviewers should destroy copies of manuscripts after the review process is complete.
  • If a reviewer requires advice from another individual to evaluate a manuscript, they must seek permission from the journal and provide the name of the individual. The reviewer is responsible for ensuring that confidentiality is maintained.
  • If a reviewer suspects scientific misconduct, they should notify Hypothesis and keep the matter confidential.
  • Although Hypothesis endeavours to ensure confidentiality of manuscripts, the journal cannot be held responsible for the actions of reviewers.
  • Hypothesis employs a “closed” peer review process in which the identity of reviewers is not released to authors or to other reviewers. The journal expects that reviewers will not identify themselves to authors, and that authors will not attempt to discover the identity of reviewers. Under normal circumstances, Hypothesis will neither confirm nor deny the identity of reviewers. However, in rare cases, legal proceedings may compel the journal to identify a reviewer who has written defamatory or libelous comments, or who is involved in an allegation of scientific misconduct.
  • Hypothesis expects that reviewers will not use information gained from the manuscripts they review in order to further their own interests, prior to the work’s publication.

3.4 Reviewer reports

  • Reviewer reports should be submitted online at the Hypothesis website.
  • Hypothesis expects reviewers to be professional, courteous, objective, and constructive in their comments.
  • The aim of the reviewer should be to provide the context needed for the editor to make a decision on acceptance of the manuscript.
  • Hypothesis asks its reviewers to assess the manuscript on a numerical scale with respect to: (1) originality, importance & interest to readers; (2) clarity of presentation & organization; (3) quality of figures and tables; (4) significance of results; (5) soundness of conclusions; (6) quality as a written communication (readability, style, grammar, syntax); (7) overall quality.
  • Hypothesis also asks its reviewers to: (1) comment on the manuscript’s major strengths and weaknesses; (2) suggest essential / optional revisions to improve the manuscript; (3) make a recommendation to the editor regarding the suitability of the manuscript for publication in the journal.
  • Under normal circumstances, Hypothesis will not edit reviewers’ reports and the full content will be forwarded to authors. In rare cases, the journal may edit a report to remove offensive comments.
  • Once a reviewer agrees to evaluate a manuscript, Hypothesis expects that they will submit their reviewer report to the journal by the agreed-upon deadline. If it becomes impossible to do so, the reviewer should inform the editor. In turn, the editor should instruct the reviewer as to whether to abandon review of the manuscript or to take the additional time needed to complete it. The editor may delay evaluation of the manuscript in order to seek out additional reviews, or may proceed with the evaluation using comments received thus far.
  • Hypothesis thanks reviewers for the time they invest in reviewing manuscripts for the journal. If a reviewer is interested, Hypothesis will provide them with the comments of the other reviewers reviewing the same manuscript. As a courtesy, Hypothesis informs reviewers as to the ultimate outcome of the review process for any manuscripts that they evaluate.

3.5 Quality control of the peer review process

  • In order to improve journal performance, Hypothesis compiles information on the speed and quality of reviews in the journal’s confidential reviewer database.
  • Hypothesis aims to periodically publish statistics describing its peer review process, including: (1) number of manuscripts submitted; (2) percentage of submissions sent out for external peer review; (3) acceptance rate; (4) average time from manuscript submission to rejection / acceptance; (5) average time from manuscript acceptance to publication.

4. Editorial Decisions

  • Hypothesis editors reserve the right to reject manuscripts without external review (for example, because the content is outside the scope of the journal, the quality of the manuscript is poor, or instructions for manuscript formatting have not been followed). This protects the time of the journal’s editors and peer reviewers, and also allows authors to submit their manuscript elsewhere immediately.
  • Hypothesis typically sends manuscripts to 2, but sometimes more, independent reviewers.
  • In cases where one reviewer alone opposes publication, the editor may seek out additional reviews and/or consult the other reviewer(s) as to whether the criticisms of the negative reviewer are reasonable.
  • Based on the reviewers’ advice, the editor will make a decision on the fate of the manuscript and communicate it to the authors: (1) accept outright; (2) accept pending minor revisions; (3) defer final decision pending major revisions; (4) reject outright.
  • The editor will forward reviewer comments to the authors, along with clear direction as to which suggested revisions are essential and which are optional. The editor may request revisions in addition to those suggested by the reviewers.
  • Should a manuscript be rejected, the editor will clearly explain the reasons to authors. In rare cases, authors may appeal the rejection of a manuscript and request reconsideration, provided that they provide compelling reasons why the initial decision may have been incorrect (e.g. the authors believe they have been misunderstood on points of fact). Should the journal agree to reconsider a previously rejected manuscript, it will be evaluated by one of the original reviewers that assessed the initial submission, and one or two new reviewers.
  • The decision to accept or reject a manuscript will ultimately be based on its importance, originality, clarity, and relevance to Hypothesis’s aims and scope.
  • Editors of Hypothesis are required to declare potential personal, professional, or financial conflicts of interest when relevant, and to excuse themselves from handling manuscripts where such conflicts exist.
  • Internal editorial decisions on the suitability of the manuscript for in-depth external review are typically communicated to the corresponding author within two weeks of submission.
  • Final editorial decisions following in-depth review are typically communicated to the corresponding author within two months of submission, depending on the swiftness with which suitable reviewers are obtained to undertake critical evaluations of the manuscript.

5. Originality, Redundant Publication, and Media Relations

  • Manuscripts submitted to Hypothesis must be original, and not published or submitted for publication elsewhere.
  • In the cover letter accompanying their submission to Hypothesis, authors should disclose similar manuscripts that they have under review or in press elsewhere, even if in a different language. (Authors are also responsible for disclosing such manuscripts if they are submitted elsewhere while their submission to Hypothesis is under review). Hypothesis may request a copy of such manuscripts to assess the degree of overlap.
  • Hypothesis may consider publishing a manuscript that has previously appeared in a different language, provided that the original source is clearly stated in the initial submission.
  • Hypothesis assumes that it has full copyright permission to publish submitted manuscripts, including any figures. If a manuscript reproduces a copyrighted figure published elsewhere, the author is responsible for providing documentation that the previous publisher or copyright owner has given the appropriate permission.
  • Authors are free to present and discuss the contents of their manuscript ahead of publication in Hypothesis: at scientific meetings, on preprint servers (e.g. Nature Precedings), in public databases, and on collaborative websites such as blogs and wikis.
  • Hypothesis recommends that authors do not contact the media (or respond to such contact) until an article has been formally published in the journal. Regardless, prior publicity in the media will generally not affect decisions to publish a manuscript in Hypothesis.

6. Confidentiality

  • Hypothesis expects that all parties (authors, reviewers and editors) will keep manuscripts and associated data strictly confidential at all times. All communications regarding manuscripts under review (including e-mail correspondence and reviewers’ reports) should be kept confidential, regardless of whether or not the manuscript is ultimately published.
  • Correspondence with Hypothesis, reviewer reports, and other confidential material, regardless of the status of the submission, must not be publicized without prior permission from the editors.
  • Reviewers should destroy copies of manuscripts after the review process is complete.
  • Editors should destroy copies of rejected manuscripts.
  • Hypothesis will not disclose information about manuscript status (including submission, subject matter, position in the review process, or eventual fate) to any third party.
  • Hypothesis will not disclose confidential information unless compelled to do so by legal proceedings (e.g. an allegation of scientific misconduct).

7. Response to Allegations of Scientific Misconduct

7.1 Types of misconduct

  • Scientific misconduct involves actions whose aim is to knowingly deceive others. It does not normally include unintentional error, unless due to severe negligence.
  • Scientific misconduct includes (but is not limited to):
    1. Plagiarism – Use of published or unpublished ideas or language from an existing source without proper attribution, and representation of them as new and original.
    2. Duplicate publication – Submission or publication of multiple manuscripts that share substantial amounts of the same text or data.
    3. Falsification of data – Deliberate fabrication, suppression, omission, distortion, or selective reporting of scientific data.
    4. Improper authorship assignment – Exclusion of individuals who should be authors, inclusion of individuals who should not be authors, and submission of a manuscript without the consent of all authors.
    5. Misappropriation of others’ ideas – Improper use of ideas obtained from the peer review of confidential manuscripts and grant applications.
    6. Violation of regulatory laws – Failure to comply with regulations pertaining to the use of research funds, experimental animals, human subjects, drugs, biologics, medical devices, radioactive materials, etc.
    7. Improprieties pertaining to misconduct – Deliberate failure to report known or suspected misconduct, destruction or concealment of evidence pertaining to an investigation of misconduct, reprisal against individuals alleging or investigating misconduct, and fabrication of false allegations of misconduct.

7.2 Actions in response to alleged misconduct

  • Hypothesis recognizes its responsibility to protect the integrity of the published scientific record. The journal will ensure that allegations of misconduct are pursued by the appropriate authority (typically, the individual’s employer, institution, funding agency, or regulatory body). However, Hypothesis does not have the legal authority to conduct a formal judicial inquiry or arrive at a formal verdict of scientific misconduct.
  • Allegations of misconduct will be referred in confidence to the Hypothesis Editor-In-Chief and Senior Editors, who will conduct a confidential review to ascertain if there is sufficient evidence to justify a “reasonable suspicion” that misconduct may have occurred. As part of this review, all individuals involved will be invited to state their case in writing. Outside experts may be consulted, but none of the identities of those concerned will be disclosed. The objective of this review is to collect evidence and documentation, and not to determine if misconduct has actually occurred.
  • If the Hypothesis Senior Editors and Editor-In-Chief reach the conclusion that there is sufficient evidence to justify a “reasonable suspicion” that misconduct may have occurred, they will take one of the following actions, depending on the severity of the situation: (1) A written letter to the individual against whom the allegation is made, warning of the consequences of such a transgression; (2) A written letter to the head of the individual’s employer, institution, funding agency, or regulatory body, outlining the evidence and documentation collected by the journal and requesting that they conduct a formal investigation.
  • In the event of a formal finding of misconduct by an appropriate authority, Hypothesis will publish one of the following in the journal: (1) a “Notice of Redundant Publication”; (2) a “Notice of Plagiarism”; (3) a “Retraction”, formally retracting the article in question; (4) an “Expression of Concern”, expressing concern as to the validity of other works previously published by the authors.
  • The publications outlined above will: (1) appear on a numbered page of the journal; (2) be listed in the table of contents; (3) include complete citations of the article(s) in question; (4) if online, be linked bi-directionally to and from the articles(s) in question; (5) proceed without approval by the authors.
  • When an allegation of misconduct is made against authors of a manuscript that is under review at Hypothesis, the peer review and publication process will be suspended pending resolution of the matter. The investigation (and any subsequent actions) will proceed regardless of whether the manuscript is withdrawn from consideration by the authors.
  • When an allegation of misconduct is made against a reviewer or editor of Hypothesis, the individual in question will be removed from the peer review process pending resolution of the matter. If a reviewer or editor is eventually found to have engaged in misconduct, they will immediately be removed from further association with the journal.

8. Corrections, Retractions, and Correspondence

8.1 Author corrections

  • Authors wishing to publish a correction to their published article are invited to contact the journal. Hypothesis publishes corrections of errors that influence the accuracy or understanding of an article. Trivial grammatical errors, typographical errors, and errors in authors’ acknowledgments will generally not be corrected.
  • Hypothesis publishes the following forms of correction for peer-reviewed content:
    1. Erratum – A significant error made by the journal (e.g. mistakes introduced during editing or production, failure to make proof corrections requested by the authors).
    2. Corrigendum – A significant error made by the authors. In general, all authors are required to agree to the publication of a corrigendum. In cases where one or more authors decline to sign a corrigendum, the journal may consult peer reviewers and choose to publish it with a note identifying the dissenting coauthor(s). An erratum or corrigendum will be linked bi-directionally to and from the article being corrected. If the correction is substantial, a PDF version of the correction may be added to the last page of the original article.
    3. Retraction – An error that renders the main conclusions of the work invalid or seriously undermines them, and which was unknown to the authors at the time of initial publication. In general, all authors are required to agree to the publication of a retraction. In cases where one or more authors decline to sign a retraction, the journal may consult peer reviewers and choose to publish it with a note identifying the dissenting coauthor(s). The invalidation of previously published work that occasionally occurs (as new information is uncovered in the course of normal research) does not call for a retraction.

8.2 Reader correspondence

  • Readers who identify an error in the non-peer-reviewed editorial content of Hypothesis are invited to contact the journal. A correction may be published at the discretion of the editors.
  • Readers wishing to comment on a peer-reviewed article published in Hypothesis are invited to submit a correspondence (i.e. a “letter to the editor”). Hypothesis will invite the authors of the target article to respond, and will publish the reader’s comments and author’s response simultaneously. Authors of correspondence will be asked to make the same conflict-of-interest disclosures asked of all authors.
  • Hypothesis editors may edit correspondence for length and grammar, or to remove offensive or defamatory statements. Authors will have the right to approve the final version to be published.
  • Hypothesis recognizes its responsibility to allow a range of opinion to be expressed. However, the journal reserves the right to refuse to publish any piece of correspondence.

9. Editorial Independence

  • Hypothesis editors should have full authority over the content of the journal.
  • Editorial decisions (article evaluation, editing and publication) should not be influenced by: (1) any organization providing financial support to the journal; (2) any organization purchasing advertising space in the journal; (3) the policies of any domestic or foreign government, or any other external agency; (4) the geographical origin of a manuscript; (5) the nationality, ethnicity, political beliefs, or religious beliefs of the authors of a manuscript.

10. Advertising

  • Editorial decisions should not be influenced by potential advertising revenue.
  • Advertisements appearing in Hypothesis should: (1) clearly identify the advertiser and the product or service being offered; (2) have an appearance which is distinct from editorial material so readers can easily distinguish between them; (3) advertise products or services related to the scientific enterprise.
  • Advertisements appearing in Hypothesis should NOT: (1) be placed adjacent to any editorial material that pertains to the product or service being advertised; (2) be placed adjacent to any peer-reviewed article that pertains to the product or service being advertised; (3) make reference to an article in the journal; (4) advertise products or services known to be seriously harmful to human health (e.g. tobacco); (5) be deceptive, misleading or make exaggerated claims.
  • Hypothesis reserves the right to refuse any advertisement for any reason.
  • Hypothesis has the right to request or to make changes to advertisements.

11. Access to Data and Materials

  • Authors who publish in Hypothesis are expected to make their data, materials, and protocols publicly available or to provide them to readers promptly upon request. Any restrictions on the availability of data and materials must be disclosed at the time of submission to Hypothesis, and may negatively affect acceptance for publication.
  • Authors who submit to Hypothesis may be asked to provide access to their raw data: (1) in the course of peer review by external reviewers and Hypothesis editors; (2) in the case of a challenge to the integrity of a work after its publication.

12. Human and Animal Research

  • For research involving humans and animals, the corresponding author must confirm that all experiments were performed in compliance with proper regulations, and provide details of approval by the relevant institutional review board or ethics committee.

13. Open-Access Copyright License

  • Hypothesis applies the Creative Commons Attribution License (CCAL) to all works it publishes (read the human-readable summary at http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/ or the full license legal code at http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/legalcode). Under the CCAL, authors retain ownership of the copyright for their article, but allow anyone to download, reuse, reprint, modify, distribute, and/or copy it, so long as the original authors and source are cited.
  • Hypothesis assumes that it has full copyright permission to publish submitted manuscripts, including any figures. If a manuscript reproduces a copyrighted figure published elsewhere, the author is responsible for providing documentation that the previous publisher or copyright owner has given the appropriate permission.

14. Further Information on Scientific Publication Ethics

  • Hypothesis editorial policies were developed with reference to guidelines and best practices published by:
  1. World Association of Medical Editors (WAME) http://www.wame.org/
  2. International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE) http://www.icmje.org/index.html
  3. Council of Science Editors (CSE) http://www.councilscienceeditors.org/index.cfm
  4. Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) http://www.publicationethics.org.uk/