Research/Publication Ethics

  • Publication Ethics and Malpractice Statement
  • Ethical Guidelines for Authors
  • Plagiarism and Data Fabrication
  • Research Involving Human Subjects
  • Ethical Guidelines for the Use of Animals in Research
  • Clinical Trials Registration
  • Citation Policies
  • Ethical Guidelines for Reviewers
  • Ethical Guidelines for Academic Editors
  • Updating Published Papers

Publication Ethics and Malpractice Statement
Pakistan Armed Forces Medical Journal (PAFMJ) is a bimonthly double-blind peer reviewed journal. The editorial board enforces a rigorous peer-review process and ensures application of strict ethical policy and standards in the publication of scholarly articles based on high quality scientific research. The ethical policy adheres to the guidelines of the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) and its code of conduct. In case the editorial board is aware of ethical issues, it is fully committed to investigating and taking necessary action to maintain the integrity of the scientific research and ensure the safety and protection of the research participants.

Ethical Guidelines for Authors
We accept publications/articles from both national and international Authors. An "author" is generally considered to be someone who has made substantive intellectual contributions to a study. Pakistan Armed Forces Medical Journal follows the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE) guidelines which state that in order to qualify for authorship of a manuscript, authors must satisfy the following:

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

    It is important to note that:
  • Acquisition of funding, collection of data, or general supervision of the research group, alone, does not justify authorship.
  • All persons designated as authors should qualify for authorship, and all those who qualify should be listed.
  • Each author should have participated sufficiently in the work to take public responsibility for appropriate portions of the content.
  • Once authorship certificate is submitted no further change will be allowed in the sequence and addition of new authors.

Rejected Manuscript – Appeals Authors whose manuscripts have been rejected have the right to send a letter of appeal giving detailed explanations. They are reviewed in-house and a decision is taken accordingly

Author Contributions
For complete transparency, all submitted manuscripts should include an author contributorship statement that specifies the work of each author. For research articles with several authors, a short paragraph specifying their individual contributions must be provided.

The following statements should be used: Conceptualization, X.X. and Y.Y.; methodology, X.X.; software, X.X.; Z.Z.; formal analysis, X.X.; resources, X.X.; data curation, X.X.; writing—original draft preparation, X.X.; writing—review and editing, X.X.; supervision, X.X.; administration, X.X.; funding acquisition, Y.Y. All authors have read and agreed to the published version of the manuscript.

For review articles, where individual statements are less applicable, a statement should be included that clarifies who was responsible for the ideation, who performed the literature search and/or data analysis, and who drafted and revised the work.

Deceased Authors
Deceased authors would be included with a death dagger (†) next to the author's name and a footnote stating that the author is deceased along with the date of death.

Plagiarism and Data Fabrication
Plagiarism is not acceptable in Pakistan Armed Forces Medical Journal plagiarism includes copying text, ideas, images, or data from another source, even from own publications, without giving credit to the original source.
If plagiarism is detected during the initial editor’s triage, the manuscript may be rejected.
It is the policy of editorial committee of PAFMJ to blacklist any author found to be guilty
of plagiarism. The name of author(s) committing plagiarism will also be disseminated to
editors of other medical journals, PM&DC and HEC.
Data presented must be original and not inappropriately selected, manipulated, enhanced, or fabricated.

This includes

1) exclusion of data points to enhance significance of conclusions,

2) fabrication of data,

3) selection of results that support a particular conclusion at the expense of contradictory data,

4) deliberate selection of analysis tools or methods to support a particular conclusion.

Research Involving Human Subjects
When reporting on research that involves human subjects, human material, human tissues, or human data, authors must declare that the investigations were carried out following the rules of the Declaration of Helsinki of 1975 (https://www.wma.net/what- we-do/medical-ethics/declaration-of-helsinki/), revised in 2013. According to point 23 of this declaration, an approval from an institutional ethics committee should have been obtained before undertaking the research. A statement including the project identification code, date of approval, and name of the ethics committee or institutional review board should be stated in Section ‘Institutional Review Board Statement’ of the article.

A written informed consent for publication must be obtained from participating patients
who can be identified (including by the patients themselves). Patients’ initials or other personal identifiers must not appear in any images. For manuscripts that include any case details, personal information, and/or images of patients, authors must obtain signed informed consent from patients (or their relatives/guardians) before submitting to Pakistan Armed Forces Medical Journal. Patient details must be anonymized as far as possible, e.g., do not mention specific age, ethnicity, or occupation where they are not relevant to the conclusions. A template permission form is available to download. A blank version of the form used to obtain permission (without the patient names or signature) must be uploaded with your submission.

Ethical Guidelines for the Use of Animals in Research
Experiments on animals, authors will be asked to indicate whether the institutional and
national guide for the care and use of laboratory animals was followed or not. Manuscripts containing original research on animal subjects must have been approved by an institutional ethical review committee. The project identification code, date of approval and name of the ethics committee or institutional review board must be cited in the Methods Section. For research involving animals, any potentially derived benefits must be significant in relation to harm suffered by participating animals. Authors should particularly ensure that their research complies with the commonly accepted '3Rs'.

  • Replacement of animals by alternatives wherever possible;
  • Reduction in number of animals used;
  • Refinement of experimental conditions and procedures to minimize the harm to animals.

Clinical Trials Registration

Registration
Pakistan Armed Forces Medical Journal follows the International Committee of Medical
Journal Editors (ICMJE) guidelines which require and recommend registration of clinical trials in a public trials registry at or before the time of first patient enrollment as a condition of consideration for publication. Purely observational studies do not require registration. A clinical trial not only refers to studies that take place in a hospital, but also refer to all studies which involve participant randomization and group classification in the context of the intervention under assessment.

Authors are strongly encouraged to pre-register clinical trials with an international clinical trials register and cite a reference to the registration in the Abstract and Methods section. Suitable databases include; clinicaltrials.gov. Approval to conduct a study from an independent local, regional, or national review body is not equivalent to prospective clinical trial registration. Pakistan Armed Forces Medical Journal reserves the right to decline any paper without trial registration for further peer-review.

CONSORT Statement

Pakistan Armed Forces Medical Journal requires a completed CONSORT 2010 checklist and flow diagram as a condition of submission when reporting the results of a randomized trial. Templates for these can be found here or on the CONSORT website (http://www.consort-statement.org) which also describes several CONSORT checklist extensions for different designs and types of data beyond two group parallel trials. At minimum, your article should report the content addressed by each item of the checklist.

Citation Policies

Authors should ensure that where material is taken from other sources (including their
own published writing), the source is clearly cited and that where appropriate permission is obtained.

  • Authors should not engage in excessive self-citation of their own work.
  • Authors should not copy references from other publications if they have not read the cited work.
  • Authors should not preferentially cite their own or their friends’, peers’, or institution’s publications.
  • Authors should not cite advertisements or advertorial material.
    In accordance with COPE guidelines, the editorial team expects that “original wording taken directly from publications by other researchers should appear in quotation marks with the appropriate citations”. This condition also applies to an author’s own work. COPE have produced a discussion document on citation manipulation with recommendations for best practice.

Ethical Guidelines for Reviewers
For general guidance on completing a review report, see information for reviewers.
The details here cover some specific ethical issues:

  • Contribution to Editorial Decisions
    Peer review assists the editor in making editorial decisions and the editorial communications with the author may assist the author in improving the paper.
  • Promptness
    Any selected referee who feels unqualified to review the research reported in a manuscript or knows that its prompt review will be impossible should notify the editor and excuse himself or herself from the review process.
  • Confidentiality
    Any manuscripts received for review must be treated as confidential documents.They must not be shown to or discussed with others except as authorized by the editor.
  • Standards of Objectivity
    Referees should conduct reviews objectively, express their views clearly with supporting arguments and consider that personal criticism of the author is inappropriate.
  • Acknowledgement of Sources
    Reviewers should identify relevant published work that has not been cited by the authors. Any statement that an observation, derivation, or argument had been previously reported should be accompanied by the relevant citation and a reviewer should also call to the editor's attention any substantial similarity or overlap between the manuscript under consideration and any other published paper of which they have personal knowledge.
  • Potential Conflict of Interests
    According to The International Committee of Medical Journal Editors, “Authors should avoid entering into agreements with study sponsors, both for- profit and non-profit, that interfere with authors’ access to all of the study’s data or that interfere with their ability to analyze and interpret the data and to prepare and publish manuscripts independently when and where they choose”.

    We ask reviewers to inform the journal editor if they hold a conflict of interests that may prejudice the review report, either in a positive or negative way. The Editorial Team will check as far as possible before invitation; however, we appreciate the cooperation of reviewers in this matter. Reviewers who are invited to assess a manuscript they previously reviewed for another journal should not consider this as a conflict of interest in itself.

Ethical Guidelines for Editors
The take responsibility for overseeing the integrity of the editorial process. The following provides details on specific ethical aspects of their role. If the assistant editor has ethical concerns about a manuscript sent for review or decision, or receives information about a possible ethical breach after publication, they must contact the editor as soon as possible. Our Editorial Office will then conduct an investigation according to COPE guidelines.
To support academic editors, checks are made by Editor and Assistant Editors.
However, editors should still report any concerns on any aspect. Checks include:

  • Ethical approval and permissions for research involving human subjects, animals.
  • Plagiarism, duplicate publication, and that necessary permission from the copyright holder to include already-published figures or images.
  • An international clinical trial register for pre-register clinical trials or and to cite a reference to the registration in the Methods Section.
  • Author background and qualification.

    When making a final acceptance decision on a manuscript, academic editors should consider the following:

  • Any facts that might be perceived as a possible conflict of interest of the author(s) must be disclosed in the paper prior to submission.
  • Authors must accurately present their research findings and include an objective discussion of the significance of their findings.
  • Data and methods used in the research need to be presented in sufficient detail in the paper, so that other researchers can replicate the work.

Updating Published Papers
We differentiate between Addendum, Erratum, Corrections and Retractions. Complaints made against papers or requests to update are thoroughly investigated by the Editorial Office with the support of the Editorial Board and final approval by the Editor-in-Chief. Other persons and institutions will be consulted as necessary, including university authorities, or experts in the field.

  • Addendum
    If crucial results (e.g., additional affiliation, clarify some aspect of methods/analysis, etc) were unintentionally omitted from the original publication, the original article can be amended through an Addendum reporting these previously omitted results. The Addendum will be published, with article numbers added, in the current issue of the journal.
  • Erratum
    Errata should be published for scientifically relevant formatting changes, or changes to authorship if the author or contributor list is incorrect when a deserving author has been omitted or somebody who does not meet authorship criteria has been included. Scientifically relevant formatting issues that require an Erratum might include missing or unclear figures, or errors introduced during proofreading (e.g., missing text). Minor errors that do not affect readability or meaning (e.g., spelling or grammatical errors) do not qualify for an Erratum. All authors should proofread the final version carefully.
  • Corrections
    Corrections should be submitted for any scientifically relevant errors in published articles. Any changes may be evaluated by the Assistant Editor. Any changes after publication that affect the scientific interpretation (e.g., changes to a misleading portion of an otherwise reliable publication, an error in a figure, error in data that does not affect conclusions, or addition of missing details about a method) are announced using a Correction. This is a separate publication that links to the original paper, which is updated. A note will also be added to the abstract page, which tells the readers that an updated version was uploaded.
  • Retractions
    Sometimes an article needs to be completely removed from the body of research
    literature. This could be due to inadvertent errors made during the research process, gross ethical breaches, fabrication of data, large amounts of plagiarism, or other reasons. Such articles threaten the integrity of scientific records and need to be retracted. MDPI follows the recommendations of the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) for retraction. Potential Retractions are thoroughly investigated by the Editorial Office with the support of the Editorial Board and final approval by the Editor-in-Chief. Other persons and institutions will be consulted as necessary, including university authorities, or experts in the field. If a Retraction is published, the original publication is amended with a “RETRACTED” watermark, but will still available on the journal’s website for future reference. However, retracted articles should not be cited and used for further research, as they cannot be relied upon. For published articles, the allegedly plagiarized article will be temporarily retracted from publication and a notice to the effect will be published in the PAKISTAN ARMED FORCES MEDICAL JOURNAL. The author will be served an explanation demand and in case of non-response in the stipulated time or unsatisfactory explanation, the article will be permanently retracted and the author will be on watch. The Higher Education Commission, Pakistan Medical Council and author’s institute will also be notified.