Epidemiology and Health Services: Brazilian Unified Health System Journal (RESS) is a scientific periodical published by the General Coordination of Epidemiology Development in Health Services, Department of Health Surveillance Management, Health Surveillance Secretariat, Brazilian Ministry of Health (CGDEP/DGVES/SVS/MS).
Its overriding mission is to disseminate epidemiological knowledge applicable to actions for the control and surveillance of diseases of interest to Public Health, with the aim of enhancing the services offered by the Brazilian Unified Health System (SUS).
This statement expresses RESS’ commitment to ethics – as well as the commitment to ethics of all the parties involved in publishing articles in RESS, including authors, external reviewers, the general editor and other editors, the Health Surveillance Secretariat (SVS/MS) and the Brazilian Ministry of Health Press – through the adoption of best practices for scientific publications.
What follows are the main responsibilities of the parties mentioned above.
1. Responsibilities of authors
- Authors should be aware of the full contents of RESS’ instructions for authors. They should submit an adequate report of the work they have done and, when appropriate, they should use reporting guidelines.
- When submitting an article, authors shall warrant that it has not been published previously, or been submitted simultaneously for publication in another periodical.
- If there has been previous publication with contents that are similar to or overlap the contents of the submitted article, the authors shall inform the editors when they submit it and also provide a copy of the similar or overlapping publication.
- RESS follows ICMJE Recommendations, including with regard to authorship criteria. Authorship shall only be attributed to those who have contributed significantly to the study and who meet the ICMJE-defined authorship criteria, including a statement that they are responsible for the contents and the integrity of the entire article. Individuals who have contributed to the article in other ways should be mentioned in the acknowledgements and not be identified as authors. Authors are responsible for giving recognition to the contribution of collaborators in the acknowledgements and for obtaining their consent to do so.
- The corresponding author who submits the article must ensure that all the authors have reviewed the final version of the manuscript and agree with its submission to RESS.
- Authors are responsible for maintaining adequate records of study data and for providing access to them when so required by the editors. RESS encourages authors to deposit databases in appropriate repositories so as to favour their being shared with other researchers.
- Authors shall make sure that all sources have been correctly and fully cited.
- Authors should be aware that any kind of plagiarism or other form of improper scientific conduct, such as data fabrication or misappropriation of ideas or materials, is unacceptable and shall justify rejection of manuscripts at any stage of the editorial process.
- When appropriate, authors shall inform whether a study protocol has been approved by a Research Ethics Committee for studies involving human beings or animals, and whether the study protocol has been deposited as part of the records of clinical trials. When applicable, authors shall state whether informed consent has been obtained from study participants.
- Authors shall declare any potential conflicts of interest that may influence in any way the conducting or reporting of a study, or the authors’ conduct during the editorial processing of the article. For disclosure of such potential conflicts, authors should use the ICMJE disclosure form.
- Authors are expected to inform the editorial group immediately if they identify an error of any nature in their article, at any stage during the editorial process, or even after it has been published. In such situations authors shall cooperate with the editors so that errata or expression of concern can be published or so that a disclaimer can be made with regard to the article if appropriate.
2. Responsibilities of the reviewers
- All external reviewers invited to provide opinions on articles under consideration for publication in RESS are advised to read COPE Ethical Guidelines for Peer Reviewers, the Portuguese version of which is available on RESS’ website.
- Reviewers are expected to agree to review manuscripts about which they have the necessary knowledge to perform an adequate review in a timely manner.
- Reviewers have access to unpublished information and ideas and should therefore use such material exclusively for the purposes of the review process. Authors shall respect confidentiality and not reveal details of the manuscript or the review thereof – except those published in RESS –, during or after the review process. Reviewers should be aware that plagiarism during the review process is considered to be misconduct.
- Information obtained during reviews shall not be used to the personal advantage of reviewers, third parties or organizations, nor to anyone’s disadvantage or disrepute.
- In the same way as authors, reviewers shall declare all potential conflicts of interest and shall seek RESS guidance in the event of doubts as to any relevant conflicts of interest. If such conflicts could influence the assessment of articles, reviewers should not accept the invitation to review them.
- Reviewers should not allow their reviews to be influenced by the origin of the manuscript, or by the nationality, the religious or political beliefs, gender or other characteristics of the authors, or by any commercial interests.
- Reviewers should advise the editors whenever they suspect similarity between the contents of an article under consideration for publication and any other article already published or already submitted for publication by another periodical.
- Reviewers shall be objective and constructive when reviewing articles and avoid being hostile or aggressive or making defamatory or depreciative comments. RESS provides a Guide for reviewing manuscripts which is available on its website.
3. Responsibilities of the editors
- RESS’ editors shall act according to best editorial practices, in addition to supporting initiatives to prevent scientific misconduct and ensure publication ethics.
- The editors shall ensure that all articles under consideration for publication are in accordance with research ethics standards, especially in the case of research involving human beings and animals.
- The editors shall treat all submitted material as being confidential, protecting the identity of the reviewers and the authors, given that RESS uses the double-blind peer review process.
- The editors shall ensure that all published research reports have been adequately reviewed by qualified reviewers (including statistical revision, when necessary).
- The editors shall act ethically in all stages of the editorial process, without discrimination with regard to the origin of the manuscript, the nationality, religious or political beliefs, gender or other characteristics of the authors, or any commercial interests.
- The editors shall have a transparent editorial policy, provide clear instructions to authors, including with regard to the stages of the editorial process and authorship criteria, as well as periodically updating instructions to authors.
- The editors shall provide clear guidance to external reviewers and request them to declare any possible conflicts of interest, prior to the full text of any article being sent to them for assessment. They shall also encourage reviewers to advise as to any suspected plagiarism, duplicated publication or other form of publication misconduct.
- The editors shall select external reviewers who are competent in the thematic areas covered by articles and who prepare good quality and polite opinions in a timely manner.
- The editors shall use tools to detect plagiarism, in order to prevent this form of misconduct and also to prevent duplicated publication.
- The editors shall acknowledge reviewers’ contributions to the journal. RESS will publish its acknowledgement of reviewers in the first edition of the journal published each year.
- The editors shall follow COPE guidelines in cases of suspected publication misconduct, investigate every suspected situation and publish errata, expressions of concern or disclaimers, when appropriate.
- The editors shall enable RESS team members involved in the editorial process, including the editors themselves, to be trained and kept up to date with regard to the most recent guidelines, recommendations and evidence regarding scientific publication.
- The editors shall ensure the editorial autonomy of RESS in relation to its sponsoring institution, namely the Brazilian Ministry of Health’s Health Surveillance Secretariat.