Code of Ethics


This document contains the principles of the code of ethics adopted by the Editorial Teams of the journals published through the AlmaDL Journals service (hereinafter referred to as the ‘Service’ for brevity) that expressly mention it in their policies, referring to this page.

For more information and details, please refer to the policies of each journal.

AlmaDL is committed to periodically updating the code of ethics and the editorial policies of the journals published through the Service, also in the light of new recommendations and guidelines (last update May 2024).

This document is meant to be inclusively addressed to every person working within the scientific community, so the neutral form of the pronouns (they/them) will be used when needed.

The code of ethics for journals published through the AlmaDL Journals service is drafted in compliance with the Guidelines drawn up by the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE), in particular the COPE Core Practices and its principles of transparency and best practice in scientific publications.

This document governs the duties and responsibilities of the various parties involved: Editorial Team, authors and reviewers.

Each Editorial Team, consisting of an Editor-in-Chief and/or Editorial Board and an Editorial Team, independently structures the composition of its bodies and the respective roles involved within the editorial process. Each member of the Editorial Team must be familiar with and apply the ethical principles of this document.

AlmaDL Journals guarantees the publication of each journal in compliance with the principles of the code of ethics and commits to provide the technical tools and infrastructures needed to ensure its application, for example by making available the OJS platform for the proper management of peer review and a system for the detection of plagiarism. The Service monitors the best ethical practices in scientific literature and proposes updates to this document to Editorial Teams, also through dedicated training courses.

1 Ethical oversight

In the context of scientific research activities, various aspects may give rise to ethical concerns, the following are some examples:

  • consent to publication;

  • publications concerning vulnerable groups of the population;

  • ethical methodologies in research involving human and/or animal subjects;

  • management of confidential data and files in the business/marketing sector.

All those who participate, in various capacities and within the scope of their responsibilities in the editorial process, commit to adhere to best practices to prevent or intervene in any ethical issues that may arise from the research activity.

The principles set out in the Declaration of Helsinki should always guide research conducted with the involvement of human subjects (or material and data produced through their involvement), establishing the basic criteria that must be observed to ensure respect for the inalienable rights of every person. Although the declaration originated in the field of medical research, the general lines it indicates can be applied to all areas of research.1

If relevant, research should be approved by a dedicated ethics committee, and authors should include a statement within the article detailing this approval, including the identification number and the name of the committee involved. The identity of research subjects should always be appropriately anonymized where possible. In the case of research involving human subjects, informed consent for participation of individual subjects (or their legal guardians) must be sought and obtained.

2 Peer Review

Peer review, or peer review, is a fundamental tool for the management of quality scientific journals: it ensures the fairness, integrity, transparency and quality of scientific research.

Each journal clearly states in its policies the peer review system adopted and how the process is managed.

Those involved ensure respect for anonymity, confidentiality and fairness in the handling of articles submitted to the journal during all stages of the review process. The confidentiality of any information obtained during professional and research exchanges is also guaranteed; at the end of the review, the reviewers’ reasoned opinion is communicated to the authors.

Please refer to the “Peer Review Process / Peer Review Process” section in the individual journal policies for more information on the type of peer review chosen and how the review process is managed.

2.1 Editorial Team

The Editor-in-Chief and/or Editorial Board takes responsibility for the process and decides to accept or reject the publication of an article based on the relevance and originality of the work, relying on the judgement of highly qualified reviewers.

In addition, the Editor-in-Chief and/or Editorial Board is committed to ensuring the quality of the material published in the journal and has a duty to monitor compliance with the principles of this code of ethics, intervening in cases of violation, even if suspected, of both published and unpublished articles. For more information, see the section Handling of errors and misconducts.

The Editorial Team as a whole operates in accordance with the policies published on the journal’s website; it ensures that appropriate and competent reviewers are selected to evaluate articles and is committed to ensuring that the refereeing process is fair, impartial and timely. It commits to promptly notify the reviewers of any exceptions and deviations from the editorial policies and to promptly inform the author of the reasons for any refusal.

The Editorial Team is committed to providing authors with suggestions regarding the accuracy, completeness and clarity of the presentation of their research, as well as editorial guidance regarding the application of editorial standards.

The Editorial Team ensures the integrity of the peer review process: when provided, it endeavours to keep the identity of authors and/or reviewers anonymous and ensures that the confidentiality and privacy of articles submitted to the journal is preserved. The confidentiality of any information obtained during professional and research exchanges, e.g. the status of a given proposal, is also guaranteed. The Editorial Team is committed to the long-term preservation of review records.

Finally, the Editorial Team assesses the scientific content of articles regardless of the gender, sexual orientation, religious faith, ethnic origin, citizenship and political orientation of the authors. Every decision taken by the Editorial Team is made within the law’s constraints, particularly regarding copyright infringement, plagiarism and defamation.

The Editorial Team is responsible for preventing conflicts of interest from compromising the integrity of the peer review. The Editorial Team undertakes to request declarations of any conflicts of interest from authors, reviewers and other members of the Editorial Team. For a more extensive discussion of this topic, see the Conflicts of interest section.

According to the COPE guidelines on the necessity of applying changes to reviewers’ comments, it is expected that the Editorial Team, in the case of reviews using inappropriate tone or language, may apply corrections to reviews resulting from the peer review process. Reviewers must be informed of any changes or apply the necessary changes themselves, without in any way altering the professional opinion that has previously emerged from the recommendation.

The Editorial Team also endeavour to publish corrections, clarifications, retractions and apologies when necessary, see the section on Handling of errors and misconducts.

2.2 Reviewers

In compliance with the COPE ethical guidelines for peer reviewers, the following are some of the duties and responsibilities of reviewers.

Reviewers should only accept the assignment if they think they have the necessary expertise to complete the review of a particular article and should abstain if they do not, so that another reviewer can be involved by the Editorial Team.

Reviewers should only accept the assignment if they think they can return the review within the agreed time frame. If the deadline cannot be met, the Editorial Team should be informed in good time to reduce the impact on the editorial flow and not risk damaging the author.

Reviewers are provided with assistance and guidance on everything related to their work, including the need to maintain the confidentiality of received materials.

Reviewers must respect the confidentiality of the peer review process: information or ideas obtained during this process are confidential and may not be used for their own benefit in any way.

Reviewers are asked to use appropriate language and refrain from personally criticizing the author. Instead, they are asked to make constructive recommendations with the aim of helping the authors improve their work.

Reviewers are required to declare any potential conflict of interest before accepting the text review. See section Conflicts of interest.

Reviewers are encouraged to comment on the originality of the text and monitor the possible presence of similar publications or any instances of plagiarism. They will alert the Editorial Team to the emergence of intellectual property issues, plagiarism or any possible doubts about existing intellectual property legislation or conventions. They should also notify the Editorial Team of any ethical problems that are detected, see the section on Handling of errors and misconducts.

Finally, reviewers should help collaborate in identifying possible relevant publications that have not been cited by the authors.

2.3 Authors

Authors assume responsibility for the articles they submit to the journal, particularly by guaranteeing their originality. See more details in the Authors’ commitments and attribution of authorship section.

Authors must always declare the sources used and provide full details of the citations of the works on which their research is based. Authors are asked to provide raw data related to the work submitted to the journal for the editorial process, and to retain it for a reasonable time after publication of the text, ensuring its accessibility. See the Data Policy of the AlmaDL Journals service.

Manuscripts of articles proposed for evaluation should normally not be submitted to other journals for publication.

If stipulated by the journal, authors are required to anonymize submitted files to preserve the integrity of the peer review process.

Authors are required to declare the use of artificial intelligence software, if any, in the terms and manner specified in the section about the Use of generative artificial intelligence.

Authors are asked to comply with the editorial standards provided by the journal, thus ensuring accuracy in the drafting of their text and editorial cleanliness, completeness and clarity of the argumentative structure.

Authors are required to declare any potential conflict of interest when submitting a proposal. See the dedicated section Conflicts of interest.

Following the outcome of the peer review, authors may ask for explanations and challenge the editors’ decision. At the same time, they guarantee full cooperation with the Editorial Team in the event of problems. See section Procedures for publicizing the post-publication debate.

Authors who have benefited from the peer review process are invited to consider becoming reviewers themselves, as part of their professional responsibilities and to contribute to the sustainability of the peer review process in scientific communication.

3 Conflicts of interest

Conflicts of interest occur when a secondary interest somehow interferes with the selection, peer review and publication process of an article in a journal. Such secondary interests may be financial, institutional or personal, and concern authors, reviewers, the Editor-in-Chief and/or Editorial Board of a journal and the whole Editorial Team.

3.1 Editorial Team

The Editorial Team, based on COPE’s guidelines and indications, is committed to ensure that there are no conflicts of interest or disputes involving members of Editorial Team or the Editorial Board with any of the authors, reviewers, institutions and companies in any way connected with the articles submitted to the journal.

The Editorial Team is also committed to the correct and transparent management of any conflicts of interest that involve it directly or indirectly.

If members of the Editorial Team encounter a conflict of interest that concerns them in any way, they commit to declare it and abstain from the process of selecting and publishing the article in question.

The Editorial Team commits to request a declaration of any possible conflicts of interest from reviewers and authors prior to publication, so that any exclusion of a reviewer or recommendation arising from the review process can be considered, to ensure an impartial assessment.

If the Editorial Team is informed of a possible conflict of interest following publication, they will investigate the situation with the full cooperation of the authors and reviewers, considering informing the institutions of origin of the parties involved. The Editorial Team, following their investigation, will assess the seriousness of the omission by the author or reviewer, publishing a letter of clarification for readers or resorting to post-publication corrections and, in the most serious cases, retraction. See section Handling of errors and misconducts.

The following are some examples that could give rise to a conflict of interest. Each Editorial Team is called upon to assess the existence of an actual conflict of interest based on statements made by the parties involved:

  • a member of the Editorial Board or Editorial Team has an ongoing collaboration or personal relationship with an author that does not allow for an impartial selection of the article;

  • a member of the Editorial Board or Editorial Team holds or has recently obtained grants or funding involving an author;

  • a member of the Editorial Board or the Editorial Team works or has worked in the same institution as the author.

3.2 Reviewers

Reviewers are asked to declare any possible conflicts of interest, e.g. arising from competitive research funding, collaborative relationships or links to authors, institutions or companies related in any way to the contribution in question. In the case of mutually anonymous peer review (also known as double-blind), reviewers are asked to declare any possible recognition of the author, which may occur, for instance, in particularly specialized subject areas.

Reviewers are invited to report, also anonymously, any cases of conflicts of interest and to cooperate with the Editorial Team in the transparent handling of any conflicts of interest that may arise after the peer review process.

The following are some examples that could give rise to a conflict of interest. Each Editorial Team is called upon to assess the existence of an actual conflict of interest situation based on statements made by the parties involved:

  • the reviewer recognizes the identity of a contributor and has a personal relationship with the author, so that an objective assessment of the article is not possible;

  • the reviewer collaborates or has recently collaborated with the author of the article under review;

  • author and reviewer work or have recently worked at the same institution or organization;

  • the reviewer is writing a contribution that is very similar to or deals with the same subject as the contribution under review.

3.3 Authors

Authors must declare any financial, institutional or personal conflicts of interest immediately upon submission to the journal.

In cases where use of the OJS platform is involved in the process, authors at the submission stage are required to complete the dedicated checklist item declaring potential conflicts or their absence.

In accordance with the principles of transparency, any declaration may be made public at the same time as the publication of the contribution, so that readers are informed.

Authors are required to declare the sources of funding for research projects and article development. Each type of funding should be made explicit within the article, usually in the notes or acknowledgments section, and in the descriptive metadata.

Authors are asked to cooperate with the Editorial Team in the transparent handling of any conflicts of interest that may arise after publication: serious omissions, detected by the Editorial Team, may lead to post-publication corrections or, in the most serious cases, to retraction. See section Handling of errors and misconducts.

4 Intellectual property and copyright

The Editorial Team guarantees compliance with intellectual property regulations pursuant to Italian Law No. 633 of 22 April 1941 throughout the editorial process, committing to correctly attribute authorship of each article published in the journal.

Journals are published Open Access through the Service and each journal adopts a Creative Commons licence for its content, which facilitates access, dissemination and re-use of content. The descriptive metadata of each issue and article such as titles, abstracts and bibliographic references are released in the public domain under the terms of the CC0 1.0 Universal licence.

The Editorial Team commits to make the journal’s Creative Commons license explicit in the “Open Access Policy” section of the information page and the “Copyright Notice” section on the article submission page.

The Editorial Team commits to include in each article, on the site and in the individual publication files, the correct indication of copyright and Creative Commons license.

The Service guarantees the publication of journals according to a Diamond Open Access model such that publication costs are covered by the institutions that support the journals. Any additional publication costs are clearly indicated in the section “Publication costs” in the policies of each journal.

The Service supports Editorial Teams in the proper handling of copyright of texts and images, particularly offering a professional system for plagiarism detection, also providing guidelines and a model release form. Any infringements of intellectual property rights will be handled on the basis of the Handling of errors and misconducts.

Finally, the Service ensures the monitoring and preservation of published content over time through the attribution of DOIs to the articles and through specific archiving agreements.

5 Authors’ commitments and attribution of authorship

In the submission phase, the authors commit to propose an original work, which makes an innovative contribution in its own disciplinary field and does not describe research results already published elsewhere. Furthermore, the authors are committed not to reuse parts of their own previous work and if the work is not unpublished, they are obliged to report this in good time. Finally, the authors will avoid submitting the same text to more than one journal at the same time, otherwise they will clearly inform the Editorial Team.

The authors guarantee the correct attribution of authorship to every person involved in the process of writing the contribution and undertake to correctly cite all sources on which the work is based. The authors warrant that they have obtained permission to use third-party works included in their contribution, including, for example, images, for which they take full responsibility. In the event of the use of images obtained using Generative Artificial Intelligence, please refer to the section Use of generative artificial intelligence.

The Corresponding Author is the author who submits the article to the journal and is the main contact with the Editorial Team. The author must identify every contributor who has contributed significantly and substantially, ensuring that none of the co-authors are excluded and that their authorship is correctly attributed. The Corresponding Author also ensures that all co-authors are correctly included and described in the article submission to the journal. Finally, the Corresponding Author must ensure that all co-authors have seen and approved the final version of the article by consenting to publication.

If, following publication, the authors identify an error or inaccuracy in their article, they are obliged to promptly notify the Editorial Team and cooperate with them in correcting the article. See the section on Handling of errors and misconducts.

The Editorial Team commits to follow the flowcharts prepared by COPE for handling requests to add or remove authors to a proposal or an already published article. The Editorial Team monitors and intervenes in the case of suspected authorship issues such as author swapping, removal, ghost writing, etc.

The authors also commit to FAIR management of the research data associated with the contribution submitted to the journal. See the Data Policy of the AlmaDL Journals service.

6 Procedures for publicizing the post-publication debate

Each Editorial Team commits to create spaces for the enhancement of the scientific debate following the publication of the journal’s contributions, including the possibility of publishing notes, letters or response articles. In this regard, the Editorial Team may employ tools to foster debate following publication, such as the creation of public events and initiatives, or the provision of special sections on the journal’s website.

All readers can send their contributions and thoughts to the Editorial Team by writing to the main address in the ‘Contact’ section on the journal’s website.

7 Handling of errors and misconducts

Authors, reviewers and third parties are encouraged to report any problems, errors or deviations from ethical standards to the main editorial contact listed in each journal. If involved in the verification of potential problems, they will always be contacted and will always have the right to express their opinion, responding promptly and accurately to enquiries.

The Editorial Team and the Service will act promptly in the event of errors and negligence, whether suspected or proven. They will carefully check every report or complaint, whether from authors, reviewers or third parties, even anonymously, provided they are substantiated. In doing so, they will follow the recommendations, guidelines and flowcharts provided by COPE.

Possible deviations from the Code of Ethics include, for example:

  • appropriation of others’ works and ideas, i.e. plagiarism and copyright infringement;

  • alterations and incorrect information regarding authorship, such as omissions or undue additions between authors;

  • errors, manipulations and fraud in data and research results;

  • lack of transparency on possible conflicts of interest for the various parties involved;

  • violation of anonymity and confidentiality in the peer review process;

  • manipulation, bias and inappropriate behaviour during the editorial flow;

  • ethical issues concerning the conduct of research;

  • republication of already edited research and attempts to manipulate citations.

These and other cases will be handled whether they are due to errors, oversights and distraction, or whether they originate from bad faith and deliberate acts.

The Editorial Team, in cooperation with the Service, will take all necessary steps to investigate and correct the deviation from the Code of Ethics and quality standards.

7.1 Corrections and corrections to published material

The Editorial Team, in cooperation with the Service, will be able to work on the already published material following the criteria of transparency and accountability, referring in this to the guidelines and flowcharts prepared by COPE as well as to the criteria indicated by Crossref for CrossMark.

Interventions may take the form of correction notes (erratum or corrigendum), addenda, letters of explanation or expressions of concern.

The Editor-in-Chief and/or Editorial Board will consider, in agreement with the author and in cooperation with the Service, proceeding with notes or notices:

  • corrigendum, to indicate a correction resulting from errors already present in the original manuscript or otherwise the responsibility of the author;

  • erratum, to indicate a correction resulting from errors in the editorial process;

  • addendum, to indicate an addition of relevant content whose absence does not invalidate the scientific result.

In all cases, the published article may also be corrected directly in the article’s publication file (Version of Record), preserving the original version and indicating the date of correction and a reference to the notice of corrigendum/erratum/addendum, which will be made public at the same time as the correction. The notice will be published in the first useful ordinary issue and temporarily via the announcements function. The notice will contain a precise description of the reasons for the correction and the changes that have occurred.

The only permissible exceptions to the obligation to notify changes to publication files concern minor typographical errors that do not alter the scientific content or identifying elements of the material.

Letters of explanation and expressions of concern are tools available to authors, Editorial Teams and third parties to publicize criticisms and deviations from the Code of Ethics, even without corrections.

The Editor-in-Chief and/or Editorial Board assesses the publication of these letters based on the appropriateness of their content (e.g. avoiding defamatory content or ambiguous and unproven accusations).

7.2 Retraction of a work

In the most serious cases, a published article may be retracted, either temporarily or permanently. A temporary retraction may be decided in the event of significant errors in the description and/or representation of data, brought to the attention of the Editorial Team and/or authors after publication. In such cases, the Editor-in-Chief and/or Editorial Board asks the authors to resolve these issues and submit a new version of the article. If the authors are willing to do so, the new version of the article is treated as a new submission and subjected to a new round of peer review. The published article is replaced by a temporary retraction note signed by the editors and/or authors and containing a link to the original article. The original article is kept unaltered and marked “Not Cited / Not Quotable” for transparency reasons. The new article, if accepted, is published as soon as possible in a subsequent issue of the journal; if the new article is not accepted or the authors decide not to submit it or to withdraw it, then the retraction becomes definitive.

A retraction is always final in cases resulting from serious violations of the Code of Ethics and deliberate acts in bad faith; in such cases the retraction is adopted by the journal’s Editor-in-Chief and/or Editorial Board following investigation of the case and communicated to the authors. The original article is retained unaltered and marked “Retracted” for the sake of transparency, except in cases where its retention online may pose a risk to the journal and the Service or harm to third parties, such as in the case of extensive copyright infringement or defamatory content. In all cases, a retraction notice shall be published, stating the reasons for the decision and the date on which it was made. The notice will be published in the first useful ordinary file and temporarily via the announcements function.

8 Use of generative artificial intelligence

Considering recent developments in the field of generative Artificial Intelligence (hereafter generative AI), the Service recognizes the importance of a principle of transparency and the need to define good practices in the use of such tools.

In this paper, the term Generative Artificial Intelligence is used to describe tools that produce text and/or images based on input sentences (or prompts); any research methodologies based generically on artificial intelligence such as machine learning (which is however required to be appropriately stated and documented) are not considered.

These guidelines serve as a reference for managing the use of such tools, divided according to their role in the process and the editorial phase in which they are used.

Aware that the topic is currently the subject of a wide-ranging and complex debate (which cannot be exhausted within the scope of these guidelines), the AlmaDL Journals service and the Editorial Team commit to progressively update these guidelines in the light of the technological and ethical developments that will affect the technologies available to the scientific community.

8.1 Editorial Team

The Editorial Team, in the various stages of proposal management, commits not to upload the manuscripts received into software using generative AI, so as not to risk compromising privacy, copyright and any sensitive data.

The Editorial Team is committed to applying best practices of transparency when handling contributions that use content produced through generative AI, particularly by requiring authors to make a dedicated declaration within articles.

8.2 Reviewers

Each reviewer in the proposal evaluation phase commits not to load the manuscripts received into software using generative AI, with the following reasons in mind:

  • privacy, copyright and any sensitive data could be compromised in the process;

  • Generative AIs do not have the criteria for any form of authorial responsibility, which is required for writing a text such as a peer review;

  • Generative AI models, particularly if trained on data whose sources cannot be reconstructed, may be tainted by forms of prejudices that would pollute the peer review process, inserting biases into the evaluation that can be difficult to identify.

8.3 Authors

Generative AI tools do not meet the requirements for authorship, as they do not constitute themselves as legal entities. Software based on generative AI cannot legally declare the presence or absence of conflicts of interest, nor consciously manage the copyright on works. For these reasons, responsibility for the content produced and any possible consequences resulting from the publication of contributions remains with the authors.

Authors who have used one or more generative AI tools in drafting a contribution (even partially) must indicate this at the submission stage. The statement must explicitly include all the information that may be useful in documenting the methodological process adopted and an even minimal reproducibility of the result, i.e.: the name and version of the software used; the date of use; the terms used (prompt) to generate the result; the purpose.

With regard to the inclusion in the texts of images produced with the support of generative AI technologies, as things stand at present (and in the absence of information on the databases through which the generation took place) they are to be considered as material already protected by copyright: it is therefore recommended to adopt the same precautions as for the use of images already published under restrictive licenses. However, it remains advisable to make use of images generated by means of these tools only if strictly necessary for research purposes (e.g. for demonstration or methodological needs).

  1. as summarised by Delon Human and Sev S. Fluss (2001): “Even though the Declaration of Helsinki is the responsibility of the World Medical Association, the document should be considered the property of all humanity.”↩︎