Adherence to Integrity and Ethical Conduct in Publications by the Authors


Description of the Research
Publication of research paper is a part of responsible conduct of research. Researchers have responsibility to ensure that their publications are honest, accurate, and complete, and should avoid misleading reporting. Intellectual honesty is an essential component of research integrity. The published article should reflect greater transparency on the conduct of the study, hence avoiding unethical practices. The guidelines by Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) emphasizes that all authors must take public responsibility for the content of their paper. In spite of various guidelines it has been observed that there is gap on submission to ethics committee and responsible conduct of research, often evident from such publication. 

This study aims at assessing the adherence to ethical standards and research integrity of authors in publication process through identifying the extent of reporting ethical issues in papers by authors. This is a cross sectional study on published research papers. Original research papers, published in PUBMED indexed journals since January 2012 to December 2014, following a press release of global standards of authors by COPE in December 2011, were included. A total of 60 original research papers from six journals of pharmacology, community medicine, and pediatrics were selected through randomization.

The issues, such as ethics committee approval, informed consent process of the study participants, declaration of conflict of interest, and disclosure of funding sources, were reviewed in order to verify the ethical standards in published paper. The authors took approval from institutional ethics committee.

Results show that approval from institutional ethics committee is mentioned in 61.66% of published papers and the informed consent process has been reported only in 51.66%. Out of those studies in which informed consent process was not mentioned, 11.66% were animal studies. Following press release of COPE on December 2011, disclosure of conflict of interest and funding sources became mandatory for the journals. In this context the adherence was found to be in 93.33% and 96.66% of the publications respectively.

The mandates following the press release of COPE in 2011, are still not being well adhered to by the authors and journal editors. These findings may improve adherence to responsible and ethical conduct of research, and thereby publication by them.

Next Steps
We studied only ethical standards from the published material. The standards of the submission process and editors’ perspectives were not within the scope. We intend to extend the study in a larger sample size and further to assess the knowledge of the researchers in recent developments related to publication ethics.