Publication Ethics and Malpractice
The Journal of Medical Internet Research is a member of COPE (Committee on Publication Ethics) and JMIR Publications is in the process of converting its journal-level COPE membership into a publisher-level membership for JMIR Publications journals. The entire publication process from submission, review, to publication in all JMIR publications, adheres to the COPE guidelines, and suspected cases of misconduct will be investigated using COPE Flowcharts. Authors are expected to review COPE guidelines to ensure their studies and publications adhere to guidance therein. In addition, all JMIR journals adhere to the guidelines stated in the WMA Helsinki Declaration. Authors may also refer to this discussion regarding ethical issues in qualitative research on the Internet.
JMIR Publications also provides guidance on authorship, retractions, corrections, and publishing malpractices (such as misconduct). For more information on JMIR Publications' ethics policies, please visit our Knowledge Base (KB), here.
Research Using Human Subjects
All JMIR journals require that all studies on human subjects have approval from the Institutional Review Board (IRB) or equivalent body. IRB approval/exemption along with gender and age of all subjects should be clearly stated in all papers involving studies on humans and/or uploaded as supplementary material. The editors reserve the right to request such documentation.
Similarly, authors must acknowledge that informed consent was obtained for studies on humans after the nature and possible consequences of the studies are explained. All JMIR journals require authors to provide a statement that informed consent was obtained from participants in any research involving human subjects. In all JMIR journals, authors of manuscripts describing studies of internet and digital tools and technologies are required to verify that they complied with informed consent guidelines when necessary and have adhered to local, national, regional, and international law and regulations regarding protection of personal information, privacy, and human rights.
Research with Animal Subjects
When reporting experiments on animals, authors must provide a statement that institutional and national guidance for the care and use of laboratory animals was followed.
Conflicts of Interest
A Conflict of Interests section is mandatory for all manuscripts. Conflict of interest exists when an author (or the author's institution), reviewer, or editor has financial or personal relationships that inappropriately influence (bias) his or her actions (such relationships are also known as dual commitments, competing interests, or competing loyalties). These relationships vary from those with negligible potential to those with great potential to influence judgment, and not all relationships represent true conflict of interest. The potential for conflict of interest can exist whether or not an individual believes that the relationship affects his or her scientific judgment. Financial relationships (such as employment, consultancies, stock ownership, honoraria, paid expert testimony) are the most easily identifiable conflicts of interest and the most likely to undermine the credibility of the journal, the authors, and of science itself. However, conflicts can occur for other reasons, such as personal relationships, academic competition, and intellectual passion. In all JMIR journals, conflicts of interest include (but are not limited to) employment at and/or ownership of stocks or stock options in companies whose products/apps/software were evaluated. If no conflicts exist, please write "Conflict of Interests - None declared" (place after "Acknowledgements", before the References section). For further information please read our Knowledge Base article on How does JMIR define a Conflict of Interest (COI)?
When reporting experiments on human subjects, authors should indicate IRB (Institutional Reserch Board, also known as REB) approval/exemption and whether the procedures followed were in accordance with the ethical standards of the responsible committee on human experimentation (institutional and national) and with the Helsinki Declaration of 1975, as revised in 2000 (5). If doubt exists whether the research was conducted in accordance with the Helsinki Declaration, the authors must explain the rationale for their approach, and demonstrate that the institutional review body explicitly approved the doubtful aspects of the study. When reporting experiments on animals, authors should be asked to indicate whether the institutional and national guide for the care and use of laboratory animals was followed.
Consistent with best practices in research, informed consent and the ability of participants to opt out should usually be provided. However, for certain types of research, informed consent cannot be obtained (e.g. analyses of Twitter postings, A/B testing of websites etc). In these cases, the investigator should comment on the criteria proposed by Eysenbach & Till (BMJ 2001) and obtain IRB approval, which is often particularly important for research with mental health e-communities.
Patients have a right to privacy that should not be infringed without informed consent. Identifying information, including patients' names, initials, or hospital numbers, should not be published in written descriptions, photographs, and pedigrees unless the information is essential for scientific purposes and the patient (or parent or guardian) gives written informed consent for publication. Informed consent for this purpose requires that a patient who is identifiable be shown the manuscript to be published.
Identifying details should be omitted if they are not essential. Complete anonymity is difficult to achieve, however, and informed consent should be obtained if there is any doubt. For example, masking the eye region in photographs of patients is inadequate protection of anonymity. If identifying characteristics are altered to protect anonymity, such as in genetic pedigrees, authors should provide assurance that alterations do not distort scientific meaning and editors should so note.
When informed consent has been obtained, it should be indicated in the published article.
Authors should identify individuals who provide writing assistance and disclose the funding source for this assistance.