Objectives and Scope

This policy covers complaints and concerns about published papers.

This includes, but is not limited to, factual inaccuracies, concerns about data fabrication and falsification, plagiarism, and any other form of research misconduct or breaches of the Australian code for responsible conduct of research 2018 or the equivalent guidelines applicable to the authors.

This policy does not apply to legitimate scientific disagreements which are best answered through scholarly rebuttal.

Grounds for Complaints

Concerns and complaints must have reasonable grounds, including but not limited to:

  1. Evidence of factual inaccuracies,

  2. Data fabrication or falsification,

  3. Plagiarism, and/or

  4. Any other form of research misconduct or questionable research practices.

Complaints that do not have reasonable grounds or are assessed to be vexatious complaints may be dismissed without taking further action. A vexatious complaint may be characterised by any of the following characteristics, as assessed in accordance with this policy:

  1. Is motivated by malice or vindictiveness,

  2. Is intended solely or primarily to damage the reputation of a person, the journal, or the publisher,

  3. Is otherwise intended to harass, bully, annoy, or waste the time of a person, the journal, or the publisher, and/or

  4. Could not reasonably be expected to be resolved by an editor, the journal, or the publisher.

In assessing whether a complaint is groundless or vexatious, a complainant’s history of groundless or vexatious complaints (where applicable), may be considered. Because groundless or vexatious complaints may be intended to waste time, these complaints may be dismissed without response.

Procedure for Complaints

In the first instance, concerns should be addressed to the corresponding author of the paper.

If this is not practical or there is no response, concerns can be submitted to the Editor-in-Chief or [email protected].

Concerns can also be posted as issues to the Neuroanatomy and Behaviour Github repository, to facilitate transparency.

Comments on pubpeer are not monitored. However, links to pubpeer comments can be included in complaint emails or Github issues.

Readers may report concerns or make complaints anonymously.

Complaint Screening

Complaints and appeals will be screened for a reasonable basis and, if required, forwarded to the editor who handled the manuscript and/or the Editor-in-Chief. Complaints about the Editor-in-Chief will be handled by the publisher. For complaints where there is a scientific basis, but no reasonable likelihood that an editorial notice is required, the complainant will be invited to submit a commentary article for publication.

Editorial Review and Investigation

The Editor-in-Chief and/or a Research Integrity Editor will review the complaint and collect evidence from the complainant and the article’s history. In accordance with guidelines from the Committee on Publication Ethics, the authors will be given an opportunity to respond.

If the authors do not respond or do not provide a satisfactory response, their institution(s) will be contacted.

Where practical, the Editor-in-Chief and/or Research Integrity Editor may investigate the concerns, in consultation with relevant experts and other editors.

Possible Outcomes

During the investigation, the editors may publish an Expression of Concern.

Based on the author’s response or the outcome of an institutional investigation or investigation by the editors:

  1. Complaint dismissal, where no further action is required,

  2. Correction to the published paper following honest error that does not seriously compromise the paper,

  3. Retraction of the paper following honest error, which may be accompanied by an invitation to submit a corrected version for priority processing,

  4. Retraction of the paper where concerns cannot be resolved due to findings of misconduct or no progress towards resolution has been made in over 6 months.

Drafting of editorial notices will follow the procedures outlined in our policy on Corrections, Expressions of Concern, Retractions.

All Decisions are Final

Unless an obvious error or omission has occurred during the complaints or appeals process, all decisions are final.

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