Publishing ethics & research integrity
European Journal of Family Business (EJFB) is a member of the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) since 2021 (number JM15455), which offers education, resources, and support to its members, and fosters wider professional debate around publishing ethics. COPE provides ethical guidelines and codes of conduct for publishers, journal editors, and reviewers. It also provides a forum for members to discuss individual cases.
Publishing ethics relate to the integrity of the publication process itself. Publishing ethics and research integrity help to ensure high-quality publications, public trust in research findings, and that people receive credit for their work. Everyone involved in the publication process should promote fairness and equality, avoid bias and discrimination, protect the integrity of the academic record, respect the confidentiality of others, and be open about competing interests.
Research ethics & research integrity
Research ethics are specifically concerned with the ethical issues that may arise when conducting research involving animals or human subjects, while research integrity means conducting research according to high professional and ethical standards, so that the results are trustworthy.
Research studies with people
All research involving people carries some degree of risk. Even if the risk is very small or even negligible, it is important to consider if the research raises issues related to privacy, equality, diversity, health and safety. Therefore, a researcher must consider the ethical implications of any work that:
- Has the potential to damage the mental or physical health of human participants or others who may be affected.
- Has the potential to jeopardize the safety of people affected by the research (e.g., volunteers working in sensitive situations).
- Has the potential to compromise the privacy of individuals whose data is involved in the work.
- Involves methods (e.g., genetic research, interviews, questionnaires, randomised control trial) or subject matter (e.g. recreational and controlled drugs, human impact on the environment) that are sensitive and therefore need to be managed consistently with recognized standards.
- Has the potential for environmental impact.
- Carries risk of an actual or perceived conflict of interest.
Data from human participants
According to the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) data derived from human participants includes:
- The use of secondary research data, and human data and records (e.g., genetic, financial, personnel, criminal, or administrative records).
- Samples taken from participants such as blood samples and DNA.
- The collection and/or analysis of data collected through the use of sensors and other digital ‘tracking’ tools or other online generated content.
Unless exempt, all research involving human participants or the collection and/or use of their data requires ethical approval, which must have been obtained before research is carried out. Research that involve the use of personal data also requires ethical approval, which should be documented in the submission.
By making the submission, authors must include in the 'Title Page' and ethical statement that should include the approval number, the date of approval, and the name and localition of the ethics committee or institutional review board. If the paper is accepted for publication, this information should be stated in the article. The following is an example of an ethical approval:
Ethical statement. This study was approved by the NAME OF ETHICS COMMITTEE OR INSTITUTIONAL REVIEW BOARD (APPROVAL NUMBER/ID NUMBER) on APPROVAL DATE.
Ethical approval is not necessary in cases like these:
- Research involving information freely available in the public domain, e.g., published biographies, newspaper accounts of an individual's activities and published minutes of a meeting. Whilst still personal data under the Data Protection Act would not require ethical approval.
- Research involving anonymised records and data sets that exist in the public domain, e.g., datasets available through the Office for National Statistics where appropriate permissions have already been obtained and it is not possible to identify individuals from the information provided.
- Studies of public behaviour that are purely observational (non-invasive and non-interactive) unless the recorded observations identify individuals (names, photographs) which could place them at risk of harm, stigma, or prosecution.
- Research involving the use of non-sensitive, completely anonymous educational tests and surveys when the participants are not defined as "vulnerable" and participation will not induce undue psychological stress or anxiety.
- Research involving the use of educational tests, surveys, and interview procedures on human participants in the public arena (e.g. elected or appointed public officials, candidates for public office, artists).
- Taste and food quality evaluation and consumer acceptance studies, if the food consumed is wholesome without additives or contains a food ingredient, agricultural, chemical, or environmental contaminant, for a purpose and at a level declared safe by the relevant national food safety agency.
In any case, although ethical approval is not a requirement in studies that use surveys and questionnaires such as those described above, written consent should be sought wherever possible. All relevant privacy protections related to disclosure of subjects' identities must also be strictly maintained. It should indicate the protocols to protect the rights and privacy of all participants that were used during the execution of the research.
Informed consent is widely accepted as the cornerstone of ethical practice in research that involves human participants or personal data. It entails providing participants with clear information about the purpose of the study, what their participation will involve, what the requirements and risks of the study are, how their data will be used and if the anonymity of participants is guaranteed, and how their data will be stored and used in the long-term. The informed consent process should stress that participation is voluntary and can be ended at any point during the research.
Written consent should be sought wherever possible. Written consent provides an auditable record that will prove useful in the event of a dispute or questions arising later regarding the use or storage of data. Written consent does not necessarily require a hard copy or electronic signature. For online surveys or other digital data collection, appropriate ways should be sought to ensure that participants explicitly signal their consent (e.g. by explicitly ticking an “I agree” box).
Where the research involves sensitive issues (such as questions of ethnicity, sexual behaviour, health, political beliefs, or illegal behaviour), then special attention should clearly be paid to ensuring that the participants are fully informed ahead of time of the nature of the research and are given ample time to think before deciding whether or not to become involved. They should also be reminded during the study that they are free to discontinue their participation at any point.
Particular attention also needs to be paid to the confidentiality and data management. An important part of informed consent is that participants should be aware of what will happen to the data that is collected during the study, what arrangements will be made to keep participants’ identities secret and the data confidential.
When informed consent has been obtained, it should be indicated in the article. An example is the following:
Ethical statement. The authors confirm that informed consent was obtained from all participants involved in the study.
All participants have the right for their participation to remain confidential in that only the researcher will be aware of who has participated. Personal data included in any part of the paper and in any supplementary materials must be removed unless authors have written permission from participants. There are exceptions, for instance where participants wish to be identified or they cannot realistically have their identities kept confidential, but written informed consent must be obtained from the individual participant in advance. Below is an example of ethical statement:
Ethical statement. The authors confirm that data collection for the research was conducted anonymously and there was not possibility of identifying the participants.
Content generated by artificial intelligence (AI)
Where authors use generative artificial intelligence (AI) and AI-assisted technologies such as ChatGPT and others based on large language models cannot be considered capable of initiating an original piece of research without direction by human authors. These technologies cannot be accountable for a published work or for research design, which is a generally held requirement of authorship, nor do they have legal standing or the ability to hold or assign copyright. Therefore—in accordance with COPE’s position statement on AI tools—these tools cannot fulfill the role of, nor be listed as, an author of an article. As COPE assert (par. 2, 2023):
"AI tools cannot meet the requirements for authorship as they cannot take responsibility for the submitted work. As non-legal entities, they cannot assert the presence or absence of conflicts of interest nor manage copyright and license agreements".
If authors have used this kind of tools to develop any portion of their manuscript, its use must be described, transparently in the paper. The author is fully responsible for the accuracy of any information provided by the tool and for correctly referencing any supporting work on which that information depends.
APA style has already offered a structured format for describing the use of ChatGPT or other AI tools, incorporating in-text citations, and providing proper references. Here is an example offered by APA for describing the use of ChatGPT, along with in-text citation and referencing:
“When prompted with “Is the left brain right brain divide real or a metaphor?” the ChatGPT-generated text indicated that although the two brain hemispheres are somewhat specialized, “the notation that people can be characterized as ‘left-brained’ or ‘right-brained’ is considered to be an oversimplification and a popular myth” (OpenAI, 2023).
OpenAI (2023). ChatGPT (Mar 14 version) [Large language model]. https://chat.openai.com/chat”
Source: McAdoo, T. (2023, April 7). How to cite ChatGPT. APA Style. Retrieved at: https://apastyle.apa.org/blog/how-to-cite-chatgpt
Statement on the use of generative AI
Authors must disclose the use of generative AI and AI-assisted technologies in the research process by adding a statement at the end of their manuscript, before the References list. The statement should be placed in a section entitled ‘Statement on the use of generative AI ’. Authors must provide details like the model, version, date of use, and user’s name for thorough transparency. An example of a declaration on the use of generative AI and AI-assisted technologies is the following:
Statement on the use of generative AI: During the preparation of this work the author(s) used [NAME TOOL / SERVICE] in order to [REASON]. After using this tool/service, the author(s) reviewed and edited the content as needed and take(s) full responsibility for the content of the publication.
Publishing ethics are guidelines for publishers, authors, editors, and reviewers. The issues go broader than research ethics and integrity, to include authorship, plagiarism, duplicate submissions or publication, competing interests, submissions from paper mills, use of artificial intelligence (AI), bias and breaches of confidentiality in peer review.
Conflicts of interest
EJFB requires that all authors, reviewers, and editors disclose any potential sources of confict of interest that could inappropriately influence (bias) their work. Any financial or otherwise interest as well as any personal, commercial or other relationships that might be perceived as influencing objectivity is considered a potential source of conflict of interest.
The existence of a conflict of interest does not preclude publication in this journal. However, authors must declare any conflicts of interest on submission. If there are no interests to declare, please write: 'Declaration of interest: none' in the 'Title page'.
Reviewers or editors who have a conflict of interest they feel will mak the aunable to provide an unbiased assessment of a manuscript should decline to review or edit it. Any conflict of interest for a reviewer or editor should be declared to the Editor-in-Chief.
Duplicate submission and publication
Submission of a manuscript implies that that work has not been published previously (see 'COPE's Redundant (duplicate) publication in a published article' for more information), that it is not under consideration for publication elsewhere, that its publication is approved by all authors and tacitly or explicitly by the responsible authorities where the work was carried out.
EJFB is a member of CrossCheck, and reserves the right to screen all submitted articles against the CrossCheck database through Ithenticate plagiarism checking software, used to identify overlaps between submissions and previously published works.
EJFB is a member of COPE and will follow the principles and recommendations of COPE in the event of any alleged research or publication misconduct, including plagiarism or fabrication or falsification of results. Where necessary retractions, corrections or expressions of concern will be issued in order to maintain the integrity of the publication record.
Responsabilities of authors, reviewers, and editors
Duties of authors
Authors must guarantee their manuscripts are product of their effort and that data are obtained in an ethical manner. The manuscript must be original, not previously published or accepted for publication in another place or in another language. Underlying data should be represented accurately in the paper. A paper should contain sufficient detail and references to permit others to replicate the work. Fraudulent or knowingly inaccurate statements constitute unethical behaviour and are unacceptable. Submitting the same manuscript to more than one journal concurrently also constitutes unethical publishing behavior. If the manuscript contains information, which overlap with the previously published works, in press, or under deliberation for publication, the author must cite this work. When authors decide to submit the manuscript to another journal, corresponding author must request EJFB Direction to withdraw the manuscript.
Authorship of the paper
Authorship should be limited to those who have made a significant contribution to the conception, design, execution, or interpretation of the reported study. All those who have made significant contributions should be listed as co-authors. Where there are others who have participated in certain substantive aspects of the research project, they should be acknowledged or listed as contributors. Acquisition of funding, provision of facilities, or supervising the research group of authors without additional contribution are not usually sufficient justifications for authorship.
The corresponding author should ensure that all co-authors are included on the paper, and that all co-authors have seen and approved the final version of the paper and have agreed to its submission for publication to EJFB.
For transparency, we encourage authors to submit an ‘Author contribution' statement outlining their individual contributions to the paper using the CRediT roles. CRediT (Contributor Roles Taxonomy) was introduced with the intention of recognizing individual author contributions, reducing authorship disputes and facilitating collaboration.
Originality and plagiarism
All published articles in EJFB are expected to offer scientific improvements in the fields of family business, entrepreneurial family, and allied fields. Authors of original research should present an accurate account of the work performed as well as an objective discussion of its significance. Evidence and underlying data should be represented accurately in the manuscript.
A paper should contain sufficiently detailed references to permit others to reconstruct its argument. Fraudulent or knowingly inaccurate statements constitute unethical behavior and are unacceptable. Third party information and results cannot be used without explicit and authorized mention of the source. It is responsibility of the authors to obtain the necessary permissions for the images with copyright.
The manuscript must be free from any kind of plagiarism, falsification, or fabrications. Authors should minimize recycling their previous writings and clearly cite them. Such self-referencing should be phrased carefully to avoid compromising the double-blind review process. Plagiarism or self-plagiarism is an automatic reason for rejection of the manuscript.
The articles are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License CC-BY-NC-SA. For more information, please visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0
Data access and retention
Authors need to guarantee that all data in the submitted paper are real and accurate. They should be prepared to provide public access to such data, and should in any event be prepared to retain such evidence and data for a reasonable time after publication.
EJFB encourages authors to deposit their research data (data underlying publications considered as a basis for reasoning, discussion, or calculation) in their institutional repositories or open access thematic repositories (e.g., repositories within the European Open Science Cloud initiative - EOSC).
The use of generative AI in the writing process
Where authors use generative AI and AI-assisted technologies in the writing process, these technologies should only be used to improve readability and language of the work. Applying the technology should be done with human oversight and control and authors should carefully review and edit the result. The authors are ultimately responsible and accountable for the contents of the paper.
In any case, authors should disclose in their manuscript the use of AI and AI-assisted technologies if they have been used to develop any portion of the paper (see section, Content generated by artificial intelligence - AI)
Acknowledgement of sources
Proper acknowledgment of the work of others must always be given. Authors should cite publications that have been influential in determining the scholarly understanding of the question under study.
All sources of financial support for the research project and publications must be disclosed.
Conflict of interest
Authors should avoid any kind of conflicts of interest or the presence of conflicts of interest throughout the research process.
Information obtained in the course of confidential services, such as refereeing manuscripts or grant applications, must not be used without the explicit written permission of the author of the work involved in these services.
Peer review process
Authors are obliged to participate in the peer review process. Authors should respect the confidentiality of that process. The corresponding author who submits a manuscript must inform all the co-authors of the submission process and the results of the review.
Fundamental errors in published works
When an author discovers a significant error or inaccuracy in his/her own published work, it is the author's obligation to promptly notify EJFB Direction and to collaborate with the journal to retract or correct the paper.
Duties of reviewers
Peer review of manuscripts assists editors in making editorial decisions and through the editorial communications with the author may also assist authors in improving the paper. Peer review is an essential component of formal scholarly communication and lies at the heart of the scientific method.
Contribution to editorial decisions
The reviewer is expected to assess the general qualities of a given manuscript as scientific soundness, logical coherence, similarity with other articles and so. The reviewer is supposed to decide whether a manuscript delivers well the main idea of authors and if it needs some corrections into style or clearness to inform the corresponding editor. The reviewer should decide if the manuscript is sufficiently original, if it expands on the research conducted so far in the field.
Any selected reviewer who feels unqualified to review the research reported in a manuscript or knows that its prompt review will be impossible, should notify the editor and excuse himself or herself from the review process. In principle, the reviewer should be a disinterested party with respect to the author(s) of the manuscript.
Standards of objectivity
Reviews should be conducted objectively. Personal criticism of the author is inappropriate. Reviewers should express their views clearly with supporting arguments. They should be politically correct and constructive in their reports.
Reviewers should identify relevant published work that has not been cited by the authors. Any statement that an observation, derivation, or argument had been previously formulated should be accompanied by the relevant citation.
A reviewer should be alert to potential ethical issues in the manuscript and should call to the editor’s attention any substantial similarity or overlap between the manuscript under consideration and any other published paper of which they have personal knowledge.
Conflict of interest
Best practice is guided by an arm’s length principle. It is incumbent upon reviewers to inform corresponding editor or the direction of EJFB if they become aware of or suspect the possibility of a conflict of interest which might include prior co-authorship, close professional relationship or personal relationship. In this situation, the review must be abandoned.
Any manuscripts received for review must be treated as confidential documents. They must not be shown to or discussed with others except as authorized by the editor.
Unpublished materials disclosed in a submitted manuscript must not be used in a reviewer’s own research without the express written consent of the author. Privileged information or ideas obtained through peer review must be kept confidential and not used for personal advantage. When peer-review process is complete, reviewers must destroy the manuscript.
The use of generative AI in the peer review process
Reviewing a scientific manuscript implies responsibilities that can only be attributed to humans. Generative AI or AI-assisted technologies should not be used by reviewers to assist in the review of a paper as the critical thinking and original assessment needed for peer review is outside of the scope of this technology and there is a risk that the technology will generate incorrect, incomplete or biased conclusions about the manuscript. The reviewer is responsible and accountable for the content of the review report.
Since 2020, EJFB publishes yearly the panel of reviewers.
Duties of editors
The editor shall ensure that the peer review process is fair, unbiased, and timely. Research articles must typically be reviewed by at least two external and independent reviewers, and where necessary the editor should seek additional opinions.The editor shall select reviewers who have suitable expertise in the relevant field, taking account of the need for appropriate, inclusive and diverse representation.
The editors should evaluate manuscripts for their intellectual content without regard to race, gender, sexual orientation, religious belief, ethnic origin, citizenship, or political philosophy of the authors.
The editors (editors-in-chief, deputy and associate editors) will make fair and impartial decisions and will assure an appropriate and just peer-review process. Editorial decisions are must be established on the relevance of a paper to the journal and on the manuscript’s relevance, originality and contribution.
The editor-in-chief will endeavor to satisfy the needs of the readership to constantly enhance the quality and impact of the journal, as well as to boost academic and scientific standards. The editor-in-chief is guided by the policies of the EJFB Editorial committee and constrained by such legal requirements as shall then be in force regarding copyright infringement and plagiarism. The editor-in-chief may confer with other editors (deputy and associate editors) or reviewers in making this decision.
The Editor-in-chief makes decisions about the published contents. The validation of the works and their importance to researchers and readers of EJFB must always drive such decision.
The editors and any editorial staff must not disclose any information about a submitted manuscript to anyone other than the corresponding author, reviewers, and other editorial advisers, as appropriate.
Conflict of interest
The editor shall follow best practice in avoiding the selection of fraudulent peer reviewers. The editor shall review all disclosures of potential conflicts of interest in order to determine whether there is any potential for bias. The editors will have no conflict of interest resulting from competitive, collaborative, or other relationships or connections with any of the authors or institutions connected to the papers. When a manuscript is so closely associated to the current or past research of an editor as to create a conflict of interest, the editors-in-chief should assign it to another editor.
EJFB appointed a new editorial board and editor-in-chief in 2020. Then, the journal adopted the following policy on the publication of articles by its editors:
- The editor-in-chief will not publish any article during their term, with the exceptions of editorials, annual reviews, and introductions to special issues co-edited by them.
- Papers authored by editors or Editorial Board members will be sent to editors unaffiliated with authors or institutions and monitored carefully to ensure there is no peer review bias. The submitted papers will be subject to the usual double-anonymous peer review process.
Unpublished materials disclosed in a submitted manuscript must not be used in an editor's own research without the express written consent of the author. Privileged information or ideas obtained through peer review must be kept confidential and not used for personal advantage.
The editor-in-chief should take reasonably responsive measures when ethical complaints have been presented concerning a submitted manuscript or published paper. Such measures will generally include contacting the author(s) of the manuscript or paper and giving due consideration of the respective complaint or claims made, and if the complaint is upheld, the publication of a correction, retraction, expression of concern, or other note, as may be relevant. Every reported act of unethical publishing behavior must be investigated, even if it is discovered years after publication.
The use of generative AI in the editorial process
Managing the editorial evaluation of a manuscript implies responsibilities that can only be attributed to humans. Generative AI or AI-assisted technologies should not be used by editors to assist in the evaluation or decision-making process of a paper as the critical thinking and original assessment needed for this work is outside of the scope of this technology and there is a risk that the technology will generate incorrect, incomplete or biased conclusions about the manuscript. The editor is responsible and accountable for the editorial process.
Fundamental errors in published works
When an author discovers a significant error or inaccuracy in his/her own published work, it is the author’s obligation to promptly notify the editor-in-chief of EJFB and cooperate with the editors to retract or correct the paper. Corrections will be published in the next issue or as soon as the Direction and authors, mutually agree to the modifications.
In instances where an editor finds that a significant error has been published for which a correction needs to be made, and in all cases where there is reason for concern about such matters as plagiarism, fabrication of research, duplicate publication, or conflicts of interest, the Direction of EJFB will review and resolve the matter in consultation with Editorial Committee. The authors should collaborate accordingly in retracting or correcting the paper. In all instances, the EJFB is committed to preserving the integrity of the scholarly version of record.