Editorial and Publishing Policies

  1. Author responsibilities
  2. License agreement and author copyright
  3. Competing interests
  4. Availability of materials and data
  5. Studies involving human participants
  6. Digital image integrity and standards
  7. Refutations, complaints and corrections
  8. Duplicate publication
  9. Confidentiality and pre-publicity
  10. Plagiarism and fabrication

The Editorial Policies, Guide to Authors, Submission Guidelines and Guide to Referees are also available to download as a PDF.

Author responsibilites

Being an author

Palgrave Communications does not require all authors of a paper to sign the cover letter upon submission, nor do we impose an order on the list of authors. Submission to Palgrave Communications is taken by the publication to mean that all the listed authors have agreed to all of the contents. The corresponding (submitting) author is responsible for having ensured that this agreement has been reached, and for managing all communication between Palgrave Communications and all co-authors, before and after publication.

Author contributions

Palgrave Communications permits the designation of up to six equally contributing authors, up to six joint supervisors, and up to three corresponding authors. Any requests to include more equally contributing, supervising, or corresponding authors are reviewed by the Managing Editor. When applicable, equally contributing and jointly supervising authors should be clearly indicated in the manuscript, using the exact wording: "These authors contributed equally to this work"; "These authors jointly supervised this work". For corresponding authors the following wording should be used: "Corresponding author" followed by "Correspondence to:".

Corresponding author – prepublication responsibilities

The corresponding (submitting) author is solely responsible for communicating with Palgrave Communications and for managing communication between coauthors. Before submission, the corresponding author ensures that all authors are included in the author list, its order has been agreed by all authors, and that all authors are aware that the paper was submitted.

After acceptance, the proof is sent to the corresponding author, who deals with Palgrave Communications on behalf of all coauthors; Palgrave Communications will not necessarily correct errors after publication if they result from errors that were present on a proof that was not shown to coauthors before publication. The corresponding author is responsible for the accuracy of all content in the proof, in particular that names of coauthors are present and correctly spelled, and that addresses and affiliations are current.

Corresponding author – responsibilities after publication

Palgrave Communications regards the corresponding author as the point of contact for queries about the published paper. It is this author's responsibility to inform all coauthors of matters arising and to ensure such matters are dealt with promptly. This author does not have to be the senior author of the paper or the author who actually supplies materials; this author's role is to ensure enquiries are answered promptly on behalf of all the coauthors. The name and e-mail address of this author (on large collaborations there may be two) is published in the paper.

Correcting the record

Authors of published material have a responsibility to inform the publication promptly if they become aware of any part that requires correcting.

A confidential process

Palgrave Communications treats the submitted manuscript and all communication with authors and referees as confidential. Authors must also treat communication with Palgrave Communications as confidential: correspondence with Palgrave Communications, referee reports and other confidential material must not be posted on any website or otherwise publicized without prior permission from the Palgrave Communications publishing team, regardless of whether or not the submission is eventually published. Our policies about posting preprints and postprints, and about previous communication of the work at conferences or as part of a personal blog or of an academic thesis, are described in the Confidentiality section.

Referee suggestions

Authors are welcome to suggest suitable independent referees when they submit their manuscripts, but these suggestions may not be used by Palgrave Communications. Authors may also request that Palgrave Communications excludes a few (usually not more than two) individuals. Palgrave Communications sympathetically considers such exclusion requests and usually honours them, but our decision is final.

License agreement and author copyright

License type

Articles are published under a Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license. All authors retain the copyright to their article if they pay the APC and sign the License to Publish Form. Learn more about Creative Commons licensing.

Embargo Policy and Press Releases

Material submitted to Palgrave Communications should not be discussed with the media, except in the case of accepted contributions, which can be discussed with the media only once an embargo date has been set and agreed.

Papers that are deemed especially newsworthy may be selected by our communications department for a press release. Journalists are encouraged to read the full version of any papers they wish to cover, and are given names and contact details of corresponding authors. Authors are, therefore, made aware that they may receive calls or emails from the media after a press release has been sent out. Authors whose papers are scheduled for publication may also arrange their own publicity (for instance through their institutional press offices), but they must adhere to our media embargo and are advised to coordinate their own publicity with our communications department.

For questions please contact Elizabeth Hawkins.  

Competing interests

Palgrave Communications' competing financial interests policy

In the interests of transparency and to help readers to form their own judgements of potential bias, authors must declare any competing financial interests in relation to the work described.

The corresponding author is responsible for submitting a competing financial interests statement on behalf of all authors of the paper. This statement must be included in the submitted article file, under the heading "competing financial interests". The corresponding author will also be required to indicate the existence of a competing financial interest as part of the submission process.

Definition of a competing financial interest

For the purposes of this statement, competing interests are defined as those of a financial nature that, through their potential influence on behaviour or content or from perception of such potential influences, could undermine the objectivity, integrity or perceived value of a publication.

They can include any of the following:

  • Funding: research support (including salaries, equipment, supplies, reimbursement for attending symposia, and other expenses) by organizations that may gain or lose financially through this publication.
  • Employment: recent (while engaged in the research project), present or anticipated employment by any organization that may gain or lose financially through this publication.
  • Personal financial interests: stocks or shares in companies that may gain or lose financially through publication; consultation fees or other forms of remuneration from organizations that may gain or lose financially; patents or patent applications whose value may be affected by publication.

It is difficult to specify a threshold at which a financial interest becomes significant, but note that many US universities require faculty members to disclose interests exceeding $10,000 or 5% equity in a company (see, for example, B. Lo et al. New Engl. J. Med. 343, 1616–1620; 2000). Any such figure is necessarily arbitrary, so we offer as one possible practical alternative guideline: "Any undeclared competing financial interests that could embarrass you were they to become publicly known after your work was published."

We do not consider diversified mutual funds or investment trusts to constitute a competing financial interest.

We recognize that some authors may be bound by confidentiality agreements. In such cases the publishing team will investigate further and may at their discretion invite the authors to state in the online version, in place of itemized disclosure: "The authors declare that they are bound by confidentiality agreements that prevent them from disclosing their financial interests in this work."

We do not require authors to state the monetary value of their financial interests.

Competing financial interest statement format guidelines

The statement included in the article file must be explicit and unambiguous, describing any potential competing financial interest (or lack thereof) for each contributing author.

Examples of declarations are:

Competing financial interests
The author(s) declare no competing financial interests.

Competing financial interests
Dr X's work has been funded by A. He has received compensation as a member of the advisory board of B and owns stock in the company. He also has consulted for C and received compensation. Dr Y and Dr Z declare no potential conflict of interest.

Availability of materials and data

An inherent principle of publication is that others should be able to replicate and build upon the authors' published claims. Therefore, a condition of publication in Palgrave Communications is that authors are required to make materials, data and associated protocols promptly available to readers without undue qualifications in material transfer agreements. Any restrictions on the availability of materials or information must be disclosed to the publishing team at the time of submission. Any restrictions must also be disclosed in the submitted manuscript, including details of how readers can obtain materials and information. If materials are to be distributed by a for-profit company, this must be stated in the paper.

Supporting data must be made available to Palgrave Communications and peer-reviewers at the time of submission for the purposes of evaluating the manuscript. Peer-reviewers may be asked to comment on the terms of access to materials, methods and/or datasets; Palgrave Communications reserves the right to refuse publication in cases where authors do not provide adequate assurances that they can comply with the publication's requirements for sharing materials.

After publication, readers who encounter refusal by the authors to comply with these policies should contact the Palgrave Communications publishing team. In cases where we are unable to resolve a complaint, the matter may be referred to the authors' institution or funding institution and/or a formal statement of correction may be published, attached online to the publication, stating that readers have been unable to obtain necessary materials to replicate the findings.

All original articles should include a Data Availability statement. This should, wherever possible, include a link to and citation of any datasets analysed or generated in the study, when these are available in an appropriate public repository.

The preferred way to share datasets is via specialised public repositories, if one exists, or through a general data repository that can assure permanence and unique identification of deposited datasets.

Authors who make their datasets publicly available should use the most broadly supported and recognised repository for their research community. Public repositories that can be used by Palgrave Communications authors include:

Repositories for sensitive data that cannot be made public for individual privacy or other legitimate reasons include:

Some of these repositories offer authors the option to host data associated with a manuscript confidentially, and provide anonymous access to peer-reviewers before public release. Some of these repositories coordinate public release of the data with the journal's publication date. This option should be used when possible, but it is the authors' responsibility to communicate with the repository to ensure that public release is made promptly on the publication date. In the unlikely event there is no public repository to accommodate supporting datasets, they must be made available as Supplementary Information files that will be freely accessible on the journal website upon publication. In cases where it is technically impossible for such files to be provided to the journal, the authors must make the data available to Palgrave Communications and peer-reviewers at submission, and directly upon request to any reader on and after the publication date, the authors providing a URL or other unique identifier in the manuscript.

Palgrave Communications' data availability policies are compatible with the standardised research data policies set out by Springer Nature.

Sharing datasets

A condition of publication in Palgrave Communications is that authors are required to make materials, data and associated protocols promptly available to others without preconditions.

Datasets must be made freely available to readers from the date of publication, and must be provided to Palgrave Communications and peer-reviewers at submission, for the purposes of evaluating the manuscript.

Citing datasets

Citing datasets in an equivalent way to citing journal articles and other types of publication helps enable researchers to earn appropriate credit for the collection and publication of datasets. Data citation also makes reuse and verification of scholarly research more efficient, and can help measure the impact and reuse of datasets. We recommend authors cite, in their reference list, any public datasets that are used or produced in any work described in Palgrave Communications, provided the datasets have been assigned a persistent identifier. When citing datasets the format preferred by DataCite should be used, where persistent identifiers, such as digital object identifier (DOI) names, are displayed as linkable, permanent URLs. See the section of References in our Submission Guidelines for more information.

Pre-registration of studies

Palgrave Communications encourages pre-registration of studies, where appropriate databases exist, as a means of making research more discoverable. Authors who have pre-registered their study in an independent registry (e.g. www.socialscienceregistry.org, http://openscienceframework.org/, http://egap.org/design-registration/, http://ridie.3ieimpact.org/) are requested to indicate this clearly in the manuscript, such as in the abstract and an appropriate footnote.

Code sharing

Palgrave Communications requests that authors, where applicable, make available, to editors and reviewers, any previously unreported custom computer code used to generate results that are reported in the paper and central to its main claims. Upon publication, authors are encouraged to release custom computer code in a way that allows readers to repeat the published results. For all studies using custom code that is deemed central to the conclusions, a statement must be included in the paper (e.g. as a footnote), indicating whether and how the code can be accessed, including any restrictions to access.

Authors may supply code as Supplementary Information files or submit it to the Palgrave Communications Dataverse when code must be kept private during peer review. Before final publication, however, authors are encouraged to release their code in a public repository that can assign it a DOI, such the Palgrave Communications Dataverse or Figshare. In addition, for sufficiently complex software, we recommend using an open version control system (VCS), such as GitHub, in combination with a DOI-providing repository to provide permanent access to a usable instance of code (information on how to archive GitHub code at figshare). Code with an assigned DOI may be formally cited and listed in the References section of the manuscript.

Studies involving human participants

For studies involving human participants, authors must identify the committee approving the experiments, as appropriate, and include in their manuscript a statement confirming that informed consent was obtained from all participants and/or their legal guardians. 

Digital image integrity and standards

Image integrity and standards

All digitized images submitted with the final revision of the manuscript should be 300 DPI if possible.

A certain degree of image processing is acceptable for publication (and for some experiments, fields and techniques is unavoidable), but the final image must correctly represent the original data and conform to community standards. The guidelines below will aid in accurate data presentation at the image processing level; authors must also take care to exercise prudence during data acquisition, where misrepresentation must equally be avoided. Manuscripts should include an 'equipment and settings' section with their Methods that describes for each figure the pertinent instrument settings, acquisition conditions and processing changes, as described in this guide.

  • Authors should list all image acquisition tools and image processing software packages used. Authors should document key image-gathering settings and processing manipulations in the Methods.
  • Images gathered at different times or from different locations should not be combined into a single image, unless it is stated that the resultant image is a product of time-averaged data or a time-lapse sequence. If juxtaposing images is essential, the borders should be clearly demarcated in the figure and described in the legend.
  • The use of touch-up tools, such as cloning and healing tools in Photoshop, or any feature that deliberately obscures manipulations, is to be avoided.
  • Processing (such as changing brightness and contrast) is appropriate only when it is applied equally across the entire image and is applied equally to controls. Contrast should not be adjusted so that data disappear. Excessive manipulations, such as processing to emphasize one region in the image at the expense of others (for example, through the use of a biased choice of threshold settings), is inappropriate, as is emphasizing experimental data relative to the control.

When submitting revised final figures upon conditional acceptance, authors may be asked to submit original, unprocessed images.

Refutations, complaints and corrections

Correction and retraction policy

Palgrave Communications operates the following policy for making corrections to their peer-reviewed content.

Publishable amendments must be represented by a formal online notice because they affect the publication record and/or the scientific accuracy of published information. Where these amendments concern peer-reviewed material, they fall into one of three categories: erratum, corrigendum or retraction, described here.

Erratum: Notification of an important error made by the journal that affects the publication record or the integrity of the paper, or the reputation of the authors, or of the journal.

Corrigendum: Notification of an important error made by the author(s) that affects the publication record or the integrity of the paper, or the reputation of the authors or the journal.

Retraction: Notification of invalid results. All coauthors must sign a retraction specifying the error and stating briefly how the conclusions are affected, and submit it for publication. In cases where coauthors disagree, the publishing team will seek advice from independent peer-reviewers and impose the type of amendment that seems most appropriate, noting the dissenting author(s) in the text of the published version.

If ethical misconduct is discovered in content that has already been published, we may publish a statement of concern whilst the work is investigated. If we deem it necessary, the paper may be retracted with a statement of explanation. Other consequences may include a submissions ban for any or all authors, and contacting the relevant institution(s).

Editorial decision-making

Decisions about types of correction are made by the journal's publishing team, with the advice of the peer-reviewers' and/or Editorial Board Members. This process involves consultation with the authors of the paper, but the publishing team makes the final decision about whether an amendment is required and the category in which the amendment is published.

When an amendment is published, it is linked bi-directionally to and from the article being corrected.

Authors sometimes request a correction to their published contribution that does not affect the contribution in a significant way or impair the reader's understanding of the contribution (a spelling mistake or grammatical error, for example). Palgrave Communications does not publish such corrections. The online article is part of the published record and hence its original published version is preserved. Palgrave Communications does, however, correct the online version of a contribution if the wording in the html version does not make sense when compared with the PDF version ("see left" for a figure that is an appropriate phrase for the PDF but not for the html version, for example). In these cases, the fact that a correction has been made is stated in a footnote so that readers are aware that the originally published text has been amended.

Detailed description of correction types

Errata concern the amendment of mistakes introduced by the journal in production, including errors of omission such as failure to make factual proof corrections requested by authors within the deadline provided by the journal and within journal policy. Errata are generally not published for simple, obvious typographical errors, but are published when an apparently simple error is significant (for example a Greek mu for an ‘m' in a unit, or a typographical error in the corresponding author's name).

If there is an error in the lettering on a figure, the usual procedure is to publish a sentence of rectification. A significant error in the figure itself is corrected by publication of a new corrected figure as an erratum. The figure is republished only if we consider it necessary for a reader to understand it.

Corrigenda are judged on their relevance to readers and their importance for the published record. Corrigenda are published after discussion among the team. All coauthors must sign an agreed wording.

Corrigenda submitted by the original authors are published if the scientific accuracy or reproducibility of the original paper is compromised; occasionally, on investigation, these may be published as retractions. In cases where some coauthors decline to sign a corrigendum or retraction, we reserve the right to publish it with the dissenting author(s) identified. Palgrave Communications publish corrigenda if there is an error in the published author list, but not for overlooked acknowledgements.

Readers wishing to draw the journal's attention to a significant published error should contact the publishing team.

Retractions are judged according to whether the main conclusion of the paper no longer holds or is seriously undermined as a result of subsequent information coming to light of which the authors were not aware at the time of publication. In the case of experimental papers, this can include further experiments by the authors or by others that do not confirm the main experimental conclusion of the original publication. Readers wishing to draw our attention to published work requiring retraction should first contact the authors of the original paper and then write to the publishing team, including copies of the correspondence with the authors (whether or not the correspondence has been answered). The publishing team will seek advice from reviewers if they judge that the information is likely to draw into question the main conclusions of the published paper.

Supplementary information

Authors' corrections to supplementary information (SI) are made only in exceptional circumstances (for example major errors that compromise the conclusion of the study). Published corrections to SI are usually linked to the Corrigendum statement. Authors cannot update SI because new data have become available or interpretations have changed, as the SI is a peer-reviewed and integral part of the paper, and hence part of the published record.

SI cannot be amended between acceptance and publication unless a change made for technical reasons by the journal in order to publish the material on the website has introduced a significant error.

Duplicate publication

Palgrave Communications' policy on duplicate publication

Material submitted to Palgrave Communications must be original and not published or submitted for publication elsewhere. This rule applies to material submitted elsewhere while the Palgrave Communications contribution is under consideration.

Authors submitting a contribution to Palgrave Communications who have related material under consideration or in press elsewhere should upload a clearly marked copy at the time of submission, and draw attention to it in their cover letter. Authors must disclose any such information while their contributions are under consideration by Palgrave Communications – for example, if they submit a related manuscript elsewhere that was not written at the time of the original Palgrave Communications submission.

If part of a contribution that an author wishes to submit to Palgrave Communications has appeared or will appear elsewhere, the author must specify the details in the covering letter accompanying the submission. Consideration by Palgrave Communications is possible if the main result, conclusion, or implications are not apparent from the other work, or if there are other factors, for example if the other work is published in a language other than English.

Palgrave Communications is happy to consider submissions containing material that has previously formed part of a PhD or other academic thesis which has been published according to the requirements of the institution awarding the qualification.

Palgrave Communications allows and encourages prior publication on recognized community preprint servers for review by other academics in the field before formal submission to a journal. The details of the preprint server concerned and any accession numbers should be included in the cover letter accompanying submission of the manuscript to Palgrave Communications.

Palgrave Communications is happy to consider submissions containing material that has previously formed, and continues to form, part of an online academic collaboration such as a wiki or blog.

If an author of a submission is re-using a figure or figures published elsewhere, or that is copyrighted, the author must provide documentation that the previous publisher or copyright holder has given permission for the figure to be re-published. We consider all material in good faith and that the publication has full permission to publish every part of the submitted material, including any illustrations.

Confidentiality and pre-publicity

Confidentiality

Palgrave Communications keeps all details about a submitted manuscript confidential and does not comment to any outside organization about manuscripts that are either under consideration or that have been rejected.

After a manuscript is submitted, correspondence with Palgrave Communications, referees' reports and other confidential material, regardless of whether or not the submission is eventually published, must not be posted on any website or otherwise publicised without prior permission. Referees of manuscripts submitted to Palgrave Communications undertake in advance to maintain confidentiality of manuscripts and any associated supplementary data.

Pre-publicity

Our policy on the posting of particular versions of the manuscript is as follows:

  1. You are welcome to post pre-submission versions or the original submitted version of the manuscript on a personal blog, a collaborative wiki or a preprint server at any time.
  2. Palgrave Communications articles are open access and can replace the original submitted version immediately, on publication, as long as a publication reference and URL to the published version on the Palgrave Communications website are provided.

Presentation and discussion of material submitted to Palgrave Communications at academic and scientific meetings is encouraged.

Contributions being prepared for or submitted to Palgrave Communications can be posted on recognized preprint servers and on collaborative websites such as wikis or the author's blog. The website and URL must be identified in the cover letter accompanying submission of the paper. Material in a contribution submitted to Palgrave Communications may also have been published as part of a PhD or other academic thesis.

Plagiarism and fabrication

Plagiarism can be said to have clearly occurred when large chunks of text have been cut-and-pasted. Such manuscripts would not be considered for publication in Palgrave Communications. But minor plagiarism without dishonest intent is relatively frequent, for example, when an author reuses parts of an introduction from an earlier paper. We judge any case of which we become aware on its own merits.

We are part of CrossCheck, an initiative to help editors verify the originality of submitted manuscripts. As part of this process, Palgrave Communications spot checks submitted manuscripts to be scanned and compared with the CrossCheck database.

If a case of plagiarism comes to light after a paper is published in Palgrave Communications, the publication will conduct a preliminary investigation. If plagiarism is found, the publication will contact the author's institute and any funding agencies. A determination of misconduct will lead Palgrave Communications to run a statement, bidirectionally linked online to and from the original paper, to note the plagiarism and to provide a reference to the plagiarised material. The paper containing the plagiarism will also be obviously marked on each page of the PDF. Depending on the extent of the plagiarism, the paper may also be formally retracted.

Due credit for others' work

Discussion of unpublished work: Manuscripts are sent out for review on the condition that any unpublished data cited within are properly credited and the appropriate permission has been sought. Where licensed data are cited, authors must include at submission a written assurance that they are complying with originators' data-licensing agreements.

Referees are encouraged to be alert to the use of appropriated unpublished data from databases or from any other source, and to inform Palgrave Communications of any concern they may have.

Discussion of published work: When discussing the published work of others, authors must properly describe the contribution of the earlier work. Both intellectual contributions and technical developments must be acknowledged as such and appropriately cited.

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