Publishing Ethics

  • Scientific integrity is the foundation of scientific and technological innovation, and maintaining and practicing scientific integrity at all times is crucial for every participant in academic research, paper writing, and publication. As an important carrier for displaying scientific research achievements, Synthetic Biology will adhere to maintaining and promoting scientific integrity, and stick to high-standard ethical codes in publishing. The following publishing ethical concepts and guidelines of our journal are provided for contributors' reference. For more detailed information, please visit the official website of Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) at

    1. Author
    1.1 Definition of Author
    The authorship be based on the following 3 criteria:
    (1) Substantial contributions to the conception or design of the work; or the acquisition, analysis, or interpretation of data for the work; 
    (2) Drafting the work or revising it critically for important intellectual content; 
    (3) A comprehensive review of the final version of the work to be published, approval of its submission, and responsible for the appropriate part of its content. Submitting a paper before all co-authors have read and approved the final version is considered a violation of publication ethics.

    1.2 Author Contribution
    All individuals designated as authors should be qualified to be authors, i.e., they must simultaneously meet the three criteria mentioned above. Those who do not simultaneously meet all three criteria can only be acknowledged in the Acknowledgments section. Indicating authorship is to ensure that individuals who have contributed to the research receive recognition and also to indicate their responsibility for the research. Deliberately distorting the relationship between researchers and the research is an unethical behavior that undermines the credibility of the research results. All authors should discuss and reach a consensus on the author order and contribution before submitting the manuscript. The submitting author needs to obtain the authorization and consent of co-authors. After submitting the manuscript, any changes to the authorship and order require the consent of all authors. Once the manuscript is accepted, in principle, it is not allowed to change the authorship, especially to add new authors.

    1.3 Corresponding Author
    All submitted manuscripts must designate a corresponding author, with a maximum of two allowed. The corresponding author must ensure that all authors agree to the list of authors and their contributions, and that all authors have read and approved the manuscript before submission and final publication. For published works, the corresponding author is responsible for promptly responding to inquiries about the paper and related content.

    1.4 Joint first authors
    No more than 2 co-first authors are allowed.

    1.5 Author-related Fees

    There is no review fee for manuscript submission. Accepted manuscripts will be required to pay a publication fee before publication. Please refer to the Submission Guide  for the specific fee standards.

    After the manuscript is published, the journal will pay the author a remuneration (including compensation for inclusion in relevant retrieval systems and partner websites) at a standard of 300 RMB per article. In principle, the remuneration will be received by the first author or the corresponding author, and copies of the current issue will be sent to both the first author and the corresponding author.

    2. Conflict of Interest

    All authors should disclose any potential conflicts of interest related to the submitted manuscript, including business relationships, family relationships, or close collaboration that may be perceived as conflicting. Examples of such conflicts include financial ties or other relationships that could compromise the objectivity of the authors in presenting their research findings.

    It is the responsibility of the authors to provide a comprehensive statement disclosing any conflicts of interest related to the research. All sources of funding for the project must be clearly stated. Additionally, if the manuscript involves commercial products, the name of the manufacturer must be prominently indicated in the "Materials and Methods" section or other appropriate parts of the text.

    3. Academic Misconduct and Its Prevention

    Academic misconduct refers to behaviors that violate the norms of scientific community conduct, falsify information, plagiarize, or otherwise violate the rules of public conduct during the process of academic research. Generally, the main types of academic misconduct can be categorized into four groups: plagiarism, fabrication, falsification, and others. The category of "others" primarily includes inappropriate authorship, multiple submissions of the same manuscript, redundant publication of the same academic achievement, and other unethical behaviors.
    3.1 Plagiarism

    Copying others' intellectual property constitutes plagiarism. This involves reproducing sentences or paragraphs from another person's work word for word (or almost word for word), even if the original work is cited in the references.

    (1) Plagiarism of arguments (conclusions, viewpoints)
    (2) Plagiarism of evidence and argumentation (analysis of experimental and observational results)
    (3) Plagiarism of figures, tables, formulas, and data
    (4) Plagiarism of concepts (definitions, principles, formulas, etc.)
    (5) Self (or team) plagiarism
    (6) Severe plagiarism (duplicate publication)

    3.2 Multiple Submissions

    "Multiple Submission" mainly refers to the situation where two articles, although they may differ in wording or narration, share the same theory, main experimental data, and charts, or have identical core content.

    The manuscripts referred to include those published in officially published conference proceedings and journals in other languages. However, they do not include manuscripts that have been published as brief reports or preliminary reports in one journal and are subsequently submitted to another journal as full-length articles for further research. Authors of such manuscripts should provide an explanation to the relevant editorial department if they intend to resubmit the manuscript.

    Once a manuscript is received and acknowledged by the editorial department (with a receipt or acknowledgment of submission), it indicates that the manuscript is in the process of being reviewed. If the author wishes to submit the manuscript to another journal, they should first contact the editorial department and obtain permission.

    If the editorial department suspects that a manuscript has been submitted to multiple journals, they will carefully collect and compare relevant information and notify the author. Before making a decision, the author will be requested to provide an explanation.

    If double submission is confirmed, the author's institution, name, and a notice of retraction of the paper will be published in this journal at a later date. For a period of two years, all journals sponsored by the Chinese Institute of Bioengineering, including Synthetic Biology Journal, will refuse to publish any manuscripts authored by the first author of the concerned paper. Additionally, the incident will be reported to the author's institution and other scientific journals in the relevant field.

    Instead of relying on genuine data obtained from actual observations and experiments, fabricated experimental results are derived based on certain scientific hypotheses and theories. This includes the forgery of experimental data and samples, as well as the fabrication of evidence. In no circumstances should researchers engage in falsification.

    3.4 Fasification
    After obtaining experimental data, researchers may tamper with or select data randomly based on their expectations, leading to research conclusions that align with their desired outcomes. This commonly involves subjective selection of data and tampering with original data.

    3.5 Inappropriate authorship
    (1) Exclude individuals who have made substantial contributions to the research involved in the paper from the list of authors.
    (2) Include individuals who have not made substantial contributions to the research involved in the paper on the list of authors.
    (3) Unauthorized inclusion of others' names as authors in one's own paper.
    (4) False labeling of author information.
    (5) The order of authors does not accurately reflect their actual contributions.

    Any behavior that fails to meet the criteria outlined in Article 1 of this code, "Definition of Author," but still includes authorship in the manuscript is considered inappropriate authorship.

    3.6 Redundant publication of academic achievements
    The practice of splitting a single paper (or the same research outcome) into multiple articles for publication, repeatedly using one-time results, or dividing the same experiment into multiple angles of explanation.

    Synthetic Biology Journal has always adhered to strict ethical standards in academic research and resolutely eliminated all forms of academic misconduct. This journal refers to the "Definition and Criteria of Academic Misconduct in Academic Journal Articles" published by China National Knowledge Infrastructure (CNKI) and utilizes the Academic Misconduct Literature Detection System for Scientific Journals (AMLC) to screen manuscripts and prevent academic misconduct. The workflow is outlined as follows:

    4. About Peer Review

    4.1 Peer Review Guidelines
    Synthetic Biology Journal implements online submission and a rigorous peer review system (single-blind review, where the reviewer knows the identity of the author, but the reviewer remains anonymous to the author). Reviewers should abide by the "Review Guidelines  for Synthetic Biology Journal" and possess the necessary professional knowledge and time to ensure the high quality of peer review. Reviewers should avoid reviewing manuscripts that potentially conflict or compete with their own works. Impersonating others during the peer review process is considered serious misconduct. The submission and review process of Synthetic Biology Journal is as follows:

    4.2 Responsibilities of Reviewers
    (1) Ensure the scientific and accurate review of manuscripts and provide objective and fair evaluations. Utilize their professional knowledge and abilities to review the manuscript's innovation, scientific validity, and practicality; provide fair evaluations on the appropriateness of research methods, the rationality of research design, the accuracy of results and conclusions, and the existence of any breaches of confidentiality, in order to assist the editor in determining the acceptance or rejection of the manuscript. Provide detailed suggestions for revision to address issues in the article and help the author improve the quality of their paper.
    (2) Respect the author's research achievements and avoid reviewing manuscripts with conflicts of interest. Evaluate the manuscript solely on its academic merit, refrain from evaluating individuals or making personal attacks. The acceptance or rejection of manuscripts should not be influenced by the author's race, gender, religion, beliefs, status, qualifications, or authority. Provide well-supported arguments and clarify their viewpoints with clarity.
    (3) Fill out the review comments for the manuscript on time and provide feedback to the editorial department within the specified timeframe. If unable to complete the review on time, promptly notify the editorial department.
    (4) Strictly maintain confidentiality of the reviewed manuscript, refrain from passing it on to others, discussing it, or using or publishing any data, viewpoints, or conclusions from the reviewed manuscript.
    (5) All review comments and information must be kept confidential and not used for personal purposes.

    4.3 Editorial Responsibilities
    (1) Editors must strictly enforce relevant national laws and regulations, adhere to academic publishing ethics and norms, and maintain scientific integrity. Editors should promptly and fairly handle all submissions to ensure that edited manuscripts are published on time with high quality.
    (2) Editors should respect the research achievements of authors and the opinions of review experts. They should maintain the authenticity of review records and keep confidential the information related to the review and revision process. Except for providing necessary information to corresponding authors, reviewers, and members of the editorial board, editors and editorial staff are not allowed to disclose any information about submitted papers to others.
    (3) Editors should select manuscripts fairly, and accept or reject articles solely based on their originality, importance, clarity, and compliance with the journal's aims and scope.
    (4) Editors should encourage academic debates and have the obligation to respond to authors' differing views on reviewer comments.
    (5) Editors have the obligation to investigate and communicate about academic misconduct. In the event of any academic ethics complaints related to submitted papers or published articles, editors must take effective measures to address them. If necessary, corrections, clarifications, retractions, or apologies should be promptly published. Editors have the obligation to pursue the responsibility of authors and reviewers for inappropriate behavior.
    (6) Editors should protect the information submitted by authors and the identities of reviewers and other relevant personnel involved in the blind review process.

    5. Retraction
    In order to maintain the integrity of scientific research, the authenticity and repeatability of research data, and to deliver correct and authoritative scientific research information to readers, if there is any data fraud, repeated publication, plagiarism of others’ works, violation of research ethics, and violation of laws and regulations, etc., published papers will be retracted.

    This journal will publish a retraction notice in accordance with the following principles:

    (1) The editorial department can decide whether to retract the paper based on factual evidence; in many cases, some authors or the author's institution would propose to retract the manuscript, but whether to retract the paper is determined by the editorial department.
    (2) If the facts are confirmed, the editorial department will publish the retraction notice in time to minimize the possibility of misleading readers.
    (3) In principle, the editorial department will try to reach agreement with the author on the content and wording of the retraction notice. However, when there is clear evidence to retract the paper, the journal will not postpone the publication of the retraction notice due to unilateral reasons of the author.
    (4) The retraction statement will be published in the body of the latest issue of the journal, with ‘Retraction Notice’ as the title and listed on the table of contents.
    (5) Retract the paper from the journal website and database in time.

    6. Preprinting
      Synthetic Biology Journal encourages authors to publish their manuscripts (including the initial version, revised versions, and the version accepted for publication) submitted to JDIS on a preprint server, for instance on arXiv,MetaArXiv,SocArXiv,or ChinaXiv.
      ChinaXiv is a preprint platform of Chinese Academy of Science ( Synthetic Biology Journal has established a cooperative relationship with ChinaXiv to jointly promote the manuscripts reposition, online first publication, and impact broaden of research works.

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