Publication Ethics and Policies
The following ethics and policies apply to all Highlights of Science journals, unless otherwise noted.
Highlights of Science closely adheres to the principles of publication ethics established by the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) as outlined in its core practices documents. We are committed to upholding the highest standards of publication ethics. All parties involved in our publishing activities—authors, reviewers, editors, and the publisher—are expected to comply with the ethical standards set forth by COPE (Core Practices and Best Practice Guidelines).
Authors submitting their manuscripts for consideration for publication in Highlights of Science journals must ensure that their work is original and that neither the manuscript nor any parts of its content are currently under consideration or have been published in another journal. They must confirm that their work is ethically sound, the results of the work are valid, all data are genuine and authentic, the use of others' work (data, words, illustrations, etc.) is properly cited, and that the research findings are accurately presented.
Authors shall guarantee that all those who have made significant contributions to the work are listed as co-authors, and to declare any potential acknowledgements and/or conflicts of interest.
All authors will be contacted by email to ensure that they are aware of and approve the submission of the manuscript, its content, and its authorship. Authorship issues identified after publication may result in a Correction, Expression of Concern, or Retraction.
Authorship Criteria
Highlights of Science follows the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE) guidelines which states that those who must meet all the following four criteria can then be qualified for authorship of a manuscript:
Substantial contributions to the conception or design of the work; or the acquisition, analysis, or interpretation of data for the work; AND
Drafting the work or reviewing it critically for important intellectual content; AND
Final approval of the version to be published; AND
Agreement to be accountable for all aspects of the work in ensuring that questions related to the accuracy or integrity of any part of the work are appropriately investigated and resolved.
Those who provided important contributions to the work but cannot be designated as authors should be properly acknowledged in the Acknowledgements section of the final manuscript.
Author Contributions
In research articles with multiple authors, it is essential to include an authorship statement that specifies the individual contributions of each author. Highlights of Science follows the CRediT (Contributor Roles Taxonomy) framework, which defines 14 roles of contributions: Conceptualization; Data curation; Formal analysis; Funding acquisition; Investigation; Methodology; Project administration; Resources; Software; Supervision; Validation; Visualization; Writing – original draft; Writing – review & editing. It is required that all authors approve the final version of the paper before publication.
Corresponding Authors
At least one author should be designated as the corresponding author. The corresponding author is responsible for acting as the point of contact between the editor and the other authors, keeping co-authors informed, and involving them in major decisions regarding the publication.
Ensure that the manuscript is in full adherence with all the publication ethics.
Ensure that all authors have access to the final version of the manuscript that is submitted to the journal, and agree to the author list and author contributions.
Ensure that all authors have seen the final draft of the manuscript before it is published.
Provide to the journal written confirmation that all authors consent to any requested changes in the manuscript's authorship.
Continue to be the point of contact for queries about the published paper.
Inform all co-authors of any matters arising and ensure such matters are dealt with promptly.
Group/Consortium Authorship
If authorship is retained by the group or consortium, the group or consortium should be listed as an author. Individual members of the consortium or group listed in the author byline must qualify for authorship according to the ICMJE guidelines:
When a large multi-author group has conducted the work, the group ideally should decide who will be an author before the work is started and confirm who is an author before submitting the manuscript for publication. All members of the group named as authors should meet all four criteria for authorship, including approval of the final manuscript, and they should be able to take public responsibility for the work and should have full confidence in the accuracy and integrity of the work of other group authors. They will also be expected as individuals to complete disclosure forms.
Some large multi-author groups designate authorship by a group name, with or without the names of individuals. When submitting a manuscript authored by a group, the corresponding author should specify the group name if one exists, and clearly identify the group members who can take credit and responsibility for the work as authors.
Authorship in Artificial Intelligence (AI)
Authors are requested to disclose whether they used AI-assisted technologies (such as large language models—LLMs, chatbots, or image creators) in the production of submitted work at submission. Authors who use such technology should describe, in both the cover letter and the submitted work in the appropriate section if applicable, how they used it.
Chatbots (such as ChatGPT) should not be listed as authors because they cannot be responsible for the accuracy, integrity, and originality of the work, and these responsibilities are required for authorship. Therefore, humans are responsible for any submitted material that includes the use of AI-assisted technologies.
Authorship Changes
Highlights of Science journals follow the COPE guidelines for changes in authorship.
Authors should carefully consider authorship before submitting the manuscript. Requests for changes to authorship can only be made before the manuscript is accepted. To request a change in authorship, authors should submit a statement (authorship change form, provided by the editorial office upon request) to the editorial office outlining the reason for the change.
Highlights of Science typically does not entertain requests to add or remove authors between the editorial acceptance and publication of an article. In case of special circumstances necessitating a post-acceptance authorship change, requests should be addressed to the journal editorial office. Highlights of Science reserves the right to request evidence of authorship, and/or decline the requested changes.
In the case of resolving authorship disputes, Highlights of Science follows the COPE guidelines. COPE guidelines clearly state that Journals are not in a position to adjudicate on appropriate authorship contributions (see authorship) and that disputed authorship is not usually grounds for retraction when "there is no reason to doubt the validity of the findings" (see retraction guidelines). In situations where disputes cannot be resolved by the affected parties, Journals will seek intervention from an appropriate institution or governing body for final adjudication. Highlights of Science retains the right to modify authorship lists in accordance with the recommendations of the institution or governing body.
Plagiarism and Malpractice
Any cases of plagiarism, including the reproduction of text, ideas, images, or data from any source (even from the author's own publications) without proper attribution, will not be tolerated. It is essential that any reused text is accompanied by a citation to the original work. To ensure the authenticity of submissions, all manuscripts will undergo screening using a plagiarism detection system before being sent out for peer-review. Should plagiarism be detected during the peer review process, the manuscript may be rejected, and further investigation will be carried out in accordance with our policies if plagiarism is identified post-publication.
All data presented must be original and accurately represented, without inappropriate selection, manipulation, enhancement, or fabrication. Image files must not be altered or adjusted in a manner that could lead to misinterpretation of the original information. Manuscripts found to contain fraudulent or unethical practices during the peer review process will be immediately rejected. If such issues are identified post-publication, the published paper will be retracted.
Human Subjects Research
Researchers submitting studies involving human participants, human material, human tissues, or human data must declare that the investigations were carried out following the rules of the Declaration of Helsinki. Prior approval from the local Institutional Review Board or another appropriate ethics committee is mandatory to ensure the study adheres to national and international guidelines. The article must include a statement in the Institutional Review Board Statement section, specifying the project identification code, approval date, and the name of the ethics committee or Institutional Review Board.
For non-interventional studies such as surveys or social media research, all participants must be fully informed about the research purpose, data usage, anonymity assurances, and any associated risks. Ethical clearance from the relevant ethics committee is essential before commencing the study. In cases where ethical approval is not necessary, authors should provide either an exemption from the ethics committee or reference the local or national legislation that states such exemptions. If a study has been exempted, it should be detailed in the Institutional Review Board Statement section, along with the rationale for not requiring ethical approval.
Written informed consent for publication must be obtained from participating patients. While individual participant data should be detailed, personally identifiable information should be kept confidential unless crucial to the research. Patient consent is necessary for manuscripts containing case details, personal information, or patient images. Patients' identities must be anonymised whenever possible by not disclosing specific details unless relevant to the study's conclusions.
Studies involving vulnerable groups will undergo additional editorial scrutiny, and authors may be asked to provide documentary evidence, including blank consent forms and related documents from the ethics board. Moreover, studies categorising groups by race, ethnicity, gender, disability, or disease should provide clear explanations within the article justifying the need for such categorisations.
Cell Lines
Upon submission, authors are required to disclose the specific cell lines used in their research. Provide information about the sources of cell lines, including their origins, facilitates reproducibility of the study. For de novo cell lines derived from human tissue, authors must affirm that they have obtained approval from an Institutional Review Board or an equivalent ethics committee, as well as consent from the donor or their next of kin.
Upon initial submission, manuscripts incorporating cell lines are subject to scrutiny. Any submissions not meeting the criteria for cell line research will be declined. Post-publication identification of issues such as cell line misidentification, lack of ethical oversight, or potential contamination may necessitate a Correction or Retraction. During the peer review process, editors and reviewers should assess the information regarding cell lines and promptly inform the journal of any concerns that may arise.
Research Involving Animals
Studies involving animals must be conducted according to internationally-accepted standards:
Replacement of animals by alternatives wherever possible;
Reduction in number of animals used;
Refinement of experimental conditions and procedures to minimize the harm to animals.
When reporting their research, authors are required to include detailed information regarding housing conditions, husbandry practices, and pain management strategies in their manuscript. The journals' editorial teams reserve the right to request additional information in relation to experiments on vertebrates or higher invertebrates as necessary for the evaluation of the manuscript, e.g., in the context of appropriate animal welfare or studies that involve death as an experimental endpoint.
If national legislation mandates it, studies involving vertebrates or higher invertebrates must receive approval from the appropriate ethics committee prior to commencement. The Institutional Review Board Statement section must include the project identification code, approval date, and the name of the ethics committee or Institutional Review Board. Research procedures should adhere to both national and institutional regulations. Statements regarding animal welfare should confirm compliance with all relevant legislation.
Clinical studies involving animals and interventions beyond routine care necessitate oversight by an ethics committee, following the guidelines of the American Veterinary Medical Association. In instances involving client-owned animals, informed consent from the owner must be obtained and documented in the research report. Owners should be fully informed of any associated risks with the procedures and the intention to publish the research. Whenever possible, animals should receive a high standard of veterinary care. Authors are accountable for the accuracy of the information provided in the manuscript.
If national laws do not require ethical approval, authors must furnish an exemption from the ethics committee if applicable. In cases where a study is exempt from ethical approval, the Institutional Review Board Statement section should specify the ethics committee granting the exemption, accompanied by a comprehensive rationale for the non-requirement of ethical approval.
In the absence of an animal ethics committee for review, authors should be aware that the ethical aspect of their research will be evaluated by reviewers and editors. Authors ought to provide a statement justifying the ethical considerations of the study, aligning with the utilitarian framework typically used by ethics committees. Authors may be requested to provide this justification even if they have already obtained ethical approval.
Where unregulated animals are used or ethics approval is not required by a specific committee, authors should include a clear statement of this fact and the reasons why ethical approval is not required. The journal editorial staff and editors will assess these situations on a case-by-case basis.
Territorial Descriptions, Maps, and Affiliations
Potential disputes over borders and territories may have particular relevance for authors in describing their research or in an author or editor correspondence address, and should be respected. Content decisions are an editorial matter and where there is a potential or perceived dispute or complaint, the editorial team will attempt to find a resolution that satisfies parties involved.
Highlights of Science stays neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.
Reuse of Highlights of Science Published Content
All the articles published in Highlights of Science journals are distributed under a Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 4.0). This means that anyone from around the world can read, use, download, and share the contents free of charge provided that the original work is properly cited, meanwhile, authors retain the copyright to their work.
Using Published Materials from other Publishers
It is the authors' responsibility to obtain permission to use or reproduce any published materials (such as figures, schemes, tables, or excerpts of text) that are not in the public domain or for which they do not hold the copyright. The authors should request permission from the appropriate copyright holder, office, or representative.
Content Owned by Someone Else
If your manuscript contains content such as photos, images, clipart, tables, audio files, videos, proprietary protocols, codes, etc., that you or your co-authors do not own or did not create, and that the material is not in the public domain or available under an open access license compatible with Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 4.0), you should obtain permission to use and publish the content under a Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 4.0).
Highlights of Science will not publish any material from other sources without proper permission.
Highlights of Science journals may consider high-quality content that has been previously published in a different language for publication, provided that the original study is appropriately referenced in the Acknowledgements section.
Authors should clearly declare that their paper is a translated version in the cover letter upon submission. All authors from the original publication must be listed on the submitted manuscript. Authors must seek and obtain appropriate permission from the publisher, copyright holders, and/or authors of the original article before submitting the manuscript. Relevant documentation regarding these permissions should be uploaded in the Supplementary Materials section during submission. The journal editor must be informed about the publication history of the previously published content. The original article must be cited in the Acknowledgements section as follows: "This is a translation/reprint of [insert title] originally published in [insert language] by [insert publisher] ([insert journal name, year, issue/volume number, page numbers]). This translation was prepared by [insert name] with support from [insert name of funding source, if any]. Permission was granted by [insert publisher, copyright holder, and/or author's name]." Translated articles that pass the pre-check will undergo peer review in accordance with the Highlights of Science Editorial Process.
Conflicts of Interest
A conflict of interest can be anything potentially interfering with, or that could be perceived as interfering with, full and objective peer review, decision-making or publication of articles. Authors must identify and declare any personal circumstances or interests that may be perceived as inappropriately influencing the representation or interpretation of the reported research results. Examples of potential conflicts of interest include but are not limited to financial interests (such as membership, employment, consultancies, stocks/shares ownership, honoraria, grants or other funding, paid expert testimonies and patent-licensing arrangements) and non-financial interests (such as personal or professional relationships, affiliations, and personal beliefs).
If the research receives funding, any role of the funding sponsors in the design of the study, in the collection, analyses or interpretation of data, in the writing of the manuscript, or in the decision to publish the results must be declared in the Conflicts of Interest section. If there is no role, please state "The funding sponsors had no role in the design of the study; in the collection, analyses, or interpretation of data; in the writing of the manuscript, and in the decision to publish the results".
Authors must disclose and declare any personal, professional or financial conflicts of interest that may inappropriately influence the research work in the Conflicts of Interest section. If there is no conflict of interest to declare, please state "The authors have no conflict of interest to declare".
Editorial Independence
All articles published by Highlights of Science are peer-reviewed and assessed by our independent academic editors (the Editor-in-Chief, members of the editorial board or invited guest editors). The staff at Highlights of Science are not involved in decisions to accept manuscripts. When making an editorial decision, the academic editors should consider the suitability of selected reviewers, the appropriateness of the chosen reviewers' comments and the authors' responses, as well as the overall scientific quality of the paper.
Manuscripts submitted by academic editors (the Editor-in-Chief, members of the editorial board or invited guest editors) are processed following exactly the same editorial procedure as other submissions. The academic editors will not be involved in the processing of their own manuscripts. The academic editors are not permitted to make decisions on their own manuscripts. Other editorial board members who do not have a conflict of interest with the authors will make the decisions instead.
Responsibilities and Ethics of Special Issue/Topical Collection Editors
The Special Issue/Topical Collection editors must ensure the published contents within both the scope of the Special Issue/Topical Collection and the journal.
Submissions to the Special Issue/Topical Collection from the Special Issue/Topical Collection editors will be handled by an editorial board member who has relevant expertise while not having a conflict of interest.
The Special Issue/Topical Collection editors must not ask authors to include references merely to increase citations to their own or an associate's work, to the journal, or to another journal they are associated with. The addition of references not relevant to the work is strongly discouraged.
The Special Issue/Topical Collection editors should protect the confidentiality of all material submitted to the journal, including communications for editors only and the identity of reviewers, unless it is an open peer review after publication and reviewers have signed their review report.
The Special Issue/Topical Collection editors should carefully consider and declare any conflicts of interest when participating in the review, decision-making process, and publication of a paper.
Ethics for Editors and Reviewers
The academic editors shall rely solely on the quality and merit of the article as a criterion for publication, and act independently of the race, gender, sexual orientation, religious belief, ethnic origin, citizenship, or political philosophy of the authors. The editor also agrees not to disclose any information regarding submitted manuscripts to any other party or to use any part of the content on their own behalf.
Reviewers are responsible for evaluating manuscripts, assisting the editor in making editorial decisions and improving the quality of the articles published in the journal. Reviewers shall conduct their assessment in a timely and objective manner, avoiding any personal or unsupported criticisms. Reviewers agree not to disclose any information regarding the manuscript to any other party or to use any part of the content on their own behalf. If they wish to suggest other potential reviewers or to share the reviewing task with other colleagues, they shall always inform the editor before making any contact with a third party. It is important for reviewers to prioritize the scientific aspects in their evaluations. They should refrain from relying on artificial intelligence algorithms like ChatGPT to generate review comments and should also avoid using pre-made templates. This ensures that the feedback provided is genuine and tailored to the specific content being reviewed.
To ensure transparency, a completely rigorous and unbiased review process, all those involved in the peer-review process must carefully consider and declare any conflicts of interest when participating in the review, decision-making process, and publication of an article. Academic editors and reviewers should not have any conflict of interest with respect to the research, the authors and/or the research funders.
Citation Policies
Authors are responsible for ensuring that any material taken from other sources, including their own published works, is clearly cited, and permission is obtained when necessary. It is important for authors to refrain from excessive self-citation and to avoid copying references from publications they have not read. Authors should not show bias towards citing their own, their friends', peers', or institution's publications, nor should they reference advertisements or advertorial material.
Following COPE guidelines, it is expected that "original wording directly quoted from other researchers' publications should be enclosed in quotation marks and appropriately cited." This practice also applies to an author's own work. COPE has issued a discussion document on citation manipulation containing recommendations for best practices.
Data and Materials Availability
Data Availability statement is included in publications to describe where the data associated with the paper is available, and under what conditions the data can be accessed. Highlights of Science is committed to open science and open data. Authors of peer-reviewed articles are required to make available all data relevant to the conclusions of the manuscript at the time of publication. Generated data should be publicly available and cited in accordance with the "Data Citation Guidelines" below.
When specific legal or ethical restrictions prohibit public sharing of a data set, authors must indicate how others may obtain access to the data. It is imperative that authors confirm that the shared data aligns with the consent given by participants regarding the use of sensitive information. Furthermore, authors must ensure that the publication of such data upholds the anonymity of participants and complies with local data protection regulations.
In cases where access is limited to safeguard confidential or proprietary details, authors will be required to transparently elucidate the constraints on the dataset and provide the data upon request, with explicit permission for peer review purposes.
In situations where no new data have been created or analysed, such as a review, the statement "No new data were created or analysed in this work. Data sharing is not applicable to this article." should be included as the Data Availability statement.
At Highlights of Science, we aim to achieve the best community standards regarding data availability, ensuring increased levels of transparency and reproducibility in our published articles. Our policies on data availability are informed by community-driven standards, such as the Transparency and Openness (TOP) Guidelines and the joint declaration of data citation principles produced by FORCE11.
Minimal Data Set
Authors are required to share the "minimal data set" for their submission and are also encouraged to share all of their research data. The minimal data set is defined as the foundational data that underlies the findings described and is used to reach the conclusions of the manuscript. The data should be FAIR—findable, accessible, interoperable, and reusable—so that other researchers can locate and use the data. However, exceptions are granted if data cannot be made publicly available for legal or ethical reasons. To comply with best practice in their field of research, we recommend that data should be deposited in a trusted repository that will allow for maximum reuse.
Availability of Materials
Research materials necessary to enable the reproduction of an experiment should be indicated in the Materials and Methods section. Relevant materials such as protocols, analytic methods, code, software, algorithms, and study material should preferably be uploaded to an online repository providing a global persistent link/identifier. If this is not possible, authors are strongly encouraged to make this material available upon request to interested researchers, and this should be stated in the manuscript.
Data Availability Statement
Data availability statements are required for all peer-reviewed articles (for papers published as of 1 April 2024) published with Highlights of Science. Examples of recommended data availability statements are provided below. The statement should typically include:
Where the data can be accessed (preferably a trusted data repository);
A persistent identifier, such as a Digital Object Identifier (DOI) or accession number, or a link to a permanent record for the dataset;
Details of any restrictions on accessing the data and a justifiable explanation (e.g., for ethical, legal, or commercial reasons).
Insufficient statements such as "Data available on request/reasonable request", "Data are available in a public, open access repository", "All data and codes are available under the following XXX repository:", and "Not applicable" may not be accepted.
Examples of recommended data availability statements:
Scenario Recommended Statement
Data are openly available in a repository Data supporting this study are openly available from (NAME OF REPOSITORY, e.g., CORD) at (DOI, ACCESSION NUMBER OR URL).
Data are available in a repository, but subject to an embargo Data supporting this study will be available from (NAME OF REPOSITORY, e.g., CORD) at (DOI, ACCESSION NUMBER OR URL) following a six-month embargo.
Data are available in a repository, but access is restricted due to legal, ethical, or commercial reasons Data supporting this study are available from (NAME OF REPOSITORY, e.g., CORD) at (DOI, ACCESSION NUMBER OR URL). Access to the data is subject to approval and a data sharing agreement due to (GIVE REASONS WHY ACCESS TO THE DATA IS RESTRICTED).
Secondary analysis of third party data subject to restrictions This study used third party data made available under licence that the author does not have permission to share. Requests to access the data should be directed to (THIRD PARTY) at (URL/CONTACT DETAILS).
Data available as supplementary information Data supporting this study are included within the article and/or supplementary materials.
Data are available on request only due to ethical, legal, or commercial reasons Data supporting this study are not publicly available due to (GIVE REASONS WHY DATA ARE NOT PUBLIC).
Data cannot be shared due to ethical, legal, or commercial restrictions Data supporting this study cannot be made available due to (GIVE REASONS WHY THE DATA CANNOT BE SHARED).
No new data generated or analysed No new data were created or analysed during this study. Data sharing is not applicable to this article.
Data Citation Guidelines
Authors are encouraged to cite all datasets generated or analysed in the study. Where datasets are cited, they should be included in the references list to maximize future usability. For previously published datasets, authors should cite both the related research articles and the datasets themselves.
Reference formatting for citation of data:
Who When What Where
Author, A. (Year). Title of the data set (Version number) [Data set]. Repository/Publisher Name.
Name of Group. (Year). Title of data set (Unpublished raw data). Source of Unpublished Data. Retrieved Day Month Year, from
The date for published data—use the year of publication.
The date for unpublished data—use the year(s) of collection.
Untitled data—provide a description in square brackets to replace the title of the reference.
Examples of Reference Formatting:
O'Donohue, W. (2017). Content analysis of undergraduate psychology textbooks (ICPSR 21600; Version V1) [Data set]. ICPSR.
Klette, R. (2014). [Data for computer vision spatial value statistics] [Unpublished raw data]. Auckland University of Technology.
Allegations of Research Misconduct Policy
The research community and the community at large expect intellectual honesty in the formulation, conduct, and reporting of scientific research. Allegations of research misconduct are taken seriously by Highlights of Science.
Research misconduct is defined as fabrication, falsification, or plagiarism in proposing, performing, or reviewing research, or in reporting research results. Specifically:
Fabrication is making up data or results and recording or reporting them;
Falsification is manipulating research materials, equipment, or processes, or changing or omitting data or results such that the research is not accurately represented in the research record;
Plagiarism is the appropriation of another person's ideas, processes, results, or words without giving appropriate credit.
Report of research misconduct may be related to a published article or a manuscript under peer-review process.
Upon receiving an allegation of research misconduct, the journal editorial office and editorial board will follow the COPE Best Practice Guidelines to conduct an investigation of the allegation immediately and resolve the complaint and address the misconduct fairly. The corresponding author(s) will be contacted to provide an explanation and any available evidence. The suspected manuscript that is found to contain such misconduct will be rejected. In cases where a published paper is found to contain such misconduct, a Correction or Retraction will be published.
Post-publication Comments and Complaints
Readers with concerns or complaints about published papers are encouraged to initially reach out to the corresponding author to attempt a direct resolution before contacting the editorial office. In instances where contacting the authors is not appropriate, or if the authors are unresponsive, unresolved concerns should be directed to the journal editorial office. The journal editorial office will collaborate with the complainant, authors, the Editor-in-Chief, or editorial board members to address and resolve any issues or complaints.
Concerns, comments, or requests for updates regarding the scholarly validity, ethical or legal aspects of a paper or its review process will be thoroughly investigated where deemed necessary. The editorial office, with the support of the editorial board and final approval by the Editor-in-Chief, will investigate all complaints, comments, or update requests concerning published papers. In cases of ethical concerns, final decisions are made by the Editor-in-Chief or editorial board members, who uphold publication ethics principles advocated by COPE. Depending on the nature of the complaint, consultation with university authorities, field experts, or legal counsel may be sought.
Complaints will not be considered if they contain personal criticisms of the authors, inappropriate or derogatory language, or where the complainants have used a false or misleading identity. All complaints, including anonymous ones, are subject to investigation. Complainants may request confidentiality, which the journal editorial office and the Editor-in-Chief or editorial board members will endeavour to maintain within appropriate boundaries.
Decisions regarding Corrections, Comments, Replies, Expressions of Concern, or Retractions resulting from investigations will be taken by the Editor-in-Chief or editorial board members and communicated to the authors.
If a complaint lacks substantiation, further communication will only be entertained if additional evidence is presented to support the concerns. Complainants may not receive ongoing updates on investigations until a final decision is reached, but they will be informed when updates are published. The editorial office and editorial board members are not obliged to disclose additional details. Communication may cease if exchanges are deemed disrespectful. Readers raising concerns should understand that investigations require time.
When communicating concerns to the journal editorial office, please provide information about the paper, details of the complaint, scholarly or academic related concerns, a summary of key points, any previous correspondence with authors, and a declaration regarding potential conflicts of interest.
Corrections for any scientifically relevant errors of previously published papers should be communicated with the journal editorial office. Any changes may be evaluated by the academic editors (the Editor-in-Chief, members of the editorial board or invited guest editors). Correction is a separate publication that links to the original paper, which is updated. Corrections can be submitted if: a small portion of an otherwise reliable publication proves to be misleading; or an error in a figure that does not alter the conclusions; or an error in statistical data not altering conclusions; mislabelled figures; or addition of missing details about a method. When a Correction is approved by the editorial office, authors should submit their correction through the editorial system with a title stating "Correction: Title of the original publication".
Comments and Replies
If a reader has concerns about the reported results or methods used in a specific paper, they should contact the journal editorial office. Upon review and approval, the reader can submit a Comment for potential publication. Comments are brief letters addressed to the editors from readers who wish to publicly question a specific paper. Once a Comment has been approved for further peer review, the journal editorial office will notify the authors of the paper and invite them to prepare a Reply to address the issues raised in the Comment. The Reply provides authors with an opportunity to address the reader's concerns publicly. If the reader's concerns are validated and the authors are unable to address them effectively, a Correction to the original paper may be issued, or the paper may be retracted. If authors do not respond within the given time frame or choose not to respond, the Comment may be published alongside a note explaining the absence of a Reply.
Both Comments and Replies will undergo review to ensure: (1) the Comment addresses significant aspects of the original paper without evolving into a new paper; (2) the Reply directly responds to concerns without evasion; (3) the tone of both submissions is suitable for a scientific journal. While Comments can critique the work, they should refrain from criticising the authors. Comments should not rehash previously published disagreements. Only one round of Comment and Reply will be facilitated if from the same reader(s). Highlights of Science journals exclusively consider Comments on articles published by Highlights of Science.
Expressions of Concern
Expressions of Concern (EOCs) are notifications published at the discretion of the editors to apprise readers of significant concerns related to the published work or an article's adherence to the policies of Highlights of Science. In instances involving intricate, inconclusive, or protracted post-publication issues where investigations into alleged or suspected research misconduct are ongoing or inconclusive, an EOC may serve as a temporary resolution. EOCs are prepared by the Highlights of Science team and/or the journal's Editor-in-Chief. Once released, an EOC is prominently featured at the top of the article's webpage and linked to the article's publication record, resembling a correction notice. The publication status of the linked article remains unaltered by an EOC. Subsequent to the publication of an EOC, the same article may undergo correction or retraction. Alternatively, the EOC itself may be amended or withdrawn based on the editors' assessment of the information, data, and materials obtained in subsequent deliberations.
Highlights of Science abides the COPE guidelines and recommendations for potential retraction. Potential retractions are thoroughly investigated by the journal editorial office with the support of the editorial board and final approval by the Editor-in-Chief. Other persons and institutions will be consulted as necessary, including university authorities, or experts in the field. Retractions at Highlights of Science are not about punishing authors, as recommended by COPE. Retraction statements will be published publicly and linked to the original publication.
The following reasons may be considered for concern and potential retraction:
Clear evidence that findings are unreliable, either as a result of misconduct or honest error;
Redundant publication;
Significant plagiarism;
Legal issues pertaining to the content of the article;
Inadvertent errors made during the research process;
Articles that have made extraordinary claims without concomitant scientific or statistical evidence;
Other case-by-case reasons.
Advertising Policies
Highlights of Science journals adhere to high ethical standards in all its activities and, above all, defend the right to maintain editorial independence. It strictly prohibits advertising or sponsorship from influencing editorial decisions.
Readers understand the distinction between advertising and editorial content. They are aware that the claims made in advertisements are not endorsed by Highlights of Science journals.
Highlights of Science journals accept only legal and decent advertisements that comply with current recommendations and guidelines. The placement of advertisements is determined independently of the editorial department's decisions regarding the content of a specific issue.
Editorial material is never influenced by advertising. Highlights of Science journals do not publish accompanying material for advertisements and do not sell advertising space related to particular articles.
All decisions regarding advertisements are made at the editor's discretion. If commercial clients adhere to these guidelines, their advertisements or sponsorship is likely to be accepted.
Highlights of Science collaborates closely with authors, reviewers, and editors to uphold core principles of publication ethics. We welcome any feedback, questions, or suggestions that contribute to the ongoing enhancement of the publishing process and support for research communities. These can be addressed to
Subscribe to read the latest articles and newsletters from Highlights of Science.