In December 2012, PLoS ONE published research into the prevalence and content policies of the most influential biomedical journals on research misconduct and their procedures for addressing allegations of misconduct.
The authors conducted a cross-sectional study of the misconduct policies of 399 high-impact biomedical journals in the United States. The study defined research misconduct as ‘fabrication, falsification, plagiarism, or other practices that seriously deviate from those are commonly accepted within the scientific community for proposing, conducting, or reporting research’, adopting the definition used by the US Office of Research Integrity.
The study found that only a third of top-ranking peer reviewed journals had publically-available definitions of research misconduct. Less than half of these journals set out their procedures for responding to allegations of misconduct.
The authors noted that endorsing standardised international policies was positively associated with the successful implementation of good practice procedures. They recommended that journals and publishers should standardise their policies for research integrity on a global scale, thereby increasing public trust in the integrity of their content.