Peer Review Process, Policies on Data Sharing, Competing Interests, and Privacy

Health and Human Rights adopts policies and procedures that embrace an open access philosophy. Our policies reflect the work of our colleagues at Open Medicine and PLoS Medicine. In many instances, the following policy guidelines reflect language developed at Open Medicine.

Peer Review Process

Unbiased, independent, critical assessment is an intrinsic part of all scholarly work, including scientific investigation. Peer reviewers are experts in their field who are not part of the editorial staff and thus are an important extension of the process. Manuscripts will be reviewed by at least two reviewers. Peer reviewers are asked to submit their review within 3-4 weeks.

Open Access Policy

Health and Human Rights applies the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License to works we publish, because we believe that there should be no financial barriers to access to information.

We also believe that authors should retain copyright to the article they have worked so hard to produce. This Creative Commons license means that anyone is able to freely copy, download, reprint, reuse, distribute, display, or perform the work we publish as long as it is not used for a commercial purpose.

The Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License also means that anyone is free to make derivative works (alter, transform, or build upon) so long as this work is not used for commercial purposes. Any derivative or non-derivative work must be attributed to the author and to Health and Human Rights.

Any of these conditions can be waived with permission from the copyright holder, including the right to modification or commercial distribution. These conditions do not negate or supersede Fair Use laws in any country.

For more information, please visit:
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/

Competing Interest Policy

Competing interests exist when an author (or the author’s institution), reviewer, or editor has financial or personal relationships that inappropriately influence (bias) his or her actions. Such relationships vary from those with negligible potential to those with great potential to influence judgment. Not all relationships represent true competing interests. However, the potential for competing interests can exist whether or not an individual believes that the relationship in question affects his or her scientific judgment.

Financial relationships (such as employment, consultancies, stock ownership, honoraria, paid expert testimony) are the most easily identifiable competing interests and the most likely to undermine the credibility of the journal, the authors, and of science itself. However, conflicts can occur for other reasons, such as personal relationships, academic competition, and intellectual passion.

All participants in the peer review and publication process must disclose all relationships that could be viewed as presenting a potential conflict of interest. Disclosure of these relationships is also important in connection with editorials and review articles, because it can be more difficult to detect bias in these types of publications than in reports of original research.

Editors may use information disclosed in competing interest statements as a basis for editorial decisions. Editors will publish this information if they believe it is important in judging the manuscript.

Potential competing interests related to individual authors’ commitments:

When authors submit a manuscript, whether an article or a letter, they are responsible for disclosing all financial and personal relationships that might bias their work. To prevent ambiguity, authors must state explicitly whether potential conflicts do or do not exist. Authors should do so in the manuscript on a competing interest notification page that follows the title page, providing additional detail, if necessary, in a cover letter that accompanies the manuscript. Editors decide when to publish information disclosed by authors about potential competing interests. If doubt exists, editors err on the side of publication.

Potential conflicts of interest related to project support:

Increasingly, individual studies receive funding from commercial firms, private foundations, and government. The conditions of this funding have the potential to bias and otherwise discredit the research. Authors should describe the role of the study sponsor(s), if any, in study design; in the collection, analysis, and interpretation of data; in the writing of the report; and in the decision to submit the report for publication. If the supporting source had no such involvement, the authors should so state. Editors request that authors of a study funded by an agency with a proprietary or financial interest in the outcome sign a statement such as, “I had full access to all of the data in this study and I take complete responsibility for the integrity of the data and the accuracy of the data analysis.” Editors may also review copies of the protocol and/or contracts associated with project-specific studies before accepting such studies for publication.

Editors may choose not to consider an article if a sponsor has asserted control over the authors’ right to publish.

Potential conflicts of interest related to commitments of editors, journal staff, or reviewers:

Editors will avoid selecting external peer reviewers with obvious potential conflicts of interest, for example, those who work in the same department or institution as any of the authors.

Authors often provide editors with the names of persons they feel should not be asked to review a manuscript because of potential conflicts of interest, usually professional. When possible, authors will be asked to explain or justify their concerns; this information is important to editors in deciding whether to honor such requests.

Reviewers must disclose to editors any competing interests that could bias their opinions of the manuscript, and they should disqualify themselves from reviewing specific manuscripts in cases where substantial competing interests exist or could reasonably be imputed. Reviewers are asked to state explicitly whether conflicts do or do not exist. Reviewers must not use knowledge of the work, before its publication, to further their own interests.

Editors who make final decisions about manuscripts will have no personal, professional, or financial involvement in any of the issues they might judge. Other members of the editorial staff, if they participate in editorial decisions, will provide editors with a current description of their financial interests (as they might relate to editorial judgments) and disqualify themselves from any decisions where they have a competing interest.

Editorial staff will not use the information gained through working with manuscripts for private gain.

Competing Interest Statements of Health and Human Rights Editors

The editors of Health and Human Rights are required to complete the following statement regarding potential competing interests:

  • Have you accepted monetary compensation for any of the following from an organization that might gain or lose financially or in any other way because of a relationship with Health and Human Rights? This includes but is not limited to: reimbursement for attending a symposium; speaker fees; fees for educational events; research funds; funds for a member of your staff; and consulting fees.
  • Have you been employed by an organization that may in any way gain or lose financially from the publication of papers in Health and Human Rights?
  • Do you hold stocks or shares in an organization that might benefit or lose from an existing relationship withHealth and Human Rights?
  • Do you wish to disclose other competing interests, financial or otherwise?

Confidentiality Statement

The editors of Health and Human Rights are required to agree to the following statement regarding editorial content:

As a member of the Health and Human Rights editorial team, I agree to keep confidential the content of accepted submissions until publication. I also agree to respect the privacy and intellectual property rights of authors who submit material to the journal.

I will not disclose information concerning the journal’s receipt of a submission, its content, or its review, other than in discussions with the journal’s editors and peer reviewers in the normal process of evaluation.

I understand that the final editorial decision will be disclosed to peer reviewers, who are bound by a similar obligation of confidentiality. Peer reviews of rejected material will be shared with other journals only with the author’s explicit consent.

Data Sharing Policy

At Health and Human Rights we believe that original and novel research is vitally important; so too are the studies that follow to confirm or repudiate initial findings.

We also believe in the creative re-use of data. Allowing other researchers access to the data that you have collected considerably extends data’s value. Creative re-use offers the opportunity to validate your findings as well as exploring new ways of using the knowledge gained. It also means that funding bodies and patients involved in the research see their initial investment grow.

Like other journals starting to build upon the value of data sharing and publishing (for example PLoS Medicine andAnnals of Internal Medicine), we would like to you to indicate your willingness to share your protocol, dataset and the statistical code used for your analysis with other authors. We encourage authors who publish secondary analysis to use the same Creative Commons license that we use; encouraging ongoing open access to your data and the knowledge derived from it.

Regardless of your commitment to dataset sharing, the editors at Health and Human Rights sometimes need protocols or data sets to ensure the methods and results in papers are as clear and accurate as possible. We will request these materials as necessary.

We strongly encourage you to consider sharing your data on the Health and Human Rights website once your paper has been accepted.

Privacy Statement 

The names and email addresses entered in this journal site will be used exclusively for the stated purposes of this journal and will not be made available for any other purpose or to any other party.

Policy on Response, Counterpoint, and Letters to the Editor

Health and Human Rights welcomes diversity of opinion, and thoughtful, provocative dialogue between parties holding different viewpoints on issues related to health and human rights. We believe that conscientious, respectful disagreement is a fundamental mechanism that creates bridges when we connect to and understand persons with whom we disagree. Such exchanges constitute a form of solidarity.

Authors and readers are invited to comment by offering response, counterpoint, rebuttal, or a “Letter to the Editor” on articles published in the  journal and the  “Perspectives” section.  Responses to a regular article published in a specific issue of the journal which reach us in a peer-reviewable scholarly format may (at editorial discretion and after appropriate editing) be published as a Perspectives piece.

Further discussion, such as subsequent comments, counterpoint responses, or letters to the editor that are submitted in response to either Perspectives articles or “reply” posts, may be published as blog posts. A blog post launches a public discussion that invites further dialogue and conversation between the original authors and the broad community of Health and Human Rights readers. Posts include links to all original communications in the dialogue.

Community Guidelines for Response, Counterpoint, and Rebuttal

The editors expect that, in voicing differences of opinion, all commenters and contributors will engage in dialogue in a manner consonant with our community guidelines, summarized below:

1. Expressions of prejudice are prohibited, including racism, sexism, classism, homophobia, and transphobia. OpenForum is a community in which the inherent dignity of all persons is acknowledged and valued.

2. Responses are expected to focus on constructive ideas and concepts. We are called – and we call on you – to view all members of the journal’s online community as partners in a journey. When responding to others, please:

  • differ with ideas, not with persons (no ad hominem comments will be tolerated, and such posts will be removed);
  • respect the expertise and shared commitment to health and human rights of authors whose views may differ from yours; and
  • shape your contribution constructively, that is, in a manner that builds ideas, change, and encourages conversation.