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Ethics-related guidelines for authors and article retractions: How do Indian biomedical journals measure up?

Madhavi Bhargava, Vina Vaswani , Ravi Vaswani

DOI: 10.20529/IJME.2019.076


Abstract

Background: There has been an increase in research output from India, which in turn has led to an increase in the number of Indian journals facilitating biomedical research. The instructions to authors in the websites of these journals should clearly display ethics-related guidelines for the ethical publication process. The present study did an objective assessment of “instructions to authors” on the websites of Indian biomedical journals in PubMed and IndMED and retractions in these journals from January 2012 to October 2017.

Methods: A 14-point checklist based on previous studies and review of literature was used. A total of 110 journals were included in the study and their websites assessed.

Results: A dedicated section on ethics was found in 56 (50.9%) journal websites, 42 (38.2%) did not mention any specific bioethics guidelines, animal ethics was mentioned in 65 (59%) of the journals, and an ethics committee approval was required by 65 (59%) of the journals. Sixty-four (58.2%) journals mentioned mandatory informed consent and 19 (17.3%) required assent. There were 22 (20%) journals that required neither Clinical Trial Registry of India (CTRI) registration nor Consolidated Standards of Reporting Trials (CONSORT) guidelines for reporting of clinical trials. There were 38 (34.5%) journals that actively looked for plagiarism. Most common reason for retraction was duplicate publication (23, 38.4%) followed by plagiarism (17,28.3%).

Conclusion: The lacunae found in this survey indicate a need for strengthening of author instructions. The number of retractions in the last five years suggests that there are valid reasons to strengthen ethics in the publication process in India.

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