Editorial Policy

East African Journal of Sciences (EAJS)

Haramaya University, Ethiopia

I. Aims and Scope

The East African Journal of Sciences (EAJS) is a multi-disciplinary scientific journal published by Haramaya University, Ethiopia. The journal publishes high quality original research papers in agricultural sciences, natural sciences, environmental sciences, social sciences, health, and medical sciences, veterinary sciences, and other related disciplines. It also publishes review articles, short communications, and registration of newly released crop varieties and other technologies. The journal also provides a platform for disseminating scientific and technical information and exchange of knowledge among scientists engaged in research and development in the world.

II. Editorial Policy

EAJS adopts and adheres to international standards and requirements of research and publication. Therefore, it requires all researchers to conduct their work ethically and responsibly with integrity and compliance with all relevant international codes required for doing research and reporting findings. This policy describes guidelines in the publication process of the journal.

1. Publication Ethics and Consent

Submission of a manuscript to EAJS implies that all authors have read and agreed to its content and structure, and that the manuscript conforms to the journal’s standards and policies. The journal remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps, third party data sets and institutional affiliations. Papers must be submitted with the understanding that they have not been published elsewhere (except in the form of an abstract or as part of a published dissertation or thesis) and are not currently under consideration by any other journal or publisher for possible publication.

The corresponding author is responsible for ensuring that the submission and publication of the manuscript has been approved by all the other co-authors. It is also the authors' responsibility to ensure that manuscripts emanating from a particular institution are submitted with the approval of the concerned institution. The Editorial Office of the journal officially acknowledges receipt of manuscripts submitted for publication. Further correspondence and proofs will be sent to the corresponding author(s) before publication unless otherwise indicated. All authors are also expected to sign a consent form once their manuscript(s) are accepted by the journal.

1.1 Ethical Issues

East African Journal of Sciences is responsible for ensuring and maintaining international standards of ethical conduct in research and publication. The journal rigorously guards against all types of unethical conduct in research and publication, including, fraud, plagiarism, data fabrication, duplicate publication, and other forms of unethical conduct.

Errors could be due to negligence (for example, errors related to statistical analysis, figure reporting and the like) or honest errors which are part of the normal course of doing research. However, scientific frauds that would put scientific merits and careers at risk will be treated seriously. Thus, when a potential misconduct is reported by the reviewer(s) or editor, the editorial office corresponds to the author and request verification. But if the explanation provided by the author is unacceptable and seems that misconduct has taken place, the editorial office has the right to decide on the fate and even ban the author(s) from further submission. Further notes could be communicated to the author.

In the following sections, some the fundamental ethical issues have been defined,

Ethical principles most common in research and publication of scientific papers are the following: reporting data, results, methods and procedures; not fabricating, falsifying or misrepresenting data (Honesty); avoiding bias in experimental design, data analysis, data interpretation, peer review, personnel decisions, and other aspects of research (Objectivity); keeping promises and agreements, acting with sincerity, striving for consistency of thought and action (Integrity);  avoiding careless errors and negligence and carefully and critically examining one’s own work and the work of one’s peers (Carefulness); honoring patents, copyrights, and other forms of intellectual property and not using unpublished data, methods, or results without permission and giving credit where credit is due, and avoiding plagiarizing (Respect for Intellectual Property); Protecting confidential communications, such as papers submitted for publication, personnel records, patient records, etc. (Confidentiality); avoiding wasteful and duplicative publication (Responsible Publication); striving to promote social good and prevent or mitigate social harms through research, public education, and advocacy (Social Responsibility); avoiding discrimination against colleagues or students on the basis of sex, race, ethnicity, or other factors that are not related to their scientific competence and integrity (Non-Discrimination); maintaining and improving your own professional competence; and showing proper respect and care for animals when using them in research and not conducting unnecessary or poorly designed animal experiments (Animal Care); when conducting research on human subjects, minimizing harms and risks and maximizing benefits, respecting human dignity, privacy and autonomy (Human Subjects Protection).

Procedures for responding to some of the unethical conduct in publication have been outlined in the following section. Each issue is followed by recommended actions as advised by Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) for Journal Editors.

1.1.1. Data fabrication/falsification

Data fabrication affects the making up of research findings. Data falsification is referring to manipulating research data with the intention of giving a false impression of one’s findings. This includes manipulating images, removing outliers from results, changing, adding or omitting data points, inclusion of false data, rearranging of data, polishing of analysis outputs, and others. If an author’s figures are questionable, it is suggested to request the original data from the authors.

If a manuscript is found to have fabricated or falsified results, including manipulation of images and figures, it may be sanctioned; and if the fraud is identified after the manuscript gets published, the article may be retracted. Note that there are instances where technical manipulations of images and figures are allowed for readability and balance of contrasts. You may refer from the website for further recommended actions of manipulation of images and figures before submission to EAJS.

1.1.2. Duplicate publication/segmentation

Duplicate publication refers to the practice of submitting results of the same study to more than one journal or publishing more or less the same material in more than one journal. Duplicate publication often occurs when an author reuses substantial parts of his or her own published work without providing the appropriate references. This can range from publishing an identical paper in multiple journals, to only adding a small amount of new data to a previously published paper. The submission/publication can be nearly simultaneous or years later. As duplicate publication dilutes science, manuscripts submitted to EAJS must be original and not submitted for publication or published in any other journal.

Authors who have related material under consideration or in press in any other journal should upload a clearly marked copy at the time of submission and draw the editor's attention to it in their covering letter. If a part of a contribution that an author wishes to submit to the journal has appeared or will appear elsewhere, the author must specify the details in the covering letter. The author is responsible to get permission from previous publisher or copyright holders if an author is re-using any part of a paper published or copyrighted elsewhere.

Segmented publication (also described as ‘salami publishing or slicing’) refers to the situation that one study is split into several parts and submitted to two or more journals; or the findings have previously been published elsewhere without proper cross-referencing, permission or justification. In the process, contents are supposed to recycle from previous work without citation. This practice is widespread and might be unintentional and the editorial office is expected to cross-check both duplication and segmentation of publications to keep standards and scientific integrity in accordance with COPE recommendations for action against the issues.

1.1.3. Plagiarism/duplication of texts and/or figures

Unacknowledged copying or an attempt to misattribute original authorship, whether of ideas, text or results and presents as his/her own work is defined as plagiarism. As defined by the Office of Research Integrity of US Department of Health and Human Services, plagiarism can include, "theft or misappropriation of intellectual property and the substantial unattributed textual copying of another's work". Plagiarism can be said to have clearly occurred when large chunks of text have been cut and pasted without appropriate and unambiguous attribution.  Authors should ensure that they credit the originator of any ideas as well as the words and figures that they use to express the ideas. Copying without proper acknowledgement of the origin of text or figures is strictly forbidden. Small amounts of text, a line or two, are usually ignored. Plagiarism includes self-plagiarism, which is, in effect, publishing the same work twice. All sources must be cited at the point they are used, and reuse of wording must be limited and be attributed or quoted in the text. EAJS editors assess all such cases on their individual merits. When plagiarism becomes evident post-publication, EAJS may correct or retract the original publication depending on the degree of plagiarism, context within the published article and its impact on the overall integrity of the published study. 

The process of detecting plagiarism by EAJS could involve the use of software (Crossref Similarity Check). CrossCheck is an initiative from CrossRef to help scholarly publishers verify the originality of submitted manuscripts. The web-based tool can be used in the editorial process to identify matching text but it cannot, on its own, identify plagiarism. Manual examination of the matching text is still required and judgment used to identify if plagiarism has occurred or not.

Of course, there are different degrees of plagiarism. The severity is dependent on various factors: extent of copied material, originality of copied material, position/context/type of material and referencing/attribution of the material used. Every case is different and therefore decisions will vary per case. For the sake of clarity, the Editorial Office of EAJS is advised, while reviewing, to consider points like professional seniority of author, cultural background, verbatim copying of another work or significant portion of a single source, mixing verbatim, changing keywords and phrases but retaining the content, rephrasing, wrong citation and others. Details of each qualifier could be accessed from the website. However, for a review paper, the above is not directly applicable as it is expected to give a summary of existing literature. But authors are encouraged to use their own words otherwise properly quoted and/or cited texts, and the work should include a new interpretation.

East African Journal of Sciences will also guard against “Salami publication. Salami publication occurs when authors break their work down into “minimum publishable units” to try to get as many publications as possible out of a piece of research. If EAJS editors believe authors have practiced salami science, they may reject manuscripts with such features.

1.1.4. Authorship

An author is an individual who has significantly contributed to the development of a manuscript, and is an explicit way of assigning responsibility and giving credit for intellectual work. Authorship practices should be judged by how honestly they reflect actual contributions to the final product. The journal assumes that all authors agreed with the content and that all gave explicit consent to submit and that they obtained consent from the responsible authorities at the institute/organization where the work has been carried out, before the work is submitted. Signed consent letter of authors is a prerequisite for publication of a manuscript in this journal.

East African Journal of Sciences recommends that authorship be based on the following four important criteria (as suggested by many other scientific journals): (1) substantial contributions to the conception or design of the work; or the acquisition, analysis, or interpretation of data for the work; AND (2) drafting the work or revising it critically for important intellectual content; AND (3) final approval of the version to be published; AND (4) 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. Details of each criterion could be obtained from COPE website.

Authors should all agree on the order in which their names will appear in the article. The first author should be the person who carried out most of the work reported, with other workers mentioned in decreasing order of contribution. The scientist who oversaw the work is usually placed last. All people who are listed as authors must be aware of the paper, must have agreed to be named as an author, and must have had the opportunity to contribute to and comment on the paper.

i. Co-authors, corresponding authors, affiliations, and changes

co-author is any person who has made a significant contribution to a journal article. They also share responsibility and accountability for the results. If more than one author writes an article, authors have to choose one person to be the corresponding author. This person will handle all correspondence about the manuscript with the Editorial Office of the journal. The corresponding author is responsible for ensuring that all the authors’ contact details are correct.

Authors should give an address and affiliation for each author mentioned on the title page – that is, the address and affiliation of the author at the time when the work was done. If any authors have moved, include a footnote with their present address.

ii. Authorship disputes

Disputes sometimes arise about who should be listed as authors of an intellectual product and the order in which they should be listed. Many of such disagreements result from misunderstanding and failed communication among colleagues and might have been prevented by a clear, early understanding of standards for authorship that are shared by the academic community as a whole. In such disputes, the journal will not take part in to investigate or adjudicate. Instead, authors will be asked to resolve the dispute themselves. If the disagreement persists, the journal reserves the right to withdraw a manuscript from the editorial process.

2. AcknowledgementsAll contributors who do not meet the criteria for authorship should be listed in an ‘Acknowledgements’ Section. Individuals who are in the acknowledgement list do not qualify as author(s). For instance, a person who provided purely technical help or writing assistance, or personnel who provided only general support upon the experimentation of the research should be acknowledged. Moreover, organizations/institutes that provided support in terms of funding and/or other resources should also be acknowledged. The Acknowledgements generally include one or more of the following.

  • Sources of funds;
  • People who gave significant technical help (e.g., in the design of your experiment, in providing materials);
  • People who gave ideas, suggestions, interpretations, etc.;
  • People who provided technical assistance; and
  • The anonymous reviewers.

3. Competing Interests

In the interests of transparency and to help readers form their own judgments of potential bias, the journal requires authors to declare any competing financial and/or non-financial interests in relation to the work under consideration. The corresponding author is responsible for submitting a competing interests' statement on behalf of all authors of the paper. A conflict of interest can occur when you (or your employer or sponsor) has a financial, commercial, legal, or professional relationship with other organizations, or with the people working with them, that influence your research. The Editorial Office of EAJS is supposed to use the information to undergo editorial decisions.

4. Complaints

Authors who believe that their manuscripts have been treated unfairly in the peer review process of EAJS can lodge complaints by writing a formal letter to the Editorial Manager of the journal. The decisions against which complaints could be submitted include outright rejection, unduly long review process, and any ethical concerns that may arise in due course in relation to authors and reviewers. In response, Editorial Office of the journal will assess the merit of the complaint based on data and office records of the manuscript and reach a decision. The Editorial Manager will present the case to a committee of technical editorial board members for a quick decision. If the committee finds that the complaint has merit, the authors will be advised to proceed to rectify the problem. Subsequently, the Editorial Office (Editorial Manager) will inform the authors about the case and subject the manuscript to a fresh peer review process. If the complaint has no merit whatsoever, EAJS will reject it and inform the authors about the decision in writing.

5. Peer Review

East African Journal of Sciences strives to provide researchers or contributors with a rigorous, constructive, positive and timely peer review for their manuscript(s). The peer-review process is blind for all submitted manuscripts. All manuscripts (full length research articles, short communications, reviews or variety or other technology registration) submitted to EAJS that are selected for the peer review process are supposed to be sent to two or more independent reviewers, selected by the editorial office. When an Editor is on the author list or has any other competing interest regarding a specific manuscript, another member of the Editorial Board will be assigned to assume responsibility for handling the peer review process. 

All submissions to EAJS are expected to pass through prior assessment by the Editorial Office (Deputy-Editor and Editor-in-Chief) to decide whether they are suitable for peer review or not. Submissions found to be suitable for consideration in the journal will be sent for peer review by appropriate independent experts identified by the Editorial Office. 

The review process of EAJS follows the following specific procedures:

  1. Each received manuscript is subjected to a preliminary review process by relevant technical editorial board members and the editors (Deputy Editor and Editor-in-Chief);
  2. The editorial manager of the journal sends each paper received to two or three anonymous ‘peers’, who are experts in the subject covered by the respective manuscript;
  3. The referees read the manuscripts and may recommend that the manuscripts be accepted with no change, rejected or revised (usually providing detailed lists of recommended changes);
  4. The Editorial Office (Editor-in-Chief) decides whether to reject each paper or accept it, with no changes, minor amendments or major revisions; and
  5. The Editorial Manager then informs the authors of the decision, usually providing a list of referees’ comments, and his/her comments, that they should address.                    

i. Editorial decision

Once the review process is completed, the Editorial Office will make a decision based on the reviewers’ reports, and author(s) are sent these reports along with the editorial decision on their manuscript(s). Authors should note that even in light of one positive report, concerns raised by another reviewer may fundamentally undermine the study and result in the manuscript being rejected, or the editorial office has the prerogative to entertain the manuscript and send for another reviewer (in accordance with decision categories)

ii.   Confidentiality

Authors should treat all communication with the Editorial Office of the journal as confidential, which includes correspondence with Editorial Manager and Editors-in-Chief on behalf of the journal, and/or handling editors’ and reviewers’ reports unless explicit consent has been received to share the information obtained through the process. Reviewers are, therefore, required to respect the confidentiality of the peer review process and not reveal any details of a manuscript or its review, during or after the peer-review process, beyond the information released by the journal. Thus, authors should feel confident that their manuscripts are not shared with third parties out of EAJS Editorial Office.

6. Ethical Procedures

As stated in Section 1.1.4, authors should include information regarding sources of funding and potential conflicts of interest (financial or non-financial) to ensure objectivity and transparency in research and to ensure that accepted principles of ethical and professional conduct have been followed. Moreover, if the research involves human participants, informed consent is required, and if the research involves animals, a statement on welfare of animals should be produced before submitting the manuscript to EAJS.

 To this end, authors involving animals as experimental set must confirm that all experiments were performed in accordance with relevant guidelines and regulations. The manuscript must also include a statement identifying the institutional and/or licensing committee approving the experiments along with any relevant details. Furthermore, authors who involve living organisms in experiments are advised to access more information, regarding ethical procedures and clearance, from international standards.