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Editorial Policies

In March 2019, OAE officially became a member of Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE). This document describes the standard editorial norms that Rare Disease and Orphan Drugs Journal (RDODJ) should jointly comply with; illustrates the scope of responsibility and right of different roles in the process of academic publishing, including authors, reviewers, the Editor-in-Chief, the Associate Editor, the Editorial Board members, Guest Editors, and in-house Editors; and clarifies the handling of publication misconduct. This document is based on the guidelines of COPEWorld Association of medical Editors (WAME), and International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE).

1. Research Integrity

We uphold the high standards publication and expect research published by RDODJ to abide by the principles of COPE in promoting integrity in scholarly research and its publication.

These principles cover:

  • honesty in all aspects of research;

  • scrupulous care, thoroughness, and excellence in research practice;

  • transparency and open communication;

  • care and respect for all participants and subjects of research.

In addition to the general principles above, our journal editorial teams also provide specific guidelines and policies for authors on research integrity and ethics appropriate to their subject matter and discipline. Anyone who believes that research published by RDODJ has not been carried out in line with these Research Publishing Ethics Guidelines, or the above principles, should raise their concern with the relevant Editor or email Concerns will be addressed by COPE guidelines where possible and/or by escalating the matter to OAE Ethics Committee if necessary.

2. Editorial Process

2.1 Editorial independence

We are committed to editorial independence and strive in all cases to prevent this principle from being compromised through conflicts of interest, fear, or any other corporate, business, financial or political influence. Our editorial processes reflect this commitment to editorial independence.  We do not discriminate against authors, Editors, or peer reviewers based on personal characteristics or identity.

All articles published by RDODJ are assessed by our independent Editorial Boards. Editorial office staff are not involved in decisions to accept manuscripts. When making a decision, we expect the academic Editor (the Editor-in-Chief or an Associate Editor) to make it based solely upon:

The suitability of selected reviewers;
 Adequacy of reviewer comments and author response;
 Scientific excellence and originality;
 Overall scientific quality of the paper.

We do not tolerate abusive behavior or correspondence towards our staff and others involved in the publishing process on our behalf. If anyone involved in this process engages in such behavior we have the right to take action to protect others from this abuse. This may include, for example, withdrawal of a manuscript from consideration or challenging abusive peer review comments.

2.2 Process

RDODJ operates a rigorous single-blind peer review with at least three independent reviewers, followed by a final acceptance/rejection decision by the Editor-in-Chief. The Editor-in-Chief is responsible for the academic quality of the publication process, including final decisions and approval of Guest Editors, Special Issue topics, and new Editorial Board members. A summary of the editorial process can be found at Editorial Process.

3. Peer-Review Policy

3.1 Acceptable manuscript types

The following types of articles submitted to RDODJ will be peer-reviewed: Original Article, Review, Case Report, Meta-analysis, Technical Note, Perspective, Opinion, Communication, Letter, Mini-review, and Commentary. Other submitted articles are not usually peer-reviewed. For any questions or comments about the peer-review process, please contact the Managing Editor. Regarding questions about a specific manuscript, authors can contact the Editor who is handling the manuscript directly.

3.2 Online review system

All submitted manuscripts are processed in our online manuscript system: MESAs which follows international publishing standards specified by COPE, ICMJE, and WAME. Peer reviewers can download articles and upload their review comments. For any technical problems met in the process, reviewers can contact the Managing Editor directly.

3.3 Criteria for publication

In general, every accepted manuscript means the paper must be of high quality, which should have originality, provide strong evidence for its conclusions, and be of great importance to researchers and interesting to readers in the related field.
 The editorial office encourage commentary on published research as necessary to advance scientific discourse, which may also involve challenges, clarifications, etc.
 All manuscripts will be uploaded to the most trusted plagiarism checker, iThenticate, for similarity check. Typically, the similarity rate of a manuscript should not exceed 30%.

3.4 Review process
  • Topics fall within the target journal's scope;

  • Acceptable quality after the pre-check by Editors or Guest Editors;

  • Ethical code and approval have been provided if any;

  • Copyright permissions of cited Tables or Figures have been provided if any;

  • The similarity rate of a manuscript should not exceed 30%, especially no similarity in the sections of Abstract, Results, and Discussion;

  • Language is used in scientific writing and readable.

Only the papers that meet our editorial criteria can be sent for formal peer-review. Submissions of insufficient interest or poor quality will be rejected promptly by Editors without undergoing external review.
 Typically, three review reports are required for each manuscript in external review. In the case of the three review reports that are highly controversial, the third review report will be collected. In these review reports, reviewers are expected to provide the Editors with a decision together with detailed comments and provide the authors with specific suggestions on revision.
 Based on reviewers' comments, after careful consideration, the Editor-in-Chief will make possible decisions as below:

  • Accept: with/without editorial revision.

  • Accept after minor revisions: If reviewers approve a paper's quality only with several minor suggestions, the paper will be basically accepted after revision based on the reviewers' comments. Authors are usually given a week to revise their paper.

  • Reconsider after major revisions: If reviewers propose the suggestion of major revision or raise essential questions on a paper, the authors will be required to provide a point-to-point response or provide a rebuttal if authors cannot agree with some of reviewers' comments. Usually, only one round of major revisions is allowed, and whether the paper will be accepted would depend on the revisions. Authors will be required to resubmit the revised form within two weeks or one month if additional experiments are needed. If the author cannot complete the supplementary experiment within one month, we suggest that the author complete the experiment and submit the revised version as a new submission. The revision will be returned to the reviewers for further review.

  • Reject: The Editor-in-Chief will explain detailed reasons to the authors (e.g., lack of novelty or significant technical problems).

Reviewers' criticisms will be taken seriously. When reviewers disagree with each other, or the authors claim their research is misunderstood, we will further ask for advice from related reviewers or additional reviewers.
 We respect reviewers' willingness or unwillingness to review subsequent revisions. Also, the Assistant Editor will not send revisions to reviewers if the authors have not addressed the comments seriously.

3.5 Reviewer selection

Reviewer selection is very critical in the publication process. When selecting a reviewer, we consider many factors, including expertise, reputation, recommendations, and our previous experience of reviewers. A reviewer who is quick, responsible, and can provide useful comments for papers is preferred and will be added in our reviewer database. Meanwhile, authors can request that the Editors exclude one or two individuals or laboratories. The Editors will seriously consider their requests and usually respect them, but Editors make the final decision on the choice of referees. In the process, we keep in mind the confidentiality of manuscripts.
 General reviewer criteria of RDODJ are as follows:

  • Having Ph.D. degree and institutional email;

  • Having research interest related to the manuscript topic;

  • Having no conflicts of interest with authors after Editor's preliminary investigation;

  • Having publications in internationally recognized academic journals in recent five years.

The peer-review process is single-blind peer review for RDODJ. We do not release reviewers' identities to authors or other reviewers unless they voluntarily sign their comments to the authors. Generally, we ask reviewers not to identify themselves to authors in their review reports without the Editor's knowledge. We avoid any attempt by authors to identify the reviewers. RDODJ also supports double-blind peer-review and open review in the future.

3.6 Time control

RDODJ is committed to rapid manuscript processing and publication. An efficient editorial process is a valuable service both to our authors and to the scientific community. We therefore ask reviewers to submit their review report promptly within an agreed period. If reviewers need a longer delay than previously expected, we will keep the authors informed promptly or will find alternatives if necessary.

3.7 Qualified review report

Peer-review is to provide the Editors with helpful information to make a decision and help the authors strengthen their manuscript by revision suggestions to be acceptable for publication or explain to the authors the major weaknesses of their manuscript resulting in rejection so that the authors may understand the rejection decision and can improve their manuscript accordingly and publish elsewhere.
 We expect reviewers to assess a manuscript from the various aspects below:
 1. Summarize the highlights of the manuscript;
 2. State the flaws if any which are not acceptable for publication and provide detailed information;
 3. Others:

  • Evaluate the originality and significance. Are the conclusions original? Are research results useful for most researchers in the related field?

  • Assess the abstract, introduction, conclusion, and references. Is the abstract clear? Is the introduction appropriate? Is the conclusion reliable? Are the references cited appropriately?

  • Assess the data and methodology. Is the approach valid? Are the data and methodology detailed and available to be reproduced by other researchers?

  • Indicate the parts of the manuscript which are out of your research field and you are unable to assess professionally.

  • Assess the appropriate use of statistics and treatment of uncertainties.

Reviewers need to provide detailed point-to-point improvement advice if the above problems exist so that the authors can improve their manuscript accordingly. Reviewers can contact the Editor for guidance if having any questions.

3.8 Reviewing review reports

Editors review each report of reviewers and ensure its validity before sending it to the authors. We seriously value reviewers’ comments to Editor when making a decision on the paper. According to the policy, we normally transmit all comments of reviewers to the authors. However, we may edit a report to remove offensive language or comments that reveal confidential information on some occasions. We strongly expect reviewers to state their opinion on a paper without offensive statements and review their articles in the way you expect them to treat yours. Reviewers are required not to recommend authors to cite their publications when it is not clearly indicated that the citing can improve the article's quality, which may also reveal the reviewers' identities. Authors should take an objective view on criticisms to their manuscript.

3.9 Ethics and security

Editorial Board members (including Editors-in-Chief) are not involved in processing their own academic work. All their submissions will be under a rigorous single-blind peer-review process, and these submissions are assigned and revised by at least three independent reviewers. Decisions are made double-blind by other anonymous Editorial Board members who do not conflict with the authors.

RDODJ Editors may ask for advice about submitted manuscripts not only from professional reviewers but also on any aspect of a paper that raises concerns, like ethical issues and threats to security. In such circumstances, advice will usually be sought simultaneously within the peer-review process. The final decision on whether to publish is made by the Editor-in-Chief of the journal involved.
 More details of peer review are available at Peer Review Guidelines.

4. Access to Full-Text and Article Processing Charges (APCs)

RDODJ supports Gold Open Access and encourages fund support for authors. All articles published through Gold Open Access undergo rigorous peer review, with professional editing and production services provided. In addition, all contents on websites, including the full texts of articles, are accessible free of charge, with no registration required. To provide readers with free access to the full text and to bear the related charges arising from manuscript processing, peer review, manuscript editing, typesetting, language polishing, paper archiving, journal operation, platform maintenance, and system construction, etc., APC is charged for the articles accepted for publication. The specific charging standard is shown on RDODJ’s website.

5. Publication Ethics and Publication Misconduct Statement

RDODJ strictly complies with the editorial guidelines by COPE on the statement of publication ethics and publication misconduct. According to the best practices of publication ethics by COPE, the responsibilities and rights of authors, reviewers, Editors-in-Chief, Associate Editors, Editorial Board members, and in-house Editors in the publishing process are clarified.

5.1 Author's responsibilities and rights

RDODJ is a peer-reviewed journal, and authors are obliged to participate in our single-blind peer review process.
 1. The authors should guarantee the originality, authenticity, accuracy, and repeatability of the data in the submissions. If necessary, the path of data sources should be provided to make it convenient for scholars to conduct repeated experiments or for further use.
 2. The authors should guarantee that the submissions have not been submitted to other journals or officially published in other journals in the corresponding period. Serious problems with publication ethics, such as duplicate submission and duplicate publication, should be avoided.
 3. If a manuscript involves human body, animal, or plant experiments, it is imperative to get timely permission from relevant institutions (e.g., Ethics Committee, Institutional Review Board, etc.); if it involves the personal information of subjects, the corresponding informed consent shall be obtained, respecting the subjects' privacy; if it involves clinical trials, it shall register with the Public Clinical Registration Center (refer to Research Ethics and Consent for details); and if it involves copyright issues, explicit permission shall be obtained from the corresponding publishing institutions or individuals (refer to Copyright and License to Publish for details). The relevant data shall be submitted to the Journal Office with the manuscript.
 4. All submitted articles should comply with the Consolidated Standards of Reporting Trials (CONSOT)Standards for Reporting of Diagnostic Accuracy Studies (STARD), and Strengthening the Reporting of Observational studies in Epidemiology (STROBE) guidelines; systematic review and meta-analysis should comply with Quality of reporting meta-analysis (QUOROM) and Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA), case study should comply with CAse REports (CARE) guidelines. 
 5. The authors should clarify the conflicts of interest (RDODJ requires the authors to state clearly any possible economic or non-economic conflict of interest in the manuscript; refer to Conflicts of Interest Policy for details).
 6. When serious data errors are found in published papers, the authors should inform the Journal Office in a timely manner. When necessary, they shall cooperate with the Journal Office to issue a statement of Correction or Retraction.
 7. All authors of a manuscript have the right to track the real-time progress in manuscript processing. They can formally submit complaints to the corresponding Journal Office or Editor-in-Chief if they have any objection to the manuscript processing process.
 8. It should be affirmed that all authors listed in the manuscript have made significant contributions to the research. Regarding the misconduct of false contribution or publication, plagiarism, etc., once it is found, the original authors have the right to safeguard their legitimate rights reasonably by informing the corresponding Journal Office and providing detailed data to make it convenient for the Journal Office to contact relevant departments or institutions for investigation. If the evidence is irrefutable through investigation, the Journal Office will directly reject or withdraw the manuscript and publicize the handling result. In terms of those who seriously violate publication ethics, the Journal Office will inform their affiliations and will never accept their submissions.

5.2 Reviewer's responsibilities and rights

1. The reviewers should review and evaluate manuscripts in an objective, fair, and timely manner. They should not discriminate against the authors in terms of their nationality, race, etc., and the malice of slander should be avoided. They should respect the authors’ contributions and help improve the quality of manuscripts.
 2. Before a manuscript is officially published, the reviewers should not copy or keep the data in the manuscript for their own use or plagiarize the research methods and research ideas so as to protect the confidentiality of the manuscript.
 3. The reviewers should pay careful attention to the potential conflicts of interest and remind the authors of them in a timely manner.
 4. The reviewers should reasonably avoid their possible conflicts of interest with the authors and inform the Journal Office to avoid the possibility of an unfair evaluation.
 5. In the case of finding any academic misconduct, the reviewers should timely inform the Journal Office or Editor-in-Chief, and they have the right to learn about the progress and results of the investigation.

5.3 Editor-in-Chief's responsibilities and rights

The Editor-in-Chief is the key leader of RDODJ is mainly responsible for its scientific quality. The Editor-in-Chief should guarantee the originality, and significance, take the academic value as the criteria for evaluating manuscripts and reasonably avoid improper publications for commercial purposes. The Editor-in-Chief's responsibilities include:

  • Determining the journal's aims and scope;

  • Formulating and revising practicable publication plans and goals for the journal’s development;

  • Inviting distinguished researchers to join the Editorial Board;

  • Suggesting topics for Special Issues;

  • Inviting first-rate manuscripts to the journal;

  • Being active in the editorial process by conducting initial reviews and making final decisions on submissions;

  • Promoting the journal among peers and at conferences;

  • Providing advice for input or feedback regarding new regulations on the journal.

To reward the Editor-in-Chief for his contributions to the journal, OAE provides the Editor-in-Chief with a ce

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