Ethical standards

Compliance with standards provided by international organizations on publishing ethics and recommendations.

4open fully supports the latest version of the Principles of Transparency and Best Practice in Scholarly Publishing released by the organizations involved in establishing and monitoring publication standards for Open Access journals and assessing the journal’s compliance with these guidelines.

4open is committed within this framework, to the standards outlined by the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE) and the Council of Science Editors (CSE) regarding all aspects of publishing and all parties involved in the publication process, authors, journal editors and the publisher ( and This concerns issues of publishing ethics, the publication itself, authorship, the author's responsibilities, the peer review process, as well as the editor's responsibilities. Major aspects include the protection of research participants, the patient's right to privacy, the respect of animal rights, the requirement for informed consent, the necessity to have evidence of a registration for clinical trials, as well as reporting guidelines depending on the study design. In addition, at any stage, any conflict of interest must be declared so that biased decisions will not be taken by the Editors or the reviewers, and that the reader has full insight into the financial or other conflicts of interest related to the accepted article.

4open follows the standards and guidelines provided by COPE (Committee on Publication Ethics), especially regarding misconduct and fraud, and how to act in front of such a case. COPE provides a code of conduct with best practices in publishing and flow charts that describe the publisher's and editor's actions, if such a case has to be resolved: To authors with proven misconduct or fraud the actions available in the flowcharts will be applied.

4open’s ethical practice and policy is closely related to those published on the pages of EDP Sciences.

1. Publication criteria

4open submitted work implies that it has not been published and / or is not submitted for publication anywhere else. Publication must be approved by all authors. Authors should accept Article Processing Charges (only applied to accepted articles). No fee is applied for the submission of an article. For ethics in publishing consult COPE.

4open has adopted a rigorous examination of every submitted manuscript towards plagiarism or text recycling using SimilarityCheck. This tool allows the Editors-in-Chief to quickly identify even partial use of already published content, which cannot be re-published in this journal for various reasons, such as copyright issues, autoplagiarism, plagiarism, etc. In case of doubt, and in order to avoid any forms of plagiarism or text recycling, authors are invited to visit relevant webpages of universities across the world dealing with this topic, or probably the websites of their own institutions. Please visit these few examples:

If an article is submitted containing any forms of previously published content without citing the appropriate sources, the authors will be informed by the Editors-in-Chief. For an unpublished manuscript, in case of conflicts, the relevant COPE guidelines will apply. The details and updated version of the action of the Editors-in-Chief is available on the website of COPE.

2. Authorship

4open strictly follows recommendations by ICMJE (International Committee of Medical Journal Editors) that all those designated as authors meet all of the criteria they describe. The list of criteria is available here. Those contributors who do not meet all of the criteria shall be acknowledged.

3. Preprint servers

Authors are encouraged to submit to 4open their research manuscripts previously made available for discussion and comments to their community via PrePrint Servers.

4. Stringent Peer-Review-Process

4open performs a stringent quality control process. Submissions need to pass an in-house quality check contains competing interest, ethical requirements, financial disclosures, compliance with 4open’s data availability policy, etc.. In case a submission does not pass our rigorous in-house quality check and / or the submission fails compliance with the journal’s instructions for authors, or if the Editors-in-Chief observe a significant lack of scientific and/or language quality, submissions may be returned for queries or directly rejected.

4open’s submissions which passed this check are forwarded for assignment to the Editor-in-Chief of one of our four domains. Together with Deputy Editors, Senior Editors and members of the Editorial Board and the Reviewer Board - containing experts in the field of submission - an initial decision will be provided. Editors, reviewers and authors are all invited to fairness, objectivity, timely involvement and confidentiality during this whole process.

4open’s judgement initiating the Review Process: an expert in the area of the submitted work is appointed as Reviewer Editor selecting referees. Reviewers are expected to inform the Editor-in-Chief about any suspicion of misconduct. After reviews had been received, the Reviewing Editor provides the results to the Editorial Board for the consultation process. All decisions are reviewed by the Editor-in-Chief plus two Deputy Editors for final judgement which will be forwarded to the authors. The reviewing decision will be:

  • Accepted without modifications
  • Accepted, after modifications
  • Rejected

4open’s Editors-in-Chief have full authority (vs the publisher) for acceptation/rejection of the submitted manuscripts. Persons with a conflict of interest towards a submitted manuscript shall declare it and be withdrawn from the peer reviewing of the respective article.

5. Statements

Statement of Informed Consent

Patients have a right to privacy that should not be infringed without informed consent. Identifying information, including patients' names, initials, or hospital numbers, should not be published in written descriptions, photographs, and pedigrees unless the information is essential for scientific purposes and the patient (or parent or guardian) gives written informed consent for publication. Informed consent for this purpose requires that a patient who is identifiable be shown the manuscript to be published.

Identifying details should be omitted if they are not essential. Complete anonymity is difficult to achieve, however, and informed consent should be obtained if there is any doubt. For example, masking the eye region in photographs of patients is inadequate protection of anonymity. If identifying characteristics are altered to protect anonymity, such as in genetic pedigrees, authors should provide assurance that alterations do not distort scientific meaning and editors should so note, authors should identify Individuals who provide writing assistance and disclose the funding source for this assistance.

Statement of Human and Animal Rights

When reporting experiments on human subjects, authors should indicate whether the procedures followed were in accordance with the ethical standards of the responsible committee on human experimentation (institutional and national). If doubt exists whether the research was conducted in accordance with the ethical standards, the authors must explain the rationale for their approach, and demonstrate that the institutional review body explicitly approved the doubtful aspects of the study. When reporting experiments on animals, authors should be asked to indicate whether the institutional and national guide for the care and use of laboratory animals was followed.

6. Policies for publication of errata and for article retraction

Despite careful peer reviewing and article production, situations might occur where errata should be published or articles retracted. 4open’s Editors-in-Chief, together with the publisher, therefore follow the flowcharts established by COPE. Due to changing guidelines or policies, these are not explained here but are accessible on COPE’s website here. 4open then applies at any time the most recent policies.

7. Article categories to contribute include

  • Research Article
  • Review Article
  • Brief Report
  • Rapid Communication
  • Letter
  • Case Report
  • Perspectives & Opinion
  • Methodology
  • Editorial
  • Invited Comment
  • Data Descriptor
  • History
  • Video Article
  • Doctorate / Inaugural & PhD. / Habilitation

8. Archiving

As soon as the journal has obtained indexation, in order to facilitate self-archiving, 4open deposits open access articles in PubMed Central and Europe PubMed Central on publication as well as equivalent depositories in chemistry, physics, mathematics. Authors are also permitted to post the final, published PDF and / or press release of their accepted submission on a website, institutional repository or other free public server, immediately upon publication.

For more information on the strict ethical standards 4open adheres to, along with a list of suggested repositories, please visit the Instructions for authors page.