APS Ethics Policy


The Editors of the journals of the American Physiological Society (APS) expect each author to have 1) made an important contribution to the conception and design, acquisition of data, or analysis and interpretation of data in the study; 2) drafted or revised the manuscript critically for intellectual content; and 3) approved the final version of the submitted manuscript. Those who meet all three criteria should be included as authors. Those who do not meet all three criteria should not be included as authors. The Editors also expect each author to 1) take responsibility for at least one component of the work; 2) have access to the raw data and figure files for his/her component of the work; 3) be able to identify who is responsible for each other component; and 4) be confident in their co-authors' ability and integrity. One author, usually the corresponding author, must be thoroughly familiar with the original data for the entire study and be responsible for the integrity of the entire work. If the paper, or part of the paper, is found to be faulty or fraudulent, all co-authors may share responsibility.

The Mandatory Submission Form should be signed by each author. In cases in which obtaining a signature from each author would delay publication, the corresponding author’s signature is sufficient provided that the corresponding author understands that he or she signs on behalf of the other authors who have not signed the form. An author’s name can be removed only at his/her request, but all coauthors must sign a change of authorship agreement for any change in authorship (additions, removals, or change of order) to be made.

This policy is adapted from the Authorship and Contributorship section of the ICMJE Uniform Requirements for Manuscripts.

Author Conflict of Interest

Authors are required at the time of submission to disclose any perceived or potential conflict of interest, financial or otherwise (e.g., consultancies, stock ownership, equity interests, patent-licensing arrangements, lack of access to data, or lack of control of the decision to publish, or any other potential conflict) in the Conflict of Interest Disclosure section of the Web-based manuscript submission system. Likewise, authors invited to write Editorial Focus articles must disclose whether there is a perceived or potential conflict of interest with any of the authors of the featured article, such as an ongoing, working collaboration, a co-authored publication in the last three years, or a trainee mentor relationship in the past five years. Failure to report actual or perceived conflicts of interest prior to peer review may result in publication delays or rejection of the manuscript.

Editor and Reviewer Conflict of Interest

Editors and Reviewers should avoid making decisions on papers for which they may have a potential conflict of interest, financial or otherwise. Reviewers who are collaborating with the author, or who are working on very similar research, should recuse themselves from reviewing a paper for which they have a conflict. An Editor in Chief should have a Consulting Editor or Associate Editor make a decision on a paper for which he or she has a conflict. When an Editor in Chief submits a paper to his or her journal, the paper is automatically assigned to the Deputy Editor, a Consulting Editor, or an Associate Editor, who will handle all aspects of the peer review of the paper. Such reviews are handled in the web-based peer review system in such a way that the author (i.e., the Editor in Chief) will not have access.

Duplicate Publication

The journals of the APS accept only papers that are original work, no part of which has been published elsewhere except as brief abstracts. Taking material (including tables, figures, and data; or extended text passages) from the authors’ own prior publications is considered duplicate publication or self-plagiarism and is not permitted. *Exceptions to the policy on duplicate publication include: 

  • Repetition of control experiments using animal models may violate U.S. Animal Welfare Act and Public Health Service Policy requirements as well as standards in other countries, for use of the minimum number of animals needed to accomplish the science. As such, reuse of control data in animal studies may not be considered duplicate publication when the methodology and conditions are identical. However, repetition of control experiments is scientifically warranted when the methodology and/or conditions have changed, even to a minimal degree (e.g. operator variability, seasonal variability, diurnal variability; day to day variability, genetic drift, as well as other factors).
  • Republishing data to make a direct, illustrative comparison with new findings may be allowed when the purpose of republication is not simply to expand or reinforce a line of argument but to allow for an explicit comparison that would be much harder for the reader to make otherwise. The amount of reuse should represent a small fraction of the total information presented in the paper.

Republication of data for purposes as stated above must be clearly identified as such at the time of submission, and must be accompanied by a detailed scientific justification in the manuscript as well as in the cover letter to the editor. The editor will make the final decision as to whether the reuse of data is scientifically appropriate. Permission from the copyright holder to reproduce data or to redraw a figure will be required at time of submission.

Prior Publication

Material published or posted online by the author before submission*, including but not limited to the following categories is considered prior publication: 1) articles or parts of articles, published in any publication, whether in digital or print format; 2) articles, book chapters, and long abstracts containing original data in figures and tables, especially in proceedings publications; 3) posters containing original data disseminated beyond meeting attendees, e.g., displayed in websites such as that maintained by F1000.

Doctoral dissertations that are made freely available via either institutional repositories or by third parties on behalf of the institution are not considered prior publication. 

Unpublished manuscripts or parts thereof posted to a non-profit preprint server, such as arXiv or BioRxiv, may be submitted to an APS journal according to the guidelines listed here: Preprint Server Policy

Authors with concerns about possible prior publication that does not fall clearly into one of these categories should contact APS Permissions (permissions@the-aps.org) and forward the material for examination.

Plagiarism, Falsification, and Fabrication

Manuscripts should not include plagiarized, fabricated, or falsified content. Taking material from another’s work and submitting it as one’s own is considered plagiarism. Making up or altering information to agree with one’s conclusions, including altering data, is considered to be fabrication or falsification.

Experiments Involving Animals or Humans

Authors using humans, animals, or fetal tissue in their experiments should refer to the APS policies on those subjects:

Ethics Review Procedure

The journals of the American Physiological Society are members of, and support the principles of the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE). As such, APS addresses ethics concerns diligently following an issue-specific standard practice as summarized below.

All ethics concerns are brought to the attention of the Associate Publisher, Ethics and Policy (apsethics@the-aps.org) who will review the matter and, in consultation with the Editor in Chief, Publications Committee Chair(s), and Director of Publications, determine a course of action.  If a valid ethics concern is identified in an unpublished manuscript, peer review or processing of the manuscript for publication will be placed on hold. The corresponding author will be contacted, via written correspondence, and asked to provide an explanation. All communication with authors and institutions must be  in writing and cannot be discussed over the phone. If the corresponding authors’ explanation addresses the concerns, the manuscript will be promptly returned to peer review or to production for publication. If the corresponding author is unable to resolve the concerns, all authors will be notified and given the opportunity to address the matter. Please note that a manuscript cannot be withdrawn from peer review until all ethics concerns have been resolved. If an ethics concern remains unresolved and the manuscript is:
  •  on hold in peer review: the Editor in Chief may reject the manuscript on ethical grounds.    
  •  on hold in production for publication: the Editor in Chief may rescind the “accept” decision and issue a “reject” decision. 
  •  published: the Editor in Chief may require correction or retraction of the article. 
Corrigenda and retractions are published in the journal and are linked to the article in the online version. For retractions, the online version will be marked “retracted” with the retraction date.  

Cases in which there seems to be a serious breach of ethics will be referred to the Publications Committee and Executive Cabinet.  These bodies will decide whether the case is sufficiently serious to warrant a ban on future submissions to, and serving as a reviewer for, APS Journals and/or whether the offending authors’ institutions should be informed. The author has the right to appeal a sanction and to present his/her position, to the Publications Committee and the APS Council.