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

All funding sources supporting the work and all institutional or corporate affiliations must be disclosed in the manuscript. Authors of research articles are required at the time of submission to disclose to the APS Publications Office any 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). Authors who have commercial associations must assert that they accept full responsibility for the conduct of the study, had full access to all the data, and controlled the decision to publish. Any potential conflict of interest in connection with the submitted article must be disclosed in the Conflict of Interest Disclosure section of the Web-based manuscript submission system. Links to the submission system can be found on any APS journal home page. Such information, unless already disclosed in the submitted article, will be held in confidence while the paper is under review. If the article is accepted for publication, information on the potential conflict of interest, or lack thereof, must be noted by the author in the manuscript file as a "Disclosures" statement following the Acknowledgments section of the paper.

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 a Guest 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, Plagiarism, Falsification

The journals of the APS accept only papers that are original work, no part of which has been published elsewhere except as brief abstracts. When submitting a paper, the corresponding author should include along with the cover letter, copies of related manuscripts submitted or in press elsewhere. Taking material from another’s work and submitting it as one’s own is considered plagiarism. 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 (*see exceptions). Fabricating a report of research or suppressing or altering data to agree with one's conclusions is considered fraud; this includes altering figures in such a way as to obscure, move, remove, or introduce information or features.

  • 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. Permissions from the copyright holder will be required at time of submission.

Prior Publication

Material published by the author before submission in the following categories is considered prior publication: 1) articles published in any publication, including online-only, non-peer-reviewed publications; 2) articles posted to preprint servers, such as arXiv and bioRxiv (*see exception for JN); 3) articles, book chapters, and long abstracts containing original data in figures and tables, especially in proceedings publications; 4) posters containing original data disseminated beyond meeting attendees, e.g., displayed in websites such as that maintained by F1000.

Doctoral dissertations that are made available by UMI/Proquest or institutional repositories are not considered prior publication. Data portions of submitted papers that have appeared on a website will be permitted, with the proviso that the author informs the Editor at the time of the submission that such material exists so that the Editor can determine the suitability of such material for publication. Failure to do so will result in an automatic rejection of the manuscript. Examples of such work include, but are not limited to, immunofluorescence micrographs and/or animated gif/video files posted on a website, or NIH-mandated posting of DNA microarray data. After the article is published in an APS journal, the data should be removed from the author’s website.

Authors with concerns about possible prior publication that does not fall clearly into one of these categories should contact the Director of Publications and forward the material for examination.

*Exception to Prior Publication for JN: Authors submitting to the Journal of Neurophysiology (JN) may submit papers that have been previously posted to a preprint server or other non-peer-reviewed website. Once you have submitted your manuscript to JN, it may not subsequently be posted to a preprint server in any version.  If your manuscript receives a final reject decision at JN or if you formally notify the journal that you wish to withdraw it from editorial consideration at JN, this restriction is then lifted.

Authors submitting manuscripts to a preprint server must retain the copyright to their work, which can then be transferred to the APS if a later version of the work is accepted by an APS journal (this is standard at arXiv and bioRxiv). Questions about whether a particular preprint server venue is allowed under this rule should be addressed to the JN Editor in Chief, Bill Yates at jnpeditor@the-aps.org.

Authors will be asked at submission to disclose in their cover letter whether their manuscript has been posted to a preprint server, to identify the preprint server and the Digital Object Identified (DOI) associated with the preprint server and to provide a file of the most recent version of, or a working link to, the posting.

This is a trial exception to APS policy that applies to submissions to Journal of Neurophysiology through April 2017 and subject to change thereafter. 

Experiments Involving Animals or Humans

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

Ethical 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 ethical concerns diligently following an issue-specific standard practice as summarized below.

The first action of the journal Editor is to inform the Publications Committee Chair through the Director of Publications by supplying copies of 1) the relevant material and 2) a draft letter to the corresponding author asking for an explanation in a nonjudgmental manner. The Publications Committee Chair must approve any correspondence before it is sent to the author. If the author’s explanation is unacceptable and it seems that serious unethical conduct has taken place, the matter is referred to the Publications Committee. After deliberation, the Committee 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 author’s institution should be informed. The decision has to be approved by the Executive Cabinet of the APS Council, and the author has the right to appeal a sanction, with the opportunity to present his/her position, to the Publications Committee and the full APS Council.

If the infraction is less severe, the Editor, upon the advice of the Publications Chair, sends the author a letter of reprimand and reminds the author of APS publication policies; if the manuscript has been published, the Editor may require the author to publish a corrigendum to correct the record. If, through the author’s actions, APS has violated the copyright of another journal, the Publications Chair writes a letter of apology to the other journal.

In serious cases of fraud that result in retraction of the article, a retraction notice will be published in the journal and will be linked to the article in the online version. The online version will also be marked “retracted” with the retraction date.


Presentation on Figure Manipulation

Powerpoint presentation on figure manipulation by APS Editorial Art Manager, Eric Pesanelli