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  • Editorial Policies

    Open Exploration endorses and applies the standards of the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE), the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE), and World Association of Medical Editors (WAME), to ensure the rigorousness of review and publication process. Please note that we will update these policies periodically to catch up with new regulations the above organizations recommend.

    Open Access

    The publisher provides immediate open access to all published content. Everyone can enjoy free and unrestricted use of these published content under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY) license. More information can be found at Open Access.


    All the articles of Open Exploration are published under the CC BY license to further facilitate open access and improve the academic exchange among researchers. Under this license, authors hold the copyright of their works, and they agree to make their original works completely available and free to use, copy and redistribute in all formats without permission as long as the authors and the original source are properly cited.

    License to Publish

    Authors are required to sign a License to Publish agreement before formal publication. By signing the agreement, the author grants Open Exploration the right to publish the article and associated supplementary materials under the CC BY license. Authors must obtain permission from copyright holders for use of copyrighted materials (Figures or Tables) from other sources in their works, including re-published, adapted, modified, or partial figures or tables from the internet.

    Publication Fee

    To attract high quality submissions and relieve the financial burden for researchers, Open Exploration provides authors with free publication service currently, since all journals are wholly financed by Open Exploration. There is no charge for submission, processing, and publication for authors.

    Editorial Freedom

    Defined by WAME, the editorial freedom means that the Editors-in-Chief have full authority over the entire editorial content of their journal and the timing of publication of that content. Open Exploration respects editorial freedom, and will neither interfere in the article review, selection, etc., nor influence Editors' decision on publishing or not publishing certain content. The Editor-in-Chief of each journal is independent to make decisions based on the validity of the work and its importance to the journal's readers, not on the commercial implications for the journal or the publisher.


    Qualified Author

    Open Exploration endorses the authorship criteria defined by ICMJE. Individuals who fulfill the following criteria can be defined as authors.

    Substantial contributions to the conception or design of the work; or the acquisition, analysis, or interpretation of data for the work; AND

    Drafting the work or revising it critically for important intellectual content; AND

    Final approval of the version to be published; AND

    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.

    Corresponding Author

    When a manuscript has multiple authors, one of them should be designated as the corresponding author. The corresponding author is solely responsible for communicating with the journal and managing communication between coauthors; and typically handle all submission requests, such as providing details of authorship, ethics committee approval, clinical trial registration documentation, and gathering conflicts of interest statement and other statements. The corresponding author should be available throughout the submission, peer review and production process; should be available after publication to respond to critiques of the work, answer the questions about the paper arising, and deal with any request from the journal for data or additional information.

    Dual First Authors

    Open Exploration allows dual first authorship when two authors contribute equally to a work. Authors can indicate dual first with a superscript “”, like “Forename Surname1, Forename Surname2”. Other equal contributions are best described in the Authors’ Contributions statement.

    Group Authorship

    When a large multi-author group has conducted the work, the group ideally should decide who will be listed as authors. All members of the group named as authors should meet all above four criteria, and they should be able to take public responsibility for the work and should have full confidence in the accuracy and integrity of the work of other group authors. 

    Some large multi-author groups designate authorship by a group name, with or without the names of individuals. When submitting a manuscript authored by a group, the corresponding author should specify the group name if one exists, and clearly identify the group members who can take credit and responsibility for the work as authors.

    Authorship Dispute

    The individual who is responsible for identifying who meets these criteria should ideally do this when planning the work, and he/she should make modifications as appropriate as the work progresses. It is the collective responsibility of the authors, not the journal to which the work is submitted, to determine that all people named as authors meet all four criteria; it is not the role of journal editors to determine who qualifies or does not qualify for authorship or to arbitrate authorship conflicts. If agreement cannot be reached about who qualifies for authorship or the order of authors, the institution(s) where the work was performed, not the journal editor, should be asked to investigate. 

    Authorship Change

    Authorship can be changed only before a manuscript is officially accepted. 

    Authors can ask to remove or add authors. Under this circumstance, a signed statement of agreement including the reason and the requested change from all listed authors and from the author to be removed or added should be provided to the editorial office.

    Authors Contributions

    To provide appropriate credit for all authors, as well as assigning responsibility and accountability for published work, authors are required to include an Author Contributions statement in the Declarations part of the manuscript to specify the contribution of each author. And please use initials of Surname and Forename when mentioning an author in this section. If the initials are the same, spell the different forename or surname. For example, John A. Smith: JA Smith, John A. Smart: JA Smart; John A. Smith: John AS, James A. Smith: James AS.

    For a manuscript with multiple authors, see an example here:

    AB, CDE and FG contributed conception and design of the study; AB organized the database; CDE performed the statistical analysis; FG wrote the first draft of the manuscript; HIJ, KL, AB, CDE and FG wrote sections of the manuscript. All authors contributed to manuscript revision, read and approved the submitted version.

    For a manuscript with only one author, please write “The author contributed solely to the work.”.


    Other individuals who have participated in the generation of the research paper but do not meet the criteria for authorship should be listed in the Acknowledgments section with a brief description of their contributions.

    Conflicts of Interest

    Conflicts of interest in publishing can be defined as conditions in which an individual holds conflicting or competing interests that could bias editorial decisions. Conflicts of interest may be only potential or perceived, or they may be factual. Personal, political, financial, academic, or religious considerations can affect objectivity in numerous ways.

    Definition of Conflicts of Interest

    A conflict of interest exists when professional judgment concerning a primary interest (such as patients’ welfare or the validity of research) may be influenced by a secondary interest (such as financial gain). 

    Financial relationships (such as employment, consultancies, stock ownership or options, honoraria, patents, and paid expert testimony) are the most easily identifiable conflicts of interest and the most likely to undermine the credibility of the journal, the authors, and of science itself.

    Also, conflicts can occur for other reasons, such as personal relationships or rivalries, academic competition, and intellectual beliefs. 


    All Open Exploration journals require authors to provide Conflicts of Interest statement at the end of their manuscripts to disclose any potential or existing conflict of interest. The corresponding author must ensure that all authors have been asked to disclose any conflict of interest.


    When asked to evaluate a manuscript, reviewers must disclose any association that poses a conflict of interest in connection with the manuscript. Reviewers are asked to recuse themselves from handling a paper if the conflict makes them unable to form an impartial scientific judgment. A reviewer who has a conflict but believes that it does not preclude his or her making a proper judgment must disclose the conflict to the editorial office. Such conflict is taken into account when the editors make decisions.

    Academic Editor

    The Academic Editor is usually the Editor-in-Chief, and sometimes the Editor-in-Chief assigns another Editorial Board member or Guest Editor as the Academic Editor for certain submissions. The Academic Editor is required to disclose any conflict with the evaluation of the paper, and may be required to recuse themselves based on the conflicts of interest.


    All sources of funding should be declared under the heading “Funding” at the end of the manuscript. Authors must describe the role of the study sponsor(s) in the study design; in the collection, analysis and interpretation of the data; in the writing of the report; and in the decision to submit the paper for publication, if any.

    Research Ethics

    Human Subject Research

    ★ Ethical Approval

    For any study involving human subject, authors should provide an Ethical Approval statement at the Declarations part of their manuscripts to state that the study is approved by an institutional ethics committee or complies with the Declaration of Helsinki. The researchers must have conducted the study according to the approved protocol and acceptable research standards.

    ★ Consent to Participate

    For any study involving human subject, the written informed consent to participate should be obtained from the participants. To better guard the participants’ privacy, such consent does not require a submission and we allow the author to archive the consent. Under this circumstance, authors only need to provide a statement to attest that they have received and archived the written consent, and such consent can be available if requested.

    ★ Consent to Publication 

    For manuscripts involving the privacy issues, like showing the individual details (images or videos), authors must obtain the consent to publication from the participants. Such documents do not require a submission, but they must be available if requested. Authors need to provide a statement at the end of their manuscripts to attest that they have obtained such consent. 

    Animal Subject Research

    Any research involving animals should be approved by an animal care and use committee and was conducted according to the approved protocol and acceptable research standards for animal experimentation. Authors should provide an ethical statement at the end of their manuscripts to state that the study was approved by certain animal care and use committee. 

    Registration of Clinical Trials

    Definition of Clinical Trials

    Open Exploration endorses the clinical trial defined by ICMJE. A clinical trial is any research project that prospectively assigns people or a group of people to an intervention, with or without concurrent comparison or control groups, to study the relationship between a health-related intervention and a health outcome. Health-related interventions are those used to modify a biomedical or health-related outcome; examples include drugs, surgical procedures, devices, behavioral treatments, educational programs, dietary interventions, quality improvement interventions, and process-of-care changes. Health outcomes are any biomedical or health-related measure obtained in patients or participants, including pharmacokinetic measures and adverse events.

    Requirements of Clinical Trials

    Open Exploration requires registration of all clinical trials.

    ★ Open Exploration requires the registration of clinical trials in a public trials registry at or before the time of first patient enrollment. 

    ★ Open Exploration accepts publicly accessible registration in any registry that is a primary register of the WHO International Clinical Trials Registry Platform (ICTRP) or in ClinicalTrials.gov

    ★ The trial registration number should be listed at the end of the Abstract.

    ★ Secondary data analyses of primary (parent) clinical trials should not be registered as separate clinical trials, but instead should reference the trial registration number of the primary trial.

    Authors who are not sure whether they need trial registration may refer to ICMJE FAQs for further information.

    Embargo Policy

    All materials accepted for publication in any Open Exploration journal are under embargo until they are published online. This means that until then they shouldn’t be distributed to third parties or discussed with the media. This embargo extends to press releases, website and social media promotions, and other public communications of the results and content of Open Exploration journal articles.

    We support open communications between researchers whether on a recognized community preprint server or preprint commenting platforms, through discussions at research meetings or online collaborative sites such as wikis or the author’s blog. Neither conference presentations nor posting on recognized preprint servers constitute prior publication.

    We believe it is important that the peer-reviewed and published version of a paper should be available when the work is discussed in the public media, allowing the press to provide informed comments based on this version. For that reason, we strongly discourage the direct soliciting of media coverage to appear ahead of publication of the final version of a paper. 


    Editors, authors and reviewers are required to keep confidential all details of the editorial and peer review process on submitted manuscripts. Correspondence as part of the review process is also to be treated confidentially by all parties, including authors.

    Reviewers must keep the content of the manuscript confidential. In addition, the unpublished information described in the manuscript cannot be used for their own interests. If reviewers wish to discuss with anyone outside the review process for assistance, they must inform the editorial office first. 

    Reviewers must keep their identities confidential since all journals of Open Exploration adopt a single-blind peer review. Reviewers are not allowed to disclose their identities to authors or contact authors without the permission of the editorial office. 

    Whether a submitted manuscript is eventually published, correspondence with the journal, review reports and other confidential materials must not be disclosed or otherwise publicized without prior written consent. 

    Once a manuscript is rejected for publication, all the copies of the manuscript should be deleted from the editorial system. If the editorial office needs to retain a rejected manuscript, they should get permission from the authors first.

    Open Exploration will not share the information of a manuscript and its authors with other third parties before the manuscript is formally published except the manuscript is suspected of misconduct.

    When the editorial office has to cancel confidentiality because dishonesty or fraud is alleged, the editorial office would inform authors and reviewers first.

    When a manuscript is published, journals should keep copies of the original submission, reviews, revisions, and correspondence for at least three years and possibly in perpetuity, depending on local regulations, to help answer future questions about the work that may arise.

    Availability of Data and Materials

    To enable reuse and enhance reproducibility, we strongly suggest that all materials used to conduct the research and data generated by the research that supports the articles should be available for other researchers when the works are published, wherever legally and ethically possible.

    Authors will be asked to detail the location of the raw data underlying the conclusions made in the manuscript, and whether it will be made available to other researchers. Authors will also be asked for the details of any existing dataset that has been analyzed in the manuscript.

    How to Share Data

    For clinical data (Individual Participant Data) we request that the authors use controlled access repositories, such as clinicalstudydatarequest.com.

    For pre-clinical data we recommend using recognized subject-specific repositories, such as GenBank, where relevant and available.

    There are also a number of recognized, general repositories that deposit data, for example, DRYAD, OSF, FigShare and Zenodo

    FAIRsharing and re3data.org provide a curated list of repositories.

    Availability of Data and Materials Statement

    Authors are required to provide an Availability of Data and Materials statement at the end of their manuscripts. See the following examples.

    ★ Datasets are in a publicly accessible repository:

    The datasets [GENERATED/ANALYZED] for this study can be found in the [NAME OF REPOSITORY] [LINK].

    ★ Datasets are available on request:

    The raw data supporting the conclusions of this manuscript will be made available by the authors, without undue reservation, to any qualified researcher.

    ★ All relevant data is contained within the manuscript:

    All datasets [GENERATED/ANALYZED] for this study are included in the manuscript and the supplementary files.

    ★ The datasets request access:

    The datasets for this manuscript are not publicly available because: [VALID REASON]. Requests for accessing the datasets should be directed to [NAME, EMAIL].

    ★ Data has been obtained from a third party:

    The data analyzed in this study was obtained from [SOURCE]. Requests for access to these datasets should be directed to [NAME, EMAIL].

    ★ No datasets were generated for this study:

    Not applicable.


    Authors must cite relevant literature to support any statement that relies on external sources of information in their manuscripts. However, excessive and inappropriate self-citation or coordinated efforts among several authors to collectively self-cite is strongly discouraged. Authors should cite the original work rather than a review article which cited an original work. Authors should ensure that their citations are accurate, i.e. they should ensure the citation supports the statement made in their manuscripts and should not misrepresent another work by citing it if it does not support the point authors wish to make. Authors should avoid citing works solely from one country or using an excessive number of citations to support one point.


    Open Exploration deals with any scientific misconduct on a case-by-case basis according to the guidance produced by COPE, WAME and ICMJE.

    Misconduct Definition

    Open Exploration endorses the summary of misconduct provided by WAME as follows.

    ★ Falsification of data: ranges from fabrication to deceptive reporting of findings and omission of conflicting data, or willful suppression and/or distortion of data.

    ★ Plagiarism: the appropriation of the language, ideas or thoughts of another without crediting their true source and representation of them as one’s own original work.

    ★ Improprieties of authorship: improper assignment of credit, such as excluding others, inclusion of individuals as authors who have not made a definite contribution to the work published or submission of multi-authored publications without the concurrence of all authors.

    ★ Misappropriation of the ideas of others: an important aspect of scholarly activity is the exchange of ideas among colleagues. Scholars can acquire novel ideas from others during the process of reviewing grant applications and manuscripts. However, improper use of such information can constitute fraud. Wholesale appropriation of such material constitutes misconduct.

    ★ Violation of generally accepted research practices: serious deviation from accepted practices in proposing or carrying out research, improper manipulation of experiments to obtain biased results, deceptive statistical or analytical manipulations, or improper reporting of results.

    ★ Material failure to comply with legislative and regulatory requirements affecting research: including but not limited to serious or substantial, repeated, willful violations of applicable local regulations and law involving the use of funds, care of animals, human subjects, investigational drugs, recombinant products, new devices, or radioactive, biological or chemical materials.

    ★ Inappropriate behavior in relation to misconduct: this includes unfounded or knowingly false accusations of misconduct, failure to report known or suspected misconduct, withholding of information relevant to a claim or misconduct and retaliation against persons involved in the allegation or investigation.

    Besides, Open Exploration also takes the following practices as misconduct:

    ★ Duplicate publication: submit the same manuscript, in the same or different languages, simultaneously to more than one journal. There are certain cases where secondary publication is justifiable and acceptable, please refer to the ICMJE's Overlapping Publications Policy.

    ★ Lack of declaration: lack of Conflicts of Interest, Funding, or other failures of transparency.

    Dealing with Allegations of Misconduct

    Open Exploration adopts iThenticate to detect possible plagiarism, which ensures the originality of submitted content. We encourage all the reviewers to report potential misconduct of the manuscripts they reviewed. We also encourage all the readers to contact us to report potential misconduct in the published content. Open Exploration deals with all allegations of potential misconduct severely based on the COPE flowchart case by case. 

    Corrections and Retractions

    Open Exploration will consider correcting or retracting articles in rare cases. Such practices will follow the guidelines of COPE and ICMJE.


    According to ICMJE Recommendations, honest errors are a part of science and publishing and require publication of a correction when they are detected. It is our responsibility to correct errors in previously published articles. In such case, the Corrections will be published under the following guidelines:

    ★ Corrections will be published as soon as possible once honest errors are confirmed. 

    ★ Corrections should state the detailed corrections they made, and link to the original articles to remind readers.

    ★ The published original version will not be deleted from the public domain. A link of its Correction and a brief reminding note will be displayed together with the original version to warn readers that this article has a Correction. 


    On rare occasions, the published articles may be retracted. Open Exploration believes that the aim of retraction is not to punish authors but to revise the literature and to alert the reader to such publications which may contain serious errors or erroneous data, and whose conclusions are unreliable. Please note that articles will be retracted by publishing a Retraction, but will not be deleted from the public domain.

    Each retraction will be discussed case by case. We listed the following reasons which may lead to retraction.

    ★ Publications are so seriously flawed (for whatever reason) that their findings or conclusions should not be relied upon.

    ★ If redundant publication has occurred, any journal that subsequently published a redundant article should retract it and state the reason for the retraction. 

    ★ Extreme plagiarism has been confirmed.

    Retractions will be published under the following guidelines:

    ★ Retractions should be linked to the retracted articles in all electronic versions.

    ★ Retraction titles should be clearly identified as a Retraction.

    ★ Retractions should include the title of the retracted article, the specific reason for retraction, who is retracting the article, etc.

    ★ Retractions should be published as soon as possible to minimize the harmful effect.

    Appeals and Complaints

    Authors have the right to appeal a decision on their submission if they do not agree with the editorial decision. To appeal a decision, please contact the editorial office of the individual journal.