Ethics Policy


The Editorial Board endorses the general principles set out in Guidelines on Good Publication Practice produced by the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE; Guidelines on Good Publication Practice). The author submitting a manuscript must ensure that all authors listed are eligible for authorship. Each author should take responsibility for a particular section of the study and have contributed to writing or reviewing the manuscript. Acquisition of funding or the collection of data does not alone justify authorship; these contributions to the study should be listed in the Acknowledgements.

Duplicate Publication, Plagiarism, Falsification

Except in reviews and editorials, Physiological Reports will not accept submissions in which data in the form of figures and/or tables have been published elsewhere. A submission must be accompanied by copies of any material published by the authors in the last year that overlaps the content of the manuscript. This should include preliminary notes, communications, abstracts, chapters or reviews. Please also include any in press or submitted articles. These should be submitted as supplemental files in PDF format and reference made to them in the authors' covering letter. 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 exception). 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. This policy applies to results in the widest sense and not simply to figures or parts of figures.

  • 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.
  • Using one’s own previously published text to describe specific methods is permissible.

Original Language

Be sure that the language in your manuscript is original, without inclusion of any previously published textual passages (including those from authors’ own prior publications). Authors may wish to screen their manuscript for textual similarities prior to submission using fee for service scholarly publishing databases such as iThenticate or other free general screening databases including Plagiarism Checker. Please note that Physiological Reports does not endorse any screening program for use by authors nor guarantees that these screening tools will detect all instances of textual overlap.

Physiological Reports uses iThenticate software to detect instances of overlapping and similar text in submitted manuscripts. To find out more about CrossCheck visit

Conflict of Interest Disclosure

Physiological Reports requires that all authors disclose any potential sources of conflict of interest at submission in the Disclosure Statement. Any interest or relationship, financial or otherwise that might be perceived as influencing an author's objectivity is considered a potential source of conflict of interest. These must be disclosed when directly relevant or directly related to the work that the authors describe in their manuscript. Potential sources of conflict of interest include, but are not limited to, patent or stock ownership, membership of a company board of directors, membership of an advisory board or committee for a company, and consultancy for or receipt of speaker's fees from a company. Authors who have commercial associations must assert that they accept full responsibility for the conduct of the trial, had full access to all the data, and controlled the decision to publish. The existence of a conflict of interest does not preclude publication in this journal.

If the authors have no conflict of interest to declare, they must also state this at submission. It is the responsibility of the corresponding author to review this policy with all authors and collectively to list on the cover letter to the Editor-in-Chief, in the manuscript, and in the online submission system ALL pertinent commercial and other relationships.


Informed Consent

Physiological Reports requires that all appropriate steps be taken in obtaining written informed consent of any and all human subjects participating in the research comprising the manuscript submitted for review and possible publication, and a statement to this effect must be included in the Materials and Methods section of the manuscript. Identifying information should not be included in the manuscript unless the information is essential for scientific purposes and the study participants or patients (or parents or guardians) give written informed consent with the manuscript.

Protection of Human Subjects and Animals in Research

If clinical trials were used, a statement of registration is required; also, for all investigations involving humans or animals, a statement of protocol approval from an Institutional Review Board (IRB) or Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC), or an equivalent statement, must be included in the Materials and Methods section of the manuscript. The Editorial Board endorses the ARRIVE Guidelines for reporting in vivo experiments.

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) and with the Helsinki Declaration of 1975, as revised in 2008. When reporting experiments on animals, authors should indicate whether the institutional and national guide for the care and use of laboratory animals was followed. For research involving recombinant DNA, containment facilities and guidelines should conform to those of the National Institutes of Health or corresponding institutions. For those investigators who do not have formal ethics review committees, the principles outlined in the Helsinki Declaration should be followed. If doubt exists whether the research was conducted in accordance with the Helsinki Declaration, the authors must explain the rationale for their approach and demonstrate that the institutional review body explicitly approved the doubtful aspects of the study.

Fetal Tissue Research

The research described in papers submitted that involve the use of human fetuses, fetal tissue, embryos, or embryonic cells must adhere to U.S. Public Law 103-43, Section 498B(a) and Title 45, U.S. Code of Federal Regulations, Part 46, Protection of Human Subjects, Revised January 15, 2009, effective July 14, 2009, Department of Health and Human Services, National Institutes of Health, Office for the Protection from Research Risks, unless regulated by more restrictive state or local laws.

Patient Photographs

Physiological Reports encourage all prospective authors to work with families prior to submission to address the issue of permission for review and possible publication of patient images. If your submission contains ANY identifiable patient images or other protected health information, you MUST provide documented permission from the patient (or the patient’s parent, guardian, or legal representative) before the specific material will be circulated among Physiological Reports editors, reviewers and staff for the purpose of possible publication in Physiological Reports. The documented permission may be supplied as supporting information uploaded with the submission. While the manuscript will be processed upon submission, anything considered protected health information will be restricted from access prior to the receipt of documented permission and will not be sent for review until received. The submission of masked photos without sufficient de-identification (i.e., facial photographs with small dark geometric shapes over the eyes) is strongly discouraged.

The above policies are in accordance with the Uniform Requirements for Manuscripts Submitted to Biomedical Journals produced by the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors.


Image Manipulation

Photographic images such as micrographs or photographs of gel arrays are primary data and must not be edited using tools offered by imaging software such as Photoshop, although images can be sized and cropped if necessary. The component parts of composite photographic images should be indicated by dividing lines and the origin of the parts should be described in the legend. If adjustments to contrast, brightness or color balance are desired to make features of interest in the image clearer, they should be made to the whole image and reported in the figure legend. Authors are required to store original image data for 5 years following publication and to provide these files to the Journal if requested. Submitted images will undergo manipulation checks at random.


Human and Animal Experimental Ethics

If the Editor has doubts about the ethical acceptability of experiments conducted on animals or humans, the editorial office will ensure that the authors are asked to address the problem before undertaking any scientific revision. The authors will be advised to proceed only when the Editors are satisfied that the issue has been resolved; usually this involves revision of the Materials and Methods section such that sufficient experimental details are provided to assure that ethically acceptable studies were conducted.

Editor and Review Conflict

Editors and Reviewers 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. The Editor-in-Chief, Deputy Editor-in-Chief and Associate Editors will have Consulting Editors making a decision on a paper for which he or she has a conflict. When the Editor-in-Chief, Deputy Editor-in-Chief or Associate Editors submits a paper to Physiological Reports, the paper is automatically assigned to a Consulting 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 these authors (e.g., the Editor-in-Chief) will not have access.

Review Process for Ethical Concerns

Any ethical concerns should be referred immediately, in strict confidence, to the Editor-in-Chief or Deputy Editor-in-Chief. Reviewers have a responsibility to report suspected duplicate publication, fraud, plagiarism, or concerns about animal or human experimentation to the Editor-in-Chief or Deputy Editor-in-Chief. A reviewer may recognize and report that he/she is refereeing, or has recently refereed, a similar or identical paper for another journal by the same author(s). Readers may report that they have seen the same article elsewhere, or authors may see their own published work being plagiarized. In all cases we address ethical concerns diligently following the guidelines of the Committee for Publication Ethics (COPE Guidelines).

If the infraction is less severe, the Editor-in-Chief and Deputy Editor-in-Chief, upon the advice of the Societies, will send a letter of reprimand to the author and reminds the author of publication policies; if the manuscript has been published, the Editor may require the author to publish a corrigendum in the journal to correct the record. 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. 

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