Do Editorial policies support ethical research? A thematic text analysis of author instructions in psychiatry journals

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Strech, D.; Metz, C.; Knüppel, H.: Do Editorial policies support ethical research? A thematic text analysis of author instructions in psychiatry journals. In: PLoS ONE 9 (2014), Nr. 6, e97492. DOI:

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Sum total of downloads: 1,772

Introduction: According to the Declaration of Helsinki and other guidelines, clinical studies should be approved by a research ethics committee and seek valid informed consent from the participants. Editors of medical journals are encouraged by the ICMJE and COPE to include requirements for these principles in the journal's instructions for authors. This study assessed the editorial policies of psychiatry journals regarding ethics review and informed consent. Methods and Findings: The information given on ethics review and informed consent and the mentioning of the ICMJE and COPE recommendations were assessed within author's instructions and online submission procedures of all 123 eligible psychiatry journals. While 54% and 58% of editorial policies required ethics review and informed consent, only 14% and 19% demanded the reporting of these issues in the manuscript. The TOP-10 psychiatry journals (ranked by impact factor) performed similarly in this regard. Conclusions: Only every second psychiatry journal adheres to the ICMJE's recommendation to inform authors about requirements for informed consent and ethics review. Furthermore, we argue that even the ICMJE's recommendations in this regard are insufficient, at least for ethically challenging clinical trials. At the same time, ideal scientific design sometimes even needs to be compromised for ethical reasons. We suggest that features of clinical studies that make them morally controversial, but not necessarily unethical, are analogous to methodological limitations and should thus be reported explicitly. Editorial policies as well as reporting guidelines such as CONSORT should be extended to support a meaningful reporting of ethical research.
License of this version: CC BY 4.0
Document Type: article
Publishing status: publishedVersion
Issue Date: 2014
Appears in Collections:Philosophische Fakultät

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pos. country downloads
total perc.
1 image of flag of Germany Germany 1,675 94.53%
2 image of flag of No geo information available No geo information available 22 1.24%
3 image of flag of United Kingdom United Kingdom 8 0.45%
4 image of flag of Europe Europe 7 0.40%
5 image of flag of China China 7 0.40%
6 image of flag of Switzerland Switzerland 7 0.40%
7 image of flag of United States United States 6 0.34%
8 image of flag of Austria Austria 5 0.28%
9 image of flag of Finland Finland 3 0.17%
10 image of flag of Brazil Brazil 3 0.17%
    other countries 29 1.64%

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