Ethics in Publication and Research


Hongkong Science and Technology Publishing Group (HSTPG) follows the policies of the Committee on Publication Ethics(COPE) and endorses the highest standards for accurate and ethical publication of science.

The Policies apply to all HSTPG journals. Submission of a manuscript to a HSTPG journal means that all authors have read and agreed to the content and that the manuscript conforms to the journal's policies.

Publication Ethics


To be included as an “author”, a researcher is expected to meet the criteria below for authorship (quoted from McNutt et al, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Feb 2018, 201715374; DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1715374115; licensed under CC BY 4.0):

Each author is expected to have made substantial contributions to the conception or design of the work; or the acquisition, analysis, or interpretation of data; or the creation of new software used in the work; or have drafted the work or substantively revised it; and to have approved the submitted version (and any substantially modified version that involves the author’s contribution to the study); and to have agreed both to be personally accountable for the author’s own contributions and to ensure that questions related to the accuracy or integrity of any part of the work, even ones in which the author was not personally involved, are appropriately investigated, resolved, and the resolution documented in the literature.

The responsibility of corresponding authors (CAs) includes but is not limited to:

● Ensuring that original data/materials/code upon which the submission is based are preserved following best practices in the field so that they are retrievable for reanalysis;

● Confirming that data/materials/code presentation accurately reflects the original; and

● Foreseeing and minimizing obstacles to the sharing of data/materials/code described in the work. The CA should be responsible for managing these requirements across the author group and ensuring that the entire author group is fully aware of, and in compliance with, best practices in the discipline of publication.

The HSTPG journals prohibit ghost, guest, or honorary authorship.“Ghost authorship”refers to an individual who has made author-level contributions to the manuscript/article but is not included as an author. A“guest or honorary authorship”refers to someone who has not met all criteria of authorship, but is included as an author. An individual or individuals who have participated in generation of the research manuscript/article but do not meet the criteria for authorship should be listed in the acknowledgment section of a manuscript/article alongside a brief indication of the nature of their contribution.

Each submitted manuscript/paper must specify the nature and level of each author's contribution to the manuscript/paper.

All authors will receive an email from the manuscript submission system that automatically acknowledges the submission and verifies the authorship of the submitted paper. Submission of a manuscript without a prior approval by all authors listed will result in immediate rejection by the journal without appeal. Any changes in the authorship following submission must be approved in writing by all of the original authors, and only those who made substantial contribution in revision and additional research data may warrant the authorship.

After acceptance, the corresponding author is responsible for the accuracy of all content in the proof, including the names of co-authors, addresses and affiliations.

The corresponding author is the key person to inquire about the published paper after publication. They have to keep all co-authors posted of any issues in connection with the published paper and to make sure all the issues are dealt with rapidly. If authors receive awareness of any aspect of published material that need to be corrected, authors have the responsibility to inform the editorial office of the journal immediately.

Deceased or Incapacitated Authors

Authors who have passed away or become incapacitated before the publication of a manuscript, but have made significant contributions warranting authorship, may still be included on the byline with the agreement of the co-authors. In such cases, the corresponding author must provide a statement confirming that, to the best of their knowledge, the deceased or incapacitated individual met the criteria for authorship, and all other authors concur with this decision. This attestation ensures that the individual remains recognized as an author.

Alternatively, the co-author(s) may choose to acknowledge or dedicate the deceased or incapacitated colleague's contribution separately. If the deceased or incapacitated author was also the corresponding author, a new contact person must be designated.

In the event that the deceased or incapacitated author is listed on the byline, their name should be followed by a dagger (†), and a corresponding footnote must be provided to indicate their deceased or incapacitated status.

Use of AI Tools

We follow COPE's guidelines and policies regarding the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) tools: COPE Policy on AI tools.

The submission and publication of content created by artificial intelligence, language models, machine learning, or similar technologies is discouraged, unless part of formal research design or methods, and is not permitted without clear description of the content that was created and the name of the model or tool, version and extension numbers, and manufacturer. Authors must take responsibility for the integrity of the content generated by these models and tools.


We uphold a zero-tolerance policy for all misconducts across all our journals and all papers published.

Allegations should be sent to the journal’s editorial office for further professional investigations.

To handle an allegation or discovery of misconduct, all HSTPG journals follow the Committee on Publishing Ethics (COPE) guidelines. According to these guidelines, a determination of misconduct will be determined by a specific journal-appointed professional investigation team. Based on the investigation, journal may issue an erratum, or retract the article. The investigation may result in the journal’s editorial office contacting the author(s)’ institutions, funding agencies for the concerning paper, and/or potential victims.


Instances of plagiarism and copy-right violations are strictly prohibited in all HSTPG journals.

All HSTPG Journals employ iThenticate and other artificial intelligence tools, to detect plagiarism by comparing submitted manuscripts against a vast database of published articles and web contents, including texts, tables, drawings, and figures. It is imperative for authors to cite and credit sources accurately for all published materials, and to avoid extensive use of content from other works, including authors’ own previous publications. In cases where there is considerable similarity to existing sources (excluding the manuscript's preprint version), the editorial team will assess the overlap and may reach out to the authors for further explanation or to request revisions to prevent copy-right violations. Authors are expected to adhere to any instructions from the editorial office concerning the iThenticate report to facilitate the review process. Manuscripts with substantial, verbatim matches to published material that suggest plagiarism will be promptly rejected. We encourage vigilance from our readers, reviewers, and editorial staffs to report any potential cases of plagiarism and copy-right violations to the journal's editorial office or HSTPG editorial office ( for proper actions.

Duplicate and Redundant Publication Policy

Duplicate or redundant publication occurs when an author publishes the same work, or substantial parts of it, more than once without proper cross-referencing or justification for the overlap. This include those published in the same or a different language. HSTPG Journals will not consider any paper or component of a paper that has been published or is under consideration for publication elsewhere, in any language. Distribution on the internet and in conference proceedings may be regarded as prior publication and could compromise the paper's originality. However, we do accept submissions of papers that were first made available on not-for-profit preprint servers such as ArXiv, AgriRxiv, and bioRxiv. If you have any questions regarding this policy or allowable postings, please contact the journal’s editorial office.

We encourage our readers, reviewers, and editors to report any suspicions of duplicate or redundant publication by contacting the journal's editorial office or HSTPG editorial office (

Post-Publication corrections

HSTPG journals follow the guideline provided by COPE for post-publication corrections ( Any ethical concerns should be directed to the specific HSTPG journal’s editorial office regarding:

● Scientific misconduct

● Undisclosed conflicts of interest

● Errors in published articles

● Technical concerns in published articles

Corrections: Authors or readers should contact the specific HSTPG journal’s editorial office immediately if errors are identified in published articles. After an article is published, changes can be applied to the author list based on all other authors’ approval, such as changes in the order or the deletion or addition of authors. Sometimes, authors require a change in their name for a variety of reasons.

HSTPG will issue a correction notice while correcting the errors in the published article when notified by the authors. The author making the request is responsible for writing the correction notice. Please submit a correction notice that clearly identifies the error, what the correct information is, and which version of the original article has been corrected. HSTPG recommends the correction notice should include the details you want to announce, including all information of the journal and the article, the content which needs to be corrected and the replacement version.

After the author submits the correction request, HSTPG will:

● Update all versions of the article including any abstracting and indexing services (HSTPG cannot guarantee the updates to articles on third-party sites and services when articles have been disseminated);

● Change all related data to the published article on HSTPG's platforms;

● Publish a correction notice of the change.

Retractions: An article will be retracted if errors or misconduct were discovered by authors or by investigations that will significantly change the conclusions of the study. Violation of publication or research ethics may also result in a study’s retraction. The original article is marked as retracted, but a PDF version remains available to readers which will be watermarked as"Retracted Article". The retraction statement is bi-directionally linked to the original published paper. All retraction statements explain why the article was retracted.

Conflict of Interest

HSTPG journals require authors to declare any competing financial and/or non-financial interests to its readers and to the general public. HSTPG have to ensure that the research data in the paper is clear and unbiased and is not influenced by funding or reagent and/or product providers. Any potential conflict of interest that may cause possible biases in either the data or analytical methods will need to be disclosed for our readers to evaluate the data and opinions published in any HSTPG journal.

Editors should contemplate retracting the publication if the author(s) neglected to disclose conflict of interest. When considering whether a retraction is appropriate, we will follow the COPE Retraction Guidelines. Retractions are not usually appropriate if the author has reported the conflicts of interest after the publication and the editor believes that the conflicts are unlikely to have influenced the interpretations, recommendations, or conclusions of the article.

Specific conflict of interest policies

Editorial Board Members or employees are welcome to submit papers to the journal. These submissions are not given any priority over other manuscripts, and Editorial Board Member status has no bearing on editorial consideration. Where an Editorial Board Member or the employee of the journal is on the author list, they must declare this in the section of conflict of interest on the submitted manuscript.

A paper submitted by an editor will be handled by one of the other editors who does not have a conflict with the review and who is not at the same institution as the submitting editor. The other editor will select referees and make all decisions on the paper. In such circumstances, full masking of the process must be ensured so that the anonymity of the peer reviewers is maintained. Therefore, the editor submitting the paper will not have access to the review records of their own manuscript.

Financial Conflicts

Financial competing interests include any of the following (but are not limited to):

● A way to gain or lose financially from the publication of the article, such as the holding stocks or shares in an organization or receiving research support (consultation fees, salary or other forms of remuneration), either now or in the future.

● The value of a patent or patent application (granted or pending) submitted by the author or the institution may be affected by publication. For patents and patent applications, the following information is required to be disclosed: the patent applicant (either the author or the institution), the name of the inventor, the application number, the status of the application, and the specific aspects of the manuscript involved in the patent application.

● The clarification of the role as a funder in the process of the research or preparation of the manuscript should be included.

Non-financial competing interests include any of the following (but are not limited to):

● Unpaid personal or professional relations with government or non-governmental organizations.

● Any unpaid role like an expert witness or consultant for an organization.

Non-financial Conflicts

Other nonfinancial conflicts of interest should also be avoided or disclosed. Editorial decisions should be based on an objective and impartial consideration of the facts, exclusive of personal or professional bias. All decisions by editors should be based solely on the paper’s scientific merit, originality, and quality of writing as well as on the relevance to the journal's scope and mission, without regard to race, ethnic origin, sex, religion, or citizenship of the authors. Editors must disclose personal biases that may affect their editorial decisions.

Therefore, HSTPG journals require that each manuscript must include all authors, their affiliations, funding sources, and a clear statement of any other potential conflict of interest that might be possible sources of biased opinions.

Data Sharing and Materials Availability

After publication, all material and data, such as gene and genome sequences, computer codes, necessary to understand, assess and reproduce the conclusions of the manuscript, must be made available to any reader of HSTPG journals. All reasonable requests for data or materials must be fulfilled. Unreasonable restrictions on data or material availability may prevent publication or result in a retraction of the published paper even after publication.

Public data repositories

Prior to publication, authors are required to deposit large data sets in a national or community approved database and an accession number or a specific accessible web address must be included in the published paper. The DataCite Repository Finder can help authors find an appropriate repository for their data. It is not acceptable if authors post the data on their own webpages as it may not be sustainable.

Researchers in China may alternatively use the CNGB Sequence Archive to share the sequence and omics data.

Materials Transfer Agreements

When any data, codes, or material are generated through other sources or through Material Transfer Agreements (MTAs), such that the data becomes restricted for readers, authors should disclose this information in the authorship and conflict of interest form. MTAs must be included in the acknowledgements. Patents awarded or in application related to the paper should also be declared at submission.

Unpublished Data and Personal Communications

Unpublished data and personal communications should not be used to support main claims in the paper. Although it is permitted, they are discouraged and can only be cited in the text, but not listed in the references. In press and preprint citations are allowed.

Digital Archive

HSTPG is committed to the permanent availability and preservation of scholarly research and to ensure accessibility by converting and upgrading digital file formats to comply with new technology standards. We work in partnership with Portico as well as maintaining our own digital archive.

Research Ethics

Use of Plants Research

All research and studies on plants (either cultivated or wild), including the collection of plant material must comply with guidelines provided by the authors’ institution(s) and national or international regulations. The appropriate permissions or licenses for collection of plants or specimens should be included in the submission. We recommend that authors follow the rules of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Policy Statement on Research Involving Species at Risk of Extinction and the Convention on the Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora.

Use of Animal Research

All HSTPG journals require authors to state that they adhere to NIH Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals in the methods section or similar guide for all animal experiments. The manuscripts must include species, strain, sex and age of experimental animals in the main text or supplementary materials.

Use in Human Research