Editorial Policies  

Presentation of the following UTMJ Editorial Policies has been informed by the Editorial Policy pages of the following journals and publishing groups: BMJ, Nature, NEJM, and JNS.

 

Advertising and Sponsorship

Advertising

Advertisements within the journal are determined through contract with a 3rd party vendor selected by the Medical Society at the University of Toronto. Advertisement of any particular feature, service, or company does not imply the opinion or endorsement of the journal.

 

Sponsorship

UTMJ is supported financially by the Medical Society at the University of Toronto. Additional sponsorship comes from individual benefactors, hospitals, hospital departments, and more. Pharmaceutical industry sponsorship is prohibited. No sponsor has any influence over the editorial process.

 

Authorship 

Criteria

Following guidelines from the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE) (http://www.icmje.org/recommendations/browse/roles-and-responsibilities/defining-the-role-of-authors-and-contributors.html), UTMJ recommends that authorship be based on the following criteria:

 

An author is defined as someone who has provided:

  1. Substantial contributions to the conception or design of the work, OR the acquisition, analysis, or interpretation of data, AND
  2. Assistance in drafting the work or revising it critically for intellectual content, AND
  3. Final approval of the version to be published, AND
  4. Agreement to be accountable for all aspects of the work in ensuring that questions related to the accuracy or integrity of the work are appropriately investigated and resolved.

 

Individuals who meet all 4 criteria should be considered as authors. If an individual has fulfilled the first criteria, they should be offered the opportunity to satisfy criteria 2-3 to be granted authorship. Individuals who do not meet all four criteria should be acknowledged, but not listed as authors.

 

Corresponding author

This individual is responsible for acting as the primary liaison for communication with the journal during the manuscript submission, peer review, and publication process. The corresponding author should ensure that the manuscript meets the journal’s requirements, including formatting, providing details of authorship, ethics committee approval, disclosure of conflicts of interest, among others. The corresponding author is responsible for the integrity of all materials submitted with the manuscript, and must be available to communicate with journal editors in a timely manner.

 

Competing Interests

All editorial decisions are based on the manuscript’s quality, originality, contribution to evidence, and relevance to the journal. Commercial or conflicts of interests will not influence those decisions.

 

Authors

UTMJ requires that all authors disclose the following within the original submission manuscript: institutional affiliation, source(s) of funding, and potential conflicts of interest, which may influence the authors’ presentation of research findings. Specifics regarding the funding sources must be included in the funding section of the manuscript. This includes grant numbers, if applicable. Authors must explain the role of the study sponsor(s) (if any) with regards to study design, data, analysis and interpretation, report writing, and submission of the paper for publication. If those who funded the research have no involvement, this should also be stated. The manuscript should clearly indicate any disclaimers relevant to the submission. 

 

Conflicts of interest may be financial or non-financial. Examples of conflicts of interest include:

 

Financial:

-   Receiving direct compensation, funding, or reimbursement from an organization that holds a stake in the publication of the manuscript

-   Ownership of stocks, shares, or equity in a company which may benefit from the publication

-   Paid consultancy services

-   Patents awarded or pending for the author(s) or affiliated institution(s) from which the authors may benefit

 

Non-financial:

-   Acting as a member of an advisory committee or board member on a service related to the present research

-   Affiliation with organizations such as charities, non-governmental organizations, or research institutions which may unduly influence research conducted

-   Personal relationships that may influence researcher’s objectivity

-   Ideological or political beliefs directly related to the manuscript’s content which may influence researcher’s objectivity

 

Reviewers

Reviewers are carefully selected to represent broad research foci and perspectives. As with authors, reviewers are required to disclose conflicts of interest.

 

Editors

In accordance with the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors’ uniform declaration of competing interests, UTMJ Editors must disclose any standing conflicts prior to their appointments. All declarations of interests will be included on the web page of UTMJ (updated annually, unless additional conflicts arise mid-cycle). Editors with conflicts of interest relevant to individual submissions are required to alert their immediate superior and recuse themselves from the review process. Another editor will be assigned by the superior to the submission in question. 

 

Complaints

Complaints regarding content, procedures, or policies of UTMJ or the editorial staff are taken seriously as they offer opportunity for improvement. Complaints will be addressed promptly during the academic year. Complaints should be directed to the editors-in-chief at editors.utmj@utoronto.ca. 

 

Copyright and Author’s Rights

Authors who publish with this journal agree to the following terms:

  1. Authors retain copyright and grant the journal right of first publication with the work simultaneously licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution License that allows others to share the work with an acknowledgement of the work's authorship and initial publication in this journal.
  2. Authors are able to enter into separate, additional contractual arrangements for the non-exclusive distribution of the journal's published version of the work (e.g., post it to an institutional repository or publish it in a book), with an acknowledgement of its initial publication in this journal.
  3. Authors are permitted and encouraged to post their work online (e.g., in institutional repositories or on their website) prior to and during the submission process, as it can lead to productive exchanges, as well as earlier and greater citation of published work (See The Effect of Open Access).

 

Correction and Retraction Policies

Corrections

We require authors to communicate to UTMJ of any errors of facts they have been informed of or have noticed after the publication of their article. Any corrections will be made at UTMJ’s discretion; minor corrections that do not change the scientific understanding of the article (formating, typographical errors, etc.) may not be corrected. Once it has been decided that a correction needs to be made, a correction notice will be published online as soon as possible.

 

If the article is already published in an issue, the next available print issue will include a correction notice. The online version of the article will also link to the correction notice, and vice versa.

 

Retractions

In the event of evidence of unreliable data or findings, plagiarism, duplicate publication, or unethical research, a retraction will be considered. UTMJ may also consider communicating a notice of concern in the event that an article is under investigation. In any retraction, the journal will explain why the article was retracted.

 

Data Sharing

To account for the personal risks and investments associated with participating in research, UTMJ believes that it is the researcher’s ethical duty to make data publicly available to participants and other researchers who may benefit. We therefore encourage authors to share their data in publicly available repositories, such as Open Science Framework, figshare, GitHub, or as an electronic supplement accompanying the online UTMJ article. A comprehensive list of recommended repositories can be found at the following link: https://www.springernature.com/gp/authors/research-data-policy/repositories/12327124

 

Authors are required to provide details regarding the methods and materials needed to reproduce their experiments. Data required to either verify or expand on this research must also be provided. Methods, materials and data should be freely provided to those who would like them for the purposes of academic, noncommercial research.

 

Data Protection Policy

Please be advised that we may collect and/or store the information from website users and/or journal readers. These include, but are not necessarily limited to, the following:

  • author information such as your name, title, and institutional affiliation(s)
  • your contact information including your name and email address/phone number
  • any information you provide us through online communication (through OJS or email)
  • details about which articles you have accessed and when they have been accessed

 

This information may be collected through several sources. These include, but are not necessarily limited to, the following:

  • filling in website forms including contact forms and manuscript submission forms
  • communication directly with UTMJ through email and other electronic means
  • website cookies

 

We may use this information for several purposes. These include, but are not necessarily limited to, the following:

  • website quality improvement
  • assessing the performance and popularity of published articles
  • recording a way to reply to users who have initiated communication with us

 

While we will take appropriate technical and organizational measures to protect your personal information against unauthorized access or use, transmission over the internet (through OJS or email) is not completely secure and therefore we cannot guarantee the absolute security of your information. Please note, we will not share any personal information with third parties unless required by law. 

 

For any concerns or questions, please feel free to fill in our contact form or email us directly at editors.utmj@utoronto.ca

 

Journal Staff Roles and Responsibilities

All staff at UTMJ are current MD or MD/PhD students at the University of Toronto Temerty School of Medicine. Calls for applications for managerial and editorial positions are placed at the beginning of each academic year, and reviewed by the Editors-in-Chief. The managerial and editorial teams are hired based on past research, editorial, or otherwise relevant experience, and a demonstrated interest in the learning and contributing to the peer-review process. As per hiring policies outlined by the University of Toronto Medical Society, all applications are anonymized before selection for an interview. UTMJ abides by the World Association of Medical Editors (WAME) statement on editorial freedom, duties and responsibilities. This association describes editorial freedom as Editors retaining full authority over editorial content for UTMJ and the timing and publication of that content. UTMJ will not interfere directly or by creating an environment that influences decisions in the evaluation, selection, scheduling or editing of articles.

 

Managerial Roles 

Editors-in-Chief

The Editors-in-Chief oversee all operations of UTMJ, which include editorial processes, advisory board meetings, new initiatives, financing, and distribution of the journal. 

Editors-in-Chief are hired by a joint decision between the outgoing Editors-in-Chief and the VP of Publications from the Medical Society at the University of Toronto.

 

Directors of Development

The Directors of Development work closely with the Editors-in-Chief to advance initiatives focused on increasing the reach and the impact of UTMJ. This role also involves continually improving policies of UTMJ as well as developing and managing relations with sponsors of the journal.

 

Director of Ethics and Law

The Director of Ethics and Law works closely with the Editors-in-Chief to develop policies and expand the breadth of UTMJ to medical ethics and law. This role also involves outreach to leaders to solicit commentaries for publication.

 

Directors of Communications and Social Media

The Directors of Communication and Social Media develop a communication strategy to promote and maintain UTMJ’s presence on social media platforms and beyond. They play an important role in engaging the readers of UTMJ.

 

Creative Director

The Creative Director develops and maintains UTMJ web-site, submissions database and provides expertise on the creative content.

 

Advisory Board

The Editors-in-Chief of UTMJ are supported by an independent advisory board. The purpose of UTMJ Advisory Board is to guide the Editors-in-Chief in identifying relevant themes for the journal’s issues, setting long-term goals for the journal, and developing strategies to improve the accessibility of the journal to the worldwide medical community. The board meets annually, with additional ongoing communication between Faculty Advisors and the Editors-in-Chief pertaining to specific issues throughout the publication year.

 

Editorial Roles

Managing Editors

  • Act as a liaison between Editors-in-Chief and Associate Editors
  • Prepare and share calls for submission for each issue in a timely manner
  • Manage article submissions, article assignments to Associate Editors, and ensure peer-review and publication timelines for each issue are diligently met
  • Improve internal peer-review processes and create and maintain repository of communication templates (email drafts, reviewer submission forms)

 

Associate Editors

  • Act as a liaison between Managing Editor and Section Editors
  • Facilitate article review process by contacting external reviewers and managing a group of Section and Copy Editors
  • Facilitate communication with authors throughout the review process
  • Meet peer-review process timelines within teams

 

Associate Editors make editorial decisions based on the work’s validity and not on commercial implications for UTMJ. They are free to communicate critical but responsible perspectives regarding medicine without fear of retribution, regardless of how these views may conflict with UTMJ’s commercial goals as publisher.

UTMJ encourages editorial freedom, and fully supports the decisions of the Associate Editors including potentially controversial opinions made by Associate Editors as long as they are evidence-based. In parallel, our Associate Editors agree to follow the policies and procedures of UTMJ. From the onset of their roles, Associate Editors are provided with a written agreement that clearly outlines the duties, authority, and terms of their appointment.

 

Section Editors

Are responsible for the following:

  • Review articles submitted to the UTMJ and determine their suitability for publication based on their merit, novelty, methodology and readability
  • Section editors will review articles from any of the following sections:
  • Research articles and case reports
    • Basic science, clinical and health services research
  • Reviews and commentaries
    • Opinion based articles that summarize relevant research and offer insight into current gaps in knowledge and future directions for research or medical practice

 

Interview Editors

  • Collaborate with Editors-in-Chief to select appropriate interviewees
  • Solicit interviews from prominent medical scientists and clinicians
  • Develop target themes and corresponding questions for each interview to explore innovative and forward thinking ideas in the field
  • Transcribe interviews
  • Prepare interviews for publication
  • Collaborate with Copy Editors to ensure accuracy, readability, and flow of the interview transcript

 

Copy Editors

  • Review articles for proper grammar and spelling after they have been accepted for publication
  • Ensure that reference formatting adheres to UTMJ guidelines

 

Confidentiality

UTMJ follows a double-blind review process, with Associate Editors responsible for maintaining blinding between reviewers and authors. UTMJ understands that any manuscript submitted to UTMJ is a privileged communication that is the authors’ confidential property. Editors and all UTMJ staff maintain all information regarding a submitted manuscript confidential.

 

Editors will not share communications about manuscripts to anyone other than affiliated authors and reviewers, including but not limited to:

  • Whether they have been received or are under review
  • Content and status of the review
  • Criticism(s) by reviewers
  • Ultimate fate of the submission

 

UTMJ Editors agree to support confidentiality of peer-reviewers and authors (names and reviewer comments) as outlined by ICMJE policy. In the event of an allegation of fraud or dishonesty, confidentiality may need to be breached; however, if Editors intend to do so, they will first inform authors and reviewers. Editors will not make use of confidential information for their own intentions and will take appropriate measures to make sure that this information is not inappropriately used. In the event of a breach of confidentiality, Editors will contact parties involved and provide follow up until the case is appropriately resolved.

Editors will not publish or publicise peer review comments without permission of the reviewer and author. Reviewer or author identity will not be revealed to the author or anyone else without express written permission.

 

Patient and Public Partnership

UTMJ supports active partnership between researchers and patients, caregivers, and the public as a vital means to improving the ethics and quality of research and health care. To that end, the UTMJ supports the inclusion of a Patient and Public Involvement Statement in the methods of submitted articles, describing the involvement of patients and the public in the work, where appropriate. UTMJ acknowledges that patient and public partnership in research is a nascent movement and that not all submitted research will involve these parties in the processes of research. More details on patient and public involvement in research, as well as example Statements, may be found at this link from the BMJ.

 

Peer Review Process

Initial reception

Initial submissions are initially screened by the Editors-in-Chief and Managing Editors and then assigned to Associate Editors. Associate Editors are responsible for blinding all submission materials and assigning each article to at least one internal Section Editor and one external Faculty Reviewer.

 

Peer review

Peer review at UTMJ is performed simultaneously by  internal Section Editor and  external Faculty Reviewer(s). Section Editors and Faculty Reviewers conduct double-blinded review of submissions and return reviews using a standardized template to Associate Editors along with their recommendation for article decisions: to either Accept, Reject, or Request Revisions. Associate Editors are then responsible for synthesizing reviewer comments to reach a decision for each article. In cases of dispute between reviewers regarding recommended article decisions, Associate Editors may elicit input from the Editorial Team to reach a decision. 

 

Reviewer comments

Associate Editors are responsible for conveying blinded reviewer comments to authors, regardless of article decision. If an article decision is Request Revisions, authors are required to include an itemized Response to Reviewer Comments upon resubmission along with tracked changes and edited manuscript.

 

Final decisions

Re-submitted articles are sent to reviewers to confirm that revisions have been adequately addressed to allow for article publication. Following this, Associate Editors may communicate a final decision to authors and the Editorial Team, or request additional revisions.

 

Peer Review Terms and Conditions

Peer reviewers are essential in UTMJ’s peer-review process. UTMJ requires reviewers to follow a set of principles and standards, as described below. We request that you please read these policies carefully prior to your review submission; by agreeing to be a reviewer of UTMJ, you accept these conditions. The below conditions are based on the Committee on Publication Ethics Ethical Guidelines for Peer Reviewers.

 

Conflicts of interest

UTMJ asks peer reviewers to declare any potential conflicting or competing interests during the review process (be they financial, intellectual, professional, political or religious). These concerns should be communicated to the Editorial team prior to your review. Reviewers should not agree to review a manuscript for the purposes of gaining access to it without the intention of reviewing it.

 

Confidentiality

Reviewers are expected to keep the manuscripts strictly confidential, as they are the authors’ private, confidential property. If you seek input from a professional colleague as part of the review process, and would like to discuss the manuscript and/or review with them, you are responsible to make them fully aware of the confidential nature of the discussion; they cannot disclose information regarding the manuscript prior to its publication. It is also required that the identity of any co-reviewer and their potential conflicts of interests be disclosed upon submission of your review. After submitting their review, reviewers should not keep the manuscript. Any copies should be destroyed. 

 

Blinding

All manuscripts submitted to UTMJ undergo double-blind review. Authors are requested to submit blinded manuscript copies in parallel to facilitate this process. Associate editors who receive initial submissions are responsible for ensuring manuscripts that proceed to the review process do not contain any information that could identify authors. External faculty reviewers and internal section reviewers receive blinded manuscripts from associate editors. Further, associate editors are responsible for ensuring blinding of reviewer comments before these are made available to authors.

 

Timeliness

Please agree to review a manuscript only if you expect to return a review within the mutually agreed upon time-frame. If you are unable to review for an issue, it would be very helpful to UTMJ for you to suggest alternative reviewers based on relevant expertise. These recommendations, however, should not be influenced by personal considerations, or to influence the outcome of the manuscript.

 

Scientific misconduct

Please inform the Editorial Team of any concerns of misconduct regarding:

  • the research or writing and manuscript submission
  • parallels between the manuscript and a published article or another manuscript submitted concurrently to another journal

 

Appropriate Feedback

Assessment of the manuscripts’ strengths and weaknesses should be done in a fair, honest and unbiased manner. Please provide specifics in your critique, and include evidence with references to support general statements that you make. We expect our reviewers to conduct their reviews in a professional manner, and to avoid being unnecessarily hostile, inflammatory, or derogatory. Explain and comment on additional analysis that would clarify the manuscript; however, it is not the reviewer’s responsibility to extend it beyond the current breadth.

 

Our use of your review

UTMJ keeps all peer reviews strictly confidential and does not publicize any content from peer reviews.

 

Restrictions on your use of your review

UTMJ restricts reviewers from publicizing their peer-review comments. 

 

Editor responsibilities in peer review

UTMJ Editors will ensure that comments from reviewers are assessed and interpreted appropriately, taking declared conflicts of interest into account.

 

Any article that is written by a UTMJ editorial team member will be independently peer reviewed; no editor will be allowed to have input or influence on the peer review or publication decision made for their own article.

 

Editors will do their utmost to ensure that manuscripts are processed in a timely fashion. In the case of articles that the journal has no intention to proceed with, Editors will aim to reject these articles as soon as possible. This also allows authors the opportunity to submit to a different journal.

 

Preprints

UTMJ fully supports and encourages authors to archive preprints in any recognized, not-for-profit, preprint server. UTMJ does not consider a manuscript deposited in a preprint repository to be previously published. Though we place no limits on the type of license chosen when posting a preprint version of the manuscript, authors still must retain copyright when posting on the dedicated preprint server. When submitting to UTMJ, authors must include a link or DOI to the preprint version of their manuscript.

 

A number of preprint servers automatically add a link to the article’s published version; however, in the event that your chosen preprint server does not, once your article is published by UTMJ, we request you add the following to your preprint:

 

“Following peer review, this article has been published in [insert complete UTMJ citation] and can also be viewed on UTMJ’s website at [insert URL].”

 

Publication Embargo

From the time a manuscript has been accepted for publication, all material is under embargo until it is published. At UTMJ, the time between acceptance and publication is generally a few weeks. 

 

Reproducing Figures and Images

You are responsible for receiving permission to include figures, images or extracts from previously published work. These materials need to be appropriately referenced and we require you include written consent from the copyright holder.

 

Research Ethics

Animal/human rights

All research involving animal or human subjects must be conducted in accordance with the Research Ethics Board (REB) standards of the authors’ affiliated institution during which the research was conducted, without exception. Further, UTMJ requires submitted research to be conducted in accordance with the Helsinki Declaration of 1975, as revised in 2000. 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. When reporting experiments on animals, authors should indicate whether the institutional and national guide for the care and use of laboratory animals was followed. All research studies requiring full REB approval must have the REB information listed in the manuscript.

 

Informed consent

UTMJ endorses the patient consent and confidentiality policies of BMJ and the ICMJE. Adherence to those policies, as well as the following text, which is partly composed of text from those policies, is required. All research involving human participants must solicit informed consent from participants, or a substitute decision-maker (parent or legal guardian) if the participant is a minor. Particular care must be taken to ensure that consent is free and fully informed, especially if the research is conducted in vulnerable populations (e.g. children, pregnant women, prisoners), or if there exists a salient and inherent power imbalance between research participants and researchers (e.g. clinicians and patients). Every effort should be made to ensure that participant information is anonymized; identifying information, including names, initials, or hospital numbers, should not be published; however, if the research manuscript inevitably contains personally identifiable data, participants must consent to the publication of their data in addition to the conduct of the study itself. Authors should disclose to involved patients whether any potential identifiable material might be available via the Internet as well as in print after publication. When informed consent has been obtained, it should be indicated in the published article.

 

A note on studies using recombinant DNA

For research that involves gene transfer or recombinant DNA, Guidelines for Research Involving Recombinant or Synthetic Nucleic Acid Molecules must be followed. Local and Canadian laws and regulations must also be adhered to.

 

Responses to Published Work

UTMJ welcomes responses, questions or comments from readers to published articles, as opinions and responsible debate are important aspects of science. 

 

Questions or comments can be submitted electronically to the Editors-in-Chief (editors.utmj@utoronto.ca) as an eLetter. In your correspondence, please declare any competing interests that you may have. UTMJ will allow submission of responses within 6 weeks of online publication of original articles. The Editorial Team will review submitted responses and, when appropriate, share responses with original article authors for rebuttal. After successful review by the Editorial Team, response and rebuttal will be published together online, and prepared for inclusion in the subsequent print issue.

 

Scientific Misconduct

UTMJ follows the guidance of organizations such as the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE), the World Association of Medical Editors (WAME) and the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE). Given this, UTMJ disapproves of the following:

 

Falsification of data

This includes fabrication of data and deceptive reporting of findings, as well as conflicting data omission, suppression or distortion.

 

Plagiarism, redundant and duplicate publication

Using the language, thoughts, or ideas of another without giving credit to the true source and presenting them as one’s own work.

 

Simultaneous submission

An individual submits a manuscript to separate publications at the same time, potentially resulting in multiple journals publishing the paper. Manuscripts submitted to UTMJ must be original work and not have been submitted to another journal.

 

Improprieties of authorship

Improper assignment of credit, including excluding others from authorship, misrepresenting material as original in more than one manuscript, including individuals in authorship who did not make a definite contribution to the submission, or including authors in a multi-authored article without the agreement of all authors on the publication.

 

Misappropriation of the ideas of others

Though exchanging ideas between colleagues is an important aspect of scholarly activity, and that this can lead to scholars acquiring new ideas, inappropriate use of such information can be considered fraud and misconduct.

 

Violation of generally accepted research practices

This includes improper manipulation of experiments in order to achieve biased results, improper result reporting, and the use of deceptive statistical and analytical manipulations. Failing to declare competing interests, funding/ sponsorship, and other methods of transparency are also considered misconduct.

 

Material failure to comply with legislative and regulatory requirements affecting research

This includes significant, repeated and wilful violations of local regulations or laws outlining the use of funds, animals, human subjects, investigational drugs, recombinant products, radioactive, biological or chemical materials, or new devices.

 

Inappropriate behaviour in relation to misconduct

Failure to report misconduct or withholding information about the misconduct claim, falsely accusing someone of misconduct, or retaliating against an individual connected to the allegations or investigations are all considered examples of this form of misconduct.

 

Salami slicing (salami publication)

Salami slicing occurs when scholars deliberately choose to split findings of an individual study into several publications. This misconduct is considered a type of redundant publication. Given that publications where salami slicing has occured can result in biases in the event of meta-analyses, UTMJ’s editorial team will assess articles for this form of misconduct as one of the standard evaluations. Investigations that have parallel hypotheses, populations or methods should generally be presented in the form of a single paper. If you are of the opinion that there are legitimate reasons for publishing multiple articles for the same study, please inform the editorial office of any potentially overlapping papers.

 

Previous publication

UTMJ encourages submissions that have not been previously published in part or in whole. We recognize that while research may be built upon previous work, publications which are direct duplicates should be avoided. If a manuscript is considered a duplicate publication, it is the responsibility of the author to alert the editors-in-chief at time of submission. All works that are derivative of previous work should display clear reference - any text that is identical should be referenced and surrounded by quotation marks.

 

Handling of Allegations of Misconduct

Members of the Editorial Team and reviewers concerned about any of the above forms of misconduct will discuss and investigate allegations with the Editorial Team. Articles found to demonstrate any form of misconduct will be promptly rejected. Published articles found retroactively to demonstrate misconduct will be retracted, or, if possible, corrected. Readers who suspect any form of scientific misconduct among any published article are encouraged to report this to the Editors-in-Chief at editors.utmj@utoronto.ca. UTMJ does not tolerate any form of scientific misconduct.