1. Authors of Scientific Communications
1.1. The Society for Neuroscience (SfN) expects its members to adhere to high standards when publishing any scientific communications, whether these are SfN publications or not. Authors are obliged to conduct research according to ethical precepts; to present an accurate account of the methods used, the results obtained, and the relevant scientific literature; and to provide an objective discussion of the significance of the research.
1.1.1. Authors should conform to the Instructions for Authors prepared by the editors of the journal to which they are submitting.
1.1.2. If necessary, authors should seek the assistance of someone with experience in technical writing in English for the manuscript. However, the authors of the manuscript retain responsibility for the accuracy of the final manuscript.
1.1.3. If necessary, authors should seek the assistance of experts in statistical methods or analyses. This becomes particularly relevant in cases when authors lack the appropriate or necessary statistical expertise. However, the authors of the manuscript retain responsibility for the accuracy of the final manuscript.
1.2. Data must be original and accurate. It is essential that researchers and others be able to trust the validity of published data. That trust permits researchers to build on prior observations and thus facilitates the progress of science. It also allows individuals to form opinions and make policies based on those observations. Data that have been fabricated or falsified contaminate the scientific literature, greatly diminishing the value of this resource for researchers and others in the community. Moreover, such fraudulent actions undermine society’s trust in the scientific enterprise.
1.2.1. Intentional, knowing, or reckless fabrication or falsification of data is misconduct and will lead to action by the Society following the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) guidelines. No data may be put in a scientific communication that have not actually been collected or observed (fabrication), nor may data be altered in any way (falsification) other than by mathematical transformations that are commonly accepted or clearly explained in the manuscript. This includes numerical data as well as images.
1.2.2. Datapoints that deviate from all others of the same type must not be removed arbitrarily. Statistical justification must be included for any points removed and such deletions should be indicated within the manuscript.
1.2.3. All data and analyses for research reported in abstracts, articles, and oral presentations should be maintained in a retrievable form for as long as required by the relevant funding source(s) and institutions, typically at least 3 years from submission of final grant reports or from the date of publication, whichever is longer.
1.3.1. Appropriating of another person’s ideas, processes, results, or words without giving appropriate credit is plagiarism. Plagiarism undermines the system through which authors receive credit for their work, and in doing so may inhibit authors from sharing their data and ideas in a timely fashion, activities essential to the progress of science. In addition to denying scholarly credit, plagiarism also has potentially important legal implications for commercial development and patenting.
1.3.2. Authors are responsible for consulting and citing relevant work appropriate to the standards of the field and the restrictions of the journal.
1.3.3. Studies that use previously published data, including for new purposes, should clearly state the use of such data and cite the prior publications.
1.3.4. In most instances, the appropriate source will be a peer reviewed article rather than a review article, chapter, or book. When a secondary source is used to supplement a primary source, it should be identified as such (e.g., “see also review by Jones, 2021”). Preprints, abstracts, presentations at meetings or seminars, and material placed on a website also should be cited appropriately.
1.3.5. References to information obtained privately, as in conversation, correspondence, or discussion with third parties, cannot be used to support the findings of a work. If these personal communications provide information that is otherwise unavailable, authors should receive explicit permission to include the information from its source, who should then be cited as providing a personal communication, and peer reviewers should approve its inclusion.
1.4. Any data reported in scientific communications involving human or animal subjects must have been conducted in compliance with the relevant institutional review boards and in accordance with the SfN Policies on the Use of Animals and Humans in Research.
1.5. All data should be presented so as to minimize the possibility of misinterpretation. The prohibition against misrepresenting observations extends beyond fabrication and falsification. Data also must be presented in such a form that they will not be readily subject to misinterpretation.
1.5.1. Data should be presented as clearly as possible. This is particularly important when data transformations are employed or when graphical illustrations include axes that do not begin at a standard origin (usually “0,0”).
1.5.2. All statistical tests employed to analyze data must be used knowledgeably, ensuring that the requirements of the tests are satisfied by the dataset to which they are applied. Authors not well versed in the statistical procedures appropriate to their research are expected to have consulted an individual with the necessary expertise.
1.6. Authorship should be based on a substantial intellectual contribution. It is assumed that all authors have had a significant role in the creation of a scientific communication that bears their names. Therefore, the list of authors on an article serves multiple purposes: it indicates who is responsible for the work and to whom questions regarding the work should be addressed. Moreover, the credit implied by authorship is often used as a measure of scientists’ productivity in evaluating them for employment, promotions, grants, and prizes.
1.6.1. SfN follows the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors’ (ICMJE) definition of authorship as being based on “1) Substantial contributions to the conception or design of the work; or the acquisition, analysis, or interpretation of data for the work; AND 2) Drafting the work or revising it critically for important 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.
“In addition to being accountable for the parts of the work he or she has done, an author should be able to identify which co-authors are responsible for specific other parts of the work. In addition, authors should have confidence in the integrity of the contributions of their co-authors.
“All those designated as authors should meet all four criteria for authorship, and all who meet the four criteria should be identified as authors.” Deceased persons deemed appropriate as authors should be so included with a footnote identifying them as deceased.
1.6.2. The senior author(s) should offer to each individual who has met the first criterion the opportunity to participate in authoring, drafting, or critically reviewing the manuscript so as to avoid exclusion from authorship by lack of opportunity.
1.6.3. Although researchers are strongly encouraged to share materials such as reagents, animals, and tissues, the provision of such materials in and of itself does not constitute sufficient grounds for inclusion as an author.
1.6.4. In multi-authored papers, the significance of the order in which authors are listed varies widely according to common practice in the field or to the policy established by the publisher and the journal and thus cannot reasonably be stipulated in these Guidelines. However, it is usual in neuroscience and allied fields for authors to be listed in descending order of their contribution to the paper, with the exception that the senior author is often listed last.
1.6.5. Once the list and order of authors has been established, the list and order of authors should not be altered without permission of all living authors. Exceptions to this rule shall be limited to the demonstration of misconduct on the part of an author or failure to fulfill authorship obligations.
1.6.6. The role of each author in the work reported should be indicated. Often, two or more individuals have contributed equally, and it is appropriate to share credit as first author or senior author.
1.6.7. All authors share responsibility for the scientific accuracy of an abstract for a presentation at a professional meeting or a manuscript, including supplementary material. Hence, in cases of fabrication, falsification, or plagiarism, all authors are potentially culpable.
1.6.8. In the case of papers with multiple authors, a corresponding author must be designated as having responsibility for overseeing the publication process and ensuring the integrity of the final document. The corresponding author accepts the responsibility for: (a) including as co-authors all persons appropriate and none inappropriate; (b) obtaining from all co-authors their assent to be designated as such, as well as their approval of the final version of the manuscript; (c) determining that permission has been obtained from each individual acknowledged in the manuscript.
1.6.9. If a manuscript is revised and resubmitted to the same journal, co-authors should be asked to reaffirm their assent to be listed as co-authors and to approve the revised version. In addition, if the manuscript is rejected or withdrawn from a journal and then submitted to a different journal, the co-authors should be asked again to affirm their assent to authorship even if no substantive changes have been made.
1.6.10. Co-authors have the right to withdraw their names from a manuscript at any time before acceptance of the manuscript by the editor. However, an author’s name should not be removed from a manuscript without his or her permission or without approval of the editor in cases involving possible misconduct.
1.6.11. When a study is published under the auspices of a formal group, typically multicenter, it is appropriate to append “for the xxx Group” or “and the xxx Group” at the end of the author list to indicate the formality of the association. The group may be explicitly credited as an author if appropriate.
1.6.12. Ghostwriting (writing of a manuscript by someone who is not an author and is not acknowledged) of a scientific publication is unacceptable. However, soliciting assistance in improving a manuscript’s grammar and style is encouraged.
1.7. “Acknowledgments” provide an opportunity to note assistance that does not warrant authorship but does merit recognition. Although only a limited number of people will qualify as authors of a manuscript (see section 1.6), there are many other types of contributions that can or even should be acknowledged in other ways. Acknowledgment of ideas or of comments provided about a draft of a manuscript is an appropriate indication of assistance provided and also may facilitate such interactions in the future. However, because acknowledgments of intellectual contributions may be interpreted by readers as an endorsement of the conclusions of the paper, authors should offer such individuals the opportunity to decline the acknowledgment. Other types of acknowledgments that may be appropriate are those for the donation of a critical reagent or for technical support.
1.7.1. A footnote or the “Acknowledgments” section of a paper should be used to indicate intellectual, technical, or other contributions that do not merit authorship but are nonetheless noteworthy.
1.7.2. Individuals should be informed before the publication of any such acknowledgments and thereby given the opportunity to decline the offer.
1.8. Any potential perceived conflict of interest, including financial contributions to the work being reported and non-financial personal or organizational relationships, should be clearly disclosed at the time of submission. Acknowledgment of financial support is expected by sponsors and may assist the funding agency in determining the impact of their contribution. Moreover, financial support must be considered by editors, reviewers, and readers in evaluating the objectivity of the report.
1.8.1. All sources of financial support for the work described should be acknowledged in the designated section of a manuscript, following the journal’s guidelines. Financial support includes the contribution, free of charge, of products such as drugs, biological materials, or devices.
1.8.2. Authors should disclose in a cover letter addressed to the editor any associations that represent a potential conflict of interest. These include a current or pending relationship as a consultant for the company supporting the research or manufacturing products being tested, a financial or managerial interest in such a company, or intellectual property rights that might be affected by publication of the results of the research reported in a manuscript, as well as close association with an individual or organization with any of the above interests. Any potential, perceived conflicts of interest should be clearly disclosed to readers in the published articles.
1.8.3. Authors should ensure that no contractual relations or proprietary considerations exist that would restrict the dissemination of their findings. More fundamentally, researchers should seek advice from their institutions before entering into agreements that might prevent or unduly delay publication of their research results. It is generally accepted that there may be a brief delay (e.g., 30 to 60 days) for the sponsor to review a manuscript and prepare a patent application. However, it is not acceptable for an academic scientist to permit an outside organization to hold veto power over publication. Should any such restrictions exist, however, they should be disclosed to the editor. Upon receipt of this information, an editor may choose to return the manuscript.
1.9. Methods and materials should be described in sufficient detail to permit evaluation and replication. In science it is essential that other researchers be able to evaluate and, if they wish, to replicate published observations. This enables researchers to build on the work of each other, thus permitting the efficient use of resources.
1.9.1. A research article should contain sufficient detail and reference to public sources of information in a format appropriate to the journal’s style and policy to allow a knowledgeable scientist to evaluate and replicate the work reported.
1.9.2. The source of any materials and equipment thought to be crucial to the replication of the experiment should be clearly identified, and authors should provide details on any materials and protocols upon request.
1.9.3. Any known unusual hazards inherent in the chemicals, equipment, or procedures used in an investigation should be clearly identified in the manuscript reporting the work.
1.10. Data sharing is strongly encouraged. When data are published in a peer reviewed journal, authors should deposit associated data in a suitable, publicly accessible repository whenever available. This includes nucleic acid and protein sequence data, expression data, neuroimaging data, code, and other data types currently available or that become available in the future. Authors must, when possible, honor requests for access to any form of published data for appropriate scientific use.
1.11. Unique and propagatable materials used in studies being reported must be made available to qualified scientists for bona fide research purposes. In some cases, the replication and extension of published work may require materials that are not readily available. In such instances, the authors must make every effort to provide those materials to other qualified scientists. Indeed, the failure of authors to provide such materials greatly reduces the value of their work. In general, editors should not accept a manuscript for publication unless the authors agree to the above conditions.
1.11.1. Once a manuscript has been published, authors must promptly make available to qualified scientists for bona fide research purposes all materials that were used in the reported research and are not otherwise readily available. This includes propagatable research materials (such as monoclonal antibodies, transgenic mice, and DNA probes and constructs) and, where possible, non-propagatable materials (for example, serum antibodies). Reasonable costs associated with the production and transfer of these materials should be provided by the recipient if the authors so request.
1.11.2. Such materials must be provided without restrictions, such as the requirement that they not be used for a particular type of experiment. Likewise, the person providing the materials should not make future authorship a condition for this provision. Reasonable mutual agreements to avoid unnecessary overlap of research are encouraged.
1.11.3. These guidelines apply equally to those in academia and in the private sector, except that when an individual in the private sector requests materials that are intended to be used for commercialization, it is appropriate that the individual requesting the materials be asked to provide a fee.
1.11.4. Authors should try to arrange to provide these materials for a significant period of time after a paper has been published, even if the material is not in current use.
1.11.5. Authors may, if possible, arrange to distribute materials through accepted, community-specific data banks (e.g., for DNA sequences) or entities such as the American Type Culture Collection or the Jackson Laboratory.
1.11.6. Authors who use materials that they obtain from another source should endeavor to have those materials made available to other researchers.
1.11.7. In rare instances, considerations of time, money, or personnel may make sharing of materials impossible. In each such case the authors must explain these circumstances in a cover letter submitted with the manuscript, indicating that the authors are prepared to make every effort to assist others in creating their own materials. The editors of the journal may then determine whether to accept the manuscript for review. If a manuscript is ultimately published, the authors should disclose to readers that materials are unavailable.
1.11.8. Certain considerations may lead authors, particularly those in the private sector whose work is not supported by public funds, to wish to delay providing compounds being developed as therapeutic agents. These instances must be explained, and the period of delay defined in a cover letter submitted with the manuscript. In addition, the authors might offer to supply closely related materials (e.g., an analog to a compound). The editors can then determine whether to accept the manuscript for review.
1.11.9. If it is demonstrated that an author has failed to abide by these guidelines, SfN will refuse to publish any communication involving that author until the matter is corrected.
1.12. Authors have an obligation to correct errors promptly. Once an article has been published, it remains forever within scientific literature. Thus, care should be taken to determine that every aspect of a manuscript is correct. Occasionally, errors are not discovered until after a manuscript has been submitted or even after it has been published. Every effort should be made to correct such errors as quickly as possible. It is far preferable to do so before an article is published since the subsequent publication of corrections—while serving a useful purpose when required—can never eliminate the possibility that individuals will read the original article and assume it to be accurate, having not read the correction.
1.12.1. Authors must strive to ensure that every aspect of a manuscript is correct. This responsibility does not end when a manuscript has been submitted for publication.
1.12.2. Should a significant error be discovered after the article has been submitted, is in press, or has been published, the authors must immediately contact the editor and establish how the error should best be corrected.
1.12.3. If there is a disagreement among the authors about such matters, the editor of the journal to which the manuscript was submitted must determine the proper course of action, following established COPE guidelines.
1.13. All components of a research article are subject to peer review. Designation as a peer reviewed article implies that each substantive component of the published article, including supplemental material, has received editorial approval. This includes material that has been modified or added after the initial review process, as well as the deletion of material. Thus, although it may be necessary to alter a manuscript after it has been submitted, this should be done only with the consent of the editor.
1.13.1. If a manuscript has been reviewed, returned to the authors, and is being sent back to the same journal in a revised form, all substantive changes in any aspect of that manuscript should be explicitly described in an accompanying note to the editor. This applies to the list and order of authors, as well as to the text, data, figures, tables, and references.
1.13.2. All substantive changes made in proofs sent to the authors after a manuscript has been accepted for publication also must be clearly identified and explained.
1.14. Authors should not engage in duplicate publication. Publishing the same finding based on the same data in two different articles without explicit acknowledgment of the relationship is duplicate publication and is unacceptable. Any data that have been previously published should be explicitly labeled as such. Data refers to the full range of experimental observations, including both numerical values and images. Once this condition has been satisfied, studies involving data mining and explicit comparison with pre-existing data sets are appropriate and encouraged.
1.15. Informal communication of results and ideas is encouraged. Presentation of data and manuscript drafts at conferences, via preprint servers such as bioRxiv, or informally online does not constitute prior publication that would preclude publication in peer reviewed journals. This type of sharing is encouraged because it enhances the prompt exchange of information and allows for feedback from the community. Authors should ascertain in advance whether the communication infringes the policies of the journal targeted for final publication and should be aware that even informal communication can modify the intellectual property status of the data.
1.16. It is improper for authors to submit a manuscript describing essentially the same research simultaneously to more than one peer reviewed research journal. To do otherwise is to overuse valuable editorial and reviewing time. It also risks the possibility of duplicate publication.
1.16.1. When submitting a manuscript for publication, authors should inform the editor of any closely related manuscripts under editorial consideration or in press and describe the relationships of such manuscripts to the one submitted. A copy of these manuscripts should also be supplied to the editor.
1.17. Authors should not discuss with reviewers any aspect of a manuscript under evaluation prior to a final decision. To maximize the unbiased nature of the review, the evaluation process should proceed without any interaction between authors and reviewer except through the editor.
1.17.1. Communications between authors and reviewers should be made only through the editor or a designated editorial assistant. Authors should not discuss their manuscript directly with a reviewer while it is under review.
1.17.2. Authors and reviewers should continue to refrain from discussing the review with each other after a final editorial decision is made.
1.17.3. Under no circumstances should an author allow an opinion rendered by a reviewer to influence the author's future actions regarding that reviewer except that an author might choose to request that a given reviewer not be asked to evaluate the author’s future manuscripts.
1.18. When communications will not undergo formal editorial review (e.g., abstracts for presentations at professional meetings), authors are encouraged to have these communications reviewed by colleagues.