Complaints and Appeals
The journal’s policy for handling the complaints is in accordance with the guidelines published by the Committee on Publishing Ethics (COPE).
Before sending complaint to the Editor in Chief, through firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com, the journal suggest complainant to contact the corresponding author and try to resolve the matter directly. However, the complainant can also directly send the complaint to the Editor in Chief in cases where there are valid reasons for not contacting the authors, if the authors were unresponsive when contacted, or if the discussion in the first instance did not resolve the concerns. When contacting the Editor in Chief, the following procedure should be followed:
- The complainant who would like to raise a concern or complaint regarding a published article in the journal should email the Editor in Chief through firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com, with a subject specifying the complaint. The letter should contain the following information:
- article [title, authors, journal, publication date, DOI]
- complainant [title, current affiliation, position, other proof of expertise]
- complaint [academic/scientific validity, ethical or legal; summary of main points; adverse consequences anticipated]
- details of the complainant’s previous contact with the author or authors of the article
- statement that the complainant has no conflict of interest, or declaring any actual or potential conflict(s) of interest.
- an annotated PDF of the article should be provided that clearly marks the passages concerned and the reasons why they are of concern.
- Only complaints regarding the scientific/academic validity or ethical or legal aspects of the work or its review will be considered. Complaints will not be considered if they contain personal criticisms of the authors, inappropriate or derogatory language, or where the complainant has used a false or misleading identity. All complaints will be investigated, including anonymous complaints. However, unless a specific and valid reason can be provided for wishing to remain anonymous, Frontiers reserves the right not to update the complainant on the outcome of the investigation. Complainants can request the Editor in Chief to handle their complaint confidentially to the extent that this can be accommodated by our internal protocols.
- The Editor in Chief, if necessary, can consult with Advisory Editor and Associate Editor, to decide whether there are sufficient grounds for the complaint to be considered further. If further investigation is warranted, then the author(s) will be informed of the complaint. In certain cases, the Editor in Chief may publish an Expression of Concern indicating that serious objections have been raised. The Editor in Chief may also close the case as unsubstantiated at this stage. In this event, the complainant is informed that no further action will be taken.
- For complaints having legal implications, the journal will seek advice from its legal counsel, who might also contact the editors, the complainant, or the authors for further information. The journal reserves the right to retract articles that are, or are considered likely to be, in violation of applicable legal principles.
- For ethical concerns, the journal will execute the decision of the editors, who will follow widely accepted guidelines such as those by COPE as closely as possible, including concerns around suspicions of data manipulation and data fabrication; if it appears probable that such falsification has taken place, the case can be referred to the authors' institutions for investigation.
- If the complaint is upheld by the Editor in Chief, the resulting investigation can result in any of the outcomes detailed below:
- The complaint is deemed unsubstantiated – No further action is taken, and the complainant is informed that the case has been closed. Further communication by the complainant on the subject will only be considered if additional information to substantiate the concerns is brought forward.
- Investigation into the complaint identifies errors that justify the publication of a corrigendum – The Editor in Chief will detail to the authors the points needed to be addressed in the corrigendum. The journal will work with the authors to ensure a corrigendum is published that satisfactorily deals with the issues identified in the Editor in Chief's decision. If the authors refuse, the Editor in Chief will proceed without the authors' consent to correct the literature and/or may initiate retraction.
- Investigation into the complaint reveals author bias on a contentious or controversial subject – The Editor in Chief decides on the most appropriate action to address the concerns, which can range from retraction to, for example, inviting a commentary on the article providing a balanced and objective context. The Editor in Chief will decide on the potential authors to be invited to write the commentary.
- Investigation into the complaint indicates that a retraction needs to be considered and further examined – An Expression of Concern may be published to notify readers of an ongoing investigation. The Editor in Chief may consult further experts, or the institutions concerned to reach a decision and under exceptional circumstances may form a committee to ensure a broader representation of views.
- Investigation into the complaint exposes an irrefutable reason for a retraction – The Editor in Chief endeavors to work together with the authors to retract the article but can do so even without the authors’ consent. The COPE retraction guidelines will be followed where applicable. A retraction notice will be published detailing the reasons for the retraction.
- Complainants should note that investigations may take some time to conduct. The journal is under no obligation to divulge the status of the investigation until a decision has been reached by the Editor in Chief. When a notice is published, it will be brought to the attention of the complainant; The journal has no obligation to provide the complainant with additional details concerning the decision. Furthermore, the journal reserves the right to cease communication with complainants who do not remain cordial in their contact with the Editor in Chief.
The journal’s policy for handling the authors’ appeals against a rejection can be explained as follow:
The authors have the right to appeal against a rejection from the journal. An appeal is an extension of the peer review process and the same ethical standards apply. Thus, authors you should not submit an appeal whilst the article is under consideration by another publication.
The authors lodging an appeal should contact the Editor in Chief through firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com outlining the case for reconsideration. To be considered, appeals must directly address the reason(s) given for the initial rejection decision. If reviewer reports were included with the decision letter, then these criticisms must be responded to in the appeal. Appeals that do not address reviewers’ criticisms, are dismissive of the reviewer comments, or contain offensive language will not be considered.
Appeals that meet the requirements above are sent to Advisory Editor for consideration. If successful, an appeal can lead to the article’s re-entering the peer review process. The article may ultimately be published following any revisions deemed necessary by the Advisory Editor. The authors should not submit a revised version of the article until the appeal process is complete. If the appeal is rejected, then the original rejection decision is upheld and no further consideration of that article is possible.