Australian Journal of Crop Science   AJCS

Ethical Statement for the Australian Journal of Crop Science

Ethical requirements for the published works

Introduction: The Australian Journal of Crop Science (AJCS) is committed to upholding the highest ethical standards in all aspects of its operations. As a reputable scholarly publication, AJCS recognizes the importance of maintaining integrity, transparency, and fairness in scientific research and publication. This ethical statement outlines the principles and guidelines that AJCS adheres to, ensuring the ethical conduct of authors, reviewers, editors, and all parties involved in the publication process.
1. Research Ethics: AJCS promotes research that adheres to ethical principles, ensuring the welfare and rights of human participants, animals, and the environment. Authors are expected to obtain appropriate ethical approvals for studies involving humans or animals, comply with relevant guidelines, and provide informed consent. Additionally, authors should disclose any potential conflicts of interest that may influence the research.
2. Originality and Plagiarism: AJCS is committed to publishing original work. Authors are expected to submit manuscripts that accurately represent their own research and properly acknowledge the contributions of others. Plagiarism, in any form, including self-plagiarism, is strictly prohibited. The journal employs plagiarism detection software and reserves the right to reject or retract any manuscript found to contain plagiarized content.
3. Authorship and Contributorship: AJCS follows the principles outlined by the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE) regarding authorship and contributorship. Authors must have made substantial contributions to the research and be able to take responsibility for the integrity and accuracy of the work. All individuals who meet the criteria for authorship should be listed as authors, and any significant contributors who do not meet the criteria should be acknowledged appropriately.
4. Conflict of Interest: AJCS requires authors to disclose any potential conflicts of interest that may influence the research or its interpretation. These conflicts may include financial, personal, or institutional relationships that could be perceived as having an impact on the integrity or impartiality of the research. Such disclosures enhance transparency and allow readers to evaluate the potential biases associated with the work.
5. Peer Review Process: AJCS utilizes a rigorous peer review process to ensure the quality and validity of published articles. Peer reviewers are selected based on their expertise, and they are expected to provide unbiased and constructive feedback to authors. Reviewers should promptly disclose any conflicts of interest that may arise during the review process and should maintain confidentiality regarding the reviewed manuscripts.
6. Editorial Independence and Integrity: AJCS maintains editorial independence and ensures that decisions on manuscript acceptance or rejection are based solely on academic merit, relevance, and originality. The editors are responsible for the fair and unbiased evaluation of manuscripts and must disclose any conflicts of interest that may influence their decisions. The journal is committed to addressing any allegations of misconduct or unethical behavior promptly and transparently.
7. Corrections, Retractions, and Expressions of Concern: AJCS recognizes the importance of correcting the scientific record. In cases where errors, inaccuracies, or research misconduct are identified after publication, the journal will promptly consider appropriate actions, including corrections, retractions, or expressions of concern, depending on the nature and severity of the issue. The goal is to maintain the integrity and credibility of the research published in AJCS.

Ethical requirements for the authors

Ethical statement (if applicable) should be placed at the end section of each manuscript after “Acknowledgment section” and should include the following:

Observational and field studies

Permits and approvals must be obtained for the study and be indicated such as the following:

Field and glasshouse:
The study acquired the necessary permits and approvals for conducting the research in various settings such as field and glasshouse. The full name of the authority that approved the study is provided. In cases where no permits or approvals were required, the authors have provided an explanation for why they were not necessary or explicitly stated that none were required.

Land ownership and protection status:
The study indicates whether the land accessed for the research is privately owned or falls under protected status.

Sampling of protected species:
The study discloses whether any protected species were sampled as part of the research.

Animal husbandry, experimentation, and care/welfare details:
For studies involving animal husbandry, experimentation, and care/welfare, comprehensive details are provided where relevant. This ensures transparency regarding the methods and practices employed to ensure the well-being of the animals involved in the study.

Ethical considerations for research involving human and food participants:
1. Approval by Institutional Review Board (IRB) or equivalent ethics committee of authors university or institutes: All research involving human and food participants must have obtained approval from the authors' Institutional Review Board (IRB) or an equivalent ethics committee. The study should adhere to the principles outlined in the Declaration of Helsinki. Upon request, the authors should be able to provide a statement from the IRB or ethics committee indicating approval of the research. It is important to note that even with formal approval, the work may be rejected if it is believed to have not been conducted to a high ethical standard.
2. Informed consent process: Participants must have been properly informed and instructed about the study. They should indicate their voluntary consent to participate by signing the appropriate informed consent paperwork. Authors may be asked to submit a sample copy of a subject consent form for review. In cases where written consent was not possible or consent was given verbally, the reasons for such circumstances must be explained in the manuscript. The use of verbal consent or the absence of consent should have been approved by the IRB or ethics committee.
3. Protection of participants privacy and anonymity: Efforts should be made to safeguard participants privacy and anonymity. Manuscripts should not include identifying information or photos of individuals unless it is absolutely necessary, and the individuals have provided written consent using the Consent Form for Publication
Adhering to these ethical guidelines ensures the protection of participants' rights, privacy, and well-being in research involving human and food participants.

Reporting guidelines for manuscripts involving human or food subjects:
1. Ethics statements in the Methods section: The Methods section of papers on research using human or food subjects or samples should include ethics statements that provide the following information:
• Name of the approving institutional review board (IRB) or equivalent committee(s) that granted approval for the study.
• If approval was not obtained, authors must provide a detailed statement explaining why it was not required.
2. Informed consent:
• The manuscript should specify whether informed consent from participants was obtained in written or oral form.
• If informed consent was obtained orally, the following details should be stated in the manuscript:
• Reasons why written consent could not be obtained.
• Confirmation that the IRB approved the use of oral consent.
• How the oral consent process was documented.
3. Categorization of human populations:
• For studies involving humans categorized by race/ethnicity, age, disease/disabilities, religion, sex/gender, sexual orientation, or other socially constructed groupings, authors should:
• Explicitly describe their methods of categorizing human populations.
• Define the categories in as much detail as allowed by the study protocol.
• Justify their choices of definitions and categories, including any requirements imposed by the funding agency regarding human categorization.
• Explain whether and how they controlled for confounding variables such as socioeconomic status, nutrition, environmental exposures, or similar factors in their analysis.
4. Terminology and labeling:
• Outdated terms and potentially stigmatizing labels should be replaced with more current and acceptable terminology. For example:
• Change "Caucasian" to "white" or "of [Western] European descent" as appropriate.
By adhering to these reporting guidelines, authors ensure transparency, ethical considerations, and sensitivity when conducting and reporting research involving human or food subjects.
For papers including food or potentially human information:
1. Consent form for publication:
• Authors must download the Consent Form for Publication (PDF).
• The individual, parent, or guardian should sign the form after reading the paper and being informed about the terms of the AJCS open-access license.
• The signed consent form might not be submitted with the manuscript but securely filed in the individual's case notes and be provided upon request of the editor.
• The Methods section of the manuscript should explicitly state that consent authorization for publication is on file, using wording such as: "The individual in this manuscript has given written informed consent (as outlined in AJCS consent form) to publish these case details."
2. Originality and existing literature:
• If the submitted manuscript is similar to previous work, authors must provide a scientific rationale for the submitted work.
• Clear references and discussion of the existing literature should be provided.
3. Sampling strategy and eligibility criteria:
• The manuscript should describe the sampling strategy and eligibility criteria of enrolled subjects in sufficient detail.
4. Sample size calculations:
• Justification for sample size calculations should be provided, including the relevant inputs used in the calculations.
5. Definition of variables:
• Independent and dependent variables considered for statistical analysis should be clearly defined and justified.
6. Validity and reliability of data collection tools:
• If self-developed data collection tools were used, the manuscript should report on the validity and reliability testing of these tools.
7. Conclusions and contribution to academic knowledge:
• Conclusions should be appropriate for the study design, and indications should be provided on how the study results will contribute to the academic knowledge base.
By following these guidelines, authors ensure compliance with consent procedures, provide appropriate justifications and descriptions of research methods, and contribute to the transparency and rigor of their study.

Animal research
For research involving animals, the following guidelines should be followed:
1. Approval from University or Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) or equivalent ethics committee:
• All animal research must have approval from the authors' Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) or an equivalent ethics committee.
• The approval should be obtained prior to commencing the research.
• In the Methods section of the manuscript, authors should state the full name of the relevant ethics committee that approved the work and provide the associated permit number(s).
2. Ethical approval not required:
• If ethical approval for animal research is not required, the manuscript should include a clear statement indicating this and provide the reasons.
• Any relevant regulations or guidelines that exempt the study from the requirement for approval should be mentioned.
3. Steps taken to ameliorate animal suffering:
• Manuscripts reporting animal research should include relevant details of the steps taken to minimize and alleviate animal suffering.
By adhering to these guidelines, authors demonstrate compliance with ethical standards for animal research, ensure proper approval procedures, and emphasize the welfare and care of the animals involved in the study.

Systematic reviews and meta-analyses
When preparing a systematic review or meta-analysis paper, the following guidelines should be followed:
1. Definition of a systematic review:
• A systematic review is a review that addresses a clearly defined question using explicit and systematic methods.
• It involves the identification, selection, and critical appraisal of relevant research studies.
• Data from the included studies are collected and analyzed to provide a comprehensive summary of the available evidence.
• Systematic reviews are distinct from narrative-based reviews or synthesis articles.
• They may or may not include statistical methods such as meta-analysis to analyze and summarize the results.
2. PRISMA checklist and flow diagram:
• Reports of systematic reviews and meta-analyses should include a completed PRISMA (Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses) checklist and flow diagram.
• These documents should accompany the main text of the paper.
• Blank templates for the PRISMA checklist and flow diagram can be obtained from the PRISMA website.
3. Mention of protocol existence:
• Authors should state in the "Methods" section of their paper whether a protocol exists for their systematic review.
• If a protocol is available, a copy of the protocol should be provided as supporting information.
• The registry number of the protocol should be included in the abstract.
For authors submitting a systematic review or meta-analysis paper, it is important to:
• Clearly state this in the cover letter.
• Select "Research Article" as the article type during the submission process.
• Include the PRISMA flow diagram (if applicable).
• Include the PRISMA checklist as supporting information.
Adhering to these guidelines ensures transparency, replicability, and comprehensive reporting of systematic reviews and meta-analyses, facilitating the critical evaluation and understanding of the research findings.

Personal data from third-party sources
When conducting studies that involve personal data obtained from internet-based and third-party sources, the following ethics and data protection requirements should be met:
1. Data Collection and Usage:
• Personal data should be collected and used in accordance with the terms and conditions of the respective company/website from which the data is obtained.
• Appropriate permissions should be obtained as required by the terms and conditions.
• All data sources must be clearly acknowledged in the Materials and Methods section of the paper.
2. Ethics Statement:
• The Ethics Statement should declare any potential risks to individuals or individual privacy associated with the study.
• Authors should affirm that, based on their assessment, the study posed no such risks to individuals.
• If potential risks exist, they should be addressed and appropriate measures taken to mitigate them.
3. Interventional Studies:
• For interventional studies that directly impact participants' experiences or data, the study design must have received prospective approval from an Ethics Committee.
• Informed consent from participants is generally required, unless waived by the Ethics Committee.
4. Observational Studies:
• For observational studies where personal experiences and accounts are not manipulated, it is recommended to consult with an Ethics or Data Protection Committee.
• Additional requirements apply in certain circumstances:
• If the information used in the study could potentially threaten personal privacy or damage the reputation of individuals, consultation with an Ethics Committee is necessary, and informed consent should be obtained or specifically addressed.
• If authors accessed personal identifying information, data anonymization should be overseen by an Ethics or Data Protection Committee.
• If the data used in the study were already anonymized or aggregated before access and analysis, informed consent is generally not required.
It is important to note that Terms of Use contracts do not suffice as informed consent, even if they mention the use of personal data for research purposes.

Macromolecular structures
When reporting novel macromolecular structures, authors are required to deposit their data with recognized community databases that provide validation functionality. The following databases are commonly used for this purpose:
1. Worldwide Protein Data Bank (wwPDB): for crystallographic structures.
2. Biological Magnetic Resonance Data Bank (BMRB): for NMR spectroscopy structures.
3. Electron Microscopy Data Bank (EMDB): for electron microscopy structures.
Authors must deposit their data in one of these databases prior to submitting their manuscript. The structure reference numbers obtained from the database should be included in the main text of the paper. Additionally, the official validation reports generated by these databases should be submitted as Supplementary Information along with the manuscript.

Submitting gene sequences to genetic data storage platforms
Submitting gene sequences to genetic data storage platforms, such as the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), plays a crucial role in advancing scientific research and promoting the sharing of genetic information. It is essential to adhere to ethical principles to ensure the responsible use of genetic data and protect the privacy, autonomy, and well-being of individuals and communities involved. We provide a set of ethical guidelines for researchers and institutions when submitting gene sequences to NCBI or similar genetic data storage platforms.
1. Informed Consent:
Obtain appropriate informed consent from individuals or their legal representatives before submitting their gene sequences (DNA, Transcripts, Genes, Proteins, Annotations, etc.) to the data storage platform. The consent process should clearly explain the purpose, potential risks, benefits, and any possible consequences of sharing the genetic information. Ensure that individuals understand their rights regarding data privacy, withdrawal of consent, and potential limitations on data de-identification.
2. Privacy and Confidentiality:
Prioritize the protection of individual privacy and the confidentiality of genetic data. Anonymize or de-identify personal information and assign unique identifiers to ensure data cannot be linked directly to individuals. Follow relevant data protection laws and regulations, such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) or equivalent local regulations, to safeguard sensitive information during storage, sharing, and analysis.
3. Data sharing and access:
Promote responsible data sharing practices while respecting the rights and preferences of individuals and communities. Share gene sequences with data storage platforms under appropriate data use agreements or licenses. Specify the scope and purposes of data sharing, including whether it will be openly accessible or restricted to qualified researchers. Respect any limitations or conditions set by individuals during the informed consent process.
4. Benefit and Fairness:
Consider the potential benefits and risks associated with submitting gene sequences to the data storage platform. Strive to ensure that the sharing and use of genetic data result in benefits for individuals, communities, and scientific advancement. Promote fairness in data access and encourage equitable distribution of research opportunities, particularly for underrepresented populations. Avoid perpetuating disparities or biases in genetic research.
5. Ethical Review and Compliance:
Obtain necessary approvals from relevant ethics committees or institutional review boards before submitting gene sequences to genetic data storage platforms. Comply with local, national, and international ethical guidelines, regulations, and legal requirements regarding the collection, storage, and sharing of genetic data. Maintain transparency and documentation of ethical review processes to ensure accountability and responsible research conduct.
6. Security and Data Management:
Implement robust security measures to protect gene sequence data from unauthorized access, breaches, or misuse. Employ encryption, access controls, and secure data storage practices to minimize the risk of data compromise. Establish protocols for data backup, disaster recovery, and long-term preservation to ensure the integrity and availability of stored genetic data.
7. Transparency and Community Engagement:
Promote transparency in the use of gene sequence data by providing clear information on data storage practices, access policies, and potential research collaborations. Engage with communities and stakeholders to foster dialogue, address concerns, and incorporate their perspectives into decision-making processes. Strive for ongoing communication and mutual understanding to build trust and facilitate responsible data sharing.

New taxon names
1. Botanical names
When publishing papers that introduce a new botanical taxon (plant species, ferns, lycophytes), the Australian Journal of Crop Science (AJCS) adheres to the guidelines set forth by the International Code of Nomenclature for algae, fungi, and plants (ICN). AJCS follows specific requirements for effectively publishing scientific botanical names in an online-only journal. It's important to note that these guidelines are specific to botanical nomenclature and differ from those applied to zoological nomenclature.
By following these guidelines, any new scientific botanical name published in AJCS is considered effectively published in accordance with the rules of the ICN. These guidelines ensure that taxonomic and nomenclatural changes in the botanical field are properly documented and recognized.
2. Fungal names
When publishing papers that introduce a new fungus taxon, the Australian Journal of Crop Science (AJCS) strives to comply with the requirements of the International Code of Nomenclature for algae, fungi, and plants (ICN). AJCS follows specific guidelines for publishing in an online-only journal, ensuring that any scientific fungal names published by the journal are effectively published under the rules of the ICN.
In addition to adhering to the ICN guidelines, AJCS ensures that new fungal names included in its publications are submitted to MycoBank. MycoBank is a fungal nomenclature database that makes these names available through the Global Names Index. Each new fungal name published in AJCS is assigned a unique MycoBank number, which can be accessed by appending the corresponding number to the URL prefix By following this format, readers can easily access the associated information through a standard web browser.

Qualitative research
Qualitative research studies employ non-quantitative methods to investigate a specific research question that may not be effectively addressed using quantitative approaches. These studies aim to explore and understand people's interpretations, experiences, and perspectives. Unlike quantitative research, qualitative studies do not involve numerical values or statistical analysis. Instead, they focus on the analysis and interpretation of qualitative data.
Qualitative data can be derived from various sources, including interviews, text documents, audio/video recordings, and open-ended responses to questionnaires or surveys. The analysis methods used in qualitative research are explicit, systematic, and reproducible, but they do not rely on statistical calculations or numerical data.
To ensure transparent and comprehensive reporting of qualitative research, it is recommended to adhere to specific guidelines such as the Consolidated criteria for reporting qualitative research (COREQ) checklist or the Standards for reporting qualitative research (SRQR) checklist. These checklists provide a framework for authors to report the details of their qualitative research methods, analysis processes, and findings in a standardized and comprehensive manner.