The Journal is pleased to announce that this issue contains a document sponsored by the Society for Neuroscience entitled “Responsible Conduct Regarding Scientific Communication,” which consists of guidelines prepared by the Ad Hoc Committee on Responsibility in Publishing.
This document is the fruition of work by a committee set up by the Society in 1995 to address in a systematic fashion the responsibilities of the major parties in the publishing of articles in the field of neuroscience: authors, reviewers and editors. No one has to be told that the integrity of scientific research depends on the highest standards of ethical conduct of each of these parties in the process of generating, reviewing, and publishing scientific results. And no one has to be told that this process has been subjected to increasing strains in recent years as the field of neuroscience has undergone its strong growth. To help the Journal deal with these strains, the committee has reviewed the whole process to see the responsibilities of each party within the context of the responsibilities of the others.
It is important to point out that the initiative for this enterprise came not from top down, but from bottom up, from practical concerns arising in the field. They were communicated to the then President of the Society, Carla Schatz, who appointed Michael Zigmond to chair the committee to carry out the review. The committee met frequently and interchanged many documents in the intervening three years. It interviewed a number of people and obtained advice from lawyers and other consultants. Many of the sections underwent scrutiny word by word.
The original request was for the Society to spell out the responsibilities in publishing for the specific purpose of guiding theJournal of Neuroscience, but a larger purpose was to develop a set of principles to which all journals publishing in the field of neuroscience could subscribe. We therefore encourage our readers to carry the message of this document to other publications in which they may serve, so that it may be discussed and implemented, and a consensus can emerge, much along the same lines as the code of ethics for the use of animals in research.
The experience of the committee made it clear that discussions of the guidelines need to continue. A new committee is therefore being formed that will keep the guidelines under review into the near future. This means that the guidelines are a living document; all readers are encouraged to provide input to making them better and more widely applicable in the future.