Publishing ethics

Find out more about publication ethics and our policies. 

Emerald Publishing and our editors are fully committed to ethical publication practice.

We act in accordance with the principles outlined by the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) and support the development, and practical application, of consistent ethical standards throughout the scholarly publishing community. 

Please contact us if you would like any further information on our ethics policies.

Get in touch

Summary of our research & publishing ethics

You should only submit your research to us if the following conditions apply:

  • The research has been conducted with the highest standards of rigour and integrity.
  • The article/chapter/book/case study is original.
  • The work has not been submitted elsewhere and is not under consideration with any other publication. See our preprint and conference paper policies for exceptions. 
  • The work does not include libellous, defamatory or unlawful statements.
  • Permission has been cleared for any third-party material included.
  • Proof of consent has been obtained for any named individuals or organisations.
  • Authorship has been agreed prior to submission and no one has been ‘gifted’ authorship or denied credit as an author (ghost authorship).

If your research is published and we find that any of these conditions have not been met, we may take action in line with the COPE guidelines, which may result in one of the following correction notices, or we may remove or retract the article or book chapter from our database. For legal reasons, or when an article or chapter forms evidence in an independent hearing, we may not be able to take action until all matters have been fully resolved. 

Ethics issues

AI and peer review

Articles, case studies, and chapters submitted to Emerald for consideration and review should be treated as confidential, meaning that sharing this material with another person or uploading it to an AI tool or Large Language Model (LLM) for assessment or evaluation would violate the author’s confidentiality, as well as any proprietary and/or data privacy rights.

This would also be the case for the peer review report itself if uploaded to an AI tool/LLM for copy-editing or copy-writing purposes, as it may contain confidential or identifiable information pertinent to the article or the author(s). There are additional concerns regarding the use of AI tools for peer review due to biases in the datasets of these models and the reliability of their ability to assess content, with the risk of generating false, flawed, or inaccurate results.

As such, to maintain trust in the integrity of the published record, Emerald does not permit the use of AI tools or LLMs to assist in the review, evaluation, or decision-making process of any part of an article, case study, or chapter by either a member of a journal’s Editorial Team or a reviewer, in accordance with Emerald’s principles of peer review. Peer reviewers are responsible for the reviews they provide and accountable for their accuracy, rigour, and validity, which, as per COPE’s position statement on AI tools, cannot be replicated by a non-human AI. Any breach of the integrity or trust of the review process as described above will be treated as peer review misconduct.

Animals in research

If your research involves animals, we expect you to follow the 3R principles:

  • Replacement of animals in research, wherever possible
  • Reduction of animal use, i.e. minimising the number involved
  • Refinement: Improving the welfare of any animals you work with.

You will be asked to provide a statement confirming that your study received institutional and national ethical approval and followed all relevant guidelines and regulations. For example, the study should comply with the ARRIVE guidelines and the following, depending on the location of the research:


You should cite any previous publication or presentation of the ideas featured in your current submission. This includes conference papers, workshop presentations and listserv communications. This ensures that a complete history of the work is documented.

References to other publications should be in Harvard style for Emerald journals – you will find further details in your chosen journal’s author guidelines. All references should be carefully checked for completeness, accuracy and consistency.


When it comes to listing the authors of your paper, we understand that it can be tempting to include everyone who has assisted you in your work. It’s also easy to forget someone who may have been involved at the very start of the process. Authorship issues vary, but include:

  • Ghost authorship – exclusion of a contributor from the list of authors.
  • Gift/guest authorship – Inclusion of someone who hasn’t contributed to the paper, or who has chosen not to be associated with the research.
  • Disputes over the order of the authors and the level of contribution that each has made to the paper.

These issues can overshadow your work, and potentially lead to retractions, so it’s important to agree authorship prior to submitting your paper.

At Emerald, we subscribe to the authorship principles outlined by the International Council of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE). These state that for someone to be considered an author, they must have:

  • Made substantial contributions to the conception or design of the work; or the acquisition, analysis, or interpretation of data for the work; AND
  • Drafted the work or revised it critically for important intellectual content; AND
  • Given final approval of the version to be published; AND
  • Agreed to be accountable for all aspects of the work in ensuring that questions related to the accuracy or integrity of any part of the work are appropriately investigated and resolved.

If an individual is solely responsible for obtaining the research grant that funded the research, this does not constitute authorship. If a contributor does not meet all four of the ICMJE criteria, they should be included in the acknowledgements instead.

Further to this, and in accordance with COPE’s position statement on AI tools, Large Language Models cannot be credited with authorship as they are incapable of conceptualising a research design without human direction and cannot be accountable for the integrity, originality, and validity of the published work.

Any use of such AI tools for the creation, development, or generation of an Emerald publication must be flagged, clearly and transparently, by the author(s) within the Methods and Acknowledgements (or another appropriate section) of the article, chapter, or case study. The author(s) must describe the content created or modified as well as appropriately cite the name and version of the AI tool used; any additional works drawn on by the AI tool should also be appropriately cited and referenced. Standard tools that are used to improve spelling and grammar are not included within the parameters of this guidance. The Editor and Publisher reserve the right to determine whether the use of an AI tool is permissible in a submitted article, chapter, or case study.

Generative AI usage key principles

  • Copywriting any part of an article using a generative AI tool/LLM would not be permissible, including the generation of the abstract or the literature review, for as per Emerald’s authorship criteria, the author(s) must be responsible for the work and accountable for its accuracy, integrity, and validity.
  • The generation or reporting of results using a generative AI tool/LLM is not permissible, for as per Emerald’s authorship criteria, the author(s) must be responsible for the creation and interpretation of their work and accountable for its accuracy, integrity, and validity.
  • The in-text reporting of statistics using a generative AI tool/LLM is not permissible due to concerns over the authenticity, integrity, and validity of the data produced, although the use of such a tool to aid in the analysis of the work would be permissible.
  • Copy-editing an article using a generative AI tool/LLM in order to improve its language and readability would be permissible as this mirrors standard tools already employed to improve spelling and grammar, and uses existing author-created material, rather than generating wholly new content, while the author(s) remains responsible for the original work.
  • The submission and publication of images created by AI tools or large-scale generative models is not permitted.

Any authors listed should be able to identify which co-author wrote which section of the paper and have full confidence in the integrity of their co-author’s work.

If you have any doubts about meeting the above criteria, please discuss these with your co-authors or with your institution’s Research Integrity Officer, prior to submission.

When authorship disputes arise, we always try to help the parties involved reach an agreement. However, as it relates to the research stage, it’s not possible for us or our editors to comment on the level of contribution by each author. Please refer to the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) website for the processes we follow.

If the matter can’t be resolved, we may refer it to the authors' institutions, or issue an expression of concern.

Authorship roles

Whilst the responsibilities of each author can vary depending on research project, Emerald expects certain tasks to be carried out by submitting authors and corresponding authors.

We have created the table below to help you decide who should be submitting or corresponding author. As ever, if you have any questions, please contact the Journal Editorial Office for the journal you are submitting to, or contact us.

Task Submitting author Corresponding author
Responsible for ensuring the accuracy of all content in the article, including names of authors, addresses and affiliations X  
Eligibility for OA vouchers/taking a lead on open access   X
Point of contact for all queries on the published article   X
Email address included in the published article   X
Primary responsibility for communication with the journal X  
Submission & responding to peer review X  
Receiving notifications from the submission system X X
Administration tasks X  
Ensuring prompt response to deadlines X  
Disclosures re: research ethics, permissions X  
Able to answer any queries throughout the process X  

Citation manipulation

Citations and referencing are important when writing any research, however, researchers should be mindful of the following behaviours:


Authors should not indulge in excessive self-citations of their own previously published works. Included citations must be relevant, add value to the article, and should not be included just to increase the citation score of that author.

If discussing methodologies or literature reviews, authors should keep their self-citations to a minimum.

Coercive citation

During the peer-review process, you may be referred to papers the reviewer believes can further develop and improve your ideas. While there may be legitimate reasons to reference other publications, 'coercive citation' is unethical (this is where a reference is included as a condition of acceptance or without academic justification).

We are an advocate of both author freedom and editorial independence. If you feel you have been pressured to include a particular reference in your article, or that an editor is unclear on best ethical practice, please contact us on [email protected]

'Citation pushing'

'Citation pushing' is where an author includes superfluous or irrelevant references with the intention of boosting another specific individual’s citation score; this often occurs amongst groups of individuals who aim to boost each other’s citation scores. This kind of behaviour is monitored across all of our publications.

Emerald takes this behaviour very seriously and will act in accordance with the guidelines set out by the Committee on Publication Ethics, including escalation to the author’s institution as appropriate.

Clinical trials

We can only accept submissions featuring clinical trials if the following applies:

  • The trial is registered in a publicly-accessible database. This must have been done prior to the start of the trial or enrolment of the participants. Examples of publicly-accessible databases include these sites by the National Institutes of Health and the World Health Organization. When submitting your work to Emerald, please include the name of your trial register and your clinical trial registration number.
  • You can demonstrate you obtained clearance from your institutional ethics board for the trial.

Conflicts of interest

Authors, reviewers and editors all have a duty to report possible conflicts of interest. In the case of authors, you should declare anything that may have influenced your research or could influence the review process or the publication of your article. If you are unsure whether it’s a conflict of interest, always check with the editor or publisher ahead of submission.

Possible conflicts of interest include:

  • A prior relationship between author and editor.
  • A financial or personal interest in the outcomes of the research.
  • Undisclosed financial support for the research by an interested third party.
  • A financial or personal interest in the suppression of the research.
  • A pending patent.

When submitting your work, you should include a note providing the background to any financial support for the research from third parties and highlight any other possible conflict of interest.

If you are concerned the editor or reviewer handling your submission might have a conflict of interest, please let the journal publisher or book commissioning editor at Emerald know. In all cases, we will follow the COPE guidelines. If we find there is a conflict of interest, the editor or reviewer will no longer be involved with your manuscript.


You are required to obtain written proof of consent for studies about named organisations or people before you submit your work.

If inaccurate, unsubstantiated or emotive statements are made about organisations or people in a submission, we may ask you to change the text, or reject the work prior to publication.

Critiques and reviews of products and services are acceptable, but comments must be constructive and not malicious. If statements made in work published by Emerald are found to be defamatory, a retraction notice will be published. In some cases, and when legally required, the paper will be withdrawn from the online version of the journal or book.

We advise all authors of case studies to inform the subject (person or organisation) and to seek their consent. If we think the study is potentially libellous or contains sensitive information, we will require written proof of consent before placing the paper in the production process.

Fabricated data

To fabricate or manipulate data is fundamentally wrong and a breach of research integrity. We may review data or request the original data files; we reserve the right to request a dataset at any point as part of an investigation. If there is reason to suspect that the data is not plausible, we reserve the right to reject that paper, and to notify your institution, as appropriate.

Figure or image manipulation

Image manipulation falls into two categories:

  1. Inappropriate manipulation: the adjustment of an image or figure, which violates established research guidelines, but does not impact the interpretation of the data shown.
  2. Fraudulent manipulation: the deliberate adjustment or manipulation of an image or figure to affect the interpretation of the data.

Manipulation may include the addition or removal of elements from a figure, or adjustments to image formatting designed to obscure or highlight a particular result.

Images or figures submitted to Emerald journals should be minimally processed. We may screen images and if there is evidence of potential manipulation, editors will request the original data. If intentional manipulation is found, we reserve the right to reject the paper and contact your institution, as per the COPE guidelines.

As all research is conducted prior to the work being submitted to Emerald, it is not possible for us or the editors to adjudicate in all cases. We will try to help the parties involved reach a resolution and will refer the matter to the authors' institutions, if appropriate. Please refer to the relevant COPE flowcharts for further details on the processes we follow.

Grievance procedure

Emerald appreciates that there are times when things can go wrong and wants to give authors the opportunity to tell us when things haven’t gone quite right.

Complaint about an editorial decision

Emerald supports editorial independence and will not comment on the decision made by a journal editor, unless there is evidence the article was not handled in accordance with best practice.

If your article has been rejected and you believe there are grounds to appeal the decision, such as new evidence or a reviewer’s misunderstanding of your article, you may appeal the editorial decision.

To do this, you must follow the following process:

  1. The complaint must be submitted in writing to the Editor of the journal
  2. The complaint will be considered by the journal editorial team
  3. The complaint will be acknowledged within 10 days of receipt and we aim to resolve it within 60 days
  4. The decision will be in writing and will be final. You may not appeal more than once about the same article.

For further information on Emerald’s ethics policies, please see Emerald’s ethics guidelines or contact [email protected].

Complaint about the editorial management of a journal

If you have concerns about the way that your article was handled or the editorial management of the journal, i.e. how long it took to make a decision on your article, or a concern about the ethics of the journal, you should contact the Journal Commissioning Editor detailed on the journal homepage in the first instance, or [email protected]

When you make a complaint, Emerald will treat you professionally with respect, and in return, we would request that you treat Emerald staff with the same courtesy. Any abuse or harassment of Emerald staff or editorial teams will not be tolerated, and your complaint may no longer be considered.

We take all complaints extremely seriously and will aim to provide you with an initial response within 10 days of receipt, and we aim to resolve it within 60 days. If we are unable to resolve it within this time, we will communicate this fully (please note that this does not apply in cases where a correction or retraction notice may be required).

If you remain dissatisfied with how your paper was handled, you may make a further complaint by contacting the Committee on Publication Ethics.

Informed consent

If your article has a medical focus and/or there is a human participant involved, you must obtain clearance from your institutional ethics board and confirm recognised standards (for example the Declaration of Helsinki) have been followed to minimise harm to the individuals taking part.

If your article includes an image of someone’s face, or anything else that might identify them, you must provide proof of informed consent via a completed consent to publish form.


The content you submit to a publisher should be based on your own research and expressed in your own words. If it isn’t, that could be considered plagiarism. Emerald editors have access to the plagiarism detection service Crossref Similarity Check, which compares submissions against a database of 49 million works from 800 scholarly publishers. This, combined with our knowledgeable reviewers and editors, means it’s increasingly hard for plagiarised work to go unnoticed. There are various forms plagiarism can take.

Verbatim copying

An exact copy of, or a significant passage or section of text taken from, another person's work without acknowledgement, references or use of quotation marks.


More than one sentence within a paragraph or section of text has been changed, or sentences have been rearranged, without appropriate attribution.

Significant improper paraphrasing without appropriate attribution is treated seriously as verbatim copying.

Re-using parts of a work without attribution

For example, using a figure, table or paragraph without acknowledgement, references or the use of quotation marks.

It is your responsibility as the author to obtain the necessary permissions from the copyright holder. 

See our guide to obtaining permissions

Self-plagiarism or text recycling

You are expected to submit original content to Emerald publications. Research should only be repeated if it leads to different or new conclusions, or you want to compare it with new data.

If any element of your latest submission has been published previously, you must ensure that the original work is fully referenced and make this clear to the editor or publisher at the point of submission.

Find out more on our pre-print and conference paper policies page.

Handling allegations of plagiarism

A plagiarism allegation can have a serious negative effect on a researcher's career. If we are approached by a third party with an allegation of plagiarism, we always seek a response from the original author(s) or copyright holder(s) before we decide on a course of action.

We remain unbiased and will not be influenced by other parties. All allegations will be handled in accordance with the COPE (Committee on Publication Ethics) guidelines.

We are not obliged to discuss individual cases of alleged plagiarism with third parties, and we reserve the right not to proceed with a case if the complainant presents a false name or affiliation, or acts in an inappropriate or threatening manner towards Emerald editors and staff.

If you are concerned about plagiarism or want to know more about our approach to handling allegations of misconduct, please get in touch

Redundant publication

Also known as dual publication. Any work you submit to us must be original and previously unpublished. It is unacceptable academic practice to submit to more than one journal at the same time – you are expected to wait until receiving a decision from one journal before submitting to the next.


Our promise

Whenever a research or publishing ethics issue arises, we promise to:

  1. Act professionally and efficiently.
  2. Be fair and objective.
  3. Always approach the accused party to establish their position before making a decision or committing to a course of action.
  4. Ensure that we provide sufficient time for all parties to respond.
  5. Keep all parties informed of decisions, including the copyright owners, editors and authors.
  6. As members of the Committee on Publication Ethics, follow the processes highlighted in the flowcharts presented by COPE.
  7. Protect authors' moral rights (to be acknowledged as the author and not to be misrepresented) and to ensure the correct record of the literature.

We reserve the right to withdraw and rescind any acceptance should a case of ethical misconduct be discovered prior to publication.

It will not be possible to please all parties in every case. Following a fair and considered process, the final decision in any disputed case will rest with the editor and Emerald.

Contact us

Get in touch if you would like any further information on our ethics policies. Alternatively, you can consult the COPE guidelines

Get in touch