Policies of the Journal of Forensic Sciences 

Confidentiality (adapted from the ICMJE Statement on Confidentiality)

Manuscripts will be reviewed with due respect for authors’ confidentiality. In submitting their manuscripts for review, authors entrust the EIC and Associate Editors with the results of their scientific labor and creative effort, upon which their reputation and career may depend. Authors’ rights may be violated by disclosure or by revelation of the confidential details of the review of their manuscript.

Reviewers also have rights to confidentiality, which must be respected by the EIC and Associate Editors. Confidentiality may have to be breached if there are allegations of fraud or dishonesty, but otherwise must be honored.

The EIC and Associate Editors will not disclose information to third parties about manuscripts, including their receipt, their content, their status in the review process, their criticism by reviewers, or their ultimate disposition. Such information should be provided only to the corresponding author and respective reviewers.

The EIC and Associate Editors will make clear to reviewers that manuscripts sent for review are privileged communications and are the private property of the authors. Therefore, reviewers and other individuals involved in the editorial process should respect the authors’ rights by not publicly discussing the authors’ work or appropriating their ideas before the manuscript is published. Reviewers are not allowed to make permanent copies for their files and are prohibited from sharing it with others, except with the permission of the EIC. It is expected that any printed copies of the manuscript be destroyed once the review process is complete.

Reviewers’ identities are confidential, and will not be revealed to authors or third parties who may request the information. Reviewers’ comments may be shared with other reviewers of the same manuscript.

Manuscripts will be reviewed in a double-blind peer review process, which means that both the reviewers and author(s) identities are blinded from each other throughout the review process.

Conflicts of Interest (adapted from the ICMJE Statement on Conflict of Interest)

A conflict of interest for a given manuscript exists when a participant in the peer review and publication process – author, reviewer, Associate Editor or EIC – has ties to activities that could inappropriately influence his/her judgment, whether or not judgment is in fact affected. Financial relationships with industry (such as employment, consultancies, stock ownership or options, honoraria, patents or paid expert testimony), either directly or through immediate family, are generally considered the most important conflicts of interest. However, conflicts can occur for other reasons, such as personal relationships, academic or research competition, and intellectual passion.

Public trust in the peer review process and the credibility of published work depends in part on how well conflict of interest is handled during writing, peer review and editorial decision-making. Bias can often be identified and eliminated by careful attention to the scientific methods and conclusions of the work. Financial relationships and their effects are less easily detected than other types of conflicts of interest. Participants in peer review should disclose their conflicting interests, and the information should be made available so that others can judge their effects for themselves.

Authors are responsible for recognizing and disclosing financial or other conflicts of interest that might bias their work when they submit a manuscript or letter. All financial support for the work and other financial or personal connections to the work should be acknowledged on the manuscript’s title page.

Submission of manuscripts or commentary primarily for the purpose of bolstering an author’s position as an expert witness in legal proceedings is not acceptable.

Reviewers must disclose to the EIC any conflict of interest that could bias their opinions of the manuscript, and they should disqualify themselves from specific manuscripts if they believe it appropriate. The EIC must be made aware of conflicts of interest to interpret the reviews and judge whether the reviewer should be disqualified. Reviewers must not use knowledge of the work gained during the review process, before publication of the work, to further their own interests.

The EIC and Associate Editors should have no personal financial involvement in any of the issues that he/she may be called upon to judge. Published manuscripts and letters should include a description of all financial support and any conflict of interest that, in the EIC’s judgment, readers should know about.

Protection of the Anonymity of Patients / Victims

Detailed descriptions or photographs of individual patients or victims are sometimes central to documentation in a published item. Every effort must be made to protect the anonymity of such patients or victims and their families. Masking of the eyes in photographs may not be adequate protection. Changing data about a patient or victim is never an acceptable method of protecting anonymity.

It is recognized that cases or situations forming the basis of items submitted to JFS may be matters of public record as a result of public court proceedings, news reports, etc. For purposes of publication in JFS, however, emphasis should be placed on medical and/or scientific aspects and information that should form the basis for publication. No information that might violate the privacy of people should be included unless it can be justified as absolutely necessary to the medical and/or scientific presentation.

Release of Full Text of Accepted Manuscripts Prior to Publication

Requests for the release of accepted Critical Reviews, Papers, Technical Notes or Case Reports prior to their actual publication are occasionally made by the media or by attorneys involved in courtroom proceedings. The full release of accepted, but as yet unpublished, peer-reviewed material by authors is not permitted, except by permission of the EIC and the publisher. “Full release” means a complete copy of the manuscript, or any other type of reproduction of the complete work including all data. This prohibition does not, and is not intended to, apply to short summaries (even in the form of brief news releases), or brief abstracts for or from meeting presentations.

Requests for the pre-publication release of accepted items will be carefully considered, and generally honored for legitimate reasons in accordance with the procedure specified below. Authors must obtain the permission of the EIC and of Wiley Publishing, and must provide a legitimate reason for early release.

Requests should be made in writing to the EIC, and provide the reasons for the request. If the EIC and Wiley approve the release, Wiley will produce, for a one-time fee (approximately the same as the cost of reprints), the copies that are to be released. Because many manuscripts go through several iterations of modification, correction, and revision, this procedure helps insure that the final accepted version of the work, as it will appear in print, is released.

©2020 American Academy of Forensic Sciences