General guidelines (all decision trees)

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Gather information: Who is making the complaint or raising the issue and who should then become involved?

Ultimately, who is the decision-maker regarding how to resolve and handle the complaint?

When is an ethics complaint a "legal" matter that requires Elsevier legal review/support?

Documenting the complaint/dispute

The publishing contact should always help the editor to record and document the claim:
- Prepare ‘incident report’ with all factual questions (who, what, when, where, why) dealt with.
- For plagiarism and duplicate publication issues, obtain the respective texts/articles.

Due process for our authors

When the complaint is made against our author, general rule will be that the journal editor should contact the author about whom a complaint has been made, and the author be given the opportunity to respond/comment. The editor may decide on the basis of the author response (if the author is responsive, articulates clear and convincing position - and the editor may draw inferences from the opposite as well).

Involve other bodies or agents?

Consider whether there are other bodies or agents that could or should be involved (if after some degree of investigation, there seems to be some merit in the complaint and the complaint seems one that would be more easily (and reasonably) investigated and solved by that other institution):

Responsibility to our authors

Although these procedures generally assume that it is our publication and author or co-authors who are complained about, it is possible that our authors will raise a complaint with us about another publication or author:
- Usually this should be a contact made by the journal editor to the editor of the other journal directly.
- Procedures to be followed generally mirror the procedures outlined herein.


For more information see Elsevier policy on Article withdrawal

Caution regarding defamation claims

In carrying out any investigation, great care should be taken to act fairly and objectively and not to defame any author (or complainant) in any way, which could give rise to legal liabilities, including damages. To avoid defamation claims by authors, the following guidelines should be taken into account in the investigation:

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