Editorial and Publishing Policies

Publication Ethics

The Journal of Shelter Medicine and Community Animal Health (JSMCAH) is committed to complying with the core practices outlined by the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE; https://publicationethics.org/core-practices). Authors, reviewers, and editors should familiarize themselves with, and adhere to, these practices.


Authorship confers credit and has important professional and financial implications. It also implies responsibility and accountability for published work. The practice of including gift, guest, or ghost authorship is considered unacceptable and each author should meet all four of the following criteria as recommended by the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE):

  1. Substantial contributions to the conception or design of the work; or the acquisition, analysis, or interpretation of data for the work; AND
  2. Drafting the work or revising it critically for important intellectual content; AND
  3. Final approval of the version to be published; AND
  4. Agreement 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.

Those who contribute substantially to the work but do not meet all criteria for authorship should be recognized as non-author contributors in the acknowledgments section. Those who assist with the work to provide limited administrative support or proofreading do not necessarily need to be acknowledged unless they also contributed to the work in more substantive ways.

The JSMCAH requires authors to use the CRediT Contributor Roles Taxonomy to categorize author and non-author contributions to the study on the title page. https://casrai.org/credit/

The corresponding author is the member of the author group who will be responsible for communicating with other authors as well as with the journal during the submission, peer review, revision, and publication process. The corresponding author should make sure that all co-authors and non-author contributors who are credited approve the manuscript before submitting it to the journal for consideration for publication.

When a work is conducted by a large group of authors (e.g., consortium, multi-institutional), JSMCAH follows the guidelines put forward by the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE).


The JSMCAH advises authors to use the CRediT Contributor Roles Taxonomy to categorize non-author contributions to the study. https://casrai.org/credit/ Contributors should be acknowledged for the specific roles they played in the development of the scholarly work other than authorship, e.g., creating the artwork for the graphical abstract. Since their inclusion implies their support of the content, they should approve the paper and agree to be recognized.


We encourage authors to submit their data file(s) to a data repository, which creates a DOI and can make the data easier to locate. A link to the study data that is stored in a shared repository can be included in the Supplementary Material. Alternatively, data can be uploaded directly to Supplementary Material.

Here are some suggestions for general-purpose data repositories:

Clinical and research ethics, and informed consent

Authors should ensure that all use of animals for research is responsible and humane, and, where applicable, does not result in significant delay to shelter outcome, or result in their euthanasia. The editors of JSMCAH reserve the right to reject manuscripts on ethical or welfare grounds when, in their opinion, studies involve unnecessary pain, distress, suffering, harm, or potential harm to animals or people.

Surveys or interviews must be conducted in such a way as to create no significant risk of professional, legal, social, or financial harm to the participant. This means that researchers must take adequate steps to safeguard the privacy, dignity, and safety of participants when confidential information is collected. This can be accomplished by approaching sensitive topics with care and/or through anonymous responses or deidentification of data.

Authors must confirm that they have received informed consent for all people or owned animals participating in a study (including animals owned by an animal shelter). Additionally, consent should be acquired for publication of any study items where an animal, person, or organization might be identifiable as a result of the publication (eg, a recognizable photograph, description or unique identifiable features, etc).

In all cases, authors must comply with applicable laws and regulations governing the conduct of research. Many institutions of higher learning, governments, and other organizations have groups such as Institutional Animal Care and Use Committees (IACUC) for research involving animals and Institutional Review Boards (IRB) for research involving humans. These groups serve as a resource for researchers to ensure all ethical and legal obligations are met. They review the study design and provide approval or exemption for all types of research (eg, questionnaires, surveys, video recordings, interviews, and case reports).

For those who have undergone IACUC or IRB review, the project number assigned by IACUC or IRB should be stated in the Materials and Methods section of the manuscript to document that the research complied with ethical standards. If the work is not subject to review by IACUC or IRB, the authors are encouraged to form an ad hoc committee to review the study design against international standards for ethical and humane research. Authors should include documentation in the Materials and Methods section of the manuscript that an ad hoc ethics committee reviewed the study design and ascertained that the research complied with ethical standards.

Authors are referred to the following guidelines for ethical and humane research:

Conflict of Interest

All authors must make a declaration of conflicting interests per journal policy. This statement will be a part of the published article and must be included at the end of the manuscript. This should be located after 'acknowledgements' but before the 'funding' statement. Examples of "conflicts of interest" can include financial/funding influence, personal relationships, rivalries, beliefs, and institutional influence. See the ICMJE disclosure form for further examples of potential conflicts of interest. If there is no conflict of interest, authors should use the following statement "The authors declare no potential conflicts of interest with respect to authorship and publication of this article."

If funding was provided by an institution or organization with a proprietary or financial interest in the outcome of the research, all authors must also submit a signed affidavit including the following statement "I had full access to all of the data in this study and I take complete responsibility for the integrity of the data and the accuracy of the data analysis" per ICMJE recommendations.

Author agreement

Copyright licensing follows Creative Commons 2.0 licensing. Authors maintain copyright of the manuscript and supporting materials, but material may be reproduced, paraphrased, redistributed/shared, or adapted without restriction, provided appropriate attribution is made and substantive changes from the source material are clearly indicated (see https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/). In some situations, an employer or contractee claim on copyright may supplant that of the author(s). Authors must indicate such relationships when signing the Author Agreement.


Scientific advancement depends upon the free exchange and broad dissemination of information while respecting the intellectual property rights of authors. Any action that might impede the willingness of authors to participate in the publication and dissemination of information is anathema to the principles of science. Plagiarism is considered theft of intellectual property, unfairly denying the benefits of authorship to the originator of the plagiarized material and potentially creating hesitance to share information in the future. Reviewers and editors may also view plagiarism as an overall indicator of poor scientific rigor. JSMCAH prohibits plagiarism in all published materials. Examples of plagiarism include:

  1. Quoting or otherwise borrowing substantial passages (more than a few words) from other authors without attribution, regardless of whether the source material is published;
  2. Reproducing, in whole or in part, figures, tables, diagrams, or works of art, whether a direct facsimile or a derivation, from other authors/artists without attribution, regardless of whether the source material is published;
  3. Self-plagiarism, or borrowing without proper attribution from prior work as outlined in (a) or (b) when the author of the borrowed material is the same as the author of the current work, is also prohibited, except when describing materials and methods that are substantially similar or identical between works;
  4. Presenting theories or ideas from another person or group as one's own without attribution

Publication of a manuscript that is part of a dissertation or thesis is not considered plagiarism or dual publication, provided the dissertation or thesis is not published in another peer-reviewed journal or book. Cataloguing services that also serve as publishers (e.g. ProQuest) are not considered peer-reviewed publications for this purpose.

The responsibility for obtaining necessary permissions to use or reproduce copyrighted materials in a manuscript falls to the author(s). In submitting a manuscript for consideration, authors are affirming that any and all permissions have been obtained.

Appeals and complaints

Although the goal of JSMCAH and the Editorial Board is to have a transparent and collaborative review and publication process, in the course of reviewing and publishing manuscripts, authors, reviewers, and/or editors may encounter situations in which complaints arise. Following publication, complaints may also stem from expressions of concern or retraction. Complaints may involve perceived or actual misconduct on the part of editorial staff, reviewers, and/or publication staff. Authors must submit a written appeal or complaint within 30 days (postmarked or electronically time-stamped) of the alleged misconduct, either mailed to the Association of Shelter Veterinarians at 3225 Alphawood Dr., Apex, NC 27539 or via email to info@sheltervet.org, to initiate the review process. When applicable, investigation and review of complaints will adhere to COPE guidelines. For situations in which COPE guidelines are not applicable or are ambiguous, the complaint/appeal will be reviewed by the appropriate section editor to determine if additional action is warranted; if so, the section editor may request input from a/an neutral third party(ies).

If a manuscript is not accepted for publication, appeals may not be made if:

  1. The rejection is based on subjective criteria. The decision to publish is, by its nature, subjective. Editorial decisions on originality, importance to the field, adequacy of methodology, etc., are not subject to appeal. It is important to note that a rejection based on subjective criteria may be journal-specific: a manuscript deemed unacceptable for publication in JSMCAH may be publishable in a journal better suited to the subject matter, for example.
  2. The author(s) believe that reviewer feedback, in balance, was positive. Reviewers are encouraged to provide positive feedback, as overly negative feedback may stifle further research. Positive feedback is therefore not necessarily an indication of overall publication merit in JSMCAH.

Acceptable reasons for the appeal of rejected manuscripts include:

  1. The authors believe that the rejection was incorrect based on objective criteria, i.e. a technical error. Examples might include a reviewer mis-interpreting a statistical procedure or misunderstanding a (patho)physiologic pathway.
  2. The authors believe that misconduct on the part of reviewers or editorial staff may have impacted the decision. If the purported misconduct is on behalf of editorial staff, members of the Editorial Board not involved in the initial review will be responsible for investigation of the appeal.

We will abide by the following principles when investigating complaints and appeals:

  • Fairness: we will endeavor to treat all parties involved in a complaint fairly and to avoid bias either in process or outcome. We will avoid conflicts of interest.
  • Confidentiality: we will only disclose information necessary to resolve a complaint, and in accordance with GDPR regulations.
  • Clarity: we will seek to be clear in all our communication, taking into account the needs of those we are communicating with
  • Speed: we will endeavor to resolve complaints as quickly as possible. It should be noted that some investigations are complex and take time to resolve equitably (for example, allowing a reasonable time for multiple parties to respond).

Redress for appeals/complaints found to have merit

For rejected manuscripts in which the editorial decision is found to be unduly influenced by considerations other than scientific merit and/or compatibility with the Journal scope on the part of a reviewer, all comments from the reviewer in question will be expunged and an additional third-party peer-reviewer will be appointed for expedited review. For rejected manuscripts in which the editorial decision is found to be unduly influenced by considerations other than scientific merit and/or compatibility with the Journal scope on the part of the section editor, another editor from the Editorial Board or, if none have appropriate qualifications, a well-qualified third-party reviewer acceptable to both the Journal and Editorial Board, will review both the manuscript and the Reviewer comments and will make a determination. For expressions or concern or retraction in which the decision is found to be unduly influenced by considerations other than scientific merit and/or compatibility with the Journal scope, the expression of concern or retraction will be withdrawn and the reversal of this decision will be noted in the Journal with prominence equal to that of the retraction notice/expression of concern.

The author will be advised of the outcome in writing. We aim to resolve issues as swiftly as possible or within six weeks, though please note sometimes investigations can take several weeks or more depending on the nature of the concern or complaint, the availability of relevant data and information, whether multiple authors and papers are involved, and possible involvement of the author's institution or other external parties.


In submitting to JSMCAH, authors warrant that the manuscript and all original data/conclusions therein have not and will not be published, submitted for publication, discussed with third parties, or otherwise made public until either: a) publication in JSMCAH, or b) rejection for publication in JSMCAH, except as outlined in the "Preprints" section and/or the "Plagiarism" section as pertains to the cataloging of dissertations/theses. Additionally, data or conclusions that have been previously presented at scientific meetings are still eligible for publication provided the information has not also been published in a peer-reviewed format (e.g., abstracts published in a peer-reviewed journal). If the material has been presented in a public forum prior to publication, this should be noted in the manuscript.


Posting of manuscripts submitted for consideration in JSMCAH in preprint archives is permissible, provided the following conditions are met:

  1. The preprint is clearly labeled as not having undergone peer review;
  2. The preprint archive maintains metadata for each manuscript, including date of posting, version number, and (if applicable) date of withdrawal;
  3. The preprint archive has a readily accessible mechanism for providing public-facing feedback on posted manuscripts;
  4. The authors clearly indicate in the submission process that the manuscript has been posted on a preprint archive, and provide a link or other means of accessing the preprint;
  5. The preprint is updated to direct readers to the published manuscript (if accepted); and
  6. The final, peer-reviewed, published manuscript is not posted to the preprint archive.

Image integrity

Graphs, charts, diagrams, photographs, and other figures have the potential to convey information efficiently and intuitively while placing it in a broader context. It is therefore important that figures be optimized for ease of interpretation and maximization of information transfer. However, manipulation of images may also exaggerate, downplay, skew, or otherwise alter the information conveyed. Images submitted with manuscripts may therefore be edited or altered to improve ease of interpretation, clarity, accessibility, or coherence, but may not be altered in a manner that could potentially alter the interpretation of the data or integrity of the data. Omission or exclusion of data, selective highlighting/enhancement of data without clear disclosure, selective manipulation of scale or image intensity without clear disclosure, deletion/erasure, duplication, and/or repositioning of data are prohibited. Prepublication discovery of violations to image integrity will result in summary rejection of the manuscript; post-publication discovery of violations will result in an expression of concern or retraction based upon the severity and/or the perceived intentionality of the infraction.

Detection and communication of possible inappropriate manipulation and fraudulent manipulation of image data is a sensitive issue. Therefore, due diligence of all involved is important. It is of the utmost importance that authors of a manuscript understand what image data manipulations are considered acceptable and do not engage in unacceptable or fraudulent image data manipulations. In this respect, it is recommended that all authors of a manuscript review images intended to support their manuscript against the original image data prior to submission of their manuscript for peer-review. In addition, it is recommended that authors report how image data were manipulated, even if the image manipulations are considered acceptable practice, or state that image data were not manipulated.

The Rockefeller University Press has defined two types of digital image-related misconduct: inappropriate manipulation and fraudulent manipulation. Inappropriate manipulation refers to the adjustment of image data that violates the established guidelines but does not affect the interpretation of the data. Examples include adjustments of brightness/contrast to a gel image that completely eliminates the background (so the reader cannot tell how much of a gel is shown) or that obscure background smears or faint background bands. Another example is the splicing of images from different microscope fields into a single image that appears to be a single field. Fraudulent manipulation refers to the adjustment of image data that does affect the interpretation of the data. Examples include deleting a band from a gel to "fix" a negative control that did not work or adding a band to a gel to indicate the presence of a product that was actually not there.

The ease of image manipulation in powerful applications like Adobe Photoshop® may tempt authors to adjust or modify digital image files. Authors have been using these applications for more than 10 years. Many of the manipulations that are detected constitute inappropriate changes to the original data and may indicate that scientific misconduct has occurred. In more egregious cases, such manipulations may constitute fraud. For the purposes of this section of the document, fraud is defined as falsification or fabrication of image data; it is not meant to encompass the legal criteria of intent or harm to a third party who relied on the data.