Ethical Guidelines

As the dynamics of academic and scientific pursuits change over time, a new spectrum of challenges has emerged in the realm of ethical considerations and fraudulent practices. Issues such as the irresponsible use of AI, the prevalence of paper mills, and concerns surrounding authorship have become increasingly prominent to name a few. Addressing these challenges necessitates vigilant and robust action on the part of scientific institutions, journals, and other stakeholders. It is imperative for the scholarly community to actively combat these ethical issues, ensuring the preservation of the credibility and trustworthiness of research and scholarly communication.

The SPC Editorial processes strictly adhere to the guidelines outlined in the Declaration of Helsinki (, ICMJE (, and COPE ( frameworks. Although all these frameworks are important, COPE recommendations, due to their concrete and dynamic nature, essentially form the main roadmap for SPC Editors. Crucial subjects such as human participants, authorship, and the handling of plagiarism cases, other forms of misconduct, and retraction procedures are comprehensively addressed below.

Human Participants

Our Editorial Board adopts the Declaration of Helsinki, which can be defined as the standard with the largest consensus regarding human participants. Protecting the participants from any harm is the most important basic principle. Participants or their legal representatives must have voluntarily participated in the research. Informed consent should be obtained, and if some information was hidden from the participants for research purposes, the reasons for this should be clearly stated.

It is essential that the participant information be anonymous, in cases where it is necessary to reveal the photographs or identities of the participants, their written consent must be found and submitted to the editors.

Ethics committee approval or other equivalent registration must be obtained for studies using human participant data sent to be published in SPC, this approval must be stated and documented in the article. These articles should include the statement regarding the compliance with Research and Publication Ethics and the information of the relevant ethics committee decision.

Editorial Policy on Plagiarism and Other Misconduct

Conflicts of Interest. Authors can request to exclude reviewers with perceived competing interests from refereeing their paper, but are asked to provide additional information to support such a request. The Editors will respect these requests provided that they do not interfere with the objective and thorough assessment of an article. Conflict of Interest. There may be conflicts of interest in various ways related to the work. Various conflicts of interest may arise in many situations, such as the researcher’s financial relationships, paid assignments, or personal matters. These conflicts must be reported to the editor by the authors. However, a conflict of interest may also apply to Editors and reviewers. The following practices are carried out in this regard:

The Editors avoid sending manuscripts to particular reviewers under such circumstances:
• If the reviewer has co-published an article with the author(s) before,
• If the reviewer has assisted the author(s) in proofreading their manuscripts,
• If the reviewer has had problems with the author(s) before,
• If the reviewer will benefit financially from publication of the article,
• If the reviewer works in the same institution (same department in the university) as the author(s).
• Since the Editors may not be aware of all the circumstances specified above, reviewers are required to inform the Editors of such situations that may prevent them from being objective in their evaluations.

Authorship. SPC Editorial adopts the 4 criteria put forward by the ”International Committee of Medical Journal Editors” (ICMJE) to define the source of authorship.

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

In addition to being accountable for the parts of the work he or she has done, an author should be able to identify which co-authors are responsible for specific other parts of the work. In addition, authors should have confidence in the integrity of the contributions of their co-authors. Editors are obliged to follow “Code of Conduct and Best Practice Guidelines for Journal Editors” (COPE) guidelines when they doubt misconduct on authorship such as gift authorship (when a name posited as author has no substantial contribution) or ghost authorship (when a researcher deserving authorship is not listed).

Plagiarism. Plagiarism ranges from the unreferenced use of others’ published and unpublished ideas such as drafts or research grant applications to submission under new authorship of a complex paper, sometimes in a different language. All manuscripts submitted to SPC are checked by a leading commercial online plagiarism detection software package. Similarity analysis reports are evaluated by the handling editor. If the similarity analysis indicates plagiarism or any similar misconducts with respect to publication ethics (self-plagiarism, duplication or redundant publication etc.); manuscripts are rejected without being considered for further review processes.

In some cases, there can be instances of plagiarism which cannot be detected by the software packages such as in translated pieces. SPC reviewers are required to report these kind of infringements to the respective editor. If there is a detection of plagiarism in already published SPC articles; SPC editorial board may take necessary measures by adherence to the international ethical standards of Publication Manual of American Psychological Association (APA Style; 7th edition) and “COPE Code of Conduct and Best Practice Guidelines for Journal Editors” (

Other infringements. Scientific misconduct in research and non-empirical publications include, but is not limited to, dubious authorship, fabrication; falsification of data, including fraudulent manipulation of images; intentional non-disclosure of relationships and activities; and plagiarism. Each instance of infringement requires an individual assessment by editors and reviewers. When scientific misconduct is suspected or concerns arise about the conduct or integrity of the study described in submitted or published papers, the editor should start appropriate procedures detailed by the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE), consider notifying agencies, leaders or employers, and raise concerns until the results of these procedures are available and suspend the publication procedures if any. If the procedure involves an investigation at the authors’ institution, the editor should follow the results of this investigation and if necessary, inform the readers about the results and, if the investigation reveals misconduct, announce the rejection of the article. There may be cases where no infringement has been identified, the correspondence of letters to the editor regarding the process can be shared with readers.

Retraction/Withdrawal Policy

The Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) and the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE) support an open and uniform method for post-publication retractions. As per COPE’s Retraction Guidelines, the retraction serves as a means to rectify the literature and inform readers about significant concerns regarding the validity or reliability of an article. Retracted articles are mentioned to stay accessible online, clearly marked with their retracted status.

SPC maintains a robust Retraction/Withdrawal Policy, guided by editorial board policies and legal requirements concerning defamation, copyright infringement, double publishing, and plagiarism. While our commitment is to keep published articles unaltered, there are exceptional circumstances where withdrawal or deletion may be necessary. Editors, authors, or their institutions can initiate withdrawal procedures.

Retraction is reserved for cases involving ethical violations such as double submission, plagiarism, or fraudulent data use. Various mechanisms, including retraction notes, watermarking PDFs as “retracted,” or complete removal, ensure transparency in the process. In rare instances, articles may be legally removed, but metadata will be retained.

We also recognize the importance of authors addressing errors through erratum notes. Authors have the option to publish an erratum to clarify and amend specific sections of their papers. If an erratum proves insufficient, withdrawal may be considered.

Typical Course of Actions of SPC Editors in Suspicions of Misconduct

At Spiritual Psychology and Counseling (SPC), maintaining the highest ethical standards is paramount. In cases where suspicions of misconduct arise, our editorial team diligently follows established procedures to address these concerns. Below outlines the typical course of actions taken by SPC Editors when facing allegations of scholarly misconduct:

Immediate Assessment and Documentation: Upon receiving an allegation, SPC Editors promptly conduct a thorough assessment of the situation, documenting relevant details.

Reference to COPE Guidelines: Editors refer to the guidelines provided by the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE), leveraging practical tools such as flowcharts, to ensure a structured and ethical approach to handling the specific misconduct concern.

Communication with Authors: If necessary, the editorial team communicates with the authors, seeking clarification and additional information to address the allegations.

Editorial Decision: Following a comprehensive review and adherence to COPE guidelines, the editorial team makes an informed decision regarding the manuscript in question, considering factors such as the severity of the misconduct, the potential impact on the scholarly record, and ethical considerations.

Institutional Investigations: In cases where suspicions persist, authors may face investigations within their institutions, reinforcing our commitment to upholding ethical standards across the academic community.

Staying Informed on Emerging Ethical Issues: SPC Editors proactively stay informed about newly emerging forms of ethical violations, integrating relevant COPE procedures into editorial processes. This ensures a vigilant response to evolving challenges and underscores our dedication to maintaining scholarly integrity.

Other Notes

Manuscripts based on thesis-related research should include all data used in the thesis.

Manuscripts with content that is previously presented as an abstract or poster in a professional meeting or conference are acceptable for review in SPC, provided that this fact is openly stated as an acknowledgement.

SPC editorial believe that the data collection process for original research should have been done in the last 5 years.

SPC Editorial adopts COPE Guidelines in managing and handling ethical misconducts. Authors or readers, if any, can bypass the person responsible for the possible problem and contact the journal management regarding suspected ethical violations.

Spiritual Psychology and Counseling authorizes the responsible author to withdraw or correct a work.