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Ethics Policies and Guidance

IWA Publishing is committed to maintaining the highest standards of publishing ethics and trust in the quality of the peer review process. Any concerns of misconduct will be investigated in line with the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) guidelines, and people who are found to have acted intentionally unethical will not be allowed to review or publish in IWA Publishing journals.

For any queries or concerns regarding the peer review or publication of an article in an IWA Publishing journal, please contact the Editorial Office at [email protected].


Allegations of Misconduct

As a member of the Committee on Publications Ethics (COPE), IWA Publishing follows their guidance when we are notified of any misconduct or unethical behaviour. This includes allegations of plagiarism, data fabrication, image manipulation, citation manipulation and peer review manipulation/misconduct. IWA Publishing takes all allegations seriously and the case will be open until a robust investigation is completed, and a conclusion has been reached.

Allegations of misconduct are investigated in line with the COPE guidelines on ‘Responding to whistleblowers when concerns are raised directly’ and ‘Responding to whistleblowers when concerns are raised via social media’. Those making an allegation must provide clear evidence and information to allow us to investigate the case. We will work with the Editor-in-Chief and the Editor who handled the paper to understand the concern raised and the author will be given a chance to respond to the issue. Legal advice may be sought where needed, particularly in cases of breach of contractual agreements, copyright, or privacy.

In less serious cases, we will work with the authors to resolve the issue raised to both the authors’ and the person raising the issues’ satisfaction. Where appropriate, a Corrigendum will be issued and linked online to the original article.

For serious cases of misconduct, and in line with COPE’s guidelines, cases will be referred to the person’s institution or employer to make the final decision on how to proceed. This may lead to a retraction of the paper and a ban from publishing future papers in the journal.


Authorship and Contributorship

The Editors of IWA Publishing journals are committed to maintaining the highest standards of ethics in reviewing and publishing submissions. Criteria for authorship varies by discipline e.g. the ICMJE (International Committee of Medical Journal Editors) guidelines are often consulted in the medical and biosciences. Authors in IWA Publishing journals are expected to qualify for authorship in line with the COPE Discussion Document: Authorship and McNutt et al., Transparency in authors’ contributions and responsibilities to promote integrity in scientific publication PNAS, 115 (11) 2557-2560 (2018) and on submission, all corresponding authors should accept the following statements:

  • Your paper is your original work and where you have included the work of others this has been fully and appropriately acknowledged*.
  • Authorship of the paper must include all those who have made significant contributionsto the work, and they should be listed as co-authors. Persons who have not contributed significantly to the work must not be listed as co-authors.
  • As corresponding author you must ensure that all co-authors have approved the final version of the paper and have agreed to its submission for publication.
  • You have not already published in another journal a paper describing essentially the same material, nor is your paper currently being considered for publication in another journal.
  • You should disclose in your paper any conflict of interest (financial or other) that might be construed to influence the content of this paper. All sources of financial support should be disclosed.

IWA Publishing does not allow ghost, guest, or gift authorship. Should the authors wish to acknowledge someone who does not qualify for authorship, they may be credited in the acknowledgements.

To increase transparency, IWA Publishing encourages authors to include contributor statements in their manuscripts. While this is not mandatory, these may be requested in cases where there are concerns regarding authorship. Authors should refer to CRediT (Contributor Roles Taxonomy) for guidance.

At Acceptance: Before indicating acceptance of these principles on behalf of co-authors, the corresponding author should confirm that they have informed all co-authors of these principles and are accepting them on their behalf.

*All citations should be referenced as per the Instructions for Authors. Sources should also be included for figures and tables that were not created by the authors, whether they are used ‘as published’ or ‘modified’. Authors must also obtain permission to reuse Figures and Tables from the authors or publishers of the original work. Please refer to the rights and permissions page.

Authors should only include citations to work that are relevant to the submission and referenced within the article. IWA Publishing reserves the right to reject submissions with irrelevant citations or excessive citations of an author’s work. This includes ‘honorary’ citations and ‘citation stacking’.

Co-author verification

The corresponding author should agree to the above terms on behalf of all co-authors, who should have been informed of the intention to submit to the journal in advance.

IWA Publishing requests co-author verification for every paper. This means that each co-author will be notified that the manuscript has been submitted to an IWA Publishing journal and asked to confirm their authorship. Co-authors should also review and confirm the author list for the manuscript as part of their verification.

It is the responsibility of the corresponding author to provide valid email addresses for each co-author, preferably institutional email addresses.

Change of authorship

Please note that the author list provided on submission to the journal (and on the accepted publication) will be included on the version of record. As such, please ensure that the author names and order are correct.

Requests for significant changes to authorship during the peer review process will be investigated to determine the rationale for these changes. Where authorship changes are necessary, a Change of Authorship form must be completed and signed by all previous and new authors.

Any authorship disputes will be handled in line with COPE flowcharts. Where an authorship dispute cannot be resolved by the authors, these should be referred to the relevant institution(s).

IWA Publishing generally does not support changes to authorship post-publication. Any requests for changes to authorship that occur after an article is published will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

Author name change

An author may change their name, for example due to religious conversion, gender transition, marriage or divorce, and wish for their publication to reflect the change. IWA Publishing will update the article and send the metadata to secondary indexes.

IWA Publishing respects authors’ privacy in this regard and, where appropriate, will not inform the author’s co-authors of the change. This includes not requesting a Change of Authorship form or publishing a Correction to the article. Authors requesting a name change should contact [email protected], including their list of publications that require a change.


AI Tools

IWA Publishing allows the use of AI tools used within a manuscript but does not allow for AI-generated content to be used in the place of human authorship:

  • Authors will be held liable for any errors, potential plagiarism or inconsistencies introduced by AI tools.
  • Authorship must be verifiable, which is not possible from an AI tool or content generator.
  • If AI tools are used in an article submitted to IWA Publishing, their use must be clearly explained within the methodology section.

If AI-generated content is included within a manuscript without explanation, this will be grounds for rejection of the work at the discretion of the Editorial Board.


Complaints and Appeals

In cases where authors disagree with the handling of their submission or a reject decision, authors may appeal the decision. Authors should provide evidence to justify the formal appeal and this should be sent to [email protected]. All appeals are considered by the Editor(s)-in-Chief, who will make the final decision as to whether your decision is overturned.

Complaints about the editorial process or publishing ethics should be sent to [email protected]. Ethical issues will be handled in line with COPE flowcharts and in complex cases, IWA Publishing may consult the COPE Forum.


Conflicts of Interest

Authors, journal staff, Editors, and reviewers should declare any conflicts of interest (financial or other) that could be perceived as leading to bias. This includes but is not limited to:

  • Close relationships between authors and Editors/reviewers, both personal and professional e.g. sharing grant funding, being co-authors in the past five years, being based at the same institution.
  • Authors holding positions on the Editorial Board of the journal where their submission is being considered.

Author conflicts of interest are collected on submission and considered by the editor as part of the peer review processes. Conflict of interest statements are included in published articles and where there is no conflict of interest, this should also be declared.

Reviewers are instructed to disclose any conflicts of interest to the Editor when they accept an invitation to review. Any conflicts of interest are considered by the Editor and the reviewer may be uninvited.

For submissions from Editorial Board members or journal staff, they will be ‘blinded’ to the editorial process and not involved in any decision-making.

IWA Publishing will consult COPE flowcharts: Conflicts of interest / Competing interests for guidance.


Data and Reproducibility

To allow for replication studies, we encourage that all raw data is available as supplementary material or on request during peer review or after publication. When submitting to us, authors must make sure that they have also given an accurate report of the work performed, with an unbiased discussion included. This includes reporting on negative results.

IWA Publishing will consult COPE flowcharts: Data and Reproducibility for cases where concerns are raised regarding data.


Plagiarism, Replication and Duplicate Submission/Publication

Authors should not have the same work or work with high levels of similarity under consideration or published in multiple journals. This is the responsibility of the corresponding author, and all authors should decide which journal to submit to and who will be the corresponding author for any submission.

Plagiarism is considered when there are large sections of text and/or data presented as if they are the author’s own, or not appropriately attributed. This includes self-plagiarism. To verify originality, submissions may be checked by the originality detection service Crossref Similiarity Check or iThenticate. IWA Publishing will remove duplicate, redundant, or concurrent publications submitted to the journal. Authors will be notified of the reason for removal before peer review and can contact the journal to discuss this.

Concerns regarding potential plagiarism or duplicate submission/publication will be investigated in line with COPE flowcharts. Retractions may be issued in cases where satisfactory evidence is found, and the author(s) institution informed. The victim(s) of the plagiarism and any other journals or publishers involved will be informed of the outcome of the investigation.


Peer Review Processes

While editorial decisions will inevitably be influenced by factors outside of IWA Publishing’s control, processes are in place to minimise the risk of decisions being influenced by personal biases, editorial factors e.g. commissioned content, or commercial factors e.g. publishing sales or author fees.

Editorial independence is preserved, and Editors are given the freedom to assess submissions based on their scientific contribution to the field and their quality, and Editors will prioritise robust and detailed peer review.

Human Participants

IWA Publishing adheres to the highest ethical standards in relation to research that involves human participants. Any research associated with human participants should have the appropriate assurances that the study design and implementation has been undertaken with the protection of the volunteers in the study in accordance with review from an appropriate ethics review committee.

All such articles submitted to the journal should contain the following ethics statement:

‘Free and informed consent of the participants or their legal representatives was obtained [if a waiver of informed consent was provided by the ethics committee, this should be mentioned] and the study protocol was approved by the appropriate Committee for the Protection of Human Participants [insert committee name], by the [insert university or approval agency, state, country, Protocol # and approval date]'.

Animal Testing

IWA Publishing follows the International Council for Laboratory Animal Science Ethical Guidelines for Editors and Reviewers. If animals are used in the research, authors should read the guidelines and indicate in the submission that these have been followed.


Post-Publication Discussions and Corrections

IWA Publishing encourages post-publication discussion of articles and facilitates this through Commentary articles and on external sites such as PubPeer.

If a Commentary article is received and the Editor(s)-in-Chief see merit to the author’s critique, the authors of the published article will be given the opportunity to respond. Where a response is received, this will be published alongside the Commentary.


Authors should ensure they check their proofs carefully to avoid errors in the final published article. However, if authors believe there is a scientifically relevant issue within the published article, please contact [email protected]to a request a correction. Relevant reasons for a correction include:

  • An error in a figure that does not alter the conclusions of the article
  • An error in data that does not alter the conclusions of the article
  • Mislabelled figures
  • An error in the author list (an author has been included or omitted)
  • An error introduced by the publisher during production

For changes that may impact the scientific conclusions of articles, the relevant journal Editorial Board will be consulted.

The Correction will be linked to the article in question and the title will contain ‘Corrigendum’ (where an author error has been published) or ‘Erratum’ (where the error is due to the publisher). This will clearly explain the journal’s concerns and be accessible to all readers.

For cases where the corrections are minor, the version of record will be updated.

Expressions of Concern

In line with the COPE Discussion on Expressions of Concern, an Expression of Concern may be issued if the journal feels that there are reliable concerns or suspicions that may make the article unreliable or misleading to authors. In line with the Discussion, this includes:

  • The receipt of inconclusive evidence of research or publication misconduct by the authors.
  • Evidence that the findings are unreliable, but the authors’ institution will not investigate the case.
  • The journal’s belief that an investigation into alleged misconduct related to the publication either has not been, or would not be, fair and impartial or conclusive.
  • When an investigation is underway, but a judgement will not be available for a considerable time.

These will be issued during an investigation and an update provided once the investigation has been completed. The Expression of Concern will be linked to the article in question and the title will contain ‘Expression of Concern’. This will clearly explain the journal’s concerns and be accessible to all readers.


There may be cases where a Retraction is necessary to preserve the integrity of the published record. As outlined in the COPE Retraction Guidelines, the journal will consider retracting an article if:

  • There is clear evidence that the findings are unreliable, either as a result of major error (eg, miscalculation or experimental error), or as a result of fabrication (eg, of data) or falsification (eg, image manipulation).
  • It constitutes plagiarism.
  • The findings have previously been published elsewhere without proper attribution to previous sources or disclosure to the editor, permission to republish, or justification (ie, cases of redundant publication).
  • It contains material or data without authorisation for use.
  • Copyright has been infringed or there is some other serious legal issue (eg, libel, privacy)
  • It reports unethical research.
  • It has been published solely on the basis of a compromised or manipulated peer review process.
  • The author(s) failed to disclose a major competing interest (aka, conflict of interest) that, in the view of the editor, would have unduly affected interpretations of the work or recommendations by editors and peer reviewers.

The Retraction will be linked to the article of concern and the title will contain ‘Retraction’. The reason for the Retraction will be clearly explained and accessible to all readers.


In cases where concerns have been raised before the version of record is published (i.e. when the article is at ‘uncorrected proof’ stage), IWA Publishing may issue a withdrawal notice and remove the uncorrected proof from

The withdrawal notice will outline the reasons for this and be accessible to all readers.


For any queries or concerns related to the information outlined above, please contact the Editorial Office at [email protected].

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