Research Ethics

Last modified March 25, 2021

Guidelines for the Animal/Human research

When reporting on research that involves human subjects, human material, human tissues or human data, authors must declare that the investigations were carried out following the rules of the Declaration of Helsinki of 1975, revised in 2013. According to point 23 of this declaration, approval from an ethics committee should have been obtained before undertaking the research. At a minimum, a statement including the project identification code, date of approval and name of the ethics committee or institutional review board should be cited in the Methods Section of the article. Data relating to individual participants must be described in detail, but private information identifying participants need not be included unless the identifiable materials are of relevance to the research (for example, photographs of participants’ faces that show a particular symptom). Editors reserve the right to reject any submission that does not meet these requirements.

Written informed consent for publication must be obtained from participating patients who can be identified (including by the patients themselves). Patients’ initials or other personal identifiers must not appear in any images. For manuscripts that include any case details, personal information and/or images of patients, authors must obtain signed informed consent from patients (or their relatives/guardians) before submitting to SBPReports. Patient details must be anonymized as far as possible. A blank version of the form used to obtain permission (without the patient names or signature) must be uploaded with your submission.

For publishing, a consent, permission or release form should include unlimited permission for publication in all formats (including print, electronic, and online), in sublicensed and reprinted versions (including translations and derived works) and in other works and products under open access license. To respect patients’ and any other individual’s privacy, please do not send signed forms. The journal reserves the right to ask authors to provide signed forms if necessary.

Studies involving animals must be conducted according to internationally-accepted standards.

Authors must obtain prior approval from their Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) or equivalent ethics committee(s).

The name of the IACUC or equivalent ethics committee, as well as relevant permit numbers, in addition to any other pertinent experimental details, must be provided at submission.

The journals’ editorial teams reserve the right to request additional information concerning experiments on vertebrates or higher invertebrates as necessary for the evaluation of the manuscript, e.g. in the context of appropriate animal welfare or studies that involve death as an experimental endpoint.

We encourage authors to comply with the Animal Research: Reporting In Vivo Experiments (ARRIVE) guidelines, developed by the National Centre for the Replacement, Refinement & Reduction of Animals in Research (NC3Rs).

The ARRIVE guidelines can be applied to any area of bioscience research using laboratory animals. They aim to improve standards of reporting to ensure that the data from animal experiments can be fully scrutinized, reproduced and utilized.

Relevant information should be included in the appropriate section of the article (e.g. title, abstract, or methods, etc.), as outlined in the ARRIVE guidelines. Where research could be confused as with human clinical research, the animal model should also be noted in the article title.

Cell lines

Regarding the use of cell lines, authors must report their source, confirm the identity has been authenticated, state the authentication method (such as STR profiling) and report the mycoplasma contamination testing status. Authors should authenticate the identity of their cell lines at least once per year, and when starting new work or new cell lines confirm that the cell lines are free from mycoplasma and other microorganisms. Authors should check the list of commonly misidentified cell lines maintained by the International Cell Line Authentication Committee before submission and justify the use of any cell lines contained therein. Cell line authentication services are offered by ATCC and others.

Data availability and Software

SBPReports requires authors to make all data necessary to replicate their study’s findings publicly available without restriction at the time of publication. When specific legal or ethical restrictions prohibit public sharing of a data set, authors must indicate how others may obtain access to the data.

Data availability allows and facilitates:

  • Validation, replication, reanalysis, new analysis, reinterpretation or inclusion into meta-analyses;
  • Reproducibility of research;
  • Efforts to ensure data are archived, increasing the value of the investment made in funding scientific research;
  • Reduction of the burden on authors in preserving and finding old data and managing data access requests;
  • Citation and linking of research data and their associated articles, enhancing visibility and ensuring recognition for authors, data producers and curators.

The publication is conditional on compliance with this policy. If restrictions on access to data come to light after publication, we reserve the right to post a Correction, an Editorial Expression of Concern, contact the authors' institutions and funders or, in extreme cases, retract the publication.

Authors must provide original, uncropped and minimally adjusted images supporting all blot and gel results reported in the article’s figures and Supporting Information files. Whilst it is not necessary to provide original images at the time of initial submission, we will require these files during the peer review process or before a submission can be accepted for publication.

All data and related metadata underlying reported findings should be deposited in appropriate public data repositories unless already provided as part of a submitted article. Repositories may be either subject-specific repositories that accept specific types of structured data or cross-disciplinary generalist repositories that accept multiple data types.

For publishing the data, authors should select repositories appropriate to their field of study (for example, ArrayExpress or GEO for microarray data; GenBank, EMBL, or DDBJ for gene sequences).

Authors are required to follow the guidelines developed by PLOS if new software or a new algorithm is central to the submission; for example, authors must confirm that software conforms to the Open Source Definition and is deposited in an appropriate public repository. To ensure that software can be reproduced without restrictions and that authors are properly acknowledged for their work, authors should license their code using an open-source license.

Authors are encouraged to use version control services such as GitHub, GitLab, and SourceForge. Binary files ("non-text files", such as images, zip files, or program data) should be kept to a minimum and, if possible, they should not exceed 50MB. Please try to avoid files larger than 100MB as they will require special handling.

Reporting Standards

Authors are required to adhere to well-established reporting standards, such as for microarray experiments, clinical trials and so on; see below for the reporting standards and guidelines that we require authors to adhere to for specific study types.

Authors are required to cite the specific guidelines that they have followed in the reporting of their work, and we encourage authors to upload any relevant reporting checklists or documents as a Reporting Standards Document to indicate the use of appropriate reporting guidelines for health-related research (see EQUATOR Network), life science research (see the BioSharing Information Resource), or animal research (see ARRIVE guidelines).

In the specific case of a study containing an X-ray crystal structure, authors are required to upload a validation summary report from one of the Worldwide Protein Data Bank organizations as a Related Manuscript File. The associated maps and coordinate data for the structure should be placed into a zipped folder and uploaded as a Supporting Zip Document; please label this as "maps and coordinate data for review".

For the following types of study, SBPReports asks authors to use certain reporting guidelines to support clearer and more detailed reporting; in each case, the completed reporting checklist and flow diagram (where applicable) should be uploaded as additional files with the full submission:

  • Clinical trials: CONSORT
  • Systematic reviews and meta-analyses: PRISMA
  • Observational studies in epidemiology (including cohort, cross-sectional, and case-control studies): STROBE
  • Diagnostic accuracy studies: STARD

Citation Policy

Any available works can be cited in the reference list. Acceptable sources include:

  • Published or accepted manuscripts
  • Manuscripts on preprint servers, providing the manuscript has a citable DOI or arXiv URL.

Do not cite the following sources in the reference list:

  • Unavailable and unpublished work, including manuscripts that have been submitted but not yet accepted (e.g., “unpublished work,” “data not shown”). Instead, include those data as supplementary material or deposit the data in a publicly available database.
  • Personal communications (these should be supported by a letter from the relevant authors but not included in the reference list)

References are listed at the end of the manuscript and numbered in the order that they appear in the text. In the text, cite the reference number in square brackets. SBPReports uses the numbered citation (citation-sequence) method and first authors et al.

Do not include citations in abstracts. Make sure the parts of the manuscript are in the correct order before ordering the citations.


The Research Ethics Policy is developed based on eLife and PLOS standards.