Common Ground Research Networks is working to change the way in which knowledge is valued. We measure quality by a criterion-based peer-review process, assessing the intellectual excellence and accessibility of the work against clearly articulated disciplinary standards.
Our approach to peer review seeks to be inclusive, founded on the most rigorous and merit-based anonymous peer-review processes. What makes us different is that those who write for Common Ground's academic journals and/or participate as presenters at Common Ground's academic conferences also serve as peer reviewers, creating a sustainable cycle of high-quality feedback. Reviewers are assigned on the basis of subject matter and disciplinary expertise. Ranking is based on clearly articulated criteria. The result is a peer-review process that is scrupulously fair in its assessments and at the same time offers a carefully structured and constructive contribution to the shape of the published article.
The result of our anonymous peer review is a publishing process that is without prejudice to institutional affiliation, stage in career, national origins, or disciplinary perspective. If the article is excellent, and has been systematically and independently assessed as such, it will be published. This is why Common Ground's academic journals are filled with exciting new material. While many articles originate from well-known research institutions, a considerable amount of brilliantly insightful and innovative material is contributed by academics in lesser-known institutions in the developing world, emerging researchers, people working in hard-to-classify interdisciplinary spaces, and researchers in liberal arts colleges and teaching universities.
We believe there are limitations both in high-cost commercial publishing and open access publishing models without professional publishing support infrastructure. At Common Ground Research Networks, we are working to develop a low-cost commercial approach to academic publishing that supports a professional publishing staff. Our desire is to find a practical middle ground between the idealism of open access and the inefficiencies and high-costs of the big journal publishers. This is the basis of Common Ground | Open. Meanwhile, we ensure non-open access content remains highly accessible through modest access charges for libraries and a small per-article charge for electronic access by non-subscribers. We also make all of our journal available in both print and electronic formats, allowing us to make new content available online as soon as it is ready for publication.
The peer review process is dependent on each person who submits an article for peer review to also participate in the review of other articles. The sustainability of our journals is based on this model. This collaboration of authors/reviewers is what allows authors to receive academic critique of their submitted articles without requiring a submission fee or a review fee. Our approach to peer review seeks to be inclusive. Those who write for Common Ground's academic journals and/or participate as presenters at Common Ground's academic conferences also serve as peer reviewers, creating a sustainable cycle of high-quality feedback. Common Ground Research Networks uses a two way anonymous peer review system. The publisher, editors, reviewers, and authors all agree upon the standards of expected ethical behavior as based on the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) Core Practices.
Peer reviewers are selected from a list of qualified volunteers or from a list of qualified authors. Volunteer reviewers with the appropriate credentials, skills, and expertise are carefully selected by our editorial staff to review appropriately fitting assignments. Authors of article submissions which have qualified to enter the peer review process also qualify to be selected as reviewers for other articles currently in peer review. All reviewers are carefully selected by the editorial staff to properly match areas of expertise to appropriate submissions. Reviewers are assigned on the basis of subject matter and disciplinary expertise. Reviewers are encouraged to request reassignment if an article is outside their area expertise, if the article for review is too closely related to the reviewer's niche of expertise, or if the selection results in a conflict of any kind. If a peer reviewer feels unqualified to review a particular assigned article, the reviewer must notify a member of Common Ground Research Networks' editorial team to be withdrawn from the assignment.
The peer review system is structured upon a basic principle of reciprocity. It is dependent on qualified authors reviewing article submissions from their peers. Authors participate as peer reviews out of respect for those who have reviewed (or will review) their own article submissions. Authors should expect to review at least three articles each per article submission. While authors should expect to receive three assignments, the need for reviewers within certain areas of study will vary and it is possible that fewer than three articles will be assigned. Assignments will not always be from the same Research Network as your own submission. The complete details of reviewer responsibilities are listed under the Duties of Reviewers section in the Publication Ethics and Malpractice Statement.
Common Ground Research Networks takes intellectual integrity very seriously. The publisher, editors, reviewers, and authors all agree upon the following standards of expected ethical behavior, which are based on the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) Core Practices.
Common Ground's editorial team, in consultation with the journal or journal collection’s editor(s), is responsible for deciding which submitted articles should be published. The editorial team may confer with the journal editor and will strongly consider peer reviewers' comments and recommendations as part of this decision-making process.
Submitted articles will be evaluated according to their intellectual merit, without regard to the race, gender, sexual orientation, religious beliefs, ethnic origin, citizenship, political philosophy, or institutional affiliation of the author(s).
Editorial staff will not disclose any information about a submitted manuscript to anyone other than the corresponding author, reviewers, potential reviewers, or other editorial advisers.
Disclosures of Conflicts of Interest
Unpublished material must not be used in an editor's own research without the written consent of the author.
Contribution to Editorial Decisions
Recommendations by peer reviewers are the single most important determining factor in whether a manuscript is accepted for publication. They may also help the author improve a manuscript that has been accepted pending revisions.
Peer reviewers are asked to complete their reviews within two weeks of receiving a peer review assignment. If they cannot complete the report within two weeks, they may ask for an extension. If a peer reviewer feels unqualified to review a particular manuscript, he or she may notify a member of Common Ground’s editorial team to be excused from the assignment.
Any manuscript received for review will be treated as confidential. It must not be shown to or discussed with others except as authorized by Common Ground’s editorial team.
Standards of Objectivity
Reviews should be conducted objectively. Personal criticism of the author is inappropriate. Reviewers should express their views clearly with supporting arguments.
Acknowledgment of Sources and Identification of Possible Plagiarism
Reviewers should identify relevant published work that has not been cited by the authors. Reports of statements, observations, or arguments that have been noted elsewhere should be accompanied by a relevant citation. A reviewer should also call the editor's attention to any substantial similarity or overlap between the manuscript under consideration and any other published paper of which they have personal knowledge.
Disclosure and Conflict of Interest
If a peer reviewer feels unqualified to review a particular manuscript, he or she must notify a member of Common Ground Research Networks' editorial team to be excused from the assignment. Privileged information or ideas obtained through peer review must be kept confidential and not be used for personal benefit. Reviewers should not consider manuscripts in which they have conflicts of interest resulting from competitive, collaborative, or other relationships or connections with any of the authors, companies, or institutions connected to the papers under review.
Authors of reports of original research should present an accurate account of the work performed, as well as an objective discussion of its significance.
Data Access and Retention
Authors are asked to provide the raw data in connection with the paper for editorial review, and should be prepared to provide public access to such data whenever possible. In any event, authors should be prepared to retain such data for a reasonable amount of time after publication.
Originality and Plagiarism
Authors should ensure that they have written entirely original work, and if they have used the work and/or words of others that this has been appropriately cited and quoted. Articles found to have plagiarized material will be withdrawn from publication consideration. If plagiarism is found after an article is published, the publisher will contact the author for a response to the allegations. In cases of proven plagiarism or nonresponse/inadequate response, the offending article will be retracted and a statement from the publisher will be inserted in its place in the relevant journal issue.
Multiple, Redundant, or Concurrent Publication
Submitting the same manuscript to more than one journal concurrently constitutes unethical publishing behavior and it is unacceptable. Manuscripts must only be peer reviewed by one journal at a time. Common Ground Research Networks will consider publishing articles that have been published elsewhere previously, provided that they have undergone substantial revision or reworking. In such cases, 70 percent of the article must consist of new or significantly revised material.
Acknowledgment of Sources
Proper acknowledgment of the work of others must always be given. Authors should cite publications that have been influential in determining the nature of the reported work.
Authorship of the Article
Authorship should be limited to those who have made a significant contribution to the conception, design, execution, or interpretation of the reported study. All those who have made significant contributions should be listed as coauthors. Where there are others who participated in certain substantial aspects of the research project, they should be acknowledged or listed as contributors. The corresponding author should ensure that all appropriate coauthors and no inappropriate coauthors are included on the paper, and that all coauthors have seen and approved the final version of the article and agreed to its submission for publication.
Disclosure and Conflicts of Interest
Authors should disclose in their manuscript any financial or other substantive conflict of interest that might be construed to influence the results or interpretation of the manuscript. All sources of financial support for the project should be disclosed.
Fundamental Errors in Published Works
When an author discovers a significant error or inaccuracy in his or her own published work, it is the author's obligation to promptly notify the publisher and cooperate with Common Ground’s editorial team to correct or retract the article.
For research studies using human or animal subjects, the trial’s design, conduct, and reporting of results must conform to Good Clinical Practice guidelines (such as the Good Clinical Practice in Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-Regulated Clinical Trials (USA) or the Medical Research Council Guidelines for Good Clinical Practice in Clinical Trials (UK)) and/or to the World Medical Association (WMA) Declaration of Helsinki.
Any work describing a study that used human subjects must include a statement that affirms the experiments were performed with prior informed consent (written or verbal, as appropriate) from each participant.
Humans: When reporting experiments on human subjects, authors should indicate whether the procedures followed were in accordance with the ethical standards of the responsible committee on human experimentation (institutional and national) and with the Helsinki Declaration of 1975, as revised in 2008 (5). If doubt exists whether the research was conducted in accordance with the Helsinki Declaration, the author(s) must explain the rationale for their approach and demonstrate that the institutional review body explicitly approved the doubtful aspects of the study.
Animals: When reporting experiments on animals, authors should indicate whether the institutional and national guide for the care and use of laboratory animals was followed. Experimental research on vertebrates or any regulated invertebrates must comply with institutional, national, or international guidelines, and where available should have been approved by an appropriate ethics committee. A statement detailing compliance with guidelines and/or ethical approval must be included in the work. For studies involving client-owned animals, author(s) must document informed client consent and adherence to a high standard (best practice) of veterinary care.
Consent: For all research involving human subjects, informed consent to participate in the study should be obtained from participants (or their parent or guardian in the case of children under 18 and a statement to this effect should appear in the work.
Consent for publication of individual patient data: For all works that include details, images, or videos relating to individual participants, written informed consent for the publication of these must be obtained from the participants (or their parent or legal guardian in the case of children under 18) and a statement to this effect should appear in the work. A consent form must be made available to the Editor(s) on request and will be treated confidentially. In cases where images are entirely unidentifiable and there are no details on individuals reported within the manuscript, consent for publication of images may not be required. The final decision on whether consent to publish is required lies with the Editor(s).
Patients have a right to privacy that should not be infringed without informed consent. Identifying information, including patients’ names, initials, or hospital numbers, should not be published in written descriptions, photographs, or pedigrees unless the information is essential for scientific purposes and the patient (or parent or guardian) gives written informed consent for publication. Informed consent for this purpose requires that a patient who is identifiable be shown the manuscript to be published. Authors should identify individuals who provide writing assistance and disclose the funding source for this assistance. Identifying details should be omitted if they are not essential. Complete anonymity is difficult to achieve, however, an informed consent should be obtained if there is any doubt. For example, masking the eye region in photographs of patients is inadequate protection of anonymity. If identifying characteristics are altered to protect anonymity, such as in genetic pedigrees, author(s) should provide assurance that alterations do not distort scientific meaning and the author(s) are responsible to notify the editor(s) in such instances and editor(s) should so note accordingly. The requirement for informed consent should be included in the journal’s instructions for authors. When informed consent has been obtained it should be indicated in the published work.
Authors, research network members, and qualified volunteer reviewers provide feedback on the articles submitted to Common Ground's academic journals.
The guidance that reviewers supply is invaluable and helps to shape Common Ground's academic journals.
Participating in the review process is a great way to gain first hand experience with the publishing process.
We recognize the important role of peer reviewers by acknowledging their contribution with an official letter/certificate.