gms | German Medical Science

information platform

Germany, Land of Ideas

Deutsche Initiative für Netzwerkinformation (DINI, German Initiative for Network Information)

Journal Policy

  1. Authorship and contributorship
  2. Disclosure of potential conflicts of interest
  3. Verifiability and reproducibility
  4. Intellectual property (authorship and licences)
  5. Research ethics and declarations of consent
  6. Withdrawal of articles, errata and retractions
  7. Quality assurance and transparency
  8. Technical integrity, accessibility and indexing
  9. Dealing with research misconduct


German Medical Science (GMS) is committed to promoting good research practice. All editors of, contributors to, and reviewers of GMS publications are required to act and make decisions in accordance with the “Guidelines for Safeguarding Good Research Practice – Code of Conduct” published by the German Research Foundation (DFG) (hereinafter referred to as the “DFG Code of Conduct”;

This GMS Ethics Policy is also based on the “Core Practices” recommended by the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) (

The policies for submission to and publication in GMS journals as described here are supplementary to the general GMS policies.

1) Authorship and contributorship

In accordance with the DFG Code of Conduct, GMS defines an author as “an individual who has made a genuine, identifiable contribution to the content of a research publication ” (Guideline 14 of the DFG Code of Conduct). Anyone who submits an article to a GMS journal must name as authors all those who made a genuine and identifiable contribution to the research work. Examples of such a contribution include participation in development and conceptual design, execution, interpretation, or drafting of the manuscript. Appropriate reference must also be made to the contributions of any other individuals involved in the research publication. If their contributions do not meet the criteria for authorship, they should be mentioned in the acknowledgements or listed as a contributor. Some forms of authorship do not meet the standards of good research practice. These include, in particular, ‘guest authorship' (co-authorship awarded to an individual who did not contribute significantly to the study), ‘gift authorship’ (honorary authorship awarded to an individual who did not contribute significantly to the study) and ‘ghost  authorship’ (failure to list as an author an individual who contributed significantly to the study).

2) Disclosure of potential conflicts of interest

Authors are required to disclose any conflicts of interest – also known as competing interests – related to their submitted articles. All submitted manuscripts must include a “Conflicts of interest ” section declaring any competing interests – financial or otherwise – or stating that none exist.
A conflict of interest is defined as a situation where the authors’ interpretation of the data or presentation of the information is influenced by, or could appear to be influenced by, their personal or professional relationships – financial or otherwise – with other individuals or companies. Any potential conflicts of interest that existed in the 36 months prior to submission of the manuscript must be disclosed.

Examples of financial conflicts of interest include, but are not limited to:

  • individuals receiving remuneration, fees, grants or salaries from third parties (e.g. companies) that may stand to gain or lose in any way from the publication of the article, either now or in the future;
  • ownership of stocks or shares in a company that may stand to gain or lose in any way from the publication of the article, either now or in the future;
  • patents held or applied for that are related to the content of the manuscript;
  • individuals receiving remuneration, fees, grants or salaries from a company that holds, or has applied for, patents that are related to the content of the manuscript.

Non-financial conflicts of interest include, but are not limited to, political, personal, religious, ideological, scientific and   intellectual conflicts of interest. Authors from pharmaceutical companies or other commercial organizations that are involved in clinical research should declare these affiliations as a conflict of interest.

Editors and reviewers are also obliged to declare any conflict of interest in relation to the authors or the manuscript and will be excluded from the peer review process should a conflict of interest exist.

3) Verifiability and reproducibility

By submitting their article, the authors confirm that the research data on which it is based has not been falsified, invented or otherwise manipulated and that it has been fully and thoroughly documented (Guideline 12 of the DFG Code of Conduct). Upon request, and for a reasonable period of time after publication, authors must be able to provide adequate documentation or data to allow the research results to be verified. The sources used must also be disclosed in an appropriate form and correctly cited.

GMS supports authors in publishing research data related to their articles as open access (OA). GMS works in partnership with the international Dryad data repository (, which allows research data to be published under the Creative Commons Zero (CC0) public domain license. Until further notice, ZB MED will cover the cost of the fees charged by Dryad for publishing data related to GMS articles.

Authors also have access to the PUBLISSO Repository for Life Sciences run by ZB MED – Information Centre for Life Sciences ( ). This repository can be used to publish research data free of charge under various open access licences, including Creative Commons Zero, Open Data Commons and other OA licences ( ).

Research data published to Dryad or the PUBLISSO Repository for Life Sciences is assigned the same kind of persistent Digital Object Identifier (DOI) as that assigned to articles published on the GMS platform. This allows the research data to be cited independently from the article. Research data held in the Dryad repository is digitally preserved for the long term in accordance with Dryad’s  terms and conditions of use (, provided that the file format allows this. Research data held in the PUBLISSO Repository for Life Sciences is digitally preserved for the long term by ZB MED, provided that the file format allows this.

4) Intellectual property (authorship and licences)

All publications on the German Medical Science portal are accessible to readers free of charge and without having to register. All publications on the GMS portal are open-access documents available under Creative Commons licence conditions. The Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International licence (CC-BY 4.0) has been applied to all publications since 2015 (see for more information). This licence permits users to share, copy, distribute and build upon documents, provided that the authors and source are appropriately credited. The licence also permits content to be analysed using text and data mining technologies. The corresponding license information is included with each article.

As the creators of the research work, the authors continue to hold all the rights to their publication. They merely grant GMS a simple right of use , allowing them to publish the work online and store it electronically in databases. These provisions are explained in more detail in the author’s contract ( ) for the German Medical Science portal.

Authors are required to clearly identify any passages of text taken from their own works or from the works of others and to indicate the source accordingly.

5) Research ethics and declarations of consent

5.1) Human and animal rights

Research involving human subjects, including research on human material and data, must be conducted in accordance with the version of the Declaration of Helsinki applicable at the time of the research ( The research must be approved by an appropriate ethics committee before the study begins. All manuscripts that constitute such research are required to include a statement to this effect. Should a study be exempted from approval by an ethics committee, this must also be stated in the manuscript. Submissions may be rejected if the editors consider that the research has not been conducted within an appropriate ethical framework.

All manuscripts on research involving animal experimentation must explain the measures taken to guarantee ethical treatment of the animals involved.

5.2) Declarations of consent

In the case of research involving human subjects, participants must sign an informed consent form in order to take part in the study. The fact that informed consent has been obtained should be indicated in the manuscript.

For any manuscripts that contain specific details, images or videos of individual study participants, it is necessary to obtain informed written consent from the participants confirming that such identifiable data may be published. The manuscript must also include a statement confirming that consent has been given to publish such data. In cases where images are not identifiable and no identifiable details of an individual are given in the manuscript, it may not be necessary to obtain consent to publish the images. The final decision on whether this is necessary lies with the editors.

6) Withdrawal of articles, errata and retractions

At any time during the review process, authors may decide to withdraw their manuscript from consideration.

Should an author become aware of, or be notified of, errors in the content of the text or in the underlying data after the publication of the final article, they must alert the editors of the journal and the GMS editorial team. Any necessary post-publication changes to documents that are not a result of research misconduct are documented and clearly presented in a Corrections or Errata section, depending on the type of error and the type of data involved.

To decide whether there are sufficient grounds to retract a publication and how retraction should be carried out, GMS and the editors of the respective journals follow the advice set out in the Retraction Guidelines of the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) ( These state that editors shall have sufficient grounds to retract an article in the event of various forms of research misconduct, such as manipulated data, plagiarism, copyright infringements or failure to disclose a conflict of interest. Even where an article is retracted, the metadata still remains visible.

To encourage post-publication discussion, readers who wish to comment on an article or discuss its results may do so in the form of a brief report or a letter to the editor.

7) Quality assurance and transparency

7.1) Gold open access publishing & preprints

GMS only permits gold open access publishing, where an article is made freely and permanently accessible to everyone immediately upon initial publication. GMS does not accept submissions where the manuscript, or substantial parts thereof, have been published or submitted for publication elsewhere. It does, however, allow articles based on a conference presentation (abstract or poster) or a dissertation (or other document in support of candidature for a qualification), provided this is made clear in the submission.

To encourage scientific discussion, GMS allows the publication of preprints on relevant preprint servers ( at any time, both before and after submission to GMS. This is conditional upon authors including the citation of the GMS article in the preprint publication once an article has been published through GMS.

7.2) Quality assurance: peer review

All research and review papers and most other types of articles that are published in GMS journals undergo a rigorous peer review process. This review is conducted by one or two independent reviewers. The minimum acceptable method is the single-blind review, where the reviewers remain anonymous to the authors but author names are known to the reviewers. Alternatively, the double-blind review method may be used.

All submissions to GMS journals are assessed by the editors to determine whether they are suitable for the peer review process. Suitable submissions are sent to experts in the relevant subject area for review. The editors make their decision on the manuscript based on the reviewers’ assessment and communicate this decision and the reviewers’ comments to the authors.

Both the reviewers and the editors of GMS journals treat submitted manuscripts as strictly confidential as per Guideline 16 of the DFG Code of Conduct and undertake not to use submitted manuscripts for their own gain (e.g. for their own publications). Information on the manuscripts and the manuscripts themselves are only made available to the corresponding author, solicited and accepted reviewers, the editors and the GMS editorial team. Manuscripts can only be shared with editors of other GMS journals with the authors’ consent.

The editorial boards of the individual journals and of the professional societies that publish the journals are responsible for organising and conducting the peer review process. Individual journals handle the peer review process in different ways. More information about the review process used by each journal can be found under the “About” tab on the relevant journal’s page ( German Medical Science provides journal editors with a manuscript and peer review management system that enables single-blind reviews. The journal editors are also free to organise the peer review process without this system by choosing a different peer review process that is commonly used in academic publishing.

7.3) Transparency

All GMS journals ( have one or more editors. Information on their institutional affiliation and contact details can be found under the “About” tab on the web page for each journal. All GMS journals have distinctive titles to ensure that they cannot be mistaken for other journals. Articles in GMS journals are listed consecutively unless stated otherwise in a journal’s policies.

To facilitate OA scientific and scholarly publishing, GMS has developed a business model in which the costs incurred are borne by the professional societies that publish the journals. This includes the costs of peer review management, editing, online hosting and archiving. To cover these costs, the professional societies may charge authors an article processing charge (APC). More information is available under the “For authors” tab on the GMS page for each journal.

As a non-profit publishing services provider, German Medical Science does not generate revenue from advertising. Journal publishers may add banner advertising after consultation with GMS gGmbH, provided that this does not compromise the scientific objectivity of German Medical Science. Any articles that are wholly or partly of an advertising nature (e.g. product reviews) must be clearly marked as such.

8) Technical integrity, accessibility and indexing

8.1) Technical operation, digital preservation and data integrity

As the technical operator of the platform, the German Federal Institute for Drugs and Medical Devices (BfArM) works to ensure that all documents are freely and permanently accessible. Barring a fundamental change in the conditions of the service offered by BfArM, the minimum period for which a document must be accessible is five years. The time period and location in which documents are available may, however, be restricted in justified cases, for example by defining certain IP address ranges that may or may not access the documents. ZB MED undertakes to ensure the digital preservation of content published through the GMS platform. The three specialist national libraries TIB, ZBW and ZB MED operate a joint digital preservation system which is based on the Rosetta software and hosted and operated by TIB. In addition, the journals are archived by the German National Library.

Each document is assigned two unique persistent identifiers to ensure they can be cited anywhere and at any time in the future: a URN (Uniform Resource Name) and a DOI (Digital Object Identifier). Any changes to the documents that may be required are documented and clearly presented in the Errata. Even where an article is retracted, the metadata still remains visible.

8.2) Accessibility and indexing in databases

Electronic documents are indexed using bibliographic datasets based on structured metadata in XML format. They are published online through the GMS portal at and made accessible through the BfArM databases. The structure of the databases is documented at The terms used for indexing are generally supplied by authors in the form of free keywords in German and English. The metadata are made available via a freely accessible OAI-PMH interface in the Dublin Core and MARC21 metadata formats (

The documents are integrated into various national and international databases and search portals, depending  on the suitability of the journal and whether it has been incorporated in the database; examples include DOAJ, LIVIVO, MEDLINE and PubMed Central.

9) Dealing with research misconduct

GMS journal editors deal with allegations of research misconduct against one of their authors by following the procedure recommended by the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) ( and Guidelines 18 and 19 of the DFG Code of Conduct. This includes immediately involving the author in the investigation of the allegations as well as maintaining maximum confidentiality.