Research ethics and consent

Research studies using human participants: when reporting a study that involved human participants, their data or biological material, authors should include a statement that confirms that the study was approved (or granted exemption) by the appropriate institutional and/or national research ethics committee (including the name of the ethics committee) and certify that the study was performed in accordance with the ethical standards stipulated in the WMA Declaration of Helsinki – Ethical Principles for Medical Research Involving Human Subjects. If a study was granted an exemption from requiring ethics approval, this should also be detailed in the manuscript (including the reasons for the exemption and the name of the ethics committee granting the exemption). Documentation to support ethics approval or the lack of need thereof should be provided upon submission of the manuscript.

Participant consent and anonymity: informed consent to participate in the study should be obtained from participants (or their parent(s) or legal guardian in the case of minors or people with disabilities) and stated in the manuscript. For manuscripts reporting studies involving vulnerable groups or where consent may not have been fully informed (for example, unconscious persons), manuscripts will be considered following further discussion with the Editorial Board. Consent must be obtained for all forms of personal data that may be identifiable, including biomedical, clinical and biometric data. For studies describing human transplantation studies, authors must include a statement declaring that no organs/tissues were obtained from prisoners or vulnerable people and must also name the institutions and departments through which organs/tissues were obtained. For all of the above, documents of consent must be supplied if requested. Authors must ensure that data submitted do not compromise the anonymity or confidentiality of participants for the manuscript to be considered for publication.

Original research: include clear methodology, clear statements about Ethics/Review board approval (name, location, date), signed patient consent, and compliance with relevant Equator Network Guidelines. A trial registration number must be included if it is a clinical intervention trial (ICJME requirements) and please state if the trial has been registered in an appropriate trial database. If unsure of whether a trial needs registering, please consult the ICMJE FAQs for further information.

Retrospective studies: review board approval may not be needed but a statement that this has been checked with the review board and they exempted it should be included.

Case reports: case reports do not need to be approved by a review board. Signed patient consent is not required if the details have been de-identified such that the identity of the patient may not be ascertained in any way. Please state this in the manuscript. If complete de-identification is not feasible, authors should secure informed consent from the individual (or parent or guardian if the participant is a minor or a person with disabilities) and this should be stated in the manuscript. Please state the use of and follow CARE guidelines for the preparation of Case Reports.

Animal studies: add a statement about adequate care of animals. Please follow appropriate guidelines (ARRIVE, PREPARE).

We strongly recommend that authors refer to the minimum reporting guidelines for health research hosted by the EQUATOR Network when preparing their manuscript.

Please also refer to the following checklists and reporting guidelines:

Statistical methods

Authors should include full information on the statistical methods and measures used in their research, including justification of the appropriateness of the statistical test used. Reviewers will be asked to check the statistical methods, and the manuscript may be sent for specialist statistical review if considered necessary.

Availability of data and materials

Drugs in Context encourages that materials described in the manuscript, including all relevant raw data, are freely available to any scientist wishing to use them for non-commercial purposes, without breaching participant confidentiality (if relevant).

We encourage authors to ensure that their datasets are either deposited in publicly available repositories (where available and appropriate) or presented in the main manuscript or additional supporting files, whenever possible.

Publication ethics & quality

Committee on Publication Ethics

Drugs in Context is a member of the COPE and abides by the COPE Code of Conduct. It provides advice to editors and publishers on all aspects of publication ethics. All COPE members are expected to follow the Code of Conduct for Journal Editors. COPE will investigate complaints that members have not followed the Code.

Malpractice Policy

Drugs in Context follows the ICMJE’s Recommendations for the Conduct, Reporting, Editing and Publication of Scholarly Work in Medical Journals, and COPE’s Principles of Transparency and Best Practice in Scholarly Publishing and Core Practices. Authors should always refer to these three documents and follow the best-practice guidelines on ethical behaviour contained therein.

Archiving Policy

Drugs in Context undertakes full participation in the deposition of all published articles to the PubMed Central free full-text archive.

Plagiarism Policy

All submitted articles are screened with iThenticate software prior to further processing. Articles deemed to have plagiarized others work will be immediately rejected.


CrossRef is an independent membership association and its mission is to improve access to published scholarship through services that require collective agreement among scholarly and professional publishers. CrossRef enables citation linking in journals using the Digital Object Identifier, or DOI. The CrossRef DOI is paired with the object’s electronic address, or URL, in a central DOI directory that is easily updated. The CrossRef DOI is published in place of the URL to prevent link attrition while allowing the content to move as needed.

Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ)

Drugs in Context is listed in the DOAJ, which provides access to high quality, open access, peer-reviewed journals. All data are freely available.

Industry-funded research and manuscripts

Drugs in Context endorses the Good Publication Practice (GPP) Guidelines (GPP3 and 2022 update). It is a requirement of submission, where relevant, for authors to confirm that their paper complies with these guidelines.

Mandatory disclosure for authors, peer reviewers and Editorial Board members

Drugs in Context is committed to transparency and the avoidance of bias at all levels of the publishing process. Therefore, all authors/editors/reviewers must declare all relevant competing interests for consideration during the review process by signing a formal statement of interest.

A competing interest is anything that interferes with, or could reasonably be perceived as interfering with, the full and objective presentation, peer review, editorial decision-making or publication of research or non-research articles submitted. Competing interests can be financial or non-financial, professional, or personal. Competing interests can arise from a relationship to an organization or another person.

Everyone involved in authorship, funding, review and editorial decision-making of submitted articles must declare any and all relevant competing interests.

Failure to declare competing interests at submission, or when an article is commissioned, may result in immediate rejection of the paper. If a competing interest comes to light after publication Drugs in Context will issue a formal correction or retraction of the whole paper, as appropriate.

Full disclosure is part of the submission process.

Examples of competing interests


  • Paid employment or consultancy
  • Patent applications (pending or actual), including individual applications or those belonging to institutions to which authors/funders/reviewers/editors are affiliated and which those entities may benefit from
  • Research grants (from any source, restricted or unrestricted)


Non-financial competing interests include but are not limited to:


  • Acting as an expert witness
  • Membership in a government or other advisory board
  • Relationship (paid or unpaid) with organizations and funding bodies, including non-governmental organizations, research institutions or charities
  • Membership in lobbying or advocacy organizations
  • Writing or consulting for an educational company


  • Personal relationships with individuals involved in the submission or evaluation of a paper
  • Personal convictions (political, religious, ideological or other) related to a paper’s topic that may interfere with an unbiased publication process (at the stage of authorship, peer review, editorial decision-making or publication)

Open Access statement and copyright policy

All articles are published as Open Access. We apply either of two different copyright licenses depending upon how the article has been funded.

Publicly funded research

Creative Commons License Deed CC BY 4.0

This allows anyone, including the authors, to copy, distribute, transmit and adapt the article provided that it is properly attributed in the manner specified by Drugs in Context (but not in any way that suggests that Drugs in Context endorses the author or the use of their work).

Key features

  • Full-text PDFs of all articles deposited in PubMed Central, Europe PubMed Central & PubMed Central Canada immediately upon publication
  • No embargoes
  • Authors retain copyright

Authors can self-archive and the journal would appreciate a link to the original online version of the article on the Drugs in Context website.

Private or commercially funded research

Creative Commons License Deed CC BY NC ND 4.0

This allows anyone, including the authors, to copy, distribute and transmit the article provided that it is properly attributed in the manner specified by Drugs in Context (but not in any way that suggests that Drugs in Context endorses the author or the use of their work). The CC BY NC ND License Deed forbids the production of derivatives and commercial use of articles without the express permission of the Publisher.

Key features

  • Full-text PDFs of all articles deposited in PubMed Central, Europe PubMed Central & PubMed Central Canada immediately upon publication
  • No embargoes
  • Authors retain copyright
  • Authors can self-archive provided that a link is given to the original online version of the article on the Drugs in Context website

Under this license, Drugs in Context reserves the exclusive right to market authors’ articles to commercial users worldwide and to levy fees as appropriate for their reproduction, translation and dissemination in printed and any other form. For the avoidance of doubt, under CC BY NC ND 4.0 License Deed, agreeing to our Terms and Conditions of Publication (TCP) assigns an exclusive commercial re-use rights license to the Publisher of all the material. Additionally, any commercial use or re-use of the Work without the Publisher’s written consent will be a breach of the TCP and any author or third party acting in breach of these terms will be liable to the Publisher for such an amount as the Publisher would have charged for providing permission for commercial re-use of the Work plus all legal/recovery costs. Statutory fair use and other rights are in no way affected by the above.

For further information on commercial use, please contact the Editorial Office.

How to correctly attribute Creative Commons articles

The copyright license for publicly funded research is Creative Commons License Deed CC BY 4.0 Example of a correct attribution:
Copyright © 2013 Schwartz TL, Goradia V. Published by Drugs in Context under Creative Commons Attribution License Deed CC BY 4.0.

The copyright license for privately funded research is Creative Commons License Deed CC BY NC ND 4.0. Example of a correct attribution:
© 2013 Altin M, El-Shafei AA, Yu M, Desaiah D, Treuer T, Zavadenko NN, Gao HY. Published by Drugs in Context under Creative Commons Attribution License Deed CC BY NC ND 4.0.

Compliance with the access policies of funders of academic research

Drugs in Context is compliant with access policies of the public funders of research such as the US National Institutes of Health, The Wellcome Trust and the UK Medical Research Council. These require articles to be published under the Creative Commons License Deed CC BY 4.0 the key features of which are:

  • Full-text PDFs of all articles deposited in PubMed Central, Europe PubMed Central & PubMed Central Canada immediately upon publication
  • No embargoes
  • Authors retain copyright
  • Authors can self-archive

Editorial standards

We follow the Principles of Transparency and Best Practice in Scholarly Publishing.

Editorial Board

We work with a prestigious external Editorial Board of Associate Editors to formulate article ideas, facilitate robust peer review and maintain the quality of articles. Our Associate Editors do not receive payment for any journal work.

Rigorous & supportive peer review

Our peer-review process is very rigorous yet constructive, supportive and respectful of authors’ efforts. As a member of COPE, we follow COPE’s Ethical Guidelines for Peer Reviewers. We urge all of our peer reviewers to adopt a positive attitude and to support authors with constructive advice and helpful suggestions. BioExcel Publishing Ltd does not influence the editorial decisions made on Drugs in Context. The Editorial Board and any peer reviewers receive no fees to perform peer review. Instead, we encourage peer review recognition through registration in Publons.

Authorship and contributorship

Drugs in Context recognizes the differences between authors and contributors and fully adopts the new Recommendations for the Conduct, Reporting, Editing, and Publication of Scholarly Work in Medical Journals (updated December 2021) by the ICMJE.

Appeal against editorial decisions

If at any time during the editorial process the author wishes to appeal against editorial decisions, in the first instance please contact the Editorial Office.

Suspected misconduct or disputed authorship

Drugs in Context uses the Committee of Publication Ethics flowcharts to deal with cases of suspected misconduct or disputed authorship.

Corrections and retractions

Rarely, it may be necessary to publish corrections to, or retractions of, articles published in Drugs in Context to maintain the integrity of the academic record.

Corrections to, or retractions of, published articles will be made by publishing a Correction or a Retraction note bidirectionally linked to the original article. Any alterations to the original article will be described in the note. The original article remains in the public domain and the subsequent Correction or Retraction will be widely indexed. In the exceptional event that material is considered to infringe certain rights or is defamatory, the material may have to be removed from our site and archive sites.

Authors, readers or organizations who become aware of errors or ethics issues in a published article are encouraged to contact the Editorial Office. All reports will be considered; additional expert advice may be sought when deciding on the most appropriate course of action in a manner complaint with COPE.


Changes to published articles that affect the interpretation and conclusion of the article, but do not fully invalidate the article, will, at the Editors discretion, be corrected via publication of a Correction that is indexed and bidirectionally linked to the original article.


On rare occasions, when the interpretation or conclusion of an article is substantially undermined, it may be necessary for published articles to be retracted following the COPE guidelines. Retraction notices are indexed and bidirectionally linked to the original article. The original article is watermarked as retracted and the title is amended with the prefix ‘Retracted article’.

Register for alerts

I would like to be contacted by Drugs in Context when new articles are posted.