Ethics Statement

Allegations of misconduct

At the Journal of Family Research, any allegations of misconduct, including copyright infringement, plagiarism, fabrication, recycling, or other breaches of good academic practice, are taken very seriously, in order to protect both the rights of authors and the journal's reputation. In dealing with allegations of academic misconduct, the Journal of Family Research is guided by the “COPE guidelines” on ethical publishing, and we will closely follow the guidance included therein.

In particular, all allegations of misconduct are initially discussed within the Board of Editors, typically involving the editor in charge of the submission and the Editor-in-Chief. Further steps are commensurate with the circumstances and the gravity of the alleged offence, and may include additional investigations, including the use of plagiarism detection software.

Under normal circumstances, we will initially seek a response from those suspected of academic misconduct. If the response is not deemed satisfactory, the Board of Editors may impose sanctions on the authors. Potential sanctions for infringements may range from a warning, through a request for revisions, a rejection, or a retraction of a paper, to a temporary or a permanent ban on any submissions to the journal. Additionally, for serious breaches, we may notify the authors’ employer/institution, and, in the most serious cases with legal implications, we may also resort to legal action.

Authorship and contributions

We encourage a culture of ethical authorship, earned on merit, whether by designing the study, collecting the data, executing the analysis, or contributing to the writing of the text. The authorship order is at the authors' discretion, and we presume that all contributing authors have agreed upon it. Should this not be the case, please contact the Editorial Office for guidance. We also encourage full acknowledgement, in an appropriate section of the paper, of other contributions to the underlying work that do not merit full authorship. We are firmly against honorary or ghost authorship, which we consider to be instances of poor academic practice at best, and misconduct at worst.

The corresponding author is the one who receives reviewers' comments, is responsible for the timely return of the proofs, etc., and whose contact details are included in the article so that interested readers can get in touch, request permission to use published material, or contact the research group. The corresponding author is also responsible for sharing relevant administrative journal information with the coauthors.

Complaints and appeals

As a general rule, the Journal of Family Research allows appeals only on the grounds of procedural or factual errors that might have occurred during the review process. Appeals questioning the independent academic judgement of reviewers or editors will not be allowed. In particular, please note that appeal letters that are deemed threatening, abusive, use inappropriate language, or appear to be questioning the professionalism of the editorial staff will not be considered, and may lead to initiating a misconduct procedure, as discussed above.

If an author wishes to appeal against an editorial decision the appeal must be made in writing and sent by email to jfr@ifb.uni-bamberg.de, citing the manuscript reference number in the subject line. Please include as much detail in the rebuttal letter as possible. If we have provided comments from external peer review, please respond to these, point-by-point, in your appeal letter. The Editor-in-Chief may review the case based on the existing information or may seek additional expert opinion. Addressing appeals may take some time and cannot be prioritized over regular submissions; the manuscript subject to an appeal must not be submitted for publication elsewhere during this time.

As the Journal of Family Research is a competitive journal, where due to the high volume of submissions we are only able to send less than half of submissions to reviewers, and accept only a fraction of the total, there is no guarantee that an appeal will be successful. The editorial decision made on the appeal is final. Please note that even if an appeal is successful, this does not guarantee acceptance of the manuscript, which may need to enter the peer review process again, at the editors’ discretion, and may still be rejected at any stage. New referees can often raise new concerns, and this needs to be factored in when considering an appeal.

Formal complaints about the journal’s processes, procedures, and their application need to be directed in the first instance to the Editor-in-Chief for due consideration, via an email to the Editorial Office at jfr@ifb.uni-bamberg.de. The same principles, including the primacy and independence of editorial judgement, apply to complaints as to appeals. Frivolous complaints will not be entertained.

Conflict of interest

Authors must declare potential conflicts of interest or competing interests at the initial submission stage by using the comments box on the submission form. Competing interests can be financial or non-financial, professional or personal. Competing interests can arise in relationship to an institution, organization, or other person. In particular, authors may suggest that certain referees are unsuitable to review a particular manuscript; however, the editors are not bound to follow these suggestions. The source of external funding must be explicitly listed in the final, accepted version of the paper. Failure to declare competing interests may result in immediate rejection of the manuscript.

At the review stage, personal conflicts of interest are managed by the members of the Board of Editors, who endeavor to select reviewers so as to avoid conflict with the authors. Submissions involving any of the Co-Editors are handled by the Editor-in-Chief, who may assign the handling of the manuscript in question to a different Co-Editor or the (Deputy) Managing Director. Manuscripts submitted by the Editor-in-Chief are handled by the (Deputy) Managing Director of the Journal of Family Research.

Ethical oversight

A lot of research on families is based on publicly available, secondary data. In such cases the ethical considerations are limited, easily managed, and do not require specific action from the authors. However, some research may be based on dedicated primary data collected during fieldwork, involve collection of personal information or experiments with human participants, and carry some risk of malevolent use of the results or involve other ethical concerns. In such cases, we expect the underpinning research to be carried out in accordance with the relevant institutional processes and procedures, and in line with the corresponding national and international legislation. We also expect the authors to discuss the ethical issues in the paper and to mention the reference to ethical clearance obtained for such studies in the Acknowledgements section of the final, accepted manuscript.

For the sake of transparency, for all externally funded research (e.g., through grants, research contracts, and similar) the source of funding needs also to be explicitly acknowledged in the final, accepted version of the paper. As is the case with disclosing potential conflict of interest, the responsibility for reporting funding sources and ethical issues related to the submitted work rests with the authors.


This document was adapted from the ethical guidelines of and courtesy of our esteemed colleagues at Demographic Research: https://www.demographic-research.org/info/editorial_policies.htm (accessed July 21, 2021). These rights and responsibilities were revised on July 21, 2021, and they will be reviewed annually (as needed) for accuracy and for integrity.