- Peer Review Process
All submissions to DGS undergo a rigorous anonymous peer review process by 2 reviewers. Submissions are screened and assessed by the Editor in chief for relevance and suitability to the scope and directions of the journal alongside an initial screening of formatting and structure in line with journal requirements. Where there are pending issues that do not fulfill journal requirements, author/s will be contacted immediately by the Editor in chief and asked to make adequate changes and revert back.
Where submissions are considered suitable to DGS, the Editor in Chief together with the Managing Editor will select and assign two independent reviewers who are experts in the respective area and who will evaluate the article along key selected criteria (see below).
Reviews are conducted anonymously, whereby both author/s and reviewers remain anonymous throughout the process. We endeavour to complete reviews and provide feedback to authors within the shortest time possible, normally around 12 to 14 weeks. On occasion, delays may occur on account of reviewer circumstances, in which case the reviewer is expected to communicate directly with DGS and we in turn provide feedback to authors on progress.
Reviewers are expected to provide constructive feedback on the article and its content, structure and contribution which will then be forwarded to authors. Based on this feedback, the Editor in chief will recommend either: rejection, revisions (minor or major) and a resubmission for a second reviewer, or acceptance. On occasions where reviews are not aligned or contradict each other, the Editor in chief may opt for a third round of reviews by 1 or 2 other independent reviewers and/or seek advice from the journal’s Editorial Board.
2. Reviewers: approach and guidelines
At DGS we ask all reviewers to provide feedback that is constructive and supportive which would either facilitate eventual publication, including in other journals or assist authors in strengthening their work, their presence in the field and their sense of contribution. We have a zero tolerance policy towards reviews that are aggressive, belittling or offensive towards authors. In such circumstances, we will take measures, including request for a second review, editing of the review; or seeking alternative reviewers.
We also expect all reviewers to declare any conflict of interest immediately to the Editor in chief, and in this case, an alternative reviewer will be sought. Please see our policy guidelines
We expect reviewers to provide constructive feedback along a number of key points:
- Relevance: to the journal, its scope, directions and approach
- Structure and coherence: key areas include: language (expressional and grammatical); clear and sequential structuring; clear arguments aligned with the scope and declared approach and outputs of the paper; clear signing and labelling and flow; clarity of expression.
- Content: Overall, reviewers will see whether the article is well aligned with what the article claims to set out to do; originality; rigour; clarity in argumentation; sound and critical analysis; clear understanding of and engagement with existing literature; methodological soundness and clarity; ethical rigour; engaged discussion and conclusion; and overall contribution to knowledge, debate, policy and practice; and quality of the article overall.
3. Pre-print Policy
At DGS we permit authors to share a draft version of their paper prior to publication (after being informed it is going to be published) as long as:
- The author clearly states that this is a draft version of the article that will be published in DGS (denoted by ‘forthcoming’). Following publication of the article, we kindly ask authors to update details.
We also permit draft versions of the paper to be available online prior to submission or before or during the peer reviewing process. However, authors in this case understand and acknowledge that:
- DGS cannot guarantee full anonymity during the review process.
- DGS cannot be held responsible for any commitments made to any third parties
4. Conflict of interest and Ethics
Please refer to the DGS Policy Guidelines
5. Corrections and Retraction
All articles are carefully read, screened for content, linguistic and other errors, reference omissions and mistakes, and when required, authors will be contacted for clarification and corrections through a number of queries by the editor. All proofs are carefully checked prior to publication, but authors as well as readers are free to contact DGS at any time if they spot or believe there is an error in the publication.
Authors of an article are free to request changes to their published article at any time, and following publication. Such requests are assessed on a case by case basis by the editor in chief and the board of TCI, and information and communication in such instances can only be shared with the authors of the article.
If and when errors are detected in our published content, our approach is to follow the guidelines set by the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) . When major errors as well as misconduct become evident, the Editor in Chief, will forward the issue to be evaluated by the board of TCI (see below), which will then either decide on retracting the article; issuing a statement of concern; correction; or removal. The author/s will be duely informed of developments throughout the process for transparency. Such measures are taken not to humiliate or punish, but to protect research and academic integrity. This process is done independently of the editor or any other journal member for fairness and impartiality and to avoid conflict of interest, and the editor in chief will be instructed about ways forward and measures.
A retraction is defined as: ‘a public disavowal, not an erasure or removal. Retractions will occur if the TCI board finds that the main conclusion of the work is undermined or if subsequent information about the work comes to light of which the authors or the editors were not aware at the time of publication’ (guidelines of the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE)
Statement of Concern
A statement of concern will be issued if there is inconclusive evidence of research misconduct / ethical wrongdoing or there is an ongoing investigation and results are pending.
A correction will be published if the scholarly record is seriously affected (e.g., if accuracy/intended meaning, scientific reproducibility, author reputation, or journal reputation is judged to be compromised). Corrections such as misspellings or grammatical errors will not be published. Published corrections will be added to the original article whenever possible. When that is not possible, the correction will link to and from the original work.
Removal of published content may occur if an article is determined to be defamatory by a court of law, if it infringes on legal rights, or if there is a reasonable expectation that it will be subject to a court order for any reason. The bibliographic information about the work will be retained online, but the work will no longer be available through the journal. A note will be added to indicate that the item was removed for legal reasons.
We take instances of plagiarism very seriously at DGS. We define plagiarism as any use of any other person or organisation’s work (including text, images, data etc.) without adequate attribution and/or permission. All submissions to DGS are screened and checked for plagiarism using third party software to check for similarity in content and plagiarism.
In cases where there is clear evidence of high similarity or plagiarism, the Editor in chief will forward the issues to the TCI board and its Ethics committee to conduct further investigation and remedial actions taken. Depending on the seriousness of the plagiarism, measures can include corrections in the article or retraction of the published article. Depending on the gravity of the case, the author may also be banned from publishing in DGS as well as reporting the author to his/her institution and/or funding bodies linked to the published output.
7. Misconduct and Complaints
We take any allegation of misconduct very seriously when this is directly related to a published article. This includes incidences of: data fabrication or manipulation, blatant plagiarism, reported coercion of participants, or unethical behaviour in field research. We can only investigate cases following a formal written report submitted to DGS, detailing facts (see below) and the process and on matters directly relating to the published article.
We do not and will not investigate personal issues, for example conflict between academics, issues prior to or when writing an article, communication between academics and so on. We will also not mediate conflicts between academics and/or their institutions. We will only investigate issues related to the above key factors and directly related to a published article in our journal.
Our communication is only with the corresponding author (labelled as such in every article), who is then responsible for sharing any communications with the journal pertinent to the article with co-authors. We have absolutely no say in how communications and relationships between co-authors (or others) are managed, and will not get involved in or mediate conflicts.
If and when there is any report of misconduct made to the journal, the issue will be taken up by the ethics committee of The Critical Institute (the publisher of DGS) and not DGS or the editor in chief). This process is confidential and independent and it is the prerogative of the TCI board to determine the adequate course of action, free from influence or coercion from academics or their institutions.
The board of TCI will only investigate cases reported by third parties received formally in writing addressed to firstname.lastname@example.org, detailing clearly, coherently and honestly the incident and the sequence of events. Each case is initially screened by the chair of the TCI Ethics committee, who will then decide whether to recommend further investigation. If there is a recommendation, a panel of a minimum of 3 board members of the TCI Ethics committee will be set up and selected to independently investigate the matter without any involvement of the editor in chief or journal members. This is to ensure fairness, transparency and integrity throughout the process.
If and when there is a serious case of misconduct following a written report and an in-depth investigation by the board, we will take all necessary steps and if necessary stop publication of any paper, retract or take any other measures. Any course of action is determined and decided exclusively by the TCI board, following recommendation by the Ethics committee, free from any influence or coercion from individuals or institutions.
In the case where reports of misconduct involve a core journal board member, The Critical Institute will seek recourse from an independent person or team to investigate the matter and once again measures implemented. It is once again the decision of the board to determine the adequate course of action.