Complaints & Appeals Policy

Complaints, allegations of misconduct or appeals will be taken with utmost seriousness, regardless of whether those involved are internal or external to the journal, or whether the submission in question is pre- or post-publication.

Complaints regarding any published materials will only be accepted within 3 months from the first publication date. Anybody wishing to raise a concern or make a complaint about any aspect of being published in our journal or working with us or our publishing partners may email Please note, our staff do not provide oversight or comment on editorial decision making on any of our journals.  

Complaints should be submitted by email, so that they can be best audited. We will acknowledge receipt of an email sent to  within 3 business days. Our Managing Editor will then lead the investigation following COPE guidelines. The investigation will establish whether the correct procedures have been followed. We will review the submission history and any correspondence between the author, Editor and reviewers. We may also contact the parties involved to obtain further information where necessary and in accordance with Singapore’s Personal Data Protection Act regulations. 

1. General Complaints

If an allegation is made to the journal, the publisher will also be notified, who will follow guidelines from the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) on how to address the nature of the problem.

Should the matter involve allegations against a member of the publisher’s team, senior management will be informed to review and supervise an investigation. If conflict of interests become apparent then an independent and objective individual, or individuals, may be sought to lead the investigation.

The complainant will be advised of the outcome in writing. We aim to resolve issues as swiftly as possible, though please note sometimes investigations can take a much longer time depending on the nature of the concern or complaint, the availability of relevant data and information, whether multiple authors and papers are involved, and possible involvement of the author’s institution or other external parties. 

In the interest of allowing due process to take place, and investigations to proceed without prejudice, we respectfully request that anyone raising a concern or complaint allow the process to conclude before publicly commenting on the case

Where misconduct is reported and proven or strongly suspected, the journal has an obligation to report the issue to the relevant individual’s institution, who may conduct their own investigation. This applies to both research misconduct (e.g. completing research without ethical approval and consent, fabricating or falsifying data etc.) and publication misconduct (e.g. manipulating the peer review process, plagiarism, editorial malpractice etc.). Should the publication record need to be corrected, the publisher’s correction policy will be followed.

If a complainant remains unhappy once the case has been closed by the journal/publisher then the matter may be passed to COPE or an alternative suitable external body. COPE will only consider such complaints once a journal’s own complaints procedures have been exhausted.  Information can be found on the COPE website: Facilitation and Integrity Subcommittee | COPE: Committee on Publication Ethics 

2. Expected Behaviour

The journal does not tolerate abusive behaviour or correspondence towards its staff, academic editors, authors, or reviewers. Any person engaged with the journal who resorts to abusive behaviour or correspondence will have their contribution immediately withdrawn and future engagement with the journal will be at the discretion of the editor and/or publisher. 

3. Complaints About Our Publications

All concerns raised on our published content are investigated confidentially. In many instances, an internal review will be carried out to determine if a full investigation is required. All investigations into our published content will be undertaken in collaboration with the author and the Journal Editor. In many cases, it may be necessary for us to contact third parties such as independent experts, author institutions or their funding bodies which will be carried out in accordance with data protection regulations.  

The anonymity of the complainant will be preserved to the best of our ability, though we recognise that certain complaints may reveal the identity of the person raising the concern. We will update all our complainants once an investigation has been completed and an appropriate action has been determined. We are unable to give regular updates to our complainants to preserve confidentiality. 

4. Appealing the Editorial Decision

Appeals to editorial decisions will be handled by the editor in chief, who will audit the decision-making process to assess whether there are grounds for an appeal. Should the appeal be deemed valid, additional review will be requested from the editorial board and/or external peer reviewers until a new editorial decision can be made based on the feedback received.

Editors have very broad discretion in determining whether a submission is an appropriate fit for their journal. Many submissions are declined without external review with a very general statement of the rejection decision. These decisions are not eligible for formal appeal.

If the author believes the decision to reject the submission was not in accordance with journal policy and procedures, the author may appeal the decision by providing the Editor with a detailed point by point response to reviewer and editor comments. The Editor will review the peer review process undertaken for the submission. If the decision was made in line with editorial criteria, the Editor’s decision to reject is final.

5. Appealing Corrective Action taken Post Publication

If concerns are raised on a published article, the Editor, in line with guidance published by the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE), including COPE’s retraction guidelines and in consultation with our journal, will determine whether a published article needs to be retracted or that other corrective action or notification needs to be made to the published article. As referenced in the authorship agreement, the journal and we reserve the right to take corrective action as they deem necessary in the interest of their responsibility for maintaining a transparent and accurate academic record.

The authors can appeal this decision if new evidence impacting the underlying decision comes to light prior to the specified deadline for comment. Appeals will be considered by Sage and may be discussed with the journal Editor, journal Editorial Board and/or external scientific advisors. Decisions on retraction and expression of concern appeals are final.  

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