While journals are in large part the main venue for academic publishing, conferences are heavily utilized in some other venues. It seems from the venues I have been around, there is a separation between these two types of venues in regards to ethical review for publication.

While PLOS ONE has a specific statement about this:

Researchers submitting studies involving human participants must meet the following requirements:

Obtain prior approval for human subjects research by an institutional review board (IRB) or equivalent ethics committee(s) ...

All submissions describing clinical research and/or research on human subjects will be checked by journal staff to ensure that the requirements above are met. Failure to meet requirements may be grounds for rejection. If issues are discovered after publication, we may issue a correction or retraction as appropriate.

Organizations like COPE, which seem to be used by many groups (including ACM) do not seem to have ethical human subject studies under their 'Ethics' category.

Is receiving IRB approval only a matter that a university should care about? If an organization includes in proceedings or issue a paper that did not have IRB approval, is it only up to the university or author to retract this, or does the organization have a responsibility to do this?

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    Do you know of any reputable journal/conference that publishes human subjects research that does not have a requirement for IRB? Also COPE clearly addresses this as part of their core practices publicationethics.org/files/editable-bean/… "Ethical oversight should include, but is not limited to, policies on consent to publication, publication on vulnerable populations, ethical conduct of research using animals, ethical conduct of research using human subjects, handling confidential data and of business/marketing practices"
    – Bryan Krause
    Apr 23, 2019 at 18:42
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    Just browsing around COPE I'm finding many many more items on human subjects research - it almost looks like you purposefully omitted all of those. Why?
    – Bryan Krause
    Apr 23, 2019 at 18:47
  • @BryanKrause I wasn't omitting them. If you go to COPE website on the main page it says "Our Core Practices". I click on "Ethical Oversight" then click "View All Ethical Guidelines". That is what I put in my question. Apr 23, 2019 at 22:33
  • @BryanKrause ACM is pretty respectable, and does not require its affiliates or venues (e.g.,SIGCHI) to check for IRB. It has a general statement that authors agree they have followed their own institutes ethics, but keeps the responsibility only on the author, not a responsibility from the publisher to check. Apr 23, 2019 at 22:35
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    The "guidelines" are a tiny piece of the COPE website: it's just a name they give to a certain type of article. There are only 12 total entries in that category, versus 783 total articles. "It has a general statement that authors agree they have followed their own institutes ethics" - this is the same as the standard requirement for IRB.
    – Bryan Krause
    Apr 23, 2019 at 22:59

1 Answer 1


In the US, the PHS regulations are fairly specific with respect to Research Integrity and the Responsibilities of institutions, and are found in 42 CFR Part 93.

This regulations mandates that Institutions have a published policy. Most of the requirements for that policy involve procedures for holding data, investigations, whistleblowers, and doing what they can to protect the reputations of charged individuals who are not found to have committed misconduct. There are also reporting requiments to ORI and funding institutions.

There are no specific requirements for requesting retractions from journals. I looked at my own institution's policy, and it does not mention retraction requests.

That said, institutions tend to do whatever they are legally required to, and whatever they can do to protect their reputations. They are also reticent to do things that they are not required to do that might result in lawsuits. Put all that together, with appropriate weighting, and I suppose in some cases institutions would request retractions, and in others, they would not.

  • I know in the US there is the federal law, but that covers the institute, not the publisher. Apr 23, 2019 at 22:30

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