I am interested in submitting an article to a journal that has previously identified misconduct from me. The misconduct occurred several years ago and was caused by a disability.

How should I proceed if I am to submit an article to this journal?

  • 7
    While I agree with your desire to not get into specifics, you may get more useful answers if you elaborate on the nature of the misconduct; not all actions are considered equal and responses may change as a matter of the degree of misconduct.
    – Eric
    Oct 25 '20 at 17:35
  • 12
    I’m also cautious of your statement that the misconduct “was caused by a disability;” I find it hard to imagine how any disability could give rise to unavoidable academic misconduct, though this may just be a reflection of my failure to be adequately imaginative.
    – Eric
    Oct 25 '20 at 17:39
  • 5
    @Eric This seems related.
    – GoodDeeds
    Oct 25 '20 at 17:43
  • 5
    @GoodDeeds hmm, I certainly wouldn’t have ever imagined that scenario! :)
    – Eric
    Oct 25 '20 at 17:45
  • 4
    @Eric then, the question would depend too much on the individual factors and make it less applicable in general. I am 100% for the current way of posing this particular question. Oct 25 '20 at 17:47

If you have done things to repair your reputation, there might not be an issue. But you can always submit and then see what happens. If you have been banned by the journal you are likely to get a terse reply.

How you would react to a summary rejection is another issue. You might try to assure the editors that things are different now and hope that people will understand, in your case, that people can learn and change. If you have a respected colleague who can serve as your advocate in such an exchange with an editor it might help.

Apologies and assurance that you are producing valid and valuable stuff is more likely to be effective, I think, than excuses. Accept what you did and hope people can accept that you can (and have) changed.

Ideally, the focus will be on the work you produce and not on you. But it is hard to guarantee that, depending on the nature of the past transgression. Expect people to be wary, at least.

  • 3
    Good answer. Also, the nature of the misconduct may play a significant role here. I suspect that author disputes have a different dynamics than plagiarism or falsification of data. Oct 25 '20 at 17:06

Many journals provide an option to add a cover letter as an [optional] part of the submission process. I would suggest using it to [also] address the issue of the previous misconduct.

In the letter, you might briefly mention the background and reasons why this particular submission is valuable (Buffy's answer talks well about the focus).

If the work is outstanding and speaks for itself, that will certainly help. Thus, it is certainly the time to polish the initial submission as much as possible, not letting any known detail slide (template, reference style, spelling/grammar, limits, quality of figures).

Anyway, if desk rejection happens, you should be ready for it, and submit your work in another journal.

  • Even if the submission software doesn't allow for a cover letter, you can always send the editor such a letter under separate cover. The journal's website should provide an e-mail or postal address for the editor.
    – Psychonaut
    Oct 26 '20 at 14:09

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