As implicit conditions for publishing in The Astrophysical Journal and The Astronomical Journal, authors are expected to adhere to basic standards of professional ethics and conduct that are common across all areas of scholarly publishing. In the publication agreement authors warrant that their work is original and has not been published elsewhere. All parties are also expected to conform to common standards of professional respect and civility. Fortunately, in astronomy publishing these standards are upheld in the overwhelming majority of instances. However, misunderstandings and lapses in professional conduct do occur, including instances (or accusations) of plagiarism, inadequate attribution, conflicts of interest, or personally abusive behavior toward referees, authors, editors, or journal staff members. This document summarizes the expected standards of professional and ethical conduct, with specific application to publication in the AAS Journals.
2. Plagiarism and Republication
Plagiarism is the act of reproducing text or other materials from other papers without properly crediting the source. Such material is regarded as being plagiarized regardless of whether it is cited literally or has been modified or paraphrased. Plagiarism represents a serious ethical breach, and may constitute legal breach of copyright if the reproduced material has been previously published. This includes repeating text from previously published papers by the author or authors (i.e., "self-plagiarism"). Authors who wish to quote directly from other published work must fully cite the original reference, and include any cited text in quotation marks. AJ and ApJ authors are discouraged from including such direct quotations in papers, apart from rare instances when such a quotation is appropriate for historical reasons. Figures may only be reproduced with permission and must be fully cited in the figure caption, following guidelines that are posted on the ApJ and AJ websites.
3. Attribution and Citation Practice
Papers published in the AJ and ApJ should include citations to previously published papers which are directly relevant to the results being presented. This requirement is especially important when new ideas or results are being presented. Deliberate refusal to credit or cite prior or corroborating results, while not regarded technically as constituting plagiarism, represents a comparable breach of professional ethics, and can result in summary rejection of a manuscript. However, an unintentional failure to cite a relevant paper, while regrettable, does not necessarily imply misconduct. The rapid growth in the astronomical literature in recent years makes it difficult for an author to be aware of every relevant paper, and the inclusion of exhaustive compendia of references is not possible; the ApJ and AJ do not publish review articles. However, authors are expected to devote the same care to the correctness and appropriateness of literature citations as to the other components of the manuscript, and to heed the recommendations of referees and editors to correct and augment the citations when appropriate. Responsibility for updating references after acceptance (but before publication) of a paper rests fully with the authors, but the same principles should apply.
Strictly speaking, authors are not formally required to cite unpublished or unrefereed materials, especially in cases where the veracity of the unpublished work may be in question. However, when principles of common professional courtesy dictate that such attribution is appropriate, authors are expected to honor these conventions.