Public Sector Economics

Ethical guidelines

To ensure the high quality of Public Sector Economics (below: PSE) and the best practice in publication ethics, the Institute of Public Finance as the publisher has established the following ethical guidelines for publication in PSE. The guidelines are continuously updated and the publisher makes every effort to align them with best practices for ethical publication in scientific journals as outlined, for example, in the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) and other professional guidelines in the field of economics and social sciences.

Journal management

PSE  is a double-blind peer-reviewed scientific journal published by the Institute of Public Finance (below: the publisher). 

PSE  is published four times a year: in March, June, September and December.

PSE's objectives are to disseminate high-quality policy-relevant and applied research in public sector economics, and to promote exchange among researchers in academic and policy analysis institutions in this field. 

PSE  is managed by the Editorial Board (below: the editors) comprising the Editor-in-Chief, Co-editors and Associate Editors. The editors meet at least twice each quarter to review the publication line-up and exchange views on the running of PSE. They are appointed by and report to the publisher. The staff of the publisher and outside scholars are both eligible to serve as editors. The editors are appointed for four-year terms and may serve up to three full terms. To create a staggering of terms, the publisher may appoint Co-editors for shorter terms. The editors support and promote PSE  by actively encouraging submissions in the academic and policy analysis communities, reviewing manuscripts, and organising seminars and annual conferences. 

The Editor-in-Chief is responsible for the general management of PSE, including the editorial decision process and day-to-day operational matters. The Co-editors advise the Editor-in-Chief on editorial issues and policies and assist her/him in strategic planning and the processing of materials for publication, and together with the Associate Editors evaluate the merit of submitted manuscripts, invite and process the referee reports, and coordinate seminars and annual conferences. 

The editors nominate, subject to approval by the publisher, a slate of prominent scholars from academic and policy analysis institutions to serve as Advisory Board members. The Advisory Board members are appointed for four-year terms and may serve two full terms. The Advisory Board meets biennially with the editors to review the activities and publications of PSE, as well as plans and other strategic issues related to the journal. 

PSE  is financed by the publisher and co-financed by the Ministry of Science, Education and Youth of the Republic of Croatia. There is no submission fee

PSE  provides open access to all its content on the principle that making research freely available to the public supports the exchange of knowledge in the most productive manner and increases readership and citation of authors’ work. The publisher ensures that PSE  is securely archived and accessible on its internet website.

Ethical guidelines for the publisher

PSE  adheres to the principle of an open, transparent, and fair editing process to ensure the publication of high-quality academic and policy analysis content. 

In cases where editors, reviewers, authors or readers of PSE  become aware of ethical issues or allegations of ethical misconduct, the publisher is committed to investigating the case and taking necessary measures to maintain the integrity of PSE. For papers considered for publication this may include declining the submission and informing about ethical misconduct Editors-in-chief of journals concerned, as well as responsible individuals from author’s or reviewer’s institution. For papers already published, the publisher may retract the paper and announce the retraction. 

The publisher has developed policies to handle conflicts of interests concerning editors, authors and reviewers (see below). 

The publisher guarantees privacy of personal information for all authors and reviewers. The names and email addresses submitted to this journal site will be used exclusively for processing the publication in PSE  and will not be made available for any other purpose or to any other party. 

The publisher makes provisions for regular professional training of editors to keep their editing skills up to date.

The publisher is committed to maintaining the highest standards of internal quality control to guarantee the integrity of the PSE  publishing process.

To encourage post-publication discussions, broad professional verification and, if necessary, correction of results, the publisher regularly organises video and in-person seminars of published papers on its online platform or premises in Zagreb. The list and summaries of recent seminars are available at the Institute of Public Finance news page.

Ethical guidelines for PSE editors

Editorial process
All submissions are first evaluated by the Editor-in-Chief and at least one more editor. In the interest of avoiding delays and using resources efficiently, they can determine that a submission does not fit the PSE's objectives or is of insufficient quality or originality to be eventually published. Authors are usually informed within two weeks about the standing of their submission: editorial rejection or initiation of the peer-reviewing process. The editorial rejection cannot be appealed.

All manuscripts that pass the initial editorial review are checked for potential plagiarism with the aid of standard industry software. Those that satisfy the criteria of originality subsequently undergo double-blind peer review. Editors send the manuscript to at least two reviewers in anonymised form. The reviewers are asked to return their reports within four weeks. 

After the first round of peer reviews, editors decide about the rejection or revision-and-resubmission and inform the authors. 

Revised-and-resubmitted manuscripts, together with detailed responses to reviewers’ queries, are sent back to reviewers for the second round of reviews. These follow-up recommendations are expected to be returned within two weeks. 

Editors normally decide whether to publish the paper after the second round of reviews. Sometimes several rounds of review and revision may be required. Editors typically ask the authors to make additional changes based on the second round of reviews and their own recommendations before submitting a final version for professional language editing and copyediting. 

Impartiality and objectivity
Editors seek manuscripts of high analytical quality in all fields of public sector economics. They evaluate manuscripts and peer reviews solely based on their intellectual content, without regard to the authors’ and reviewers’ institutional affiliation, citizenship, nationality, ethnic origin, gender, race, sexual orientation, religious belief, ideology, or political philosophy. 

Confidentiality and privacy of information 
Editors and PSE  staff are not allowed to disclose any identifying information about the authors and reviewers to anyone other than the publisher. The editors and the PSE  staff are not allowed to disclose information about the status of submitted manuscripts to anyone other than the authors, the reviewers, and the publisher. 

Conflict of interest 
Editors are not allowed to engage in editorial review if they have any conflicts of interest resulting from competitive, collaborative, personal, or other relevant relationships or connections with any of the authors, institutions, or companies associated with a submitted manuscript. 

Editors must ensure that commercial considerations do not affect their editorial decisions. 

Manuscripts submitted by the editors and papers they solicit for PSE  from other authors are subject to the full review process like all other submissions to PSE

Editors may not use unpublished material disclosed in submitted manuscripts in their own research. They are obliged to keep confidential and not use for personal advantage any privileged information or ideas obtained through the editorial review process. 

Allegations of misconduct 
Editors are obliged to inform the publisher and take adequate steps when ethical complaints about a submitted manuscript or article published in the PSE  have been presented. They are committed to follow the best practice recommended by the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) in such cases. 

Ongoing development of ethical standards 
Editors make consistent efforts to align PSE  publication policies and ethical standards with the best practices in academic publishing. They take all appropriate steps to train themselves and educate authors and reviewers about the publication ethics and to eliminate instances of academic misconduct.

Ethical guidelines for PSE authors

Originality of work
PSE  accepts submissions with the understanding that they contain original work not published or submitted for publication in any other journal. Authors should not submit manuscripts describing essentially the same or marginally different research results already published in other journals. 

Authorship and acknowledgment of contributions

All those who have made significant contributions should be listed as co-authors. Others who have participated in certain aspects of the preparation of manuscript should be acknowledged. 

The authors should ensure that the work of other researchers in the field of study covered in their manuscript is acknowledged in line with academic principles. They should cite the publications that have been influential in determining the nature of their work. Plagiarism in all forms constitutes unethical behaviour and is unacceptable. 

Unless otherwise indicated, the author who submitted the manuscript for publication will be considered as the corresponding author and will be responsible for ensuring that all co-authors have approved the submission, re-submissions, and the final version of the paper. 

PSE  data policy
All data used in manuscripts submitted to PSE  should be acquired legally.

Underlying data should be represented in manuscripts accurately and objectively.

Authors of accepted papers that contain empirical work, simulations, or experimental work should be prepared to provide, prior to acceptance, information about the data, codes, and other details of the computations sufficient to permit replication, as well as information about access to data and codes. Authors are expected to preserve data and codes for at least five years after publication, and to offer assistance to requests for clarification and replication. 

When authors discover a significant error or inaccuracy in their work published in PSE, they must promptly notify the editors and cooperate on the issue. If the editors learn from a third party that a work published in PSE  contains a significant error, authors must correct or retract the article promptly, or provide evidence of the correctness of the original analysis. PSE  uses Crossmark software to indicate whether the content of published papers has been updated, corrected, or retracted.

Information obtained by authors in the course of confidential services such as refereeing manuscripts or reviewing grant applications cannot be used without explicit permission of the persons concerned. 

Studies involving the participation of human subjects

PSE  does not review or publish biomedical studies based, for example, on pharmaceutical or clinical trials. In studies based on interviews, surveys, experiments, and similar methods involving human subjects, authors are responsible for ensuring that legal rights of survey participants in each jurisdiction are fully respected. These rights include but are not limited to:
  • Obtaining consent from the research participants. Ethical consent to participate should be voluntary, informed, unambiguous, and documentable. Authors have a particular responsibility to safeguard the freedoms, rights, and human dignity of research participants whose capacity to provide consent is impaired or absent. They must obtain consent from the parents and where appropriate from the children themselves if children participate in research.
  • Transparency about roles and responsibilities. Authors are responsible for clarifying to the participants the boundaries, expectations, and requirements associated with the research relationship.
  • Anonymity, confidentiality and privacy. Authors must ensure that anonymity of research participants is fully protected when it has been agreed upon or otherwise is prudent. They must handle the data confidentially and grant survey participants the right to decide how identifiable personal data and other information (e.g. photographs, recordings, other media) gathered during research will be used. They must respect privacy of participants in research, their personal integrity, and protect them from unwanted interventions and unwanted disclosure.
  • Reporting and storing research results. Authors are responsible for reporting research results to the participants in a clear and responsible way, and for storing and sharing research data and other research material responsibly. If the material is to be stored, archived, or shared, authors must inform the participants clearly about how, in which format, and at which institutions this will be done prior to obtaining consent.
  • Information obtained by authors privately, including in conversation, correspondence, or discussion with third parties, must not be used or reported without explicit permission from the source. 

Disclosure statements
Authors are requested to disclose all sources of financial support for the research described in their manuscript, including grants and other institutional and private funding. The disclosure requirement also includes in-kind support, such as obtaining access to data. If they received no research funding, they should state so.

Authors are requested to disclose any financial or other potential conflicts of interest that might be perceived as influencing the results or interpretation of their analysis. Examples include, but are not limited to: employment, consultancies, unpaid positions, asset ownership, honoraria, paid expert testimony, patent applications or registrations, and other financial or commercial interests directly or indirectly related to the results of the study. 

Ethical standards for use of AI 
PSE  recognises the increased use of AI tools in academic research. We follow a consensus among scientific journals and recommendations of the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) by considering that AI tools cannot meet the requirements for authorship as they cannot take responsibility for submitted work. Authors are fully accountable for the originality, validity and integrity of the content of their submissions.

Authors are expected to use only the language bases of AI tools, not their knowledge bases. Specifically, authors may use AI tools in an assistive role for the following language tasks if they wish:
  • Improving language quality, flow of the text, stylistic polishing, grammar checking;
  • Proofreading and obtaining feedback on content and structure of parts of text;
  • Summarising basic concepts.

Authors are not allowed to use knowledge bases of AI tools in their submissions, e.g.:
  • Asking AI to suggest a theoretical framework or research project design;
  • Asking AI to summarise specific texts;
  • Producing full drafts of manuscript from input provided by authors;
  • Drafting and structuring content from scratch;
  • Ghost-writing all or part of manuscript;
  • Inputting the manuscript title or confidential information into an AI platform as a prompt.

If authors use AI in any of the permitted ways in any stage of their work, they should acknowledge its use and reference in acknowledgements section the following information: 
  • Name and version of the generative AI system used (e.g. ChatGPT-3.5);
  • Publisher (company that made the AI system, e.g. OpenAI);
  • URL of the AI system; 
  • Brief description (single sentence) of context in which the tool was used.

PSE uses industry standard software to detect when a text was generated by an AI writing tool. Misuse of AI in manuscripts submitted to PSE (e.g., by using AI for any of the tasks listed above that are not allowed) or failure to acknowledge its use may result in rejection of the submission or retraction of a published article.

Copyright material and legal responsibility
Authors guarantee that the paper does not violate any copyright rules, e.g. on maps, drawings, literary quotes, lyrics and other copyright material used in their study. 
Authors guarantee that ethical guidelines for publication in PSE have been followed. The publisher will not be held legally responsible should there be any claims for compensation arising from the publication of authors’ work.

Ethical guidelines for PSE reviewers

PSE  reviews should be conducted impartially and objectively. PSE  reviewers should base their comments on the manuscript’s scientific merit, originality, quality of writing, the relevance to PSE  objectives, and – should the reviewers come into possession of relevant information outside the PSE – without regard to the authors’ institutional affiliation, citizenship, nationality, ethnic origin, gender, race, sexual orientation, religious belief, ideology or political philosophy. 

PSE  reviewers should respect the intellectual independence of the author. Personal criticism of the authors is inappropriate. Comments should be courteous and capable of withstanding public scrutiny. 

Reviewer comments should acknowledge the positive aspects of the manuscript, identify negative aspects constructively, and indicate the improvements needed. The reviewers should explain and support their judgment clearly enough for editors and authors to understand the basis of the comments. The purpose of peer review in PSE  is not to demonstrate the reviewer’s proficiency in identifying flaws.

PSE  reviewers should notify the editors promptly if they feel they do not have adequate expertise to provide an authoritative assessment of the research reported in a manuscript. They should also notify the editors if they cannot meet the standard four-week deadline for review in PSE

Reviewers are asked to submit their reports on the standard PSE  online review form and to add a separate file with detailed comments if they wish.

PSE reviewers should call to the editors’ attention any substantial similarity or overlap between the manuscript under consideration and any other published paper of which they have personal knowledge, as well as any relevant published work that has not been cited by the authors. 

Confidentiality and integrity
PSE  reviewers must treat any manuscript received for review as confidential. They should not share the manuscript or discuss it with others, except as authorised by the editors. 

PSE reviewers should not use unpublished material disclosed in the manuscript they are reviewing in their own research. Privileged information or ideas obtained through peer review must be kept confidential and not used for personal advantage. PSE reviewers should make every effort to avoid even the appearance that they might be taking advantage of information obtained through the review. 

PSE  reviewers should notify the editors and excuse themselves from the review process if they have conflicts of interest in a manuscript resulting from competitive, collaborative, personal, or other relationships or connections with suspected authors, companies, or institutions associated with the manuscript. 

Reviews in PSE  are not remunerated. PSE  by default continuously updates the list of reviewers on its website. Reviewers may request not to be listed if they prefer so.

Authors retain the copyright on papers published in PSE  but grant the right of first publication to the journal. If accepted for publication, all the authors of the article will be obliged to sign a Licence to Publish that will be provided by the Editors.

PSE  is an Open Access Journal licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Non/Commercial 4.0 International License. This license permits non-commercial use and redistribution as long as the licensed work is passed along unchanged and in whole, with credit to PSE  as its original publisher.

Papers published in PSE  can be re-published only exceptionally and in unaltered form, e.g., as a chapter in a volume of an author’s collected papers, or as an unabridged translation for educational purposes. The author(s) must obtain the written permission of the publisher and clearly indicate on the first page footnote the reference to the original publication in PSE.

Individual users may access, download, copy, and display the papers published in PSE, provided that the authors’ intellectual and moral rights, reputation, and integrity are not compromised. The user must ensure that any reuse complies with the copyright policies of the authors and of  PSE.

If the content of papers published in  PSE is copied, downloaded, or otherwise reused for non-commercial research and educational purposes, a link to the appropriate bibliographic citation (authors, title of the paper, PSE  journal volume, year, and page numbers) should be provided. 

Authors can make the results of their papers accepted for publication in PSE  publicly available on preprint platforms, blogs, and other informal communication channels as preprints for advance communications. Authors should provide a link to the PSE  website and note that the manuscript will be published in PSE.

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