Inclusion of material and data as Multimedia Appendix
Our policy is that we ask our authors to include all material and data in their paper or as Multimedia Appendix that is critical for readers to replicate or falsify the research without having to request from the author further details, data, or instruments. This is good scientific practice: Research must be replicable or falsifiable, otherwise it is not research. Also, in the Internet age it is no longer acceptable to ask readers "to contact the authors to request [X]" (where X is further information, a questionnaire, or other non-physical information), because with no space limitations, such material can be made accessible directly.
New Questionnaire/Scales/Instruments must be openly accessible
In particular, we will not publish papers about the development of a questionnaire or instrument without publishing the final questionnaire/instrument itself (eg, as Multimedia Appendix) under our standard CC-by Creative Commons license, so that readers can actually use it.
Questionnaires and other important tools constructed or used in the research must be uploaded and made available as Multimedia Appendix, unless a third party owns the copyright and does not make the tool available under a Creative Commons Attribution license.
This will help uptake and citations, and avoids publishing pure marketing pieces for unavailable tools or instruments. Easy availability of the original questionnaires also prevents bastardization or muddling of good questionnaire/item construction work by other readers creating their own versions of the questionnaire because they do not have easy access to the original instrument. Copyright of the instrument will be retained by the authors and the instruments will be published under our standard Creative Commons license (What is a "Creative Commons License"?).
Using copyright protected questionnaires and instruments
We explicitly discourage the use of copyright protected instruments. We encourage the development and validation of alternatives to copyright protected instruments.
The Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) has recently discussed an increasing number of cases involving published scales where "the scale’s developer is known to comb the literature and ask those who used the scale for research to pay for a retroactive license, sometimes asking for very large sums of money" (https://publicationethics.org/case/licence-published-scale)
COPE condemned "this type of behaviour and holding authors to ransom in this way" and recommends to emphasize "the fact that this is not good for the advancement of scientific knowledge or in the public interest".
JMIR has first hand experience with the following scale developers who have contacted us or the author threatening legal action. As a result, we strongly discourage authors to use these scales (and if they are used, authors are required to upload license agreements):
- Morisky Medication Adherence Scales (MMAS): JMIR authors have been contacted and are being forced to "to obtain a retroactive and corrective MMAS license to cure your infringement and misuse of the MMAS", with the threat that "If you do not wish to obtain a retroactive and corrective license please let us know soonest and our lawyers will take legal action for willful infringement of the registered MMAS-8 copyright and seek the maximum statutory damages provided by the United States Federal Courts.". JMIR had to publish corrections. As a result of the behavior of these scale developers, JMIR has a standing special call for papers for short paper instruments or electronic tools licensed under Creative Commons or available under an Open Source license that can be used instead of MMAS to measure medication adherance, and we will waive the article submission fee for such development and validation papers describing new instruments that can be used as a free alternative to MMAS.
- Can you give me copyright or the permission to use a figure (or other material from a JMIR article)?
- What are the guidelines for supplementary files (figures, Multimedia Appendix, additional material for reviewers/editors only)?
- How to add/upload a Multimedia Appendix?