Guidelines on Ethics for LSA Publications and Conferences



Because research results presented in LSA publications and conferences are meant to advance the scientific study of language and may also serve to inform governmental policy decisions and educate students, it is important for the Society to maintain a high level of quality and integrity in its reviewing and editorial procedures. The responsibility for this rests with all those involved, including authors, reviewers, editors, members of oversight committees, and editorial staff. Adherence to the guidelines in this document should promote fair treatment throughout the processes of peer review and editorial decision, for all items under consideration for inclusion in a publication or conference of the Society.

These guidelines are subject to review and approval by the Committee on Publications and the Executive Committee of the LSA and are to be reviewed and revised regularly. They draw heavily on similar guidelines of other scholarly societies, particularly the Geological Society of America and are also informed by the guidelines and forums of the Committee on Publication Ethics.


  1. Society refers to the Linguistic Society of America (LSA).

  2. Society officers refers to the President, Secretary-Treasurer, and Vice- President/President-elect of the Society.

  3. Members of the EC refers to the members of the Executive Committee of the Society.

  4. Staff refers to the administrative staff of the Society and of the editorial offices of its publications, including the Executive Director and employees that report directly to the Executive Director, as well as copy editors and production managers that report to the Editors.

  5. Editor refers to those entrusted with making final decisions about whether an item is to be included in a publication or conference of the Society, including:

    • the Editor, Co-Editor, and Review Editor of Language,

    • the Managing Editors, Editors-in-Chief, and Associate Editors of Semantics and Pragmatics,

    • the Editors of Phonological Data and Analysis, and

    • the Chairs of committees for conferences of the Society or of those with proceedings published by the Society.

  6. Editorial team member (ETM) refers to all individuals appointed by the EC to positions that give them substantial responsibility in the decision-making process for inclusion of content in the Society’s publications and conferences, including not only the Editors, as defined above, but also individuals appointed to the role of Associate Editor for Language and members of the Program Committee of the LSA.

  7. Manuscript refers to documents submitted for publication in a journal, proceedings, or other volume of the Society containing the products of scholarly research.

  8. Item submitted for review refers to manuscripts, as defined above, as well as abstracts for which presentation of a related paper or poster at a conference is at issue.

  9. Conflict of interest refers to situations in which an evaluator of an item submitted for review (i.e., a reviewer or an ETM) could stand to gain monetarily from its acceptance or rejection, or an author of such an item and an evaluator of it

    • are collaborating or have collaborated within the past 5 years;

    • are close friends or relatives or are in an employer/employee or academic advisor/advisee relationship;

    • are in the same department or program in an institutional unit; or

    • have been involved in a scientific controversy that is or was acrimonious beyond the bounds of normal and civil scholarly disagreement.

Society Officers, Editors, Committees, and Staff

The Executive Committee (EC) is responsible for setting policy for all LSA publications and conferences and appointing the ETMs of journals and the chairs and members of the Program Committee for meetings of the Society.

The Committee on Publications, which is a committee of the Society appointed by the EC, offers advice and makes recommendations on publication policy to the EC.

The Executive Director and the Society officers are responsible for ensuring that policies enacted by the EC are carried out.

Working closely with the Executive Director and the Chair of the Committee on Publications, the Editors of publications are to carry out editorial duties in a manner consonant with policies set by the EC and consistent with the Constitution and Bylaws of the Society.

Editors have full responsibility for editorial and technical decisions concerning items to be published or presented.

Official communications about editorial business from the Society officers, the Chair of the Committee on Publications, and the Executive Director are considered official Society business, unless otherwise identified, and will receive action that becomes part of the Society’s official record. Inquiries from the same or from members of the Executive Committee or other committees of the Society about items submitted for review are to be treated in the same way as such inquiries from any member of the Society.

Editorial Team Members

At its January 2020 meeting, the LSA Executive Committee approved a policy precluding members of the Executive Committee from serving as ETMs of LSA journals. This policy will apply to any new nominations but will not be retroactive.

The ETMs of the Society’s publications and conferences will give items submitted for review unbiased consideration and should process them expeditiously.

ETMs and their staff should not disclose information about items submitted for review that has not otherwise been publicly disclosed by authors, except as necessary in the ordinary review procedure or when permission has been obtained from authors.

Although there may be more stringent policies for individual publications and conferences, items submitted by ETMs to a publication or conference for which they have editorial responsibility must, minimally, be handled by other ETMs and treated as anonymous submissions.

ETMs must not handle items submitted for review for which there is a real or perceived conflict of interest. Editorial responsibility should be delegated to another ETM.

Information, data, theories, or interpretations that are novel in an item submitted for review must not by used by ETMs in their own work until it is in press or has been published or presented, unless permission to do so has been obtained from the author(s).

If Editors are presented with convincing evidence that the main substance or conclusions of a publication are erroneous, they are to facilitate publication of a report (e.g., correction or follow-up article) pointing out the error and, if possible, correcting it. The report may be written by the person who discovered the error or by the original author. The original publication does not disappear from the published record.


It is unacceptable for authors to allow a manuscript of theirs to be published or be under consideration for publication elsewhere in substantially the same form. Should this occur, the manuscript will not be considered for publication by the LSA in the absence of verification that the situation has been adequately remedied by suspension of simultaneous consideration elsewhere.

Authors must inform the Editor if they have other publications or manuscripts under consideration elsewhere whose content overlaps significantly with that in a manuscript they submit for inclusion in an LSA publication and are to provide the Editor with access to this material if requested.

Manuscripts submitted to a journal of the Society that constitute more complete and substantially refined or revised versions of research reports that have been or are to be published in a briefer form, such as in a conference proceedings or working papers volume, are ordinarily (but always at the Editor’s discretion) to be considered for publication.

Authorship should be limited to those who have made significant contributions to the writing of an item submitted for review or to the concept, design, execution, or interpretation of the work reported in it. In the case of journal manuscripts, an acknowledgment footnote or section should indicate what specific contributions the listed authors have made. For example, one might say, "AB and CD contributed equally to the writing of this paper. CD and EF designed the stimuli and ran the experiments. And AB and EF conducted the analysis of the data.” In any instance in which someone has made significant contributions work but is not listed as an author, that should also be disclosed in the acknowledgments section or footnote. In such a case, it is the authors' responsibility to make sure that those who have contributed significantly but are not listed as authors are aware of the submission, and agree to not being listed as authors.

Author order must be agreed on by all authors as must any changes in author lists or author order that occur while an item is under review or revision. Changes in matters concerning the authorship of journal manuscripts must be approved by the Editor, with verification that all authors approve.

Fabrication of data or results, selective reporting of data, theft of intellectual property of others, and plagiarism are unacceptable practices.

Items submitted for review must contain appropriate citation of work by others, especially publications that present the hypotheses, ideas, or data upon which the work is based or which it addresses.

If a source is cited for information it contains that originated elsewhere, the original source should be cited as well.

Authors must reveal to the Editor any potential conflict of interest that might be affected by publication or presentation of the results contained in an item submitted for review and must ensure that there are no contractual relations or proprietary considerations that stand to be affected by its acceptance.

Authors are encouraged to disclose all funding sources relevant to the completion of the research and publication of the research reported in an item submitted for review (e.g., government agencies, private foundations, private industry, universities).

Whenever applicable, authors are encouraged to acknowledge that experimental research or fieldwork with human subjects was covered by an existing IRB protocol.


All items submitted for inclusion in a journal or conference of the Society are to undergo peer review. However, peer review is not required for submissions that Editors have a good reason for rejecting or accepting based on their own evaluation, provided that they provide justification for such actions in their annual reports to the EC.

Individual journals and conferences may choose either single-blind or double-blind reviewing as their default procedure. However, double-blind reviewing is always available by author request.

A reviewer should disclose real or perceived conflicts of interest to the ETM with whom they are corresponding before agreeing to supply a referee report. Once in possession of the facts concerning potential conflict of interest, the Editor will decide if a referee report from the reviewer would still be appropriate and of value in the editorial process, and will then contact the reviewer, advising whether or not to proceed with the review.

ETMs should not disclose the identity of authors and reviewers to each other, unless there is an overriding publication- or conference-specific policy concerning anonymity.

Reviewers must treat items under their consideration as confidential.

Reviewers must ask the Editor for permission to discuss work under review with others and may not allow someone else to carry out the review on their behalf without permission from the Editor.

Reviewers may not use information, data, theories, or ideas from an item submitted for review in their own work until it is in press or has been published or presented, unless the author has given permission to do so.

Reviewers of manuscripts under consideration for publication are encouraged to notify the Editor or the ETM with whom they are corresponding if they are aware of publications or manuscripts under consideration for publication elsewhere that appear to be essentially identical to what they have been asked to review.

Citation Manipulation

Adding citations not contributing to the content of a manuscript in order to increase an author’s or a journal’s citations is considered to be unethical and is not allowed in the Society’s publications.


Suspected breaches of policy may be handled by an Editor or may be forwarded to the Executive Committee of the Society for review and recommendation.

If an Editor is determined to have violated policies from these guidelines, the matter will be referred to the Executive Committee.

If an author is determined to have violated policies from these guidelines, the Executive Committee reserves the right to impose sanctions, which may include prohibiting the author’s work from appearing in subsequent Society publications or conferences and retraction of a manuscript that has been published or accepted for publication.

Adopted by the LSA Execuitve Committee, February 18, 2015