CASE STUDY 141
During content check by the editorial office it was seen that the entire manuscript was one paragraph repeated again and again. The content of this one paragraph consisted of some gibberish written in English language.
During verification of the credentials of the author, it was found that the name of the corresponding author of the manuscript “Sheldon Lee Cooper” was also the name of a “fictional character” on the CBS television series, The Big Bang Theory. No published scholar by this name, from Caltech was found on extensive literature search.
An email was sent by the editorial office to the email address given at the time of manuscript submission stating that the manuscript was being declined publication in the journal.
Next day a response was received from the corresponding author’s email address signed “Anonymous”.
Open access movement spearheaded by open access journals is a great movement with promise of free access to knowledge, unlike traditional journals where the access to published knowledge is restricted by subscription charges. Articles published under open access are freely available for anyone to read and use. The increasing use of technology and internet have given an enormous momentum to the open access movement.
The main source of revenue in open access publishing is fees paid as publication charges by the authors. The fees can be from institutional grants, funds from supporting bodies, or from author’s own pockets. In the open access publication model, more number of published articles mean that more revenue is generated for the publisher.
Today there are many open access publishers who are doing a great job and publish highly respected journals. However, “more papers-more revenue” has also meant that some publishers are more focused on publishing as many papers as possible, without following the accepted norms of academic publishing. Publishing papers with plagiarized data or publishing papers without editorial or peer review are some of the unethical practices followed by such publishers.
The emergence of some unscrupulous publishers has brought all the open access publishers under intense scrutiny. The sting operation by John Bohannon of Sciencein 2013 was just the beginning. Although there has been a large debate about the methods and interpretation of the sting by Bohannon, since then every open access journal or publisher is open to a sting operation. Anyone can submit a fabricated paper or a plagiarized paper to a journal and if that paper is accepted or published, it makes for a very nice story on the internet and reputation of the publisher is damaged, sometimes, forever.
Growing a journal and taking it to a respectable academic position is a very long and arduous process which takes years. Nurturing a journal is a combined and sustained effort of a number of people – the publisher, editors, reviewers, authors and readers. It cannot be achieved overnight. It has taken us years to develop procedures and protocols. We are constantly working to improve the many aspects of our services, to make every journal we publish, an authoritative journal in its specialty. We are helped in this endeavor by an outstanding team of Editors-in-Chief, members of the Editorial Board and reviewers. The formation of the Edorium Journals Publication Ethics Committee and Edorium Journals Advisory Board are further steps in this direction.
At the end of the day, we are humans and humans sometimes make mistakes. The staff working in the editorial offices, editors and reviewers, inspite of their best intentions and efforts, may unknowingly take a decision which may not be right. It may be due to lack of information, oversight or some other reason. What is required is, to devise protocols and procedures to prevent such incidents, to follow the protocols and procedures diligently, to be vigilant, to work honestly and above all to be ethical in all that we do.
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