Weekend reads: Fraudster calls himself a “foolish coward,” and COPE’s top cases

booksHere’s some of what crossed our desks this week:

5 thoughts on “Weekend reads: Fraudster calls himself a “foolish coward,” and COPE’s top cases”

  1. These are good stories.

    1) Typical of the lack of transparency of COPE, there is no explanation in their “top 5 cases” as to who had made the claim and the background about those claims. I suspect those 5 cases were of their paying member publishers. Let’s be honest, COPE is a useful source of case studies and PDFs wth reams of information about ethics that confirm what is already well known. Those PDFs can be useful and the “committee” could be even more useful if they volunteered their services to the scientific community. But to defend publishers above authors (how many individual “members” do you see listed on the COPE membership lists?), unless scientists are willing to pay their ridiculous “membership fees” is preposterous. COPE should be reduced to a blog with open case studies with full facts and names (once cases have been closed or resolved). The story of subject A and subject B of institue Z is just not useful any longer for the academic community. No facts. No use.

    2) 1 year and 4 months to review is too long. Shame on the editors, the publisher and the journal. Each round of peer review should be a maximum of 2-3 months. A decision, with all revisions, should never take more than 8-12 months. And, following acceptance, publication should take place within the next 6 months otherwise information becomes outdated. The traditional system of peer review is not accompanying the dizzying speed of internet technology and the need for “instant” communication and access to information. I agree: call out the editors and publishers who take to long to complete their part in the responsible examination of a scientific paper. Either that, or quit the board.

    3) Ball and Scheckman both get it wrong. Scientists, editors, peers and publishers ALL have a responsibility and a part to play in this mess we are seeing unfolding in science and science publishing. Blaming each other and pointing fingers will not resolve the issues. Stop blaming and start taking individual and collective responsibility.

    4) US scientists that work for the US Government don’t have to sign over copyrights to Elsevier. Neither do countries whose copyrights are subject to the Queen of England (the Throne). So, while Elsevier is enforcing its DMCA rule on all the worlds’ scientists, others are gettng favorable treatment. This is wrong. We should all get the same treatment, or we should all protest. I guess the SOPA, PIPA and other laws are going to come into the spotlight again in 2014, but maybe more focused in science this time round.

    1. On this blog, there is a constant criticism of authors that inappropriately use publishers’ copyrighted material, whether text, figures, data, tables or any other proprietary material, without due attribution. Very broadly, this is termed plagiarism, i.e., the use of another’s proprietary intellect without due attribution. In the case of copyrighted material, the use of such material without due attribution, is termed copyright infringement, and could also be perceived as a form of plagiarism, but with perhaps other legal consequences. One of the modern legendary critics of the abuse of copyrighted material is Jeffrey Beall, author of the blog that raises important awareness about “potential, possible, or probable predatory scholarly open-access publishers”, who precisely criticizes some publishers as abusing the logos of publishers as being the improper use of proprietary material. This is a valid claim and a valid criticism. And some stories on the http://www.scholarlyoa.com blog publically criticizing this behavior.

      For example, in this case, he slams a “potential, possible, or probable” Indian predatory scholarly open-access publisher as follows:
      “The picture above is from the homepage of the International Journal of Pharma and Bio Sciences (IJPBS), based in India. The journal gratuitously uses the Elsevier logo in a prominent position on its homepage.”
      Beall goes on further to state a few unsubstantiated inaccuracies in defense of Elsevier:
      “To compete in a crowded market, predatory journals need to look as prestigious and authentic as possible. The publishers of this journal have done a spiffy job of creating a website that makes it looks like their journal is an Elsevier journal. Of course, the irony is that Elsevier is not most researchers’ favorite publisher.”

      If Beall is in fact so critical of the use of copyrighted material, and he slams OA publishers for plagiarizing copyrighted material without due attribution, then what right does he have of posting a screen-shot of an Elsevier journal without due attribution, link to the original source, or a formal statement to the effect of “With kind permission of Elsevier Ltd.,”?

      Why are the same criteria Beall uses against “potential, possible, or probable predatory scholarly open-access publishers” also not used to measure his “scholarly” activity on his blog?

    2. 8-12 months is still too long from submission to final decision. Personally, when I get reviewer comments back, I do as much as I can to address them (new experiments, changing the text, etc.) then send it back. The reviewers and AE should then be able to make a final decision. If it comes back to me for another round of revisions, then I withdraw it and send it somewhere else with a history of rapid peer review. I don’t want my work to languish while reviewers nitpick over minutiae. One revision should be enough for any AE to make a decision. The whole thing should never take more than 6 mo (unless experiments for the first revision require more time, as in a chronic feeding study).

    1. It’s not really a science story, but sometimes you cover things like this to contrast how other institutions deal with unethical issues, compared to science journals.

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