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posted by cmn32480 on Monday August 17 2015, @07:57PM   Printer-friendly
from the looking-for-references-in-all-the-wrong-places dept.

An Anonymous Coward write:

A friend from academia recently invited me to write a paper for a journal that he is guest editing. I don't write many papers (not in academia), so I figured I better look through the Author Guidelines to see what formats they would accept, etc.

Here is the Inderscience author faq page.

This one stopped me in my tracks:

Why am I asked to identify four experts?

You must identify four experts in the subject of your article, details of which will be requested during online submission. The experts must not be members of the editorial board of any Inderscience journal, must not be from your* institution, and at least two of them must be from a different country from you*.

The purpose of this request is ensure your familiarity with the latest research literature in the field and to identify suitable experts who can be added to our Experts Database and who may be asked if they are willing to review articles for Inderscience journals; we are unlikely to ask them to referee your article.
(*"you" refers to all authors of the paper)

Has anyone else been asked to identify professional friends by a journal publisher?

Needless to say, I'm not writing anything for Inderscience until this request is removed. Or maybe I'll write the paper as a favor to my friend...and provide names of experts from my field who are deceased.


Original Submission

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Should Scientific Journals Publish Text of Peer Reviews? 23 comments

Attendees of a Howard Hughes Medical Institute meeting debated whether or not science journals should publish the text of peer reviews, or even require peer reviewers to publicly sign their paper critiques:

Scientific journals should start routinely publishing the text of peer reviews for each paper they accept, said attendees at a meeting last week of scientists, academic publishers, and funding organizations. But there was little consensus on whether reviewers should have to publicly sign their critiques, which traditionally are accessible only to editors and authors.

The meeting—hosted by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) here, and sponsored by HHMI; ASAPbio, a group that promotes the use of life sciences preprints; and the London-based Wellcome Trust—drew more than 100 participants interested in catalyzing efforts to improve the vetting of manuscripts and exploring ways to open up what many called an excessively opaque and slow system of peer review. The crowd heard presentations and held small group discussions on an array of issues. One hot topic: whether journals should publish the analyses of submitted papers written by peer reviewers.

Publishing the reviews would advance training and understanding about how the peer-review system works, many speakers argued. Some noted that the evaluations sometimes contain insights that can prompt scientists to think about their field in new ways. And the reviews can serve as models for early career researchers, demonstrating how to write thorough evaluations. "We saw huge benefits to [publishing reviews] that outweigh the risks," said Sue Biggins, a genetics researcher at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, Washington, summarizing one discussion.

But attendees also highlighted potential problems. For example, someone could cherry pick critical comments on clinical research studies that are involved in litigation or public controversy, potentially skewing perceptions of the studies. A possible solution? Scientists should work to "make the public understand that [peer review] is a fault-finding process and that criticism is part of and expected in that process," said Veronique Kiermer, executive editor of the PLOS suite of journals, based in San Francisco, California.

Related: Peer Review is Fraught with Problems, and We Need a Fix
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Original Submission

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  • (Score: 3, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 17 2015, @08:04PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 17 2015, @08:04PM (#224067)

    You know, like refer-a-friend sales tactic?

    • (Score: 2) by VLM on Monday August 17 2015, @08:22PM

      by VLM (445) Subscriber Badge on Monday August 17 2015, @08:22PM (#224083)

      OTOH if you're paying them to publish, they can't really turn you down as long as you pay them the money, right? Thats my interpretation of academic publishing. There is a hierarchy of journals, but its a matter of which journal you pay to publish, not a matter of waiving the fee.

      I suspect you could put random names down and some commissioned sales droid will look right past that assuming the check clears. Worst case scenario they say no you go to the next publisher who takes your money and prints your paper.

      I can respect one aspect of the marketing campaign in that they're asking for permission, kinda sorta, rather than just harvesting your paper's reference section without asking permission. Your paper does have references, right? You could just give them the first four names from the endnotes.

      Some of the questions are a little personal. I know Greg G Rose is a cryptographer from Australia and he is (was? He's still alive I think...) an expert on stream ciphers but I'm not on a first name basis with him so I have no idea what editorial boards he might or might not be on and where he might live today. He might be here today on SN for all I know. So do you want to know an expert on stream ciphers or do you want the details of someone I actually know all the info about? (here's the contact info for my wife; she doesn't know anything about stream ciphers but on the bright side I'm sure she isn't on any Inderscience editorial boards and we no longer work together which is apparently the most important data).

      Fundamentally it smells like protection against the "well known" problem in India and some other foreign countries where you have to get a paper printed to graduate, so fake-ish journals and fake-ish conferences are set up to help lower the bar to produce more graduates. They didn't mention that at least 2 experts can't be your fellow students in India even if everyone knows what they mean. I'm not even in academentia and even I know about fake India conferences and journals.

      • (Score: 2) by maxwell demon on Monday August 17 2015, @08:32PM

        by maxwell demon (1608) Subscriber Badge on Monday August 17 2015, @08:32PM (#224088) Journal

        OTOH if you're paying them to publish, they can't really turn you down as long as you pay them the money, right?

        Wrong. Of course if they don't publish, you don't have to pay. But just because you pay for publication does not mean they have to accept everything you send them. They are making the journal, they can decide what they accept for it. Of course, if they decide badly, they may one day see themselves without authors and/or without readers (depending on in which way they decide badly). But that's their risk.

        If you don't like their conditions, you are free not to to send them your papers. If you don't fulfil their requirements, they are free to reject your article.

        --
        The Tao of math: The numbers you can count are not the real numbers.
        • (Score: 1, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 17 2015, @09:14PM

          by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 17 2015, @09:14PM (#224103)

          Submitter says, "...invited me to write a paper" so it doesn't seem like any money is going to the publisher.

          It does seem like publisher is fishing for names for their contact list...and can sell the list as a backhanded way to make some money.

          • (Score: 3, Interesting) by Kell on Monday August 17 2015, @11:23PM

            by Kell (292) on Monday August 17 2015, @11:23PM (#224144)

            Absolutely not necessarily the case. I get -bombarded- with "invitations to submit", all of which expect me to pay for the privilege (the amount of crapmail academics get is astonishing). The journals all believe that they are doing you a favour by deigning to publish your work, so why shouldn't they charge you for it? And as long as the publish-or-perish mentality persists, it won't change. The journals have a vested interest in maintaining the artificial scarcity of publication bandwidth because there's a lot of money to be made.

            --
            Scientists ask questions. Engineers solve problems.
        • (Score: 5, Funny) by VLM on Monday August 17 2015, @09:36PM

          by VLM (445) Subscriber Badge on Monday August 17 2015, @09:36PM (#224112)

          Banks would never make bad loans because, although they're paid on commission, crashing the world financial system would negatively impact revenue years after their employment ended, so they'd never do that.

  • (Score: 5, Informative) by shrewdsheep on Monday August 17 2015, @08:07PM

    by shrewdsheep (5215) on Monday August 17 2015, @08:07PM (#224072)

    This is standard procedure in many/most academic journals. Just sample some guides for authors from random journals. It makes it convenient for the editor to solicit reviews for an article as it can take considerable effort to find apt reviewers even in the specialized world of journals we live in. Acadmic integrity requires that not only is your article sound but you also follow proper review procedures by naming reviewers that will give a critical opinion. In practice, the author will be biased towards more friendly reviewers which IMO is not to be condemned as overcritical/unfair reviewers are a terrible waste of energy. The editor OTOH has to check recommended reviewers against co-pulications with the author and their papers to assure himself of their expertise.

  • (Score: 4, Interesting) by zafiro17 on Monday August 17 2015, @08:09PM

    by zafiro17 (234) on Monday August 17 2015, @08:09PM (#224075) Homepage

    I've never seen it myself, but I've been out of academia for a decade or more. But it seems to me like a great idea: kind of the academia-version of a captcha. If you can't name the field leaders, you're probably a bot, a big-pharma marketing droid, or don't know how to research.

    --
    Dad always thought laughter was the best medicine, which I guess is why several of us died of tuberculosis - Jack Handey
    • (Score: 2) by bzipitidoo on Monday August 17 2015, @09:41PM

      by bzipitidoo (4388) on Monday August 17 2015, @09:41PM (#224117) Journal

      I've never heard of such a requirement. Perhaps it is standard only in some fields, some areas?

      It does not sound like a good idea. If it's meant to screen out people who haven't studied the area, it seems a very weak and lazy method. Why couldn't submitters just repeat the names of the authors of papers they referenced in their submission? A submission should be judged on its merits-- its originality and correctness-- and not the submitters' ability to run a few searches.

      To "ensure your familiarity with the latest research literature in the field", strikes me as disingenuous and lazy at best. It's such a weak excuse for asking that of authors that I don't believe it. It is so easy to do a few searches to turn up some names that I don't see that request as being at all able to accomplish their stated goal of ensuring familiarity. Do they really have that much trouble screening out spam? Their 2nd reason, "to identify suitable experts who can be added to our Experts Database and who may be asked if they are willing to review articles" sounds much more plausible. They may as well have not even tried to pass off their first excuse as a valid reason.

      That they tried this has me wondering about their supposed credentials. Who is Inderscience, and how do we know whether they're fair scholarly publishers? Maybe their one of those predatory publishers who ask too much of authors.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 18 2015, @11:13AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 18 2015, @11:13AM (#224356)

      Sounds more like an academia version of pagerank, ie. exactly what bots are good at.

  • (Score: 4, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 17 2015, @08:10PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 17 2015, @08:10PM (#224076)

    I have been told repeatedly to use more names of well-known people and research papers in my own even if the reference is irrelevant. Apparently that is where academic papers are heading. Independent, quality research takes a backseat to the Ivory Tower popularity contest. Even advisers are warning me to spend more time networking and less time deriving independent thought.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 17 2015, @08:45PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 17 2015, @08:45PM (#224092)

      Well you made it that far, why would you ruin it now with independent thinking?

    • (Score: 2, Troll) by CirclesInSand on Monday August 17 2015, @09:39PM

      by CirclesInSand (2899) on Monday August 17 2015, @09:39PM (#224115)

      They aren't doing research, they are begging for taxpayer money (grants). Of course it becomes a game of "who is friends with who", that's what all state institutions devolve into.

      If anyone want to be judged based on their skills, they should do research for a private company. I doubt Intel cares who your friends are when you tell them that you research reducing power requirements for transistors. On the other hand, if you are researching the color patterns on some obscure plant in the middle of the rain forest, then only by force of government will you be payed an no one will care about the "quality" of the results.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 17 2015, @11:44PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 17 2015, @11:44PM (#224153)

        This is for applied ethics, mostly medical. There are no grants, taxpayer or otherwise. All the burden of funding work, doing the work, and finding a way to make doctors and administrators to take it seriously is on me.

    • (Score: -1, Troll) by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 17 2015, @11:27PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 17 2015, @11:27PM (#224147)

      I started thinking academia was weird about halfway through my recent PhD, I decided to see if it was possible to still do a good job under these conditions. The result is I did a much better job than my peers but the result was still half assed and unfinished. The final years were essentially psychological torture having to deal with well meaning people above me who apparently have no idea what they are doing, it seems likely they have unknowingly wasted their lives inadvertently spreading misinformation. The farther I get away from it the more my mood improves, but really I am lucky to still be alive. So get out early if you start suspecting this, it is not worth it.

    • (Score: 2) by Arik on Tuesday August 18 2015, @12:21AM

      by Arik (4543) on Tuesday August 18 2015, @12:21AM (#224166) Journal
      Holy SHIT! INDEPENDENT THOUGHT!?!?!

      What are you thinking?

      You will NEVER get tenure buddy.
      --
      "This font is your font, you can't see my font."
  • (Score: 2) by SubiculumHammer on Monday August 17 2015, @08:11PM

    by SubiculumHammer (5191) on Monday August 17 2015, @08:11PM (#224078)

    There is typically a suggest reviewer section. They are only lightly relied upon, but are useful to editors.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 17 2015, @08:27PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 17 2015, @08:27PM (#224086)

      The modified version of this (I submitted a journal manuscript on Friday) is the "from this list of reviewers, who are the most expert in your field. From this list, who are your top 2, and top 4 reviewers?". Presumably, unless my top selections are overloaded, they will be my "blind" reviewers.

  • (Score: 5, Insightful) by RedBear on Monday August 17 2015, @10:22PM

    by RedBear (1734) Subscriber Badge on Monday August 17 2015, @10:22PM (#224130)

    The purpose of this request is ensure your familiarity with the latest research literature in the field and to identify suitable experts who can be added to our Experts Database and who may be asked if they are willing to review articles for Inderscience journals; we are unlikely to ask them to referee your article.

    So... they're asking you to help identify peers (that you don't personally work with) who may be qualified and available to review papers similar to yours (but probably not yours). I'm pretty sure you need peers to review peer-reviewed papers. Given the number of different specialist domains a science journal may receive papers for and given that they may not have a huge staff to go around tracking down experts in every field, this seems like a logical thing to include in the submission process not only for the stated purpose (to make sure you really do know the field) but to help them expand their database of potential peer reviewers.

    Maybe my paranoia-juice tank is running low this afternoon, but I'm just not quite grasping exactly what makes this controversial enough to refuse to submit a paper. If the submitter has an objection to the policy they should take it up with the editorial staff of the publication and see if they will make an exception. N'est-ce Pas?

    --
    ¯\_ʕ◔.◔ʔ_/¯ LOL. I dunno. I'm just a bear.
    ... Peace out. Got bear stuff to do. 彡ʕ⌐■.■ʔ
  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 18 2015, @12:17AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 18 2015, @12:17AM (#224164)

    You're clearly not an academic, because this is the way it's done, and it's a Good Thing. It's basic to peer review and goes a long way towards keeping research honest.

    Looks like you'll never write anything for Inderscience, because they'll just laugh and hang up if you ask them to redact that 'request'. Same with any academic journal. If they are willing to sidestep this requirement, you can hang up on them -- you don't want anything under your name published by them.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 18 2015, @12:27AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 18 2015, @12:27AM (#224168)

      I don't write many papers (not in academia), so I figured I better look through the Author Guidelines to see what formats they would accept, etc.

      Well, at least he was honest enough to admit, hence why he raised the question.

      Either way, since most of the answers say that this is "standard practice", then the submitter should abide by the rules.

  • (Score: 3, Insightful) by naubol on Tuesday August 18 2015, @12:47AM

    by naubol (1918) on Tuesday August 18 2015, @12:47AM (#224174)

    They didn't ask for a list of professional friends. They asked for four domain experts. Since academia is about building a network of trust which benefits both journals and authors reciprocally, why would domain experts in your field resent you publicly claiming they're an expert?

    • (Score: 2) by FatPhil on Tuesday August 18 2015, @07:59AM

      by FatPhil (863) <reversethis-{if.fdsa} {ta} {tnelyos-cp}> on Tuesday August 18 2015, @07:59AM (#224296) Homepage
      An internet loon once claimed I was a domain expert. I was offended to be associated in any way with him and is crankery.

      It does look like they are fishing for contacts, but to be honest there's nothing wrong with having to prove that you're actually aware of what's going on in the field at large.
      --
      Life is a precious commodity. A wise investor would get rid of it when it has the highest value.
  • (Score: 2) by theluggage on Tuesday August 18 2015, @11:59AM

    by theluggage (1797) on Tuesday August 18 2015, @11:59AM (#224371)

    On the one hand, if you can't fulfil this by cutting and pasting 4 entries from the bibliography section of your paper then its probably not going to get through review anyway. Not saying that's a good thing - just realistic.
    On the other hand... being mechanical about the 'different country' requirement is unnecessary and could be an unreasonable limitation in smaller fields, and the 'Experts Database' thing would have my alarm bells ringing as to their real motivation.