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ResourcesResearch IntegrityHow Much Editorial Misconduct Goes Unreported? – Scholarly Kitchen (Phil Davis | June 2018)

Australasian Human Research Ethics Consultancy Services Pty Ltd (AHRECS)

How Much Editorial Misconduct Goes Unreported? – Scholarly Kitchen (Phil Davis | June 2018)

Published/Released on June 21, 2018 | Posted by Admin on October 20, 2018 / , , , , , ,

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COPE Case #18-03, “Editors and reviewers requiring authors to cite their own work”  reads like a political thriller:

Working alone late one night, a staffer stumbles upon a decision letter in which a handling editor instructs an author to cite some of his papers. Intrigued, the staffer digs deeper and finds a pattern of systematic abuse that involves a gang of crony reviewers willing to do the handling editor’s misdeeds and evidence of strong-arming authors who put up any resistance. The staffer brings the ream of evidence to the Editor-in-Chief, who goes to the editorial board. Confronted by questions to explain himself, the handling editor resigns out of haughty indignation. Case closed. Or is it?

The issue of editorial coercion is a topic that deserves coverage in professional development for early career researchers and higher degree research candidates (and probably new supervisors as well).

All COPE cases are public, however, the texts are carefully edited to preserve anonymity. COPE is an industry advisory group, not a court of law. The purpose of publicizing cases is to educate, not adjudicate. We can only hope that the summary of actions provides a clear path of action for future staffers and editors dealing with similar cases of misconduct. Still, it makes me wonder just how common is editorial misconduct and whether the vast majority of cases, like similar power-abuse misconduct, goes unreported.

A 2012 survey of social sciences authors published in the journal Science, reported that one-in-five respondents said they were coerced by journal editors to add more citations to papers published in their journal. Not surprisingly, lower-ranked faculty were more likely to acquiesce to this type of coercion. A follow-up study in PLOS ONE confirmed that the practice of requesting additional citations to the journal was prevelant across disciplines, although much more frequent in marketing, information systems, finance, and management than it was in math, physics, political science, and chemistry. In these studies, the researchers limit coercive citation to the journal itself, assuming that its purpose was to inflate the journal’s Impact Factor. But what if its purpose was also to inflate citations to the editor himself or to a cartel of other participating journals?

Read the rest of this discussion piece

Davis, P. (2018) How Much Editorial Misconduct Goes Unreported? The Scholarly Kitchen, 21 June.

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