Annals of Tropical Medicine and Public Health

GUEST EDITORIAL
Year
: 2015  |  Volume : 8  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 79--80

Peer review process, open-access publication, and ethical issues in scientific communications


Venkataramana Kandi 
 Department of Microbiology, Prathima Institute of Medical Sciences, Karimnagar, Telangana, India

Correspondence Address:
Venkataramana Kandi
Department of Microbiology, Prathima Institute of Medical Sciences, Karimnagar, Telangana
India




How to cite this article:
Kandi V. Peer review process, open-access publication, and ethical issues in scientific communications.Ann Trop Med Public Health 2015;8:79-80


How to cite this URL:
Kandi V. Peer review process, open-access publication, and ethical issues in scientific communications. Ann Trop Med Public Health [serial online] 2015 [cited 2020 Apr 4 ];8:79-80
Available from: http://www.atmph.org/text.asp?2015/8/4/79/162308


Full Text

Journal publications of late have been plagued by issues including the following: Journal articles being published even without being peer-reviewed, by the publishers, after collecting publication charges; plagiarism, where many journals have withdrawn articles that were plagiarized from their contents; and the lack of quality in the peer-review process to be able to distinguish hoax/spoof/plagiarized papers from true journal submissions. I read with a lot of interest the paper written by John Bohannon, titled "Who's afraid of peer review?" that was recently published in the "Science" journal: [1] I must say that there cannot be a better time than now for such a kind of research that attempts to evaluate the current status of the peer-review process and journal publications. With several developments in information technology and the emergence of open-access publication, many publishers now have started research publications not as an attempt to contribute to quality but as a business. [2]

At a time hardly 100 journals existed; now we have thousands of journals worldwide. In the name of open-access publication, many journals are charging huge article processing fees (APC). I predicted this pattern of peer-review process in my early days of research writing when I submitted to some of the Asian journals. Either I received no reviewer comments with acceptance or rejection, or my work was held for longer periods with no response. My experience with many international journals (publishers based in USA, UK, and others) was significantly better, where most of the papers were reviewed with an understanding that they had been submitted in good faith. Whether in acceptance or rejection, I have always received elaborate reviews. Information pollution is what all of us in the research community are most bothered about. This in my opinion can only be checked with uniform journal/publisher requirements, which include the publication of reviewer comments both for and against publication, taking stern action against publishers and researchers who disobey ethical concerns. It should also be noted that many new open-access publishers/journals do exist that follow a better peer-review process, publish reviewer comments, and also charge for publication.

Research publications have been made one of the criteria for promotion in Indian medical institutions, paving the way for the emergence of thousands of spurious journals that publish your paper for a particular fee the next day after submission without any peer review or copyediting process. It has also been noted that just encouraging open-access publications does not by itself improve the citation and impact factor of the journal: Although one may notice such a trend in the earlier years, gradually the impact of such journals decline. [3] I would also like to familiarize the authors with a recent incident where an article was published in the proceedings of National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) having an impact factor higher than 9. The article presented results from a mouse study that identified an unrecognized gene expression profile mismatch between human and murine leukocytes following burn/trauma/endotoxemia, and concluded that the mouse model is unsuitable for such studies. These results turned out to be controversial, and such publications warrant a more sophisticated manuscript review process and increased editorial involvement in decision-making. [4] Another recent observation was that most of the peer-reviewing and editorial responsibilities are voluntary and none of the individuals are paid even the honorarium. It was also noted that lack of adequate exposure and knowledge of peer-reviewing on the part of the reviewers and editors was responsible for the acceptance of so-called hoax/spoof/plagiarized papers. [5] Competition among the journal publishers for publishing and collecting author fees has also been another reason for the reduction in quality of the literature or for the increase in spoof papers. [6] Recent editorials have also noted that scientific communications should be open to the public domain initially and, after extensive review by peers online, should be indexed/listed in journal.s [7],[8] In fact, recently we have seen the emergence of postpublication peer-reviewed journals where a manuscript is immediately published and is reviewed later for probable indexing [webmedcentral.com (UK)]. Unfortunately, this kind of journal publication prior to peer review has not been much encouraged by authors.

 Conclusion



Finally, it must be noted that ethics is a subjective criterion, that a researcher should necessarily communicate his work, and that a journal/publisher should follow a foolproof process that finally results in publication/rejection. A critical review of the selection of reviewers and editorial members and procedures followed during a review process to decide on acceptance/rejection, implementing strict criteria for indexing the journals in various databases, and the continuous monitoring of journal publishers may improve the standard of scientific communications.

References

1Bohannon J. Who's afraid of peer review? Science 2013;342:60-5.
2Agrawal AA. Four more reasons to be skeptical of open-access publishing. Trends Plant Sci 2014;19:133.
3Davis PM. Open access, readership citations: A randomized controlled trial of scientific journal publishing. FASEB J 2011;25:2129-34.
4Osuchowski MF, Remick DG, Lederer JA, Lang CH, Aasen AO, Aibiki M, et al. Abandon the mouse research ship? Not Just Yet! Shock 2014;41:463-75.
5Kumar R. The Science hoax: Poor journalology reflects poor training in peer review. BMJ 2013;347:f7465.
6Beall J. Predatory publishers are corrupting open access. Nature 2012;489:179.
7Kumar AH. Rise in polluters of scientific research: How to curtail information pollution (infollution). J Nat Sc Biol Med 2013;4:271.
8Kumar AH. Anatomy and physiology of peer review process, can it be unbiased? J Nat Sci Biol Med 2014;5:1-2.