Re­viewer crit­i­cises ‘no pub­li­ca­tion after pre­print’ rule

THE (Times Higher Education) - - NEWS - Holly.else@timeshigh­ere­d­u­ca­

An aca­demic is boy­cotting peer re­view for a schol­arly jour­nal after it turned down a manuscript that had pre­vi­ously been pub­lished on the web­site of an ed­u­ca­tion cen­tre.

The jour­nal in ques­tion said that if the au­thor had posted the ar­ti­cle be­hind a pay­wall on a con­fer­ence web­site, it would have still ac­cepted it for pub­li­ca­tion.

The re­viewer, Chris An­der­son, as­sis­tant pro­fes­sor of me­dia cul­ture at the Col­lege of Staten Is­land, part of the City Univer­sity of New York, said that the rule was a “very large schol­arly dis­in­cen­tive” to shar­ing re­search find­ings.

Dr An­der­son was one of sev­eral peer re­view­ers who looked at a study of busi­ness mod­els in US jour­nal­ism that an au­thor had sub­mit­ted for pub­li­ca­tion in Jour­nal­ism and Mass Com­mu­ni­ca­tion Quar­terly, a jour­nal of the As­so­ci­a­tion for Ed­u­ca­tion in Jour­nal­is­mand Mass Com­mu­ni­ca­tion.

But after sub­mit­ting his com­ments, he was emailed by the jour­nal’s as­so­ciate edi­tor, Ran­dal Beam, and told that it had emerged that an “iden­ti­cal ver­sion” of the ar­ti­cle had been pub­lished on the web­site of an ed­u­ca­tion cen­tre.

Ap­pended to the email was a copy of the let­ter that Pro­fes­sor Beam, who works at the Univer­sity of Wash­ing­ton, had sent to the pa­per’s au­thor, telling them that the manuscript was not el­i­gi­ble for pub­li­ca­tion.

The let­ter says that the jour­nal’s edi­tor, Louise Ha, in con­sul­ta­tion with the pub­lisher, Sage, and the

AEJMC, had de­ter­mined that the open-ac­cess na­ture of the web­site on which the pa­per had been posted “con­sti­tutes prior pub­li­ca­tion”.

“This dif­fers from con­fer­ence pa­pers posted on re­stricted-ac­cess data­bases of aca­demic as­so­ci­a­tions, as they are con­sid­ered works in progress and not publi­ca­tions,” the let­ter adds.

Dr An­der­son told Times Higher Ed­u­ca­tion that the let­ter was in­dica­tive of “the way that the 21st cen­tury can be a little ridicu­lous some­times”.

“I can un­der­stand why jour­nals only want to pub­lish things that have not pre­vi­ously been pub­lished in other jour­nals, but I do think that, in the dig­i­tal era, jour­nals need to re­think what their value-added is,” he said.

“In my mind, a jour­nal’s pri­mary func­tion is to take [re­search] to the next level. This was some­thing that was good enough to be a foun­da­tion re­port, and through the peer re­view process it will sub­stan­tially change, then it will be cer­ti­fied with the im­pri­matur of that jour­nal.”

The re­jec­tion is a “ter­ri­ble mes­sage to send to schol­ars”, Dr An­der­son added. “This just seems like a very large schol­arly dis­in­cen­tive to shar­ing work in any form.”

Dr An­der­son said that he would no longer re­view manuscripts for Jour­nal­ism and Mass Com­mu­ni­ca­tion Quar­terly un­less it changed its pol­icy.

Pro­fes­sor Ha, pro­fes­sor in the depart­ment of me­dia pro­duc­tion and stud­ies at Bowl­ing Green State Univer­sity, said that prior on­line pub­li­ca­tion dam­aged the in­tegrity of the peer re­view process be­cause re­view­ers could iden­tify the au­thor through on­line search. Au­thors who sub­mit to the jour­nal are re­quired to con­firm that the manuscript has not been pub­lished else­where, she said.

“Post­ing re­search ar­ti­cles on­line while sub­mit­ting to ref­er­eed jour­nals is a threat to the dou­ble-blind re­view process and jour­nal pub­lish­ing,” Pro­fes­sor Ha said. “We re­spect au­thors’ choices to post their own works on­line for free pub­lic ac­cess with­out go­ing through the ref­eree process, pub­lish in free non-profit open-ac­cess jour­nals or pay for the pub­lish­ing fees of open-ac­cess jour­nals.

“It be­comes an is­sue when an au­thor wants both open-ac­cess first [as well as] the pub­lisher to pay for the cost of pub­lish­ing and go through a com­plex ref­er­eed process in sub­scrip­tion-based jour­nals.”

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