Thursday, March 26, 2009

Elsevier's plan


A while back an anonymous commenter gave Zoran Škoda well-deserved credit for bringing attention to the bad situation with El Naschie and Elsevier. Zoran was at it long before this blog existed. He's still at it.


Here's a quoted post of his, with minor typographical corrections, from Scholarly Kitchen:

Elsevier has made the worst possible decision by starting to publishing the backlog of papers which were accepted during the provable badly (or not at all) peer reviewed age of El Naschie and the rest of complying board. Before Elsevier could claim, well this is the editor’s responsibility, we BELIEVED that the peer reviewing practicies were maintained at hi level. Now they DO know of the problem, and they issued the January 15, 2009 issue of chaossf with papers accepted by El Naschie’s board, without reexamining them for quality. This is MANIFEST ACCEPTANCE by Elsevier of LOW QUALITY STANDARDS. You know that the papers were accepted in a process doubted by majority of public scientific community, you are reviewing the future of the process but you are happy with taking over 900 papers from that old pool to print! It is unbelievable a major company, not to say world-class SCIENTIFIC publisher would ever dare to be so irresponsible!

Moreover, the number of papers accepted by around New Year was about 900, it has grown since by at least around 40 new articles. That means that the old board is still acting and that Elsevier is backing it. Instead Elsevier bans new submissions in what is an unheard-of practice for a journal in official existence
and with prepaid subscriptions!

One should either cancel the journal or do a Hercules job of make it a quality journal. Though I do not believe doing the latter were easy. The rest of the board was compliant to bad peer reviewing practices. Some of the members of the board confirmed in letters to me that their names were there without their prior consent. Most of others did not respond to my emails if they agreed or not with the current editorial practices as of June 2008. Now who would like to take a role of an editor in the board with such a history. The whole board needs to be replaced at minimum. But I think the chances to regain the value after being so reluctant and defending the indefensible, and prolonging the agony by publishing the badly reviewed papers, is close to zero. I received letters from many members of the scientific community and the opinion in general is that chaossf has practically no chance to survive, all the damage the bad past and current practices of the board and reluctance of Elsevier to act have done.


He also says:

I should also note that if Elsevier really wanted to put chaossf on the right track, then they would be happy to contact the critics of the previous state and ask them for opinion and for data which we collected. I have not been contacted by Elsevier, nor any of other researchers of the problem whom I know so far. Elsevier spokesperson talks to journalists, with phrases on “commitment to high standards and peer reviewing practices” without true action. I have lots of data on the issue which I never released, I thought the hints are enough for a major publisher to act and to dismiss the bad journal or at least its board and past decisions which are not yet reinforced. However, Elsevier is not doing this, that means I will have to release more data. The standard of peer review is the standard made by scientific community. We are not paid for it, hence we consider that standard our responsibility and pride. Elsevier can not simply deny it by publishing the 900 papers accepted by El Naschie after knowing the problem.

If they do not act, we true scientists have no choice but to act again with more detail, more public voice, more networking and more determination to get trash out of the way, and leave only the good peer reviewed science with respect and interest.


If Elsevier thinks El Naschie's departure as editor-in-chief is the end of the story, they're wrong.
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3 comments:

  1. > If Elsevier thinks El Naschie's departure as editor-in-chief is the end of the story, they're wrong.

    As previously mentioned, there is a slight mystery that the page
    http://www.elsevier.com/wps/find/journaleditorialboard.cws_home/967/editorialboard
    still lists El Naschie as ed-in-chief, as though Elsevier has no control over this page (despite the "retirement" announcement).
    Others on the editorial board include the almost equally notorious J.-H. He.

    It is not clear why Skoda thinks that 900+ papers will suddenly come bubbling out. Even with no insider info from Elsevier, it's easy to see why CSF has no future. Elsevier's business model does not usually involve initiating new journals -- it is hard to develop a brandname, recognition, and following. Historically they have purchased journals from elsewhere and then run them in a way to maximize profits, an easier model to maintain. (This is meant neither negatively or positively, only as a statement of their obligation to shareholders.)

    But rehabilitating a disastrously failed journal, and *re*establishing credibility, is even more difficult than starting a journal from scratch.
    From a pure business standpoint, Elsevier would no doubt prefer to wash its hands of the whole sordid mess.
    But on the downside of acquiring journals in big groups comes inheriting contracts with editors. CSF came to Elsevier via its acquisition of Pergamon Press, and MSElN's contract appears to date back to its days of ownership by the corrupt Robert Maxwell. One has to guess from Elsevier's seeming paralysis that their actions are constrained either by some contractual obligation of some threat of litigation by MSElN complicating their business in the UK.

    Elsevier must nonetheless at some point make a show of doing some perfunctory cleanup as a public relations gesture to the academic community, disavowing some significant fraction of CSF past publications as not conforming to its usual editorial standards.
    Then it can claim that it has taken action and enforced its standards, and all is well with the rest of its journals. But then the only sensible business decision is to offload the journal at no cost to whoever will take it, and that's where MSElN returns officially to the helm as ed-in-chief.

    Blogs like this one make it less likely he will find a publisher this time around, and will have to use his own money to become his own publisher of a vanity press with no library subscriptions.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Now that it is 2 Apr, please tell us why MSElN is still listed as Ed-in-chief at
    http://www.elsevier.com/wps/find/journaleditorialboard.cws_home/967/editorialboard
    ?
    And why hasn't the journal name been officially changed to
    Charlatans, Solipsists, and Frauds ?

    ReplyDelete
  3. Good question.

    Another question is why any of the other editors permit their names to be listed. Are they not embarrassed?

    ReplyDelete