Sunday, August 8, 2010

President of Begell House has had enough

For background, review Email to the Begell House journals JPM and STRPM which I posted on July 8.


On July 23, Yelena Shafeyeva, President of Begell House, Inc, emailed me. Referring to my above-linked email, she said "If below is not a spam please call me to discuss this matter." I replied that it was definitely not spam, and asked when would be a good time to call. Not receiving an immediate reply, I called and spoke to Meghan who said Yelena was away that week. (Meghan was one of the recipients of the original email, and clearly knew who I was.) On July 26 Yelena emailed me and asked me for my CV, which I attached in an emailed reply. She also wrote that the following week would be a better time for a call. The next week I called again, and again I talked to Meghan, who said Yelena was not in the office. Meghan promised Yelena would call me. But Yelena never did call. So just this afternoon I emailed her again as follows:


Hi Yelena,

I had the impression from Meghan with whom I spoke twice on the phone that you would call me. If you prefer, you can email me any questions. You can do that or email me a definite time for a call. If I don't hear from you I'll assume you changed your mind. As you know, many journals have fired Ji-Huan He already. I will be doing a blog post soon summarizing the "good" and "bad" journals in that regard. Typically it is the high-quality journals who do the right thing and the fly-by-nights who don't. Part of my wrapup of the Ji-Huan He affair will include an email to all members of the editorial boards and publishing staffs of the "bad" journals just so that everyone is aware that a conscious decision has been made to keep Ji-Huan He.

Best regards,

Jason


This response came almost immediately with emphasis and all-caps exactly as in the original:


Jason,

I am attending conference in DC and will be here the up-coming week. I am warning you that we are not happy that you make unjustified comments regarding Begell House publications. You practice may be characterized as Begell House publications character- deformation. If you do not stop placing questionable blogs regarding our publications I may have to TAKE LEGAL ACTION! If you place false information about our company online this may damage the image of our publishing house. After all who are you to make those blogs?

Yelena

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8 comments:

  1. What unjustified comments/false information/character-deformation (she meant 'defamation', I suppose) about Begell House is she talking about? It's all about J. H. He, Yelena. :D

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  2. Absolutely! I want to be Yelena's friend and help salvage Begell House's reputation. Same goes for David Buchanan at JTI, who also is dragging his feet.

    I went back to the original email to see what set her off. I guess it was this part: "The sad truth is that this makes JPM, STRPM and Begell House Inc look laughable. Scientists and academics all over the world read our blog and will be aware of this."

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  3. If I understand correctly what you tell us, Yelena Shafeyeva used the trick to ask for your CV, giving you the impression that she wanted to make sure that your complaints were not spam, but with the real intention of knowing your identity (assuming that you hadn't told her before). In other words, she may believe that this information may be used to intimidate you or the persons who write on this blog and share their opinions. Maybe you should send her a copy of the paper by Douglas Arnold, "Integrity under attack", and let her decide if that is enough.

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  4. The original email included a link to the Douglas Arnold paper. If she hasn't read the email and followed the links, hopefully now she will.

    President Yelena Shafeyeva of Begell House isn't the only person who asked for my qualifications in connection with criticizing Ji-Huan He. When people ask me I send them; but I remind them it's not about me, it's about Ji-Huan He. I guess she was surprised that I supplied my CV, and that I am qualified to have an opinion. And that spoiled her excuse for taking no action. Really, I don't think I blogged anything provocative enough to make her react the way she did. Maybe she just had a bad day. I have hope that she'll do the right thing. She and I have a common interest in Begell House's good reputation.

    There may be a cultural factor at work which is the condescension of commercial publishing houses toward mere bloggers. The last sentence of her email suggests that.

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  5. Anonymous, Jason's identity is not secret at all. In the first posts of this blog he explicitly told about his past positions/jobs and - of course - his real name.

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  6. Hi Jason,

    I have absolutely no knowledge of, or particular interest in, your campaign against these pseudoscientists (although I applaud any such campaign), but I thought I'd give you a heads-up on Begell House. It's a commercial publisher and an academic publisher in only the loosest sense of those terms, as it has been since its founding in the early 1990s under Dr. William Begell. The company was vaguely respectable under his leadership, although its journals were never particularly relevant in their fields, ranging from superfluous collections of reviews presenting nothing new to vanity titles set up at the behest and for the benefit of Dr. Begell's friends in chemical engineering, chiefly those originating in the former Soviet Union.

    Sadly, Dr. Begell had a weakness for pliant, needy young women from that part of the world. His list of conquests was lengthy, but only one was canny enough to parlay his foolish romantic and pecuniary affections into a permanent role in his life, and that was Yelena. He bankrolled any number of her bizarre projects, as his levelheaded lawyer grew increasingly alarmed at the degree to which she was insinuating herself. In the end she was triumphant, somehow getting him to marry her once his lifelong wife had passed on, and to cede Begell House to her control.

    And since she seized power, whatever minimal measure of respect Begell House had has evaporated entirely. She is astonishingly unfit to operate to any degree in academic publishing. I'm not suggesting that you have nothing to fear in terms of her threats of litigation, because she is in fact quite easily angered and rash. But I thought you might like to know that your sympathy for Begell House is misplaced; Yelena is far from an unknowing publishing executive who would be glad to distance herself from these pseudoscientists. I guarantee you, she couldn't care less about that.

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  7. Thank you for that interesting Begell House gossip! What you say makes sense. She's clearly a bit hot-headed. In the end she did the right thing, as far as this blog is concerned.

    I recall that the Begell House website has a story about Dr. William Begell's difficult life. If he gained some respite from sadness through pliant, needy young women I don't begrudge him that.

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  8. Oh. Begell House is a cheating house. They JUST grab our paper and dont respond. I made blunder in submitting my paper. They are cheat. someone should take legal action against them.

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