Hong Kong-based Baishideng Publishing Group is offering authors the opportunity to pay for expedited processing of their submitted manuscripts. It calls this service its “Premier Publication Service.”
One of the Baishideng journals that offers this service is the World Journal of Gastroenterology. The normal article processing charge for the journal is $1,365, and this is for a ten-week turnaround time on an article. The turnaround time is the time between submission and publication and includes the peer-review process. For an additional fee, the journal also offers these turnaround times:
2 weeks $3,000
4 weeks $2,800
8 weeks $2,600
What are the ethical aspects of paying more in order to get an article published faster? If an author pays a higher amount, does this increase a paper’s likelihood of being accepted?
I know of one other publisher that does this, the Clute Institute, located here in the Denver area.
The submission fees are in addition to the article processing charges.
Baishideng is not currently on my list of questionable publishers, though it was in the past. They requested a re-evaluation in June, 2013, and I removed the publisher from my list then.
It seems that having financial transactions between scholarly authors and scholarly publishers is not a good idea. This is a weakness of the gold open-access model.
I learned about this through Diana Winters, the Director of Academic Publishing Services at the Drexel University College of Medicine. She says the pay-for-a-faster-review policy is “bad for science in all sorts of ways. Suppose two teams are hot on the trail of some big finding: one of them can buy a 2-week review and one of them can only afford the 6-week review. The team who can pay more scoops the team that can’t.”
She also refers to a COPE (Committee on Publication Ethics) policy that states, “Journals should have policies and systems in place to ensure that commercial considerations do not affect editorial decisions (e.g. advertising departments should operate independently from editorial departments).”
Diana also points to a statement by the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors, that says,
Editorial decisions should be based on the relevance of a manuscript to the journal and on the manuscript’s originality, quality, and contribution to evidence about important questions. Those decisions should not be influenced by commercial interests, personal relationships or agendas, or findings that are negative or that credibly challenge accepted wisdom.
Thus it seems that Baishideng’s Premier Publication Service is ethically questionable. We encourage Baishideng to perform a self-audit and make sure its editorial practices are in line with scholarly publishing industry standards and conventions.
Hat tip: Diana Winters