Want a Faster Review? Pay for It

Baishideng

Pay more for a shorter review time.

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.

Clute Institue

The Clute Institute’s rapid review charge

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

11 Responses to Want a Faster Review? Pay for It

  1. David Beebe says:

    Dear Jeffrey,

    A third journal that has “FastTrack” review is Current Eye Research, sponsored by Informa Health Care. I reviewed a paper for this journal under their expedited review policy and was told that if I submitted my review in one week, I would receive a fee of $150. With some trepidation I accepted, reviewed the paper and received the fee. I raised several concerns about the manuscript and the paper was rejected.

    I wondered how the journal could afford to pay $150 for each review, so I went to their website which states that they charge the author $850 per published page for expedited (FastTrack) review.

    The journal’s ethics seemed OK, since I only raised questions and recommended “major revision” and the paper was rejected. As for “paying your way to the head of the line,” perhaps ahead of the competition, I am not sure this is an ethical issue, as long as the decision on the manuscript is based on good science.

  2. Yurii says:

    Jeffrey, sometimes journals contract outside agencies to do peer reviewing or at least initial screen for them. I did a “sample” review for such a client some time ago. The advantage is that you get your reviews very fast (usual turnaround is 3-4 days); the disadvantage, from the author’s point of view, is that the author has no control over who is reviewing the manuscript. I don’t think this practice is widespread (yet); on the other hand I am not sure whether some journals that contract outside services inform the submitting authors about it.

  3. Ken Lanfear says:

    I suppose a journal could keep paid reviewers on retainer or on staff, ready to quickly review a submission. This might work for a journal with a fairly narrow focus, where the number of individuals needed were small. The fast turnaround, if quality and objectivity are maintained, would be a way to attract good authors with hot topics.

    A firm review deadline is an unrealistic promise. Statistically, a journal may complete most reviews in x days. But, there always is that odd manuscript that just needs more attention. The Editor must be free to place quality over schedule when necessary. I hope this the case with the journal in question here.

    The sliding scale of time vs cost seems odd to me. Either you have paid reviewers standing by or you don’t. Bottom line: To me, optional expedited reviews seem to introduce some troublesome problems.

  4. Henry Woo says:

    A number of bona fide journals have a rapid publication facility for a fee is paid. One is the respected and established journal called “Urology” (also known as the Gold Journal in urological circles). Payment of the fee does not appear to influence acceptance. The BJUI (up until this year) also used to offer this option but have since dropped it in favour of aiming for rapid review of all manuscripts. I think we should be careful not to judge these journals too soon – let’s wait for some evidence that it is negative influencing article acceptance.

  5. Dan S says:

    The Journal of Internet Medical Research one of the founders of OASPA (for whatever that is worth) has a “Fast Track” fee

  6. Astrid says:

    It seems like the WJoG does not offer the fast track any more. At least it is not officially offered on their homepage anymore. http://www.wjgnet.com/1007-9327/navdetail_42.htm

  7. Vitaly Citovsky says:

    i am pretty confident that Baishideng is not a legitimate publisher. just look at the names of their journals. they simply took the names of existing and highly respected publications, such as JBC and added “world”. a very shady practice

  8. Jim Tsung MD, MPH says:

    Thank you for your List, it is valuable to figure who may or may not be legit or quesitonable.

    I never agreed to review a manuscript for Baishideng Publishing Group, and they sent me this (first email contact):

    Thank you very much for supporting the World Journal of Clinical Cases by agreeing to undertake a peer review of ESPS Manuscript NO: 24782, entitled Surgeon-Performed Point-of-Care Ultrasound (POCUS) in severe eye trauma.

    To date, your comments on the manuscript have not been received through our Express Submission and Peer-review System (ESPS). Please click http://www.wjgnet.com/esps (removed rest of link) and enter the “Manuscript Detail” section to browse all of the information about this paper, including the Journal, Manuscript Type, Manuscript Number, Manuscript Title, Submit User, Correspondence, Article Scope, Specialty Type, Keywords, Abstract, Cover Letter, and Publication Lists.

    Please upload your comments to the ESPS by the specified deadline.

    If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us via e-mail at: esps@wjgnet.com.

    Once again, thank you for being an active member of our peer reviewers and for contributing your time and expertise to maintain excellent quality of science communication through the World Journal of Clinical Cases.

    Best regards,

    Lian-Sheng Ma, President and Company Editor-in-Chief

    Baishideng Publishing Group Inc

    I think they need to go back on the list.

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