A researcher agreed to peer-review a manuscript submitted to the Taylor & Francis journal Biocontrol Science and Technology. The researcher is Dr. S.S. Narwal, who is also editor of the toll-access Allelopathy Journal. About a week before the review was due back to the journal, the publisher sent this routine reminder notice to Dr. Narwal:
Dear Dr. S.S. Narwal:
Recently, you kindly agreed to review the above manuscript, entitled “[redacted].” The manuscript is located in your Reviewer Centre at [redacted].
This e-mail is simply a reminder that your review is due in one week. The authors are naturally anxious about the progress on their paper and I would appreciate your help in expediting the review process. Please do not hesitate to contact me if I can be of any assistance.
Mark S. Goettel
Biocontrol Science and Technology
Now, here is the response to the above email that came from Dr. Narwal’s email account:
Dear Dr. Mark,
I am too busy to spare time for PEER REVIEW of Mss, however, I can Review if i am paid for this service. If you agree to pay, please tell me amount to be paid per Review?
This unsigned response, apparently from Dr. Narwal himself, generated this strong reaction from the editor of Biocontrol Science and Technology, Mark Goettel:
From: Mark Goettel BST
Sent: Wednesday, 18 December 2013 8:22 AM
Subject: RE: Reminder: Manuscript CBST-2013- – Biocontrol Science & Technology
Dear Dr. Narwal,
Wow, that is a surprising request especially from the Chief Editor of an International Journal!! May I ask how much you pay the peer reviewers who provide reviews for your Journal, “Allelopathy Journal”?
You were invited to review this manuscript on 14 November and accepted on 1 December. Now it is acceptable for you to decline because all of a sudden you find yourself too busy, but ask for momentary compensation? Shame on you!
I am copying members of your Editorial Board as well as Editors of other journals to inform them of what I feel is really unethical behaviour for an Editor of an international, peer reviewed journal! I am sure they would like to know what type of journal editor they are associated with!
By the way, I also find it very strange that the only contact information provided for the “International Allelopathy Foundation”, the publisher of this journal to be your own! Does not the foundation have a Board of Directors who should be informed of your unethical behaviour?
Biocontrol Science & Technology
This letter was copied to all members of the journal’s editorial board, prompting this response from one of them, “I resigned from the Editorial Board of ‘Allelopathy Journal’ in 2009 in utter disgust at the conduct of its affairs.”
Allelopathy Journal is not an open-access journal, but it is questionable. Its masthead (see image above) claims an impact factor of 0.846, but my library’s edition of Journal Citation Reports shows 0.685.
Also, every time I visited the Allelopathy Journal website, it always said “Online Members: 107.” As Mark Goettel hinted at in his letter above, it appears the journal is really a one-man operation, despite its claiming to be published by the so-called International Allelopathy Foundation.
I recommend against submitting papers to Allelopathy Journal and against asking Dr. Narwal to review any manuscripts.