Journal Editor Agrees to Review Paper Then Demands Payment

Allelopathy Journal


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:

From: []
Sent: December-15-13 4:47 AM
To: [redacted]
Subject: Re: Reminder: Manuscript CBST-2013- – Biocontrol Science & Technology

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
Cc: [redacted]
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?


Mark Goettel
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.

Allelopathy Journal IF

The correct data.

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.

19 Responses to Journal Editor Agrees to Review Paper Then Demands Payment

  1. Samir Hachani says:

    I like the strong response of Mark Goettel (especially “the shame on you” ).This is the first time I hear about such an unethical demand and I know the subject ( I have just defended a thesis on peer review and open access). Such a behavior from a “scholar” should be denounced by name !!!!I join Dr Goettel : “You brought shame on knowledge ” .

  2. Jurgen Ziesmann says:

    Of course it touches on the most unethical point of all science publishing. While the big publishers make record revenue, often asking prohibitive fees to read the articles, those who did all the research, writing, editing, peer review are left without any compensation whatsoever. What is ethical about that? Absolutely nothing!

  3. Alex SL says:

    Hm. I find even some of the best journals in my field sometimes play tricks to inflate their perceived Impact Factor. One whose IF oscillates around an impressive 10, where one would not think they need to stoop to such things, did not update the IF listed on the journal website for two years or so because the new ones were a bit lower. Only when a new IF surpassed the old one did they update the website again.

    There are people arguing that reviewers should be paid or otherwise rewarded, and I can understand that position. The problem is that he should not have accepted in the first place if he expected remuneration.

  4. moom says:

    I don’t see it as unethical. All these open access advocates keep going on about how we shouldn’t provide free labor to journal publishers… But he then should have been more upfront about it.

    • TheGrimReaper says:

      Although it appears as if genuine peer review takes place at Allelopathy Journal, fees are only for Narwal’s pocket. There is no organization, only Narwal. I second all comments made above. I have had nothing but unprofessional and irritating experiences with “Prof” SS Narwal. I have submitted three papers to that journal, and withdrew one from review because the PR was so bad. In every single case, this nonsense, Xeroxed standardized response followed:

      Dear Author,
      Thanks for submitting your Ms to Allelopathy Journal. Please modify the Ms as per following and attached INSTRUCTIONS TO AUTHORS.
      Thanks for submitting your Ms (Manuscript) to Allelopathy Journal. Recently we have made changes for Ms submission and revised the INSTRUCTIONS TO AUTHORS. IMPACT FACTOR : I am pleased to inform you that the IMPACT FACTOR of Allelopathy Journal has increased to 0.846. I advise you to Update your Ms as per these INSTRUCTIONS TO AUTHORS and re-submit at
      1. MINIMUM REQUIREMENTS FOR MS: Allelopathy Journal is INTERNATIONAL SCI JOURNAL with current IMPACT FACTOR OF 0.846, hence, we maintain International Standard for Publication of Mss. Hence, the minimum requirements for submission of Ms are: (i). Should have Results of Lab Bioassay, Pot Culture/ Field Experiemnts. (ii). Identification of Allelochemicals in Donor plant material, its Extracts or Leachates and (iii). Studies with the bioactivity (against plants, insects, nematodes, pathogen related to your research) of these compounds.
      2. INSTRUCTIONS TO AUTHORS: You have not written the Ms as per Journal Style, Please (i) rewrite the Ms as per attached INSTRUCTIONS TO AUTHORS AND MODEL MSS., (ii). Please send Ms as single File, (iii) Do not insert Tables and Figs in Text, but add after the References, however, indicate their Preferred Position in Text, (iv). Use TIMES ROMAN FONT in Ms. (v). Submit Ms in MS WORD-2003 only.
      3. INTERNATIONAL REVIEWERS: To evaluate your Ms, please send the names of 5- INTERNATIONAL REVIEWERS. They should be other than REGIONAL EDITORS of Allelopathy Journal and their names, Postal Address and E.Mail Addresses should be added to Cover letter/ E. Mail of Ms.
      4. OUR NEW E.MAIL ADDRESS: Please submit the new Ms at
      5. YAHOO E.MAIL ADDRESS: We make all Correspondence for Mss by yahoomail, hence, we strongly advise all Authors to open Account in Yahoomail for (i) Easy, (ii) Efficient, (iii) Fast and (iv) to ensure surety of delivery of our mails between us (Journal and Authors). Because many servers in different countries are not compatible with yahoomail, hence, we cannot correspond successfully with such Authors. Sometimes, Authors mail reaches us but our mail neither reaches Author nor return to us.
      6. SINGLE FILE: In Ms, add Tables and Figs after References and submit full Ms (Text+ Tables+ Figs) as single File in MS WORD 2003.
      7. Please submit Ms as MS WORD file.
      8. Please send the Updated Ms within 3 days, so that it could be processed for publication in Allelopathy Journal. Thereafter, we will assign Ms Number to your Ms, for further correspondence with us.
      (Please Type on Istitute letter Pad and submit Scanned copy with Ms.)
      The Author(s) Certify that (i). The research work presented in this Ms is Original.(ii). Its no part has been copied from research work published earlier.
      Author (s) Signature
      Full Name:
      Postal Adress:
      E.Mail address
      Date: ……………….

      With regards
      Prof. S.S. Narwal
      Prof. S.S. Narwal
      Chief Editor
      Allelopathy Journal
      # 101, Sector-14
      Rohtak- 124 001, INDIA
      Ph/Fax: +91 1262-274101
      Mobile: +91 9315496321

      It is evident that Thomson Reuters does not assign an impact factor based on the quality of service or on prefessionalism of PR. I do agree that authors should be paid royalties, or be allowed to publish freely and that peer reviewers, that represent the quality control of a paper and journal, should be paid. But, as Mark Goetel indicated, to demand fees after he agreed to review a paper is totally unacceptable and unprofessional.

  5. […] this is arguably the most bizarre academic publishing story I have ever come across. According to this article, after initially agreeing to peer-review an article, an editor decided he could only make time to […]

  6. Harvey Kane says:

    Should a reviewer be paid? Interesting. Say I ask a reviewer to review a paper and say to the reviewer that a good review is worth X and a bad one Y or the more detailed the review the more compensation. Do we really want to open that pandora’s box?

    Regarding paying the author and or reviewer of an article. There are OA Journals in which the author pays to publish. Is this fair? After all the OA Journals make a pretty penny too!

  7. Jill M says:

    With regards to Harvey Kane’s comment-while Dr. Narwal’s behavior is unethical, perhaps this brings a new tool to light to use against predatory journals. If a scientist gets a request to serve on the editorial board or review a paper for a bogus journal, send them a bill first! I suggest charging at least the same fee that they charge someone to publish the paper. I wonder how many will agree to pay for our time?
    Unfortunately, it is probably illegal to scam the scam artists…

  8. emmabullough says:

    how would paying for a review effect the peer review process?

  9. Narun says:

    How could charging for reviewing a paper becomes unethical when article processing charge is ethical ? One mistake which Dr.Narwal did was not finalising the deal before accepting to review a paper. But then this is a question to all reviewers.

  10. tecvoy says:

    Reviewing is a task, sometimes you spend a lot of time to do it in a good manner, you have to resign some other things. It is not fair that OA journal takes a fee which usually is about 2000-3000 USD and does not pay people who do difficult job.

  11. J. Nemade says:

    Interesting! As a reviewer myself I have following thoughts.
    I find it unethical to change the agreed terms: agreeing to do a free review at first then asking money for it later.
    However, I strongly agree that the reviewers should be paid. Reviewing is an intellectual work that takes time and can only be done by a small group of highly qualified/skilled people. They have worked for it. It does have a material value.
    The publisher do a business publishing. They pay themselves, make profits, pay their staff and so on. They charge for online download of papers. They also ask for a publication fees in some cases. Why not the reviewers get paid ?
    I think the authors need to redfine their stratigies and send their MSs to Open Access Journals.

    • Harvey Kane says:

      If you want to charge for reviewing make that very clear when accepting. Will you have a fee scale for the degree of reviewing done? Reading an article is an intellectual endeavour too. Should the reader of an article be paid? If the reader decides to cite an article should the reader be paid for that too?

      Are you inferring that Open Access Journals do not review?

      You do know that someone is paying for publishing the OA article and that money is being made.

  12. J. Nemade says:

    Yes. The terms should be made clear before one accepts the responsibility. I indicated so.

    A reader does not contribute to the article’s betterment, hence shall not be paid.

    My thoughts:
    1. If the reader cites the article, no payment required.
    2 If the reader cites the article AND the second generation reader purchses (in various forms e.g. download) the article, the citer shall get paid.
    3. This can only be true if you can trace the links.
    4. Above 1-3 is totally not related to whether the reviewer shall be paid or not.

    A fee scale for reviewing is also possible. (e.g. amount per page/word/figure/table) The system will get evolved at its own if we start doing things.
    This againis true only if we wish to start doing it in the first place.

    When I review my motivation level does vary with what useful I am getting out of it (money, knowledge, etc) against what I am putting in (in this case mainly time)

    Let’s hear the other side also: Why a reviewer shall not be paid (other than the historical fact) ?

    • Harvey Kane says:

      If I pay you, you have to perform. You have to meet deadlines and make the article more valuable in a measurable way. Thus, I need someone reviewing your review. Say the author or the reviewer of the review (another layer in the system) says what the reviewer says is just wrong. It is shown that what the reviewer says is wrong. Do I have legal recourse?

      To use an analogy. I think all those who volunteer should be paid. Even charitable oganizations make enough money and some extra to pay staff and put some in the bank.

      Additionally, the costs associated with a paid reviewer system would be passed on to either the subscriber, article purchaser, or OA author.

      There is no free lunch!

      • J. Nemade says:

        I think we both thinking in the same direction.

        “If I pay you, you have to perform…. measureable way”. The reviewers are/have been performing, following deadlines, but aren’t getting paid. There is no measurable way defined so far, and reviewer community is not the community who can do that. Can we work towards a measurable way ??

        “Reviewer of the review”: The idea is very good, however, we don’t have them today as well. We trust that the reviewer was doing his/her job ethically. And we have more than one reviewer so we have statistics to get guided from.

        “Volunteers getting paid”: A volunteer by definition is doing their jobs free of cost. Shall / do we have a second layer of system to check if the volunteer has done his/her job correctly ?

        In a case where the “volunteer” gets paid, will the job be done in a better way and faster ? I would say: better – very likely, faster – definitely.

        Now the fact is all reviewers are volunteers, may be because there is no second option available to them at present.

        Can we change it ? More importantly do we want to change it ?

        Lastly: “There is no free lunch”. Definitely agreed. However, the reviewers don’t get their share of the lunch they worked for.

      • Harvey Kane says:

        I think you should look up the word volunteer.

        On the one hand you complain about cost of a journal and on the on the other you want to increase costs. The again on the one hand you want rapid publication of an article but have no complaint at delay created by another layer of reviewing. I notice you avoid non performance and recovery of a fee or penalty for delay.

        BTW I wish your comment regarding reviewers performing in a timely manner were so, it is not!

        Why should one volunteer? BTW in many of the examples one can replace the word community with discipline!

        #10: It’s good for you.
        Volunteering provides physical and mental rewards. It:

        Reduces stress: Experts report that when you focus on someone other than yourself, it interrupts usual tension-producing patterns.
        Makes you healthier: Moods and emotions, like optimism, joy, and control over one’s fate, strengthen the immune system.

        #9: It saves resources.
        Volunteering provides valuable community services so more money can be spent on local improvements.
        The estimated value of a volunteer’s time is $15.39 per hour.

        #8: Volunteers gain professional experience.
        You can test out a career.

        #7: It brings people together.
        As a volunteer you assist in:

        Uniting people from diverse backgrounds to work toward a common goal
        Building camaraderie and teamwork

        #6: It promotes personal growth and self esteem.
        Understanding community needs helps foster empathy and self-efficacy.

        #5: Volunteering strengthens your community.
        As a volunteer you help:

        Support families (daycare and eldercare)
        Improve schools (tutoring, literacy)
        Support youth (mentoring and after-school programs)
        Beautify the community (beach and park cleanups)

        #4: You learn a lot.
        Volunteers learn things like these:

        Self: Volunteers discover hidden talents that may change your view on your self worth.
        Government: Through working with local non-profit agencies, volunteers learn about the functions and operation of our government.
        Community: Volunteers gain knowledge of local resources available to solve community needs.

        #3: You get a chance to give back.
        People like to support community resources that they use themselves or that benefit people they care about.

        #2: Volunteering encourages civic responsibility.
        Community service and volunteerism are an investment in our community and the people who live in it.

        #1: You make a difference.
        Every person counts!

        As a reviewer one is volunteering their talents and knowledge for the betterment of the discipline.

        The reviewer does get paid but in non tangibles. David Crotty provided a list, I suggest you look it up. It is in Scholarly Kitchen.

        Lastly, if one is agreeing to review to make a buck I would urge that person get a part time job in menial labor, there is more to be made.

  13. J. Nemade says:


    I have made my points. The readers can note them.

    We can go on and on forever discussing.

    My summary about everything above is:

    1. Why a reviewer shall be paid ?
    a. A reviewer is a highly qualified, experienced, skilled and trained person in a specific field.
    b. He/She is being asked to do a job in most cases (not other way round).
    c. He/She is spending his/her time for an activity.
    d. His/Her activity is part of a profit making system.
    e. So he/she deserves a fair share of the money.

    2. There are definite advantages of having paid reviewers (quality, response time, etc.)

    3. For the point 1 above, there is no system/guideline in place. This could easily be worked out.

    4. You wish that the reviewers do the review free of charge.

    5. For this you
    a. have n number of analogies,
    b. have references (BTW Google is full of such from both the sides),
    c. point at systemic issues (which can easily be solved),
    d. indulge in vocabulary (leaving the main discussion point apart),
    e. etc.

    6. You discuss only why reviewing be done free.

    7. You have no arguments why reviewing be not paid (other than my point 5 above).

    8. You do not even wish to look at the benefits of paying reviewers as you are getting them free historically.

    9. You are operating in only ‘justification’ (of existing system) mode and unable to see beyond.

    One fine day you will notice one enthusiastic beginner publisher starts paying the reviewers and all rest will have to follow, else they will have to close down for the want of reviewers.

  14. J. Nemade says:

    (End of transmissions from my side, at least for a month)

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