An Editorial Board Mass-Resignation — from an Open-Access Journal

Backward advance.

Backward advance.

I learned recently of a mass-resignation from the editorial board of an open-access journal. The journal, Advances in Anthropology, is published by the troubled publisher Scientific Research Publishing (SCIRP).

Advances in Anthropology

The current editorial board.

Here’s a screenshot (above) of the current editorial board. It has nine members plus the Editor-in-Chief Anatole Klyosov.

I wrote to the former Editor-in-Chief, Dr. Fatimah Jackson, who confirmed the mass resignation. She replied:

Thanks so much for your message. Indeed, I resigned as Editor-in-Chief of Advances in Anthropology after consistent and flagrant unethical breaches by the editorial staff in China. [ …]. The senior members of the Editorial Board resigned as well and we wrote up the editorial conditions we wanted implemented before we would return. The editorial staff in China was unwilling to integrate the scholars on the Editorial Board into the decision-making process regarding the review, acceptance, and publication of articles. This was unacceptable. For them it was only about making money. We were simply their “front”. […].

Best wishes,

Fatimah Jackson

Advances in Anthropology  editorial board

The former editorial board. Note that Dr. Jackson is now at Howard University. Image courtesy of the Wayback Machine

As best I can tell, this resignation occurred around a year ago.

In recent years, editorial board mass-resignations were generally carried out by activists wanting to take action against subscription journals. This is the first mass-resignation I know of from an open-access journal.

14 Responses to An Editorial Board Mass-Resignation — from an Open-Access Journal

  1. Leslie says:

    It’s not exactly a mass resignation if one board member stayed on to become the editor-in-chief. Believe it or not, I actually know Anatole. I have no idea what he is doing as editor of this journal, since he is a chemist, not an anthropologist!

  2. Yurii says:

    Actually, Anatole is kinda everything and a little bit more. He has a number of works on “DNA genealogy” that were published in this very journal.

    • C'est moi! says:

      This sounds like a mutiny in addition to a mass-resignation. Why would the final survivor that works for a commercial company MIR International Inc. be supporting unscholarly behavior, and still be proud to call himself the editor-in-chief? Is this, or is this not, a conflict of interest? Or is it a convenient power and financial investment by SCIRP in Dr. Anatole? I was a little confused about the link with China. Is SCIRP a Chinese-based company? If yes, then this makes the influx of Chinese into the predatory OA waters an interesting topic worth investigating in more depth. For example, the Swiss-Sino MDPI is no stranger to academic issues of concern.

    • herr doktor bimler says:

      He has a number of works on “DNA genealogy” that were published in this very journal.

      Skimming through them, I have to say that it would have been difficult to publish them anywhere else.

  3. Leslie says:

    Anatole is brilliant, no doubt about it, and I am sure applying his scientific chemist brain to DNA and anthropology is not a big leap for him. He has an impressive resume with lots of awards and significant publications. It’s a shame to see him put his good name on this crappy journal. It wouldn’t surprise me to learn that money is involved. I never knew Anatole do to anything for free. :-)

    • J.J. says:

      Since the end of the 19th century, it has become increasingly difficult to publish ‘scientific’ theories to legitimize racism. It might be that sketchy journals have become the only way, along with ‘studies’ showing how vaccines cause autism or how AIDS can be cured with huckleberries.

  4. […] Jeffrey Beall reports on what he believes is the first mass resignation from an open access journal. […]

  5. Olukayode Amund says:

    Mass resignation in this context is a mark of integrity on the part of the board members. Many budding academics have wasted their efforts patronizing quack publishers and are in a fix.

  6. Steve Carr says:

    It is increasingly apparent to me that the Dark Side of Open Access Journals is the existence of what I now call Vanity Science, where myself and colleagues are solicited to join the editorial boards of newly-fledged OA journals, and (or) attend boutique “science meetings” with high registration fees, where the hotel meeting rooms are filled with 30+ meeting with 20 attendees each. [I was in town for a major legitimate meeting, this one occurred over the same days, and the organizers instantly discounted registration if only I would speak].

    I have received multiple invitations from International Reviews in saccharinly flattering letters, which set off all the alarm bells, and which I was pleased to see exposed on this blog last year.

    Given all this, it should be noted that different disciplines do things differently. I have lately begun publishing work in computational biology, with respected members of our CompSci department as co-authors, and I have been repeatedly assured that standard practice in that discipline is rapid publication of communications in conference proceedings. I was reassured when our MS was picked up by Elsevier for extended treatment and book-chapter publication.

  7. DR says:

    Well, what has happened is that a bunch of editors were fed up with what the journal publisher was doing, and resigned. Part of this was that the publisher was raking in money and liked it that way. The narrative is not so different to what we have heard before, just the mode of payment was different. Instead of exorbitant contracts exploiting a monopoly locking customers in, editorial standards dropped to accept as many papers as possible.

  8. Sage, which I believe is one of your approved publishers, arbitrarily decided to change the nature of a well-regarded social science journal. This resulted in the mass resignation of the editorial board:

  9. Maggie says:

    Whatever else he’s done, Aklyosov has published some bizarre ideas as “anthropology” — including a claim that Europeans are not descendants of African ancestors. See his website for a piece entitled “Our Ancestors Did Not Come Out Of Africa, 2013.”

    The link in that list of publications, takes you to a Russian language article:

    A google translation of it looks like it’s some version or revision of the that he published in the “Advances in Anthropology” journal. That one is available in English here:

    And here:

    The “Advances in Anthropology” journal apparently published Klyosov’s paper in two parts; both abstracts are available at the SCRP site:

    Part 1:

    Part 2:

    Klyosov’s “Not Out of Africa” idea was picked up by crackpot blogs and websites all over cyberspace — often by those with “racialist” ideologies to defend — and trumpeted as the “science that finally disproves the ‘Out of Africa’ theory.”

    A sample of the headlines it inspired:

    “Debunked: Out of Africa Thing Completely Disproved by Genetics”

    “DNA Evidence Debunks the Out of Africa Theory of Human Evolution”

    “Out of Africa” Theory Officially Debunked”

    And there are many, many more — just google search on “klyosov” and “out of africa” — and notice that more than a few of the blogs and websites have “euro-centric” ideologies to promote, and they are using Klyosov’s theory to do that.

    All that about “totally debunking the ‘Out Of Africa’ theory of human evolution” is obviously nonsense.

    While I’m not qualified to assess the technical genetics details in the paper, I feel safe in saying that most reasonable people, and all reasonable scientists, realize and acknowledge that humans are one species, and that it would be impossibly unlikely for a single species to evolve separately on two or more different continents, and that it has been indisputably proven that humans DID in fact evolve in Africa.

    And if his strange paper had, in fact, upended the entire theory of human evolution, then I’m sure we all would have heard about it from mainstream science journals and news media, and would not have to rely on ferreting out the dubious “truth” squirreled away in the dingy recesses of cyberspace where conspiracy theorists conspire and theorize. .

    But people are apparently getting dazzled by his long list of publications in genetics — some in reputable journals — and then letting that get in the way of common sense when it comes to evaluating this hokum.

    Maybe some would argue that Klyosov did not mean that literally: that maybe what he meant is that Europeans evolved from some other human populations that had left Africa much longer ago than previously thought, etc., etc. But on his very own website, he links to the paper clearly titled “Our Ancestors Did Not Come Out of Africa” — which seems like a pretty clear-cut denial of the African roots of our entire species. And whether he meant exactly that or not, that is the way that it is being taken — as “proof” that Europeans are not descended from Africans, ever, at any time. If that’s not what he meant, he should have clarified that by now; and he hasn’t.

    So it’s no wonder that the entire editorial board would resign in protest, if the “Advances in Anthropology” journal was publishing this kind of crackpot stuff. It’s not only pseudo-science, but it’s a kind of pseudoscience with strange and murky motives driving it.

    Perhaps Klyosov’s curious adventures in genetic “anthropology” deserve an article of their own at this fine blog? (And it would be great to get feedback from genetic scientists and anthropologists on it, too. Now that would be a genuine peer review process.

  10. debbiekennett says:

    There was a letter published in a Russian science journal signed by 24 academics in Russia denouncing what they called Anatole Klyosov’s “DNA demagoguery”: (Use Google Translate to get a rough English translation.)

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