Dolos list

List of predatory, parasitic, or pseudoscientific publishers and journals

Because Science does not need lack of rigor and seriousness, we do not need them ...

The legitimate scientific publishing ... Irreproachable?

This article does not denounce a predatory practice that would imply the addition of the companies referred to the Dolos list, but it seemed fair to speak about this problem.

What is the problem?

In scientific publishing, a rule is common to almost all journals: The prohibition of multiple submission (some screenshots here, here, here, and here to illustrate its application). It means that an author can not submit his article to several journals at once. Most publishers, such as IOP, Springer Nature, Elsevier, and many others apply this rule. If they argue that the practice of multiple submission is contrary to scientific ethics (which is highly questionable and looks a little out of nowhere, but this is not the subject here), is this ban, ethically questionable, really legal?

What the law says?

European legislation prohibits companies from agreeing on prices or the distribution of the market, or abusing their dominant position. Of course, oligopoles exist and are relatively well tolerated, but some of their practices are simply forbidden (reference available here and here). Links allowing access to these market shares, such as geographical areas (or, in this case, non-client specialized authors, corresponding to a precise readership, ie a targeted clientele), are assimilated to market shares.

In the case of open access journals, the authors are clearly clients and are indisputable market shares. In the case of other journals, they are not clients, since they do not pay for a product or a service, they are not human resources, since they receive no money, but they are essential links for the access to market shares, here readers. This rule therefore distributes market shares between different companies, but do companies carve up markets amongst themselves, by arranging between them?

COPE

 

The body that allows scientific publishers to work together on ethical rules is the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE, whose website is available here). It is an organization bringing together publishers around ethical issues (screenshot here). It allows the arbitration of author-publisher conflicts, the establishment of best common ethical rules and practices (screenshots here and here), and the support of publishers and editors in the scientific publishing field. Its members, publishers (screenshots here, here, and here, or here, here, and here), are thus invited by the COPE to prohibit multiple submission ... And this is how a simple questionable practice becomes an illegal activity, contrary to European legislation.

What to do?

Companies located in the EU Member States or operating on the European market should be subject to the legislation if they wish to continue to exercise in the long term within the European Union. My team will ensure that they are notified and, of course, that the institutions concerned are informed of the situation, for an appropriate solution to be provided calmly.

The only dishonesty in this case is the arguments of publishers concerning this rule: It does not concern scientific ethics and it seems to me (that's at least my point of view) that the fact to consider the multiple submission as an unethical scientific behavior is, at best, a low quality joke or, at worst, an evidence that they take members of the scientific community for idiots.

Finally, publishers do not do this to annoy researchers by making the process potentially longer. This rule is established by publishers and journals to reduce the processing time. Indeed, to maintain acceptable publication times while enforcing the law, they would need many more employees to process submissions. But if a company does not have the financial or human resources to comply with the law, it does not have to exercise in Europe. Ready for a reduction in profits?

Sincerely yours,
 

Professor Alexandre GEORGES.

 

 

Article published in September 2018.