A Survey of Biomedical Journals To Detect Editorial Bias and Nepotistic Behavior

Alongside the growing concerns regarding predatory journal growth, other questionable editorial practices have gained visibility recently. Among them, we explored the usefulness of the Percentage of Papers by the Most Prolific author (PPMP) and the Gini index (level of inequality in the distribution of authorship among authors) as tools to identify journals that may show favoritism in accepting articles by specific authors. We examined whether the PPMP, complemented by the Gini index, could be useful for identifying cases of potential editorial bias, using all articles in a sample of 5,468 biomedical journals indexed in the National Library of Medicine. For articles published between 2015 and 2019, the median PPMP was 2.9%, and 5% of journal exhibited a PPMP of 10.6% or more. Among the journals with the highest PPMP or Gini index values, where a few authors were responsible for a disproportionate number of publications, a random sample was manually examined, revealing that the most prolific author was part of the editorial board in 60 cases (61%). The papers by the most prolific authors were more likely to be accepted for publication within 3 weeks of their submission. Results of analysis on a subset of articles, excluding nonresearch articles, were consistent with those of the principal analysis. In most journals, publications are distributed across a large number of authors. Our results reveal a subset of journals where a few authors, often members of the editorial board, were responsible for a disproportionate number of publications. To enhance trust in their practices, journals need to be transparent about their editorial and peer review practices.

Editors are Gatekeepers of Science, but Individual Editors Don’t Matter Much by Joshua Krieger, Kyle Myers, Ariel Dora Stern :: SSRN

 

As editors for academic journals, a select few individuals control the certification and dissemination of science. We examine editors’ influence on the content of their journals by unpacking the role of three major forces in publication. We term these “journal missions” (stable revealed preferences), “topic markets” (the aggregate supply of and demand for specific topics), and “scientific homophily” (via editorial gatekeeping). Focusing on a panel of leading biomedical journals, we find that missions and markets explain the vast majority of variation in published content. Conditional on these forces, the upper bound of the editor-homophily effect is statistically significant but practically unimportant. Our findings suggest that marginal changes in editorial board composition will not meaningfully impact a journal’s scientific content in the short run; however, our results do not rule out persistent or pervasive frictions in the publication process.

eLife welcomes Michael Eisen as Editor-in-Chief | For the press | eLife

“eLife is pleased to announce Michael (Mike) Eisen as its new Editor-in-Chief.

A world leader in advocacy for open science, Eisen, from University of California, Berkeley, and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI), was chosen following a worldwide search and selection process. In addition to his scientific achievements as an HHMI Investigator and Professor of Molecular and Cell Biology, he has demonstrated outstanding leadership and commitment to reforming research comunication for the benefit of scientists and society….”

An Open Letter to the Community from PLOS CEO, Alison Mudditt | The Official PLOS Blog

As the new PLOS CEO, I’ve spent my first months assessing the organization and planning for a thriving future. We are in the midst of shaping our next innovative steps in pursuit of maximal openness and transparency in research communication, and assessing what changes we need to make as an organization. Some of these changes will likely go unnoticed outside of PLOS. Others may cause speculation. For clarity and transparency’s sake, I’ve chosen to write an open letter to the communities PLOS serves, so we can encourage open dialogue and so that you can share in our continuing evolution.