Questionable Research Ethics: Four Case Studies

Questionable Research Ethics: Four Case Studies

Donald P. Albert, Samuel Adu-Prah
Copyright: © 2022 |Pages: 6
DOI: 10.4018/IJAGR.298304
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This commentary reviews four case studies involving questionable research and publication tactics in academia. Warnings and possible solutions are proposed for each ethical infraction. The editors encourage full disclosure when preparing resume and submitting tenure, promotion, and merit materials. For co-authored articles, explain one's exact contribution and provide letters of collaboration from co-authors. Be wary of departmental politics, and provide copious documentation to support claims of scholarships.
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Case 1: Editor-In-Chief Attempts To Extract Payment From Co-Authors

The first case study involved an attempt by an editor-in-chief (E-i-C) to solicit payment from the authors of an accepted paper. The authors originated from North America, and the editor-in-chief operated from a Eurasian university. While the editor-in-chief in question has and continues to contribute much to her particular geographic field, in this particular situation she demonstrated gross maleficence. How the actors responded can provide others valuable experience if confronted with a similar situation.

The journal in question is international and specializes in bridging the gap between theory and practice. Ulrichweb Global Serial Directory lists the journal’s publisher as commercial with the name and contact information of the editor-in-chief given; however, no page charges were mentioned on the journal’s webpage, either at time of submission, publication, or since. The E-i-C of this journal just so happen to be its founder, which factors into the payment request.

The journal has been successful as evidenced by the hundreds of downloads per article. For this particular subfield, this is a substantial level of demand. Over the last ten years, there were several articles authored from internationally renowned geographers, however, most of the authors originated from the country of publication. The journal has a reputable editorial team including international editors and an editorial board encompassing a broad, but not totally inclusive, geographic distribution. The publication is abstracted/indexed by Scopus, ERIC, and several others. There are several issues per year with individual articles available in pdf format without charge directly from the journal’s webpage. This is a legitimate scholarly journal where submissions go through a rigorous review process.

In a series of email exchanges between the E-i-C and the corresponding author, the editor notifies the author that his/her manuscript has been accepted pending receipt of perfunctory edits and signed copyright forms. So far so good. In the same email, and unexpectedly, the E-i-C requests a payment of 200 Euros from the authors to compensate her for time and financial support managing this journal over the years. She mentions that “we” have decided to ask the authors for a contribution. It is unsure whom the E-i-C is referring to in this instance, presumably the editorial board? Nevertheless, the author(s) considered this an unwarranted solicitation given there were no announcements or notices on the journal’s webpage about page charges. Even as of publication date (of this commentary), there is no mention of page charges on the journal’s webpage. What was particularly upsetting was that the author(s) had met the E-i-C at an international conference. The author(s) valued the acquaintance with the E-i-C and was surprised that she would have used such an unethical tactic.

The corresponding author immediately challenged the payment request in a subsequent email. Further, the author shared with the E-i-C that others from the same discipline have also founded journals and receive no compensation either, but that such activities count as service for faculty evaluations. The E-i-C recanted very quickly and stated no payment would be required because no mention of charges existed a priori.

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