Pirates and Predators
In the February 22, 2017, issue of the COPE Digest, the case of the month was “Withdrawal of accepted manuscript from predatory journal.” It states that “A journal was contacted by an author who wanted to submit a review article. The author had responded to a request for an invited review from another journal without realizing it was a predatory journal. The author submitted the article only to receive an unexpected invoice and clear evidence of no peer review. The author would like to have the manuscript published in a legitimate journal. The editor asked what advice he could give to the author about submitting the manuscript to a legitimate journal without the author being guilty of duplicate publication.” This example is not as isolated as it may seem to be. The enticement, to neophyte authors especially, is to have their materials published quickly. There is never a mention of peer review and the possibility of rejection or of re-reviews.
From the continuing ethical standards of COPE,1 we come closer to “home.” Laura Meyd, Production Manager, Health, Learning, Research, & Practice at Wolters Kluwer (the publisher of our journal, IMPLANT DENTISTRY), wrote to the Editor-in-Chief on December 14, 2016, after having checked with Tim Curran, Vice President of Customer Engagement, “…..we work with a global law firm, Covington and Burling, on our digital protection efforts. They have technologies to crawl the web for unauthorized posting of our copyrighted materials. Once found, they have a team of internet investigators who review each case and send a letter requesting immediate take-down per the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. We see on average 10,000 infringements per month and, over time, we see 90% to 95% compliance on the take-down. Usually, the person is quickly apologetic or we need to contact the site host provider to remove the material (Google and Blogspot or file sharing sites like Rapidshare). Certain sites like PirateBay and Sci-Hub do not comply and ignore requests to remove the material; but we do tirelessly work to continue to share what we find and issues we share across the publishing community.”
Let none of these intrusions and pirating obfuscations be confused with Open Access,2 which is “unrestricted online access to peer-reviewed scholarly material.” However, according to Wikipedia, “Sci-Hub has been highly controversial, lauded by parts of the scientific and academic communities and condemned by a number of publishers.”3
On the face of it all, it seems to be quite magnanimous to engage in predatory publishing, but just think of the ramifications for the unsuspecting authors, reviewers, editors, and production editors who pour their hearts into publishing a wholesome article in peer-reviewed journals. This goes beyond being a conundrum. It is outright theft.