A researcher agreed to peer-review a manuscript submitted to the Taylor & Francis journal Biocontrol Science and Technology. The researcher is Dr. S.S. Narwal, who is also editor of the toll-access Allelopathy Journal. About a week before the review was due back to the journal, the publisher sent this routine reminder notice to Dr. Narwal:
Dear Dr. S.S. Narwal:
Recently, you kindly agreed to review the above manuscript, entitled “[redacted].” The manuscript is located in your Reviewer Centre at [redacted].
This e-mail is simply a reminder that your review is due in one week. The authors are naturally anxious about the progress on their paper and I would appreciate your help in expediting the review process. Please do not hesitate to contact me if I can be of any assistance.
Mark S. Goettel
Biocontrol Science and Technology
Now, here is the response to the above email that came from Dr. Narwal’s email account:
From: firstname.lastname@example.org [mailto:email@example.com]
Sent: December-15-13 4:47 AM
Subject: Re: Reminder: Manuscript CBST-2013- – Biocontrol Science & Technology
Dear Dr. Mark,
I am too busy to spare time for PEER REVIEW of Mss, however, I can Review if i am paid for this service. If you agree to pay, please tell me amount to be paid per Review?
This unsigned response, apparently from Dr. Narwal himself, generated this strong reaction from the editor of Biocontrol Science and Technology, Mark Goettel:
From: Mark Goettel BST
Sent: Wednesday, 18 December 2013 8:22 AM
Subject: RE: Reminder: Manuscript CBST-2013- – Biocontrol Science & Technology
Dear Dr. Narwal,
Wow, that is a surprising request especially from the Chief Editor of an International Journal!! May I ask how much you pay the peer reviewers who provide reviews for your Journal, “Allelopathy Journal”?
You were invited to review this manuscript on 14 November and accepted on 1 December. Now it is acceptable for you to decline because all of a sudden you find yourself too busy, but ask for momentary compensation? Shame on you!
I am copying members of your Editorial Board as well as Editors of other journals to inform them of what I feel is really unethical behaviour for an Editor of an international, peer reviewed journal! I am sure they would like to know what type of journal editor they are associated with!
By the way, I also find it very strange that the only contact information provided for the “International Allelopathy Foundation”, the publisher of this journal to be your own! Does not the foundation have a Board of Directors who should be informed of your unethical behaviour?
Biocontrol Science & Technology
This letter was copied to all members of the journal’s editorial board, prompting this response from one of them, “I resigned from the Editorial Board of ‘Allelopathy Journal’ in 2009 in utter disgust at the conduct of its affairs.”
Allelopathy Journal is not an open-access journal, but it is questionable. Its masthead (see image above) claims an impact factor of 0.846, but my library’s edition of Journal Citation Reports shows 0.685.
Also, every time I visited the Allelopathy Journal website, it always said “Online Members: 107.” As Mark Goettel hinted at in his letter above, it appears the journal is really a one-man operation, despite its claiming to be published by the so-called International Allelopathy Foundation.
I recommend against submitting papers to Allelopathy Journal and against asking Dr. Narwal to review any manuscripts.
By: Jeffrey Beall
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Source: Scholarly Open Access
Samir Hachani says:
December 24, 2013 at 11:37 AM
I like the strong response of Mark Goettel (especially “the shame on you” ).This is the first time I hear about such an unethical demand and I know the subject ( I have just defended a thesis on peer review and open access). Such a behavior from a “scholar” should be denounced by name !!!!I join Dr Goettel : “You brought shame on knowledge ” .
Jurgen Ziesmann says:
December 24, 2013 at 1:18 PM
Of course it touches on the most unethical point of all science publishing. While the big publishers make record revenue, often asking prohibitive fees to read the articles, those who did all the research, writing, editing, peer review are left without any compensation whatsoever. What is ethical about that? Absolutely nothing!
Alex SL says:
December 24, 2013 at 3:48 PM
Hm. I find even some of the best journals in my field sometimes play tricks to inflate their perceived Impact Factor. One whose IF oscillates around an impressive 10, where one would not think they need to stoop to such things, did not update the IF listed on the journal website for two years or so because the new ones were a bit lower. Only when a new IF surpassed the old one did they update the website again.
There are people arguing that reviewers should be paid or otherwise rewarded, and I can understand that position. The problem is that he should not have accepted in the first place if he expected remuneration.
December 24, 2013 at 4:43 PM
I don’t see it as unethical. All these open access advocates keep going on about how we shouldn’t provide free labor to journal publishers… But he then should have been more upfront about it.
December 24, 2013 at 8:22 PM
Although it appears as if genuine peer review takes place at Allelopathy Journal, fees are only for Narwal’s pocket. There is no organization, only Narwal. I second all comments made above. I have had nothing but unprofessional and irritating experiences with “Prof” SS Narwal. I have submitted three papers to that journal, and withdrew one from review because the PR was so bad. In every single case, this nonsense, Xeroxed standardized response followed:
Thanks for submitting your Ms to Allelopathy Journal. Please modify the Ms as per following and attached INSTRUCTIONS TO AUTHORS.
NEW INSTRUCTIONS TO AUTHORS
Thanks for submitting your Ms (Manuscript) to Allelopathy Journal. Recently we have made changes for Ms submission and revised the INSTRUCTIONS TO AUTHORS. IMPACT FACTOR : I am pleased to inform you that the IMPACT FACTOR of Allelopathy Journal has increased to 0.846. I advise you to Update your Ms as per these INSTRUCTIONS TO AUTHORS and re-submit at firstname.lastname@example.org.
1. MINIMUM REQUIREMENTS FOR MS: Allelopathy Journal is INTERNATIONAL SCI JOURNAL with current IMPACT FACTOR OF 0.846, hence, we maintain International Standard for Publication of Mss. Hence, the minimum requirements for submission of Ms are: (i). Should have Results of Lab Bioassay, Pot Culture/ Field Experiemnts. (ii). Identification of Allelochemicals in Donor plant material, its Extracts or Leachates and (iii). Studies with the bioactivity (against plants, insects, nematodes, pathogen related to your research) of these compounds.
2. INSTRUCTIONS TO AUTHORS: You have not written the Ms as per Journal Style, Please (i) rewrite the Ms as per attached INSTRUCTIONS TO AUTHORS AND MODEL MSS., (ii). Please send Ms as single File, (iii) Do not insert Tables and Figs in Text, but add after the References, however, indicate their Preferred Position in Text, (iv). Use TIMES ROMAN FONT in Ms. (v). Submit Ms in MS WORD-2003 only.
3. INTERNATIONAL REVIEWERS: To evaluate your Ms, please send the names of 5- INTERNATIONAL REVIEWERS. They should be other than REGIONAL EDITORS of Allelopathy Journal and their names, Postal Address and E.Mail Addresses should be added to Cover letter/ E. Mail of Ms.
4. OUR NEW E.MAIL ADDRESS: Please submit the new Ms at http://email@example.com
5. YAHOO E.MAIL ADDRESS: We make all Correspondence for Mss by yahoomail, hence, we strongly advise all Authors to open Account in Yahoomail for (i) Easy, (ii) Efficient, (iii) Fast and (iv) to ensure surety of delivery of our mails between us (Journal and Authors). Because many servers in different countries are not compatible with yahoomail, hence, we cannot correspond successfully with such Authors. Sometimes, Authors mail reaches us but our mail neither reaches Author nor return to us.
6. SINGLE FILE: In Ms, add Tables and Figs after References and submit full Ms (Text+ Tables+ Figs) as single File in MS WORD 2003.
7. Please submit Ms as MS WORD file.
8. Please send the Updated Ms within 3 days, so that it could be processed for publication in Allelopathy Journal. Thereafter, we will assign Ms Number to your Ms, for further correspondence with us.
(Please Type on Istitute letter Pad and submit Scanned copy with Ms.)
The Author(s) Certify that (i). The research work presented in this Ms is Original.(ii). Its no part has been copied from research work published earlier.
Author (s) Signature
Prof. S.S. Narwal
Attachment: INSTRUCTIONS TO AUTHORS AND MODEL MSS
Prof. S.S. Narwal
# 101, Sector-14
Rohtak- 124 001, INDIA
Ph/Fax: +91 1262-274101
Mobile: +91 9315496321
It is evident that Thomson Reuters does not assign an impact factor based on the quality of service or on prefessionalism of PR. I do agree that authors should be paid royalties, or be allowed to publish freely and that peer reviewers, that represent the quality control of a paper and journal, should be paid. But, as Mark Goetel indicated, to demand fees after he agreed to review a paper is totally unacceptable and unprofessional.
Harvey Kane says:
December 31, 2013 at 10:36 AM
Should a reviewer be paid? Interesting. Say I ask a reviewer to review a paper and say to the reviewer that a good review is worth X and a bad one Y or the more detailed the review the more compensation. Do we really want to open that pandora’s box?
Regarding paying the author and or reviewer of an article. There are OA Journals in which the author pays to publish. Is this fair? After all the OA Journals make a pretty penny too!
Jill M says:
January 8, 2014 at 1:54 PM
With regards to Harvey Kane’s comment-while Dr. Narwal’s behavior is unethical, perhaps this brings a new tool to light to use against predatory journals. If a scientist gets a request to serve on the editorial board or review a paper for a bogus journal, send them a bill first! I suggest charging at least the same fee that they charge someone to publish the paper. I wonder how many will agree to pay for our time?
Unfortunately, it is probably illegal to scam the scam artists…
February 4, 2014 at 7:29 AM
how would paying for a review effect the peer review process?
June 16, 2014 at 5:30 AM
How could charging for reviewing a paper becomes unethical when article processing charge is ethical ? One mistake which Dr.Narwal did was not finalising the deal before accepting to review a paper. But then this is a question to all reviewers.
August 11, 2014 at 2:18 AM
Reviewing is a task, sometimes you spend a lot of time to do it in a good manner, you have to resign some other things. It is not fair that OA journal takes a fee which usually is about 2000-3000 USD and does not pay people who do difficult job.
J. Nemade says:
September 22, 2014 at 1:33 AM
Interesting! As a reviewer myself I have following thoughts.
I find it unethical to change the agreed terms: agreeing to do a free review at first then asking money for it later.
However, I strongly agree that the reviewers should be paid. Reviewing is an intellectual work that takes time and can only be done by a small group of highly qualified/skilled people. They have worked for it. It does have a material value.
The publisher do a business publishing. They pay themselves, make profits, pay their staff and so on. They charge for online download of papers. They also ask for a publication fees in some cases. Why not the reviewers get paid ?
I think the authors need to redfine their stratigies and send their MSs to Open Access Journals.
Harvey Kane says:
September 22, 2014 at 10:48 AM
If you want to charge for reviewing make that very clear when accepting. Will you have a fee scale for the degree of reviewing done? Reading an article is an intellectual endeavour too. Should the reader of an article be paid? If the reader decides to cite an article should the reader be paid for that too?
Are you inferring that Open Access Journals do not review?
You do know that someone is paying for publishing the OA article and that money is being made.
J. Nemade says:
September 23, 2014 at 4:57 AM
Yes. The terms should be made clear before one accepts the responsibility. I indicated so.
A reader does not contribute to the article’s betterment, hence shall not be paid.
1. If the reader cites the article, no payment required.
2 If the reader cites the article AND the second generation reader purchses (in various forms e.g. download) the article, the citer shall get paid.
3. This can only be true if you can trace the links.
4. Above 1-3 is totally not related to whether the reviewer shall be paid or not.
A fee scale for reviewing is also possible. (e.g. amount per page/word/figure/table) The system will get evolved at its own if we start doing things.
This againis true only if we wish to start doing it in the first place.
When I review my motivation level does vary with what useful I am getting out of it (money, knowledge, etc) against what I am putting in (in this case mainly time)
Let’s hear the other side also: Why a reviewer shall not be paid (other than the historical fact) ?
Harvey Kane says:
September 23, 2014 at 7:07 AM
If I pay you, you have to perform. You have to meet deadlines and make the article more valuable in a measurable way. Thus, I need someone reviewing your review. Say the author or the reviewer of the review (another layer in the system) says what the reviewer says is just wrong. It is shown that what the reviewer says is wrong. Do I have legal recourse?
To use an analogy. I think all those who volunteer should be paid. Even charitable oganizations make enough money and some extra to pay staff and put some in the bank.
Additionally, the costs associated with a paid reviewer system would be passed on to either the subscriber, article purchaser, or OA author.
There is no free lunch!
J. Nemade says:
September 23, 2014 at 10:54 PM
I think we both thinking in the same direction.
“If I pay you, you have to perform…. measureable way”. The reviewers are/have been performing, following deadlines, but aren’t getting paid. There is no measurable way defined so far, and reviewer community is not the community who can do that. Can we work towards a measurable way ??
“Reviewer of the review”: The idea is very good, however, we don’t have them today as well. We trust that the reviewer was doing his/her job ethically. And we have more than one reviewer so we have statistics to get guided from.
“Volunteers getting paid”: A volunteer by definition is doing their jobs free of cost. Shall / do we have a second layer of system to check if the volunteer has done his/her job correctly ?
In a case where the “volunteer” gets paid, will the job be done in a better way and faster ? I would say: better – very likely, faster – definitely.
Now the fact is all reviewers are volunteers, may be because there is no second option available to them at present.
Can we change it ? More importantly do we want to change it ?
Lastly: “There is no free lunch”. Definitely agreed. However, the reviewers don’t get their share of the lunch they worked for.