August 21, 2015 (Baltimore, MD; USA) – Donald Samulack, PhD (President, U.S. Operations, Cactus Communications and Editage) presented and launched an industry-wide call-to-action during a panel session titled “Predatory Author Services: What Can be Done About it?” held on 20th August 2015 at the 8th Annual North American Conference of the International Society of Managing and Technical Editors (ISMTE) in Baltimore, MD (USA). During the session that included Hazel Newton (Head of Author Services, Nature Publishing Group), Josh Dahl (Head of Publishing & Associations, Thomson Reuters), and Jeffrey Beall (Scholarly Communications Librarian and Associate Professor, University of Colorado, Denver), Dr. Samulack presented the case for the creation of a Coalition for Responsible Publication Resources (CRPR) to rally support among publishers and author services providers to mount an industry-wide response to the growing concern of erosion of the integrity of the scholarly literature by unethical or predatory practices.
Despite the existence of highly promoted industry guidelines, codes of conduct, and white papers advocating responsible publishing, unscrupulous practices such as author scamming, wide-spread plagiarism, falsifying data, duplicate publication, selling of authorship attribution or anonymous manuscripts, and falsifying peer review practices are propagated by certain businesses providing author support, translation, language editing, or peer review services. While the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE), the Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association, Retraction Watch, Jeffrey Beall (Scholarly Open Access blog), and others identify and mitigate suspected breaches of scholarly conduct, none of the efforts are specifically tailored to hold author services vendors accountable to industry-expected norms of conduct, while at the same time making their status transparent to the scholarly community at the ‘point-of-service.’
“Up until now, ongoing efforts to education and develop awareness of good publication practices, research ethics, and responsible business conduct by persons and entities involved in publication processes was deemed to be sufficient. However, in recent months the adoption, prevalence and growth in the sophistication of companies providing questionable or misleading publication or author services practices seems to be outpacing the impact of author education resources and education activities” says Dr. Samulack. He expresses fears that “the growth of irresponsible practices in publication support will continue to flourish and become so sophisticated and prevalent that the average publishing scholar, within a couple of years, will have a hard time differentiating what is ‘good publication practice’ and what is not; who is providing ethical author services and who is not; despite all of our efforts to try to bring attention to guidelines and codes of conduct.”
It is for these reasons that Dr. Samulack proposes an industry-wide call-to-action whereby a Coalition of peers including publishers, scholarly organizations, and the author services community is formed as a U.S. non-profit 501(c)(6) organization supported by membership fees and donations. The Coalition, through mechanisms of committees of peers, industry feedback, and governance oversight, would accept responsibility to develop and maintain a verifiable badge for placement at point-of-service that identifies an entity (freelancers, commercial vendors, scholarly organizations, publisher, journal, etc.) as having been vetted by the Coalition for meeting the minimum standard of responsible conduct in the offering of publication services. Membership in the Coalition would be voluntary and executed through an application process that involves the completion of a standardized audit of accountability statements expressing responsible business conduct and adherence to industry norms.
Visit www.rprcoalition.org to seek more information as it becomes available, to express comments that will be weighed in any consideration to ratify such an industry-mounted effort, or to contribute to the development and direction of the Coalition.
About Donald Samulack:
As President of the U.S. Operations for Cactus Communications and Editage, Dr. Samulack is actively involved in supporting the needs of the publishing, pharmaceutical, and academic communities, managing workflow across global time zones, and raising the level of awareness and professionalism of the editing and medical writing communities with respect to good publication practices and ethics, worldwide. He has given numerous lectures and workshops around the world at conferences, universities, publishers, and for government agencies. As such, he understands the logistics of scholarly publication and the global outsourcing of publication and author services, and is a major player in shaping perceptions, defining workflows, and delivering publication quality.