Since OASPA released its first response to the Science ‘Sting’ article published in October, the OASPA Board has been looking at the implications of the findings for the organisation and its members.
Three further OASPA members publish journals that accepted the article: Hikari (Clinical and Experimental Medical Sciences), Dove Medical Press (Drug Design, Development and Therapy) and SAGE (Journal of International Medical Research). For each of these publishers we have carefully reviewed the correspondence made available by Science, the journal’s editorial practices, and have contacted relevant individuals for further information. We have been very grateful in all cases for prompt feedback. Our key conclusion from these discussions is that there was a lack of sufficient rigour in editorial processes at all three of the journals in question, and that for Hikari and Dove the issues may extend wider than the single affected journal. Given OASPA’s commitment to high standards in all aspects of open-access publishing, we are therefore reluctantly terminating the memberships of Hikari and Dove Medical Press. We have indicated that we will be willing to reconsider a membership application but not before 12 months have elapsed.
For SAGE, we have placed their OASPA membership ‘under review’ for the next 6 months, at which point we will review the journal in question and readmit SAGE as a full member if there is evidence that its processes have been sufficiently strengthened. The different course of action that we have taken with SAGE reflects several issues: (1) the editorial process at theJournal of International Medical Research is very unusual and not typical of any of the other journals at SAGE; (2) although the Science journalist was told that the article had been accepted, there was in fact a remaining step in the process (a detailed technical edit by domain experts) that is likely to have identified the deficiencies in the work; (3) SAGE acted promptly to cease taking submissions to the journal as soon as the problem had been identified, issued a press release explaining the situation, and has been very open about the problems that have been uncovered; and (4) SAGE has a very strong and longstanding reputation for responsible and ethical publishing practices.
Although we have unfortunately now terminated memberships as a result of the Science news article, positive outcomes have also arisen from its publication. The article highlights the need for organisations such as OASPA and DOAJ to act as important signals of reliable and high-quality publishing operations, and both organisations are strengthening their selection criteria.
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