Transparency Index in Science Publishing

The blog Retraction Watch, brought to my attention by On The Media, has advocated a "Transparency Index" for publishers of science journals. Retraction Watch, authored by Adam Marcus and Ivan Oransky, addresses the problem of transparency in content selection. As the authors put it, the idea is to encourage editors and publishers to share how they make publishing decisions. Marcus and Oransky authored a call to action in the August 2012 issue of The Scientist

The calls to action cover not only issues surrounding errors leading to retractions, but other aspects as well, including:

  • The journal’s review protocol, including whether or not its articles are peer-reviewed; the typical number of reviewers, time for review, manuscript acceptance rate, and details of the appeals process
  • Whether the journal requires that underlying data are made available
  • Whether the journal uses plagiarism detection software and reviews figures for evidence of image manipulation
  • Names and expertise of editorial board members 
  • Requirements for conflict of interest disclosure 
  • Costs for authors 
  • Costs to readers for single article / issue 
  • Email address for Editor-in-Chief that is monitored and responded to

  • Marcus and Oransky called for others to respond to these suggestions, but the published responses appear to be few and generally limited to the retraction issue, rather than full transparency of the editorial process. 

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