Conflicts of Interest Arising from Simultaneous Service by Editors of Competing Journals or Publishers
1. Editors’ Responsibilities in Academic Publishing: A Debate on Hidden Conflicts
2. Editors’ Hidden and Stated Conflicts of Interest
3. When Editors Protest Moral, Ethical or Ideological Differences with Journals or Publishers
4. The Global Publishing Market: Editors Might Serve in Competing Journals or Publishers
5. Editors in Competing Journals and Publishers: Professional and Ethical Considerations
- “Importantly, these considerations are most relevant to situations where the editor has decision-making authority over manuscripts for more than one journal and/or influence on more than one journal’s editorial policies.” Decision-making authority over manuscripts that are submitted to competing journals, which may also involve the selection of peer reviewers , might compromise editorial neutrality, especially if they are linked to editorial policies. Inherent bias, including selection bias , might favor publications sent to one CPJ over another if handled by the same editor. To eliminate such bias, should editors have their right to editorial independence, or should their principles and guidelines be guided by “outsourced” guidelines (e.g., those created by COPE or the ICMJE)? Not only is there an increasing call for editorial independence from economic and political interests , but also from external “ethical” influence.
- “Having the same scholar as gatekeeper for manuscripts on any given subject area for more than one of the primary journal outlets in a field is unhealthy because it gives that person undue influence over what is being published in that field.” This statement is self-explanatory, but the issue would become more acute as the field of study becomes narrower and, thus, the number of available expert editors becomes scanty. This statement is also fascinating because it suggests that, to some extent, editors can influence the literature or control the flow of information, either by controlling what gets accepted and released into the literary domain or blocked through rejection.
- “[…] researchers should disclose all of their existing editorial board commitments when they are approached about taking on an additional editorial role and the editors who are recruiting them should take those other commitments into consideration.” This suggests that editors and EICs of CJPs should refrain from accepting individuals to their editorial board if knowledge of this COI exists. In other words, editors and EICs should make a conscientious decision to support only a single journal. This raises the issues of editorial “ownership” (i.e., do journals or publishers “own” editors?) and editorial “exclusivity” (i.e., do journals or publishers expect “their” editors to only/exclusively assist/serve them?), especially if they are under contract with term limits. The issue of editorial ownership and its intersection with editorial independence is considerably well explored and debated in journalism , but not in academic publishing. Regarding the issue of exclusivity, the content of such contracts or agreements is generally unknown because they are likely limited by confidentiality or non-disclosure clauses, but this issue needs to be explored in detail because it is another opaque aspect of academic publishing that limits the ability to achieve a state of truly open science. Does the wording in such contracts violate ethics of COIs or explicitly limit or forbid individuals from serving on the editorial boards of two or more CJPs? Work contracts are bound by established codes of ethics [55,56], and this applies equally to the employment of an editor by a journal or publisher, even if they work for free. Several cases of mass resignations from editorial boards described earlier in this paper offer some insight into the potential problems that can arise when editors serve CJPs, fail to reveal COIs, or are at a moral or ethical crossroads with the journal or publisher that they serve within their contractual bounds.
- “If the number of manuscripts that the editor is expected to handle for each journal is high, their ability to assess all of them thoroughly and in a timely manner may be compromised.” Many editors and EICs are themselves academics who conduct research and publish. They thus often have responsibilities associated with that work, and stress or pressure caused by severe time and other constraints. Effective, dedicated and timely editorial handling may be compromised by excessive tasks, overburdening editors and ultimately victimizing authors, e.g., in manuscript mishandling, excessively long editorial decisions  or unfair desk rejections .
6. Conclusions, Limitations, and Challenges
Institutional Review Board Statement
Informed Consent Statement
Data Availability Statement
Conflicts of Interest
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Teixeira da Silva, J.A. Conflicts of Interest Arising from Simultaneous Service by Editors of Competing Journals or Publishers. Publications 2021, 9, 6. https://doi.org/10.3390/publications9010006
Teixeira da Silva JA. Conflicts of Interest Arising from Simultaneous Service by Editors of Competing Journals or Publishers. Publications. 2021; 9(1):6. https://doi.org/10.3390/publications9010006Chicago/Turabian Style
Teixeira da Silva, Jaime A. 2021. "Conflicts of Interest Arising from Simultaneous Service by Editors of Competing Journals or Publishers" Publications 9, no. 1: 6. https://doi.org/10.3390/publications9010006