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Deleting declined papers from the archive

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Deleting declined papers from the archive

Postby msaghaei » Wed Jun 06, 2007 11:21 pm

Hi Alec

Since editorial ethics dictate that we must delete records of a declined paper, a concern will arise that this deletion may lead to wrong "Journal Statistics" (e.g. percntage and number of declined papers in a particular year).
The question is that can we delete the declined papers from the archive without compromizing the "Journal Statistics"?

Regards

Mahmoud
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Postby John » Thu Jun 07, 2007 11:15 am

Mahmoud

The stats work on the editor's decision to "decline" the paper, and not the archived status of the paper.

But this ethics of deleted records for declined submissions intrigues me greatly, and I would be interested in learning more from you on this question. We have worked hard to ensure that OJS completely documents and preserves the record of all papers, as a matter of journal integrity.

All journal decisions and treatment of papers can be reviewed, and can, under special circumstances, become the subject of research inquiries into the history of scholarly publishing and history of ideas. The declined papers are not part of any public record, and section editors, for example, would have no access to them, unless they had served as their editor. There is no ownership claim either with the submissions retained. I can see an author saying you have no right to retain any aspect of this, as you declined to publish the paper, but the journal invested time and energy into the review process and needs to ensure that the integrity and fairness of that process, with good record keeping essential to that.

Thanks
John
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Postby msaghaei » Fri Jun 08, 2007 1:19 am

John

The archive of journals are a valuable source of information for secondary analysis and writing papers. The question is that who (and how much) have the right to access this source. the journal? who is the journal? the journal is not limmited to editors. All of the people (authors, reviewers, section editors, copy editors, etc) have invested time or money. Some of them are unpaid (reviewers). Do you think the editors invested more? I think it is not fair granting access to editors and preventing others (including readers).
On the other hand if we decide to give access to some people other than the editors, many serious issues may arise which are not controlable. If we decide to grant access to ALL, it means that we have somehow agreed to publishe rejected papers. In addition the authors usually dont like to make their rejected papers (and the reason for the rejection) be public. This may be a serious concern regarding the rejected clinical research papers with some misconducts on patients. Currently open peer review journals are only open regarding published papers. Is there any journal with open access to some part of its archive (e.g. Rejected titles ot Under review titles)? I dont know. Even in the case of Internet drafts as is used by Internet Engineering Task Force (http://www.ietf.org/ID.html) rejected papers are no longer retained.

Regards,

Mahmoud
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Postby John » Fri Jun 08, 2007 9:46 am

Mahmoud
Thanks for your thoughts on this. As it stands, users of OJS have access to their own archives, with authors able to see past submissions, reviewers can see papers they reviewed, etc. This includes rejected papers, but again only those that they have been directly involved in (as they might have with print copies). The editor, as chief editorial officier, needs access to the whole of it. Again the access follows the patterns of print, with better record keeping to enable those involved to learn from and be able to check on the process.

But we welcome this discussion of journal ethics and responsibilties, as it is important and helpful for us in developing OJS. Keep in coming.

Thanks,
John
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Re: Deleting declined papers from the archive

Postby jmir » Thu Aug 02, 2007 7:04 am

This is an interesting issue.
Speaking for WAME (World Association of Medical Editors), I can say that to my knowledge WAME has no explicit ethical requirements or policy recommendations that would suggest that a journal must purge rejected papers (see e.g. policies at http://www.wame.org/resources/editor-s-syllabus or http://www.wame.org/resources/policies).
However, there is a requirement for REVIEWERS to do so ("The submitted manuscript is a privileged communication; reviewers must treat it as confidential. It should not be retained or copied.") - see http://www.wame.org/resources/ethics-re ... -journals/
There may be other customs in other disciplines, and I am curious to learn about other practices.

In practice, many medical journals keep their files for 1-2 years, but there are also others which now keep them indefinitely, esp those using electronic management submission systems, see discussion at
http://www.wame.org/resources/wame-list ... ipt-files/
As one editor said there, disk space is cheap...

My personal opinion is that ethically there is nothing wrong with keeping the files, as long as they are accessible by a defined set of people (in our case, "publisher, editor, and their designates") only, and as long as they are only used for certain purposes, and as long there is disclosure. Re the latter we added a statement to our editorial policies stating that we keep all (incl rejected) manuscripts unless the author objects (no one ever does). See ABOUT section at http://www.jmir.org for our wording under "Record Keeping Policy" - I'd be interested in feedback on whether this policy makes sense.

On the other hand, in my 10 years of experience as editor I had NEVER the situation where I had to dig out a rejected paper. But there may be situations where this may become necessary (e.g. an author whose manuscript has been rejected ignores the rejection and resubmits the ms - this is not completely unheard of).

And then there is the research argument - research into peer-review and open access publishing is badly needed. I just received (finally!) a CIHR grant to study the "Impact of Open Access on Knowledge Translation", and would be very interested in getting in touch with journals / journal editors who would like to do research in this area (and/or research in peer-review - please contact me at geysenba at gmail.com).
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