Sunday, 31 May 2015

Follow-up on SCIRP - part 1

After my previous post there have been some interesting development.

On April 22 I added a comment to the page of the S&M (Janette Sherman and Joseph Mangano) article, with a link to my scrutiny.

Two days later, on April 24, I received an interesting email:

Dear Author, 
Greetings. It is really a great honor to write this mail to you. I am Jenny Shao, working in Scientific Research Publishing(www.scirp.org), an open access peer-reviewed publisher.  
At first, I would like to express gratitude to you for sharing your opinion  under the paper published in SCIRP.  It is very useful for the authors to conduct their future research. Based on your professionals insights on your study area, we are now cordially inviting you to submit your new findings or book reviews to us.

SCIRP currently has more than 240 open access journals in the areas of Earth & Environmental Sciences, Medicine & Healthcare, Medical & Life Sciences, Computer Science & Communications, Chemistry & Materials Science, Engineering, Physics & Mathematics, Business & Economics and Social Sciences & Humanities. As one of the leading OA publishers, we have been always evolving and improving. We intend to bring you a perfect breeding ground for exchanging ideas and research achievement.
 
We not only publish your paper on our website and the print, but also help spread them to receive more impact, visits and citations. As we believe every single paper has its value, it is not deserved to be just laid in the corner, but spread around. Our Open Access model is to let it be known by more people and make contributions.   
Please let me know if you are interested in publishing with us.
Look forward to hearing from you.
Good day.​
-----------------------------------------------
Sincerely,

Jenny Shao
Author Assistant
Scientific Research Publishing
Website: http://www.scirp.org
Email: xshao@scirp.org
Online Submission System​​​​


Wow, did they even read the comments, or my link? This was not exactly an invitation to comment on the S&M article. Instead it seemed to be a regular invitation to write any kind of article in any of their journals. Instead of ignoring it I decided to respond to it, this is what I sent on April 25:

Dear Jenny Shao, 
Many thanks for your mail and offer for me to submit an article to your journal. 
Before deciding if I should submit any work, I have a few questions that I hope you can respond to: 
1: Why do I receive this mail from you and not from the Editor-in-Chief, or from any member of the Editorial Board who may have been responsible for the editorial work of the article that I commented on? 
2: What is your role for the journal? I can imagine that you handle a lot of the practical work in order to get the journal going. But as far as I can see you are not part of the Editorial Board and you title does not indicate any scientific background of relevance. From my experience with scientific journals it is customary that editorial issues (or issues regarding scientific issues of a particular article) are responded to by an editor, usually the Editor-in-Chief. 
3: Why are you not addressing the issue in my comment? My comment on the specific article is of scientific nature. The plot I attached in the comment shows that the main message of the article is an obvious cherry-picking exercise and thus is of no scientific value (attached is a more clear view of the same data). It is an example of bad science and its only purpose is to scare people about the effects of ionizing radiation. The article should be retracted if you are serious about the scientific credibility of the journal. In your email you do not indicate in any way that you have any interest in a serious discussion about this. 
4: Do you understand the difference between opinion and science?
You wrote "At first, I would like to express gratitude to you for sharing your opinion...".
This is not a matter of opinion, like a letter to the editor in a newspaper, or clicking "like" on a thread on Facebook, It is a matter of scientific credibility of the article, the authors behind it, of the journal itself, and of SCIRP. The authors of the journal cheat with statistics and the article should never have passed peer review. Comparing data for two years in the way that they do without even mentioning the trends for the other nearby years is not serious, considering the conclusions they draw from it. Any editor or reviewer with relevant competence in the fields that the article covers (epidemiology, ionizing radiation, etc) would easily see this. Progress in scientific knowledge is pursued through setting up models, trying to falsify those models, gathering data, presenting results in an honest manner, and carefully scrutinizing remarkable claims by others. It is not pursued by expressing interesting opinions. Therefore I find your response to be very problematic. 
5: Does your offer mean that I would have to pay money?
I get the impression that you are not at all interested in addressing the issue raised in my comment. Instead you write about help with giving articles more impact and about how many journals that SCIRP has. It seems to me that you are only interested in making money out of me submitting a text, whether it would be a letter to the editor regarding the particular article, or on any other subject. In my humble opinion, I should not have to pay money for pointing out a case of scientific misconduct. If you are serious about the publication ethics statements written on the journal web pages, my comment should be addressed in a different manner than offering me to submit an article for money.

Best wishes,
Mattias Lantz

I never received any response. On May 19 I sent a reminder:
Dear Jenny Shao, 
I never received any response from you regarding my questions, so I find it difficult to decide whether or not I should submit any article to your journal. 
Best wishes,
Mattias Lantz
There was no response to my reminder either. Not that I expected any. But I was not aware of that SCIRP had already acted in a different way... (to be continued in part 2).

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