Elsevier has gotten some bad press of late for practices that undermine the quality of the scholarship they publish. Read on:
From the Scholarly Kitchen, by Phil Davis, May 7, 2009:
According to the magazine The Scientist, the publishing giant Elseiver admitted to publishing six fake medical journals between 2000 and 2005.
These “journals” were all sponsored by pharmaceutical companies but lacked proper disclosure of sponsorship. The initial finding, released on April 30 in The Scientist, involved the Australasian Journal of Bone and Joint Medicine, a publication which was paid for by Merck. The publication, complete with an honorary editorial board of academics, was largely a compendium of reprinted articles and reviews from other Elsevier journals that presented data favorable to Merck’s products. All six publications were released in Australia.
And Peter Suber has collected comments about Elsevier’s antics on his blog entry “More comments about Elsevier’s fake journal.”
Elsevier Won’t Pay for Praise, Inside HigherEd, June 23, 2009
As if the textbook industry didn’t have an image problem already…
Elsevier officials said Monday that it was a mistake for the publishing giant’s marketing division to offer $25 Amazon gift cards to anyone who would give a new textbook five stars in a review posted on Amazon or Barnes & Noble. While those popular Web sites’ customer reviews have long been known to be something less than scientific, and prone to manipulation if an author has friends write on behalf of a new work, the idea that a major academic publisher would attempt to pay for good reviews angered some professors who received the e-mail pitch.
Here’s what the e-mail — sent to contributors to the textbook — said:
“Congratulations and thank you for your contribution to Clinical Psychology. Now that the book is published, we need your help to get some 5 star reviews posted to both Amazon and Barnes & Noble to help support and promote it. As you know, these online reviews are extremely persuasive when customers are considering a purchase. For your time, we would like to compensate you with a copy of the book under review as well as a $25 Amazon gift card. If you have colleagues or students who would be willing to post positive reviews, please feel free to forward this e-mail to them to participate. We share the common goal of wanting Clinical Psychology to sell and succeed. The tactics defined above have proven to dramatically increase exposure and boost sales. I hope we can work together to make a strong and profitable impact through our online bookselling channels.”