Open Access (18) Manila Declaration (1) Myth 2: Open access journals discriminate against authors who cannot afford article processing charges

31 July, 2019

1. Greetings from Manila! I am Joey Lapena, Professor of Otorhinolaryngology at the University of the Philippines Manila, Attending Pediatric Otolaryngologist, Cleft and Craniomaxillofacial Surgeon at the Philippine General Hospital, Editor-in-Chief of the Philippine Journal of Otolaryngology Head and Neck Surgery, Charter President of the Philippine Association of Medical Journal Editors (PAMJE), Past President of the Asia Pacific Association of Medical Journal Editors (APAME), and Director of the World Association of Medical Editors (WAME).

I am a member of the HIFA working group on Access to Health Research, and drafted the Manila Declaration on the Availability and Use of Health Research Information in and for Low- and Middle-Income Countries in the Asia Pacific Region available from http://www.wpro.who.int/entity/apame/publications/maniladeclarationweb2.... that drew on the Discussions on HIFA from 20 July to 24 August 2015 "Meeting the information needs of researchers and users of health research in low- and middle-income countries" available from http://www.hifa.org/sites/default/files/publications_pdf/Selected_highli...

2. I am also a fairly published author, and it is in that capacity that I react to “Myth 2: Open access journals discriminate against authors who cannot afford article processing charges.” A current example of such discrimination concerns a Case Report we have sequentially submitted to several Open Access journals. As a case in point, one such journal advertises itself as “an innovative, more efficient platform for doctors to publish and share research,” advertising “free publication for articles that meet our editorial standards, and publication time measured in days, not months.” Claiming they are “an Open Access journal currently publishing the majority of articles completely free of charge,"they continue that “in a perfect world, all articles would be published for free, but the fact is that many submissions arrive in less-than-ideal condition requiring substantial time, communication and editing on our part. ”Enter their “Preferred Editing Service” for those that “didn’t qualify for free publication,” namely those where “too many errors are found.”

As a seasoned editor, editorial board member of 7 journals, international advisory/editorial board member of 4 others, and reviewer of 5 others (with multiple distinguished reviewer and star reviewer awards, including the title emeritus reviewer), and native-English speaker, I have a pretty good idea of what constitutes well-written submissions that comply with author instructions. I was therefore understandably flabbergasted to receive notice that “Too many errors remain - our editing service is required to proceed” & after submitting a manuscript for the first time! The submission process itself had been quite tedious, involving several rechecks against a summary checklist that would not allow the submission to proceed unless even minor glitches like an unseen “space” after “et al.” for “reference number 5” had to be deleted. Be that as it may, the manuscript certainly did not merit this message:

“After careful consideration, our editorial team has determined that your submission fails to comply with editorial guidelines and will therefore require substantial copy editing to be eligible for peer review and publication. These numerous issues include but may not be limited to the following:

- Reference formatting or accuracy

- Spelling, grammar, syntax or punctuation errors

Due to the time and expense involved, we require the use of our Preferred Editing service in order to proceed.”

“Important! Please do not submit a new draft of this article to earn free publication. The article will be permanently blocked and you may be banned from further submissions.”

Our manuscript had no issues with reference formatting or accuracy, nor major errors in spelling, grammar, syntax or punctuation. Neither had sufficient time passed between submission and their decision - - certainly not enough time for “careful consideration.” To my mind, this was just another money-making scheme (and it was not our first such experience). Was it discriminating against certain pre-determined meta-data (Country? Region?) - that is speculation. The Preferred Editing Service fee? A range of “$195-225” for “Lots of Errors” to “$240-270” for “Tons of Errors” -- certainly not inexpensive in a context such as ours, and tantamount to “discriminat(ing) against authors who cannot afford article processing charges.”

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Jose Florencio F. Lapeña Jr. M.A., M.D., FPCS, FPSOHNS

Professor of Otorhinolaryngology, UP College of Medicine

University Scientist III, University of the Philippines System

Editor, Philipp J Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg

President, Philippine Association of Medical Journal Editors (PAMJE)

Past President, Asia Pacific Association of Medical Editors (APAME)

Director, World Association of Medical Editors (WAME)

Department of Otorhinolaryngology

Ward 10, Philippine General Hospital

University of the Philippines Manila

Taft Avenue, Ermita, Manila 1000 Philippines

Phone: (632) 554 8467 Fax: (632) 524 4455

Email: lapenajf@upm.edu.ph

HIFA profile: José Florencio F. Lapeña is a Director of the World Association of Medical Editors (WAME), immediate past President of the Asia Pacific Association of Medical Journal Editors (APAME) and President of the Philippine Association of Medical Journal Editors (PAMJE). He is a member of the HIFA Access to Health Research working group.

http://www.hifa.org/working-groups/access-health-research

http://www.hifa.org/support/members/jose-florencio-f

lapenajf AT upm.edu.ph