ISSN : 2146-3123
E-ISSN : 2146-3131

Respecting the Authors by Journals" Editorial Team: Doing a Favor or a Responsibility?
Shakiba Seifi1, Amir Human Hoveidaei2,3, Amin Nakhostin-Ansari4,5
1Faculty of Medicine, Najafabad Branch, Islamic Azad University, Najafabad, Iran
2Student Research Committee, Shiraz University of Medical Sciences, Shiraz, Iran
3Students Scientific Research Center, Tehran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran
4Sports Medicine Research Center, Neuroscience Institute, Tehran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran
5Research Center for War-affected People, Tehran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran
DOI : 10.4274/balkanmedj.galenos.2021.2021-10-23
Pages : 76-77

To the Editor,

Ethical concepts are one of the fundamental aspects of research projects. Most journals emphasize these ethical roles.1 However, another aspect of ethics in research that is related to editors’ and journals’ responsibilities is somehow neglected compared to other ethical guidelines. For example, guidelines regarding how the editors should communicate with the authors, especially in sensitive subjects, such as manuscript rejections as there is a considerable variation in authors’ research experience.2

We recently had an experience of inappropriate behavior of a journal’s editor toward us, as manuscript authors, that violated ethical guidelines with no responsibility for their behaviors. We had prepared a manuscript about the psychological issues among people living with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) in Iran. HIV is a global pandemic, thus we decided to submit our manuscript to a journal in another continent with the background of published articles from other continents. Then, after 2 days, we received a rejection letter from the editor, which was more about the authors rather than the manuscript (Figure 1). All of these humiliations and offenses were since the editor believed that the manuscript had been submitted to an inappropriate journal as the journal aimed to cover topics related to their continent, which is not anything near a good justification for the editor’s behavior, even considering authors’ mistake in choosing the appropriate journal. The publisher was contacted to report the editor’s behavior and asked to take the appropriate action against such behavior; however, although the publisher initially promised to contact us regarding the editor’s email, they did not take any further action, or at least they did not inform us about it.

Such a review process can be considered “rude”, as the editor targeted the authors and their country and not the manuscript’s content. According to a study By Jeff C. Clements, 43% of peer reviews have a minimum of one comment that is unprofessional, and 10%–35% of them have disparaging language.3 Such situations happen more to the minority, such as females and non-English speakers and authors from developing countries4, and our experience can be an example of such discrimination.

Moreover, negative comments have devastating effects on authors. A study on authors who received negative comments from a journal revealed that 21% were annoyed and angry, whereas 38% felt depression and sadness. These types of actions can also cause a loss of confidence and motivation in researchers. Perhaps, if editors consider the author’s feelings, such scenarios would be avoided.5

To conclude, the author–editor relationship is a complex part of the publishing process and needs to be polite and professional with honesty. The experience we experienced revealed that guidelines are available for editor-author communication; however, these guidelines can be easily disregarded, and supervision is inadequate. Therefore, a gap still occurred between the guidelines and experience in the real world and further actions are needed in this regard.

Author Contributions: Concept – S.S., A.H.H., A.N-A.; Literature Review – S.S., A.H.H., A.N-A.; Writing – S.S., A.H.H., A.N-A.

Conflict of Interest: The authors has no conflict of interest to declare.

REFERENCES

  1. Graf C, Wager E, Bowman A, Fiack S, Scott-Lichter D, Robinson A. Best practice guidelines on publication ethics: a publisher's perspective. International journal of clinical practice. 2007;61:1-26.
  2. Mackiewicz J, Riley K. The technical editor as diplomat: Linguistic strategies for balancing clarity and politeness. Technical communication. 2003;50:83-94.
  3. Clements JC. Don't be a prig in peer review. Nature. 2020;585:472-473.
  4. Grange JA. Time for insulting reviews to stop? Psychologist. 2016;29:158-159.
  5. Majumder K. How do authors feel when they receive negative peer reviewer comments? An experience from Chinese biomedical researchers. European Science Editing. 2016;42:31-35.

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