Response to Recent Criticism
To Whom It May Concern
This is Professor Md Mamun Habib, PhD, the current editor-in-chief of ISCTJ. PWD Group Inc. is the publisher, and this journal consists of a few editorial board members from different continents. I have been on the editorial board for over three years and took over as editor-in-chief in July 2022.
One of the main goals of the journal is to push cutting-edge scientific ideas to the public quickly to stimulate discussion. We especially encourage students and junior researchers to submit to one overcome writer’s block and two to push their ideas into the zeitgeist to hear feedback from the public. However, we are a relatively young journal still working on achieving a quality level worthy of being indexed in well regarded indexes like SCOPUS and Web of Science and the recent press has brought to light various errors in our processes, our author reporting mechanism, and our reviewing process. Nonetheless, we firmly state that throughout the life of the journal we have been vigilant against academic dishonesty and stand by the statement that none of our work was academically dishonest, plagiarized, or fraudulent. While you can argue on the merits, quality, or impact of the work it is all original and we vehemently disagree with anyone who says otherwise.
Regarding authorship: The journal has no limitations on relationships between the authors. All authors must have significant contributions for authorships, and author placement based on their contribution. The papers are peer-reviewed, and we allow reviewers to question authors on contributions by authors, but we don’t require them to do it. We do not allow reviewers to question race, gender, familial status, or any other bias for their review, only the quality of the relevance to the journal. We have noticed some errors in the reporting of authors on some papers and are correcting them.
Regarding types of articles: We have research papers, background and literature searches, and an exciting new category called items of note (IONs). We believe this aligns with what journals like Nature and Science are doing with the Nature News, Nature Commentary, and Science Policy publications which like our IONS have DOI numbers. We feel though they are short they are easier to digest for the public on important upcoming innovative research topics. We publish the IONs with the hope that they will be expanded to a background paper or research paper after the authors further explore the idea and receive feedback from their peers. We also target IONs for important leaders in the field to provide insights.
Regarding Plagiarism: We require submissions to have plagiarism software used and a report showing less than 20% for submission acceptance. We now require an LLM statement from authors who use ChatGPT or other LLM to help them write their articles. These requirements have always been met and we stand by our articles from an academic dishonesty standpoint.
Paper quality concerns: Frankly, like many journals and especially as an upstart journal, we struggle to attract reviewers. We traditionally focused on supply chain topics but as our scope expanded finding appropriate reviewers has been difficult. Sometimes getting a review on cutting-edge ideas may be missed by these experts, especially in connecting basic science to application. We have been actively working on this problem and see that this is an area we simply have to do better in.
Regarding Record Keeping: We have been continuously improving our software platforms and record-keeping processes and we acknowledge there have been errors in the past which we are working on correcting. We recently merged databases and are working on cleaning up duplicates and cataloging the correct article information. In general, our process has been to purchase a DOI for each unique article, record the ORCID of the authors, and store the reviews. We aim to improve this process.
Public comment: We are open to public comment on papers but not personal attacks. We follow a traditional rebuttal process of reaching out to the authors for questions and the editor for errors worth of additional review. Depending on the validity of the claim the article may be temporarily removed until changes and additional reviews can be conducted. Hopefully, the article will be republished with better knowledge and a concerns section added and posted back on the original date. If the paper is retracted the abstract will be posted with a concerns section.
Funding: The journal has been running at a loss since its inception. We have allowed student papers and non-tenured faculty to publish for free. In the last two years though the open access fee is listed as $199, we have generally had no fee or reduced the fee to $9.99 for faculty as appropriate. We do ask authors who have federally funded grants who are funded to pay the fees if their grant allows for publication fees. We do seek to sell to libraries whose students request access through their libraries, but this is often suspended if the school has a hardship.
Operations that include website, indexing fees, editor, and staff fees have been sponsored by PWD Publishing a division of PWD Group, Inc., a Six Sigma Consulting firm founded in 2003, through the efforts of the founding editor. The founding editor believes in the idea behind this journal, submits papers to it, and has been willing to support it financially but is no longer involved in the operations or processes of the journal including the review process. All problems related to this journal are mine as the Editor in Chief to address.
We hope this answers your questions and inspires you to submit. We are still a relatively new journal, and we are continuing to improve, we hope you will consider submitting a paper, being a reviewer, or joining our advisory board.
Prof. Dr. Md. Mamun Habib
Editor in Chief, ISCTJ