A Survey of Biomedical Journals To Detect Editorial Bias and Nepotistic Behavior
infodocketGARY's bookmarks 2021-11-23
Alongside the growing concerns regarding predatory journal growth, other questionable editorial practices have gained visibility recently. Among them, we explored the usefulness of the Percentage of Papers by the Most Prolific author (PPMP) and the Gini index (level of inequality in the distribution of authorship among authors) as tools to identify journals that may show favoritism in accepting articles by specific authors. We examined whether the PPMP, complemented by the Gini index, could be useful for identifying cases of potential editorial bias, using all articles in a sample of 5,468 biomedical journals indexed in the National Library of Medicine. For articles published between 2015 and 2019, the median PPMP was 2.9%, and 5% of journal exhibited a PPMP of 10.6% or more. Among the journals with the highest PPMP or Gini index values, where a few authors were responsible for a disproportionate number of publications, a random sample was manually examined, revealing that the most prolific author was part of the editorial board in 60 cases (61%). The papers by the most prolific authors were more likely to be accepted for publication within 3 weeks of their submission. Results of analysis on a subset of articles, excluding nonresearch articles, were consistent with those of the principal analysis. In most journals, publications are distributed across a large number of authors. Our results reveal a subset of journals where a few authors, often members of the editorial board, were responsible for a disproportionate number of publications. To enhance trust in their practices, journals need to be transparent about their editorial and peer review practices.