We have experienced a sudden spurt in casual submissions of poor quality articles. We believe this is because authors wish to show that they have submitted articles which are under consideration at reputable journals.
While any journal or editor would be happy to see increased numbers of submissions, sadly, most are of very poor quality in all respects. Most are very casually prepared without following even basic principles of scientific writing and publication ethics. The incidence of plagiarism and potential compromise of publication ethics is increasing.
Increased numbers of submissions of such poorly written casual submissions take substantial time and resources, adding a lot of pressure to the editorial process. We believe some of the reasons why this is happening include:
1) the scam of publication in predatory journals is being exposed;
2) authors are now realising that articles in dubious/predatory journals are actually a liability;
3) it is easy to submit articles to reputable journals, which do not charge any fees;
4) in many cases, authors submit manuscripts to reputable journals as a transient step to notationally improve their cv;
5) most authors wish to show that their article is submitted to a reputable journal and is “under consideration”.
Question(s) for the COPE Forum
• How can we curb the number of casual submissions?
• Are there any appropriate restrictive steps, such as charging a reasonable fee at the submission stage? These 'submission charges' could be refunded/adjusted with the APC after the article is accepted?
If the journal has a specific discipline focus, educating university faculty members in that discipline regarding effective methods to mentor students who submit articles to journals as a form of credit for their courses could be one measure to address this problem. The number of submissions to journals should not be a measure a university uses to assess its students and their activities (see for example: http://naepub.com/student-authorship/2016-26-4-6/).
The Forum agreed that charging submission fees could be an option. These could be separate from publication fees. Hence a small fee could be charged for submissions, which may curb the number of casual submissions, or submission of poor quality articles. Then a larger fee could be charged if the manuscript is accepted. In accordance with COPE’s Principles of Transparency (https://publicationethics.org/resources/guidelines-new/principles-transparency-and-best-practice-scholarly-publishing), if the journal decides to take this approach, the fees should be transparent, and should be signposted and clearly stated on the journal website and in the instructions to authors.