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How not to launch a journal

Asking prominent people to serve on a journal's editorial board is no simple task. First, you have to identify the leaders in your field. That usually means reading lots of papers, going to meetings, and speaking to a network of experts you trust, among other strategies. For Bentham Science Publishers Ltd, "a major STM journal publisher of 70 online and print journals, and 4 print/online book (series)" that "answers the informational needs of the pharmaceutical, biomedical and medical research c

By | March 16, 2006

Asking prominent people to serve on a journal's editorial board is no simple task. First, you have to identify the leaders in your field. That usually means reading lots of papers, going to meetings, and speaking to a network of experts you trust, among other strategies. For Bentham Science Publishers Ltd, "a major STM journal publisher of 70 online and print journals, and 4 print/online book (series)" that "answers the informational needs of the pharmaceutical, biomedical and medical research community," however, there's evidently an easier way: Search the Internet and blast Emails to everyone vaguely related to your subject. That must be how Bentham found me so that they could extend an invitation to serve on the editorial board of a journal they've just launched called "Recent Patent Reviews on Anti-Infective Drug Discovery." As I sat and scratched my head at the Email request from a few weeks ago, I thought that perhaps they had come across some of the "Patent Watch" columns I once wrote for __The Scientist__. Some of those were brilliant, my mother and I wholeheartedly agree, but none of them topped 300 words and in any case, I am about as well-qualified as my mother, an outstanding grade school educator, as an expert on patents. These feelings were only confirmed once I looked at the editorial board of what I believe is linkurl:the journal;http://www.bentham.org/pri/index.htm to see the august company in which I would find myself if I accepted this flattering offer. The journal I found matches in every respect, including its launch date, as the one described in the Email, except for the fact that it's lacking the word "Reviews" in its title. But who at Bentham is paying attention to such details? Take, for example, how they refer to me in their note: "Prof. Oransky," which is as accurate as saying that I'm a movie star because a co-worker once gave me a one-minute part in a short film she shot in the office I was working in. My academic titles at New York University are adjunct professor (of journalism, not science) and clinical assistant professor of medicine (a voluntary part-time appointment). Then there is the king of all flattery, if only the details checked out: "We have selected you in recognition of exceptional discovery work in your field." OK, so that's a really big glaring hole in my CV -- that whole drug discovery work part. But wait, if I parse the sentence, maybe they just mean they're recognizing exceptional work by other people by selecting me. Strange, but I'm quite happy to bask in adulation meant for others. Heck, some might argue that's what managing a staff is all about. Now to my duties as an Editorial Advisory Board Member. First, I would have to "contribute a review article on recent patents in your field considering new and novel anti-infective agents of great importance. This may be a mini review or full-length review article. All articles will be peer reviewed." That one would be easy. My field has nothing to do with new and novel anti-infective agents, let alone those of great importance, so I'm going to go out on a limb here and suggest that I would not actually have to contribute said review. Not even a mini review. I'm sorry to dash Bentham's fantasy that this gig I hold as a magazine editor is just a day job while I wait for the US Patent and Trademark Office to give its stamp of approval to my exquisite intellectual property. Second, I would have to "peer review some of the reviews on patents, which are in your area of expertise and submitted by other authors." The letter claims this would happen 2-3 times per year, but I'm going to again confidently say that the number of papers I would be peer-reviewing would be a big fat zero, since none of the reviews submitted to this particular journal would be in my area of expertise. Given the lack of work, combined with the prestige -- two Nobel Laureates "strongly" linkurl:recommend the journal;http://www.bentham.org/pri/Quotes.htm on Bentham's site! I'm tempted. But Bentham, if you're reading, I think I have to decline this kind and flattering offer. If you actually believe any of the things you wrote about me in that letter, however, I'm available as a consultant for an exorbitant fee.
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