Many have been deeply offended by the reaction of one “Ofek”, whose request for free posting on Biology Online in return for ‘exposure’ was met by the prospective author , DN Lee, with a very polite “Thanks, but no thanks”. Ofek’s response was to call the prospective author a “whore”.
Unbelievable. But true.
It gets worse.
DN Lee blogs at Scientific American. She produced an extremely measured and restrained response, spiced with a great deal of humour.
Incredibly, Scientific American took down DN Lee’s response.
Happily there are copies, Sean Carroll has one on his site with an excellent forward.
So Ofek is a misogynist and Scientific American lack any understanding of the www (things are cached).
It transpires that Biology Online is associated with Scientific American.
It really is getting worse.
Since DN Lee’s post was taken down, no editorial people at Scientific American have been contactable since Friday evening.
Then I discovered that Scientific American is owned by Nature Publishing Group. No editorial response at from NPG either.
I being to understand.
To go back a few days to an apparently unrelated question. Consoling a colleague who had failed after 11 months to get a paper published in Nature Communications, I suggested that he was the victim of the institutional push for ‘glamour publications’ (#Glampub). I was then asked by an editor at NPG what is a glamour publication. I think I have the start of an answer.
A glamour publication aims to maximise exposure. If you want a big splash, publish with us – look we have a very high (if not the highest) impact factor. And so on.
It is the cult of exposure that corrupts. Exposure is seen as the end product and must be achieved by any means necessary. When it is allied to cash, in terms of grants, promotion, institutional league tables and company profit, we are indeed diving deeply into the inferno.
So combine a venerable institutions (Scientific American) that has played a long and important role in science communication with a push for glamour, a cult of exposure that generates in some a perception of power, and the result is DN Lee being called a whore, because she needs to be paid for her work.
I think this fits together. All that is missing is a consideration of what is meant by a scientific paper, something I may turn to in the future.
Update 23 October
Mariette di Christina, editor-in-chief, at Scientific American has posted an explanation. The explanation is that since DN Lee’s post concerned a private communication, Scientific American had to be certain of the veracity of the content for legal reasons. That may be an explanation, but it does not look to be the explanation. Had she been informed that Scientific American had to run some checks, then few would have seen a problem with that. This explanation really does not fit the facts: DN Lee was informed her post was being taken down because it wasn’t science.
Update 14 October
Ofek is sacked by Biology Online. I would recommend reading Popehat’s excellent take on both the events and on Biology online. It certainly helps in understanding the drive behind Biology online and this latest turn of events.
Update 15 October
Perhaps I don’t get the news in chronological order, but this apology from Bora Zivkovic, editor at Scientific American didn’t make sense in terms of how DN Lee was treated, but it is put into context by this post.
None of this makes us any the wiser as to what really happened at Scientific American. We now have DN Lee’s post back up, a head has rolled at Biology Online, perhaps one will roll at Scientific American. Perhaps people in positions of power will be a little less able to exert that power to exploit groups they have traditionally exploited? Time will tell.
Update 16 October
I think that JAYFYK has summarised some of what has happened at Scientific American nicely and with a great dose of humour.
My only comments at this stage are (1) Huffington Post no longer allows anonymous comments, something that sits awkwardly with elements of the argument in this particular posting and (2) JAYFK’s arguments are amongst the best I have come across.