Supplementary written evidence submitted
by the Royal Society of Chemistry (PR 68a)|
1. IN RELATION
TO Q26 (TRANSCRIPT)
You stated that you "deal with a lot of requests
from US referees, young academics, wanting a letter of endorsement
saying that they have acted as a referee for the RSC and that
they have been reasonably good at it. It will help them to gain
tenure". Can you provide us with further information on this,
in particular, how many requests you deal with in an average year
and what sort of information is required in the letter?
These requests normally come from young academics
working in the US, whose country of birth is elsewhere. For the
process of their application for US permanent residence as an
"Alien of Extraordinary Ability", they need to gather
as much information as possible for their immigration lawyers
on their skills and achievements. We receive about five requests
for support letters per week across all RSC journals. This currently
accounts for approximately 250 per year, although anecdotally
the number of such requests seems to have increased somewhat in
The RSC has a standard letter in response to such
requests which purely states facts on the number of times the
person in question has provided a referee report or published
a paper and for which journal. In the case of a referee, the letter
states that, "our journal editors select reviewers based
on their research expertise and experience". No comment is
made on the person's particular capability.
2. IN RELATION
TO Q30 (TRANSCRIPT)
Do all your journals participate
in cascading submissions/reviews? Do you have any data on: How
many articles get cascaded? What percentage of those offered take
up the invitation? What percentage of those cascaded articles
All RSC journals participate in cascading submissions/reviews
in some form, whether giving or receiving articles. Such "transfers"
may occur before or after peer review, depending on when it becomes
apparent a paper would be better suited to an alternative journal.
If after peer review, the referee reports are cascaded along with
the paper. A paper may or may not be accepted based on these previous
reports; it would depend on the nature of them and extent of revisions
which may be required. No article is ever transferred to another
journal without the consent of the authors. We see it as a way
to help authors publish their work in the most appropriate forum.
Accurate data on the number of articles cascaded
and published is difficult to track with the workflow system the
RSC uses as it may be several months or a different year before
a paper is resubmitted to another journal. Currently a small percentage
of published papers are the result of cascading; we would estimate
this as being in the region of 2%. The uptake rate of authors
depends largely on the particular journals in question.
Where inaccurate, misleading or fraudulent articles
are published, what processes are in place to ensure that corrections
or retractions are implemented in a timely fashion? Are retractions
published by all your journals free for everyone to read (or do
they sit behind a paywall)?
Where errors occur in published manuscripts yet the
main body of the paper remains viable, an Addition & Correction
statement is published. This appears on the web alongside the
article in question and is free to view. The same statement is
published in the final print issue of the year to complete the
When more serious errors are discovered, a retraction
may be considered. These are fairly rare in RSC publications and
only occur in the most serious cases which affect the entirety
of the article. In these cases, the electronic version can not
be taken down from the website, but the title of the article is
changed to include the words "Retracted article". The
text of the abstract is changed to indicate that the article has
been retracted and an additional page is added to the PDF for
all who download the article to see. See for example http://xlink.rsc.org/?DOI=10.1039/b815757j.
All this information is free to view.
As soon as the RSC editorial office is made aware
of any potential problems with a paper we act as quickly as possible
to ensure the scientific record is correct. It takes very little
time to arrange for these amending statements to appear.
1 June 2011