Gambling with someone’s reputation (Part 1)

I have always adhered to Oscar Wilde’s dictum that “there is only one thing in life worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about”. However, after all the things that have been alleged about me and my work over the last few weeks on social media, I have little option but to make some formal responses, especially now that I have been asked to comment by national media. I’ve always been advised by my mentors and by those people I trust not to fight battles on social media. This is going to be the first of a number of brief statements I will make concerning various allegations that have been made about me.

My first statement relates to a blog by Dorothy Bishop had written about editorial practices relating to a couple of the journals I regularly publish in (namely the Journal of Behavioral Addictions [JBA] and the International Journal of Mental Health and Addiction [IJMHA]) entitled ‘Percent by most prolific’ author score: a red flag for possible editorial bias’. The journals named have done nothing wrong and neither have I. Bishop appeared to be questioning some of their editorial practices. A statement by the JBA has now appeared on Bishop’s blog.

In addition to the statement by the publisher of the JBA, I was also given information about my own papers submitted to the journal. This information was supplied to me but does not appear in the formal response. The publisher’s analysis led to a number of observations.

The first thing to say “in contrast to the statement in the blogpost, the dates when a manuscript was received by the journal, as well as the dates of receiving all the revisions, and finally the date of acceptance are publishedon the front page of all JBA papers from the very first issue.”

Using these dates anyone can check how fast the final accepted papers are going through the review process. In the case of the papers I have authored or co-authored, on average, 110 days passed between the original submission and the final decision. For the accepted papers, the shortest period was 32 days and the longest one 349 days (decisions about rejection were usually made sooner). In contrast to the statement in Bishop’s post, this is even longer than the overall mean of 91.51 days for all papers submitted to JBA.

The JBA’s ‘Editorial Manager’ system shows that there were 92 papers I had authored/co-authored that have been submitted to JBA since the journal’s inception in 2012 (and in most cases I was a co-author rather than being the first author or corresponding author). Of these 92 papers, 61 of these papers were eventually accepted, 25 rejected, and further two were withdrawn (and four are still under review). This means the acceptance rate of papers I authored or co-authored was 66.3% acceptance rate, compared to 40.7% for all JBA submissions in the system. The acceptance rate is higher than for all papers. However, I am personally not surprised given my and my co-authors’ standing in the behavioral addiction field. According to the Web of Science, the average number of citations papers that I have published in the JBA is 22.77, compared to 13.88 for all JBA papers.    

The publisher of the JBA also noted that: “Regarding the review process, we have to emphasize that in accordance with the commitment on the journal’s website, all the submissions (including both those co-authored by Prof. Griffiths and those not) were peer reviewed by at least two peer reviewers (and sometimes by more).”

Bishop also seemed to suggest that because I was on the editorial boards of these journals that I shouldn’t be publishing in them. The JBA publisher noted:

“We do not think that a researcher should not publish in a journal just because he/she has an editorial role in that certain journal because he/she collaborates with any of the editors. That happens in the case of most journals. Similarly, in the case of the JBA, many of the editorial board members and the associate editors (including the editor-in-chief) publishes papers in the journal, which we believe is acceptable and welcome. These researchers are the top scientists of this field and that’s why they were chosen to be part of the editorial system. However, this should not exclude them from contributing to the field via JBA. The important issue here, is that the review process must be independent which, based on our investigation is fully secured in the case of JBA.”.

I don’t have the statistics for the IJMHA but my guess is that they would be in the same ballpark for submission of papers that I have authored/co-authored.

Dr. Mark Griffiths, Professor of Behavioural Addiction, International Gaming Research Unit, Nottingham Trent University, Nottingham, UK