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Italian Journal of Engineering Geology and Environment, 1 (2016)
© Sapienza Università Editrice
DOI: 10.4408/IJEGE.2016-01.O-ED
Today, the management of a Scientific Journal, relying on
a transparent peer-review process, poses a number of scarce-
ly debated issues. To tackle these issues in an adequate way,
within the academic and scientific community, we should take
into account all the viewpoints at play and try to meet the
needs of researchers, while guaranteeing a transparent vetting
process. By their nature, researchers look well beyond the ho-
rizon, i.e. at the other side of the coin. However, the two sides
of the coin have become insufficient to get a full understanding
of the current evolution of scientific research and innovation.
A cube, with six sides, may be the most suitable way to analyse
the numerous facets of the problem. In addition to the above-
mentioned aspects, the exponential development of the web
era, the availability of increasingly richer and wider databases,
the need to experiment more and more advanced vetting sys-
tems, responding to the current requirements of the knowledge
community, have brought the publishing market to the fore.
This market, which consists of a variety of players, may con-
taminate the research review system. The peer-review process
has enabled the scientific community to ensure more trans-
parency to research publications. Nonetheless, this process
may give rise to a poorly scientific “market” and to a scarcely
“democratic” system for the selection of publications. This is
particularly true when the academic and research world makes
“rewarding” choices, which are based on the quantitative data
of publications, obtained from bibliographic databases that of-
ten give preference to the container rather than to the content.
All this may favour the creation of a “commercial market”
of publications (fortunately in a still low number of cases).
In this regard, the Washington Post launched a cry of alarm
on 27 Mar. 2015, reporting that BioMed Central, the British
publisher, had to retract a certain number of scientific papers
owing to irregularities in the peer-review process. The pres-
ence of “publishing agencies” was also mentioned. Through
unclear mechanisms, these agencies promote scientific papers
of doubtful origin, written by authors that are unknown or,
even worse, cannot be identified through the e-mail addresses
di / by
. a
Scientific Editor-in-Chief
associated with the corresponding author. Even in our Jour-
nal, we had some attempts of this kind, fortunately blocked
after careful examination of the origins of the manuscripts and
of the quoted universities. Finally, all this may have a non-
negligible effect, i.e. the “levelling of research”, when impor-
tant journals open fast tracks to publications whose content
is shared, especially by the communication system. In some
fields of research, which have become very popular, such as
Climate Change and Global Warming, these practices may
choke embryonic ideas and investigations whose viewpoints
differ from the prevailing opinion of the IPCC, encouraged by
some political sectors of western countries. The research com-
munity underestimates this aspect, passively witnessing pro-
gressive cuts in research funding and being subject to political
decisions of strong social impact, ranging from the Kyoto Pro-
tocol in 1997 to the Paris Agreement in 2015.