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A bill of rights for authors?

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An enquiry of several mid- or late-career much-published engineers and scientists about their experiences having their papers and books published will usually produce a surprising number of ‘horror stories’. If one discounts the tendency of many people to prefer transmitting, and possibly embellishing, bad news rather than good, one is still left with the strong impression that serious ethical lapses can take place in the reviewing and editing processes. The most serious problems are very long delays – periods of two years are often experienced – before acceptances or rejections of manuscripts are made known. All too often, such a delay is coupled with the appearance of a publication on the same topic by a (suspected) later-starting rival. In several cases, authors have claimed proof that these rivals were reviewers of their papers. In some cases, the reviewer has even ‘lifted’ material from the submitted manuscript. This is a very difficult area for editors and publishers to police. A group of aggrieved authors in the US drew up a ‘bill of rights’ and negotiated, with some success, with the then-editor of Science for its acceptance.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: MIT, Cambridge, MA, USA

Publication date: 1999-10-01

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  • Editor in Chief: Pippa Smart
    North American Editor: Judy Luther

    Learned Publishing is the journal of the Association of Learned and Professional Society Publishers, published in collaboration with the Society for Scholarly Publishing. The journal is published quarterly in January/April/July/October.

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    Learned Publishing will be moving to Wiley-Blackwell as of January 1, 2016. Please contact the publisher at for information on how to continue access to this title.
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