A large majority (~85%) of the Associate Editors at the Journal of Biogeography (JBI) is participating in a work stoppage, beginning immediately (29th June 2023) because of an unresolved dispute with the journal’s publisher, Wiley.
Their concerns center on inequity in Open Access publication models, unrealistic targets for growth, increasing emphasis on transferring rejected manuscripts to ‘cascade’ journals, and related matters. Their statement is provided in full below.
The Associate Editors’ action amplifies issues raised recently by the Editor-in-Chief, who has resigned because Wiley refused to discuss the editorial board’s concerns.
The concerns raised by the Associate Editors affect all publishing scientists, and have outsized impacts on the least resourced. The senior editorial team of JBI respects the individual circumstances of all Associate Editors at the journal — who have worked diligently without recompense for the benefit of the scientific community — and their decisions to participate or not in the work stoppage. They do not take this action lightly.
We apologize that authors submitting new manuscripts to the journal during the work stoppage should anticipate delays in handling of their submissions.
Chief Editor, Journal of Biogeography
University of California-Merced
Journal Manager, Journal of Biogeography
28 June 2023
Dear Dr. Dawson and Ms. Donnelly:
We are writing to inform you that we, as Associate Editors of the Journal of Biogeography (JBI), are currently unwilling to handle any new JBI manuscripts, due to a difference of opinion on the following issues:
- The full Open Access model: We do not support the switch to fully open access, because this disadvantages researchers that are unable to afford to publish their work using the pay-to-publish business model. This publishing model severely hampers the research visibility of early career researchers and those in countries with low to middle economies who cannot afford the OA fees. At the same time, this system promotes the visibility of those researchers with ample funds to pay to publish and allows unfair free access to their content. This creates a system where those that have funds will always become more cited than those that do not have funds to pay for their work to be visible.
- The proposed increase in throughput for the journal: This proposed change appears to be an attempt at maximising business profits, at the expense of AE’s time spent processing additional outputs and with a potential negative impact to real or perceived article quality. As Associate Editors, we would like to remind the publisher that we work gratis, for the good of the community. Our free time spent in professional service through editing for JBI is not intended to be used to maximise profit.
- Automatic referral to other Wiley journals: We are firmly against this option, because it takes away author choice and editorial discretion. The authors are providing their content for free to Wiley, and therefore the choice is entirely theirs as to which outlet they prefer their work to be published in. As editors, we are often able to suggest more appropriate journal outlets for particular manuscripts, and these outlets may or may not be in the Wiley family of journals. Again, our service is given to the field of biogeography, and not to Wiley itself.
We are aware that Wiley has not been willing to compromise on any of these topics, and therefore we are currently under a work stoppage as AEs. From June 28, we will not accept any editorial duties for new manuscripts. So that this action does not impede our colleagues with submitted manuscripts, we will continue to handle manuscripts that are already out for review or in revision.
We are willing to reconsider our position at such time that Wiley takes on board the grievances listed above, and we come to a compromise. We propose a deadline of July 31 for resolution of these matters, after which time we will be willing to resume AE duties. We are also ready to resign our positions if no compromise can be reached. Please note that as Associate Editors, we work without any remuneration or compensation, and our ultimate goal is to advance the field of biogeography by supporting high-quality, peer-reviewed, cutting-edge research. The Journal of Biogeography has a proud history as a thought leader in our discipline, and we are firmly against any development of a business model that maximises profit but places in jeopardy the academic quality of the Journal of Biogeography.