#AssociateEditors #WorkStoppage @jbiogeography continues

Wiley’s responses over the past month have continued to dismiss the long-standing concerns of the editorial board. Their most recent response to the board is paraphrased and interpreted below.

Statement by the Group Vice President, Publishing, Wiley: I was on holiday, hence the belated response.  Interpretation / response: We don’t begrudge anyone vacation, but four staff at Wiley are on communications with the JBI editorial team. Resolving this issue constructively is such low priority for Wiley that they prefer any excuse to procrastinate.  

Statement by the Group Vice President, Publishing, Wiley: thank you for sharing the ideas, which provide much to consider. We care about research and access, and we are actively working to address your concerns. However, our immediate priority is to put a new editorial leadership and structure in place who will work with us to take the journal forward.   Interpretation / response: On the contrary, Wiley’s lack of meaningful response to the editorial board’s concerns is evidence that Wiley doesn’t care about research and access or the editorial boards’ concerns. They would like to replace the editorial board as fast as possible with a board that is compliant in prioritizing Wiley’s profits over access, affordability, equity, and editorial independence.    

Statement by the Group Vice President, Publishing, Wiley: We would like to work side by side with the editorial team; it is part of our job to listen and have regular, two-way conversations with editorial boards. Once we have the new team in place, we will commit to hosting a meeting (virtual or otherwise) to get some of these issues out on the table and explore them further.  Interpretation / response: There is an editorial team in place that is interested in discussing solutions. The past month is evidence that Wiley is not interested in working with the editorial team, hearing concerns, or acting upon them.    

Statement by the Group Vice President, Publishing, Wiley: We’d welcome having a proper discussion about JBI or the state of biogeography in general with any associate editors who happen to be at the ESA meeting in Portland. Interpretation / response: Wiley is refusing all invitations to discuss with the editorial board our most immediate and pressing concerns about the long-term success of the journal. They would prefer to delay and distract while they find editors who will be complicit with the publishing industry’s exploitation of the scientific community.  

As such, reaching the board’s target date of 31 July for a resolution, with no meaningful response from Wiley, the Associate Editors have decided to continue their work stoppage. The board’s communication of this to Wiley is provided below.

To [Wiley]:

Thank you for your recent message. Unfortunately, your reply continues to fail to respond directly to any of the concerns we raised. We disagree with your contention that these are matters for new editorial leadership operating within a new editorial structure. These are concerns of the current editorial board. By claiming otherwise, you simply emphasize that (1) Wiley continues to ignore the concerns of the current editorial board, as it has now done for 7 months, and that (2) Wiley seeks to encroach further on editorial independence, with inevitable negative consequences for the quality and standing of the journal.

Despite no meeting being scheduled by 31 July as requested, the remaining editorial team is still willing to meet with Wiley to discuss the grievances and to jointly explore solutions. However, before any meeting occurs (virtual or otherwise) we need to be provided with a clear idea of what Wiley is considering beyond leadership change. Time is of the essence for authors, as well as for the journal’s reputation, and we urge you to immediately make concrete proposals on the twelve issues we have raised. 

Your clear written response must deal with our grievances rather than discount them. As written in our original statement, “we are willing to reconsider our position at such time that Wiley takes on board the grievances listed … and we come to a compromise.” Failing a meaningful response by the deadline of July 31, the Associate Editors work stoppage will continue into August and beyond, as necessary. Already, many of us are committed to resigning; others are waiting to make up their minds depending on your responses. 

As such, the Associate Editors have decided upon four actions:

  1. some AEs will resign immediately in protest of the lack of response, a decision solidified for many by last week’s unwarranted termination of the Editor-in-Chief,
  2. some AEs will resign effective 28 Aug unless Wiley makes immediate concessions, establishes formal negotiations, and sets up an Editorial Advisory Board for the biogeography journals,
  3. some AEs reserve the right to resign depending on your responses, and 
  4. those AEs in (b) and (c) will continue the work stoppage pending a satisfactory response from Wiley.

Each AE will let you know of their individual decision. 

We repeat that immediate action is needed by Wiley to resolve the current dispute, and the need for candid discussion and policy changes on the following topics:   
1. As one of a variety of possible futures, a model must be developed for the possible case of fully flipping JBI to Gold OA — irrespective of whether there is or is not currently an explicit plan. In this, Wiley must guarantee a full or partial waiver (as needed) to any author whose manuscript is accepted but who does not have the funds to pay the regular APC. 

2. Irrespective of the publication model, OA fees for JBI must be more affordable, reflecting the actual cost of publication, which will help reduce inequity globally.

3. Irrespective of the publication model, there must be a meaningful waiver program so that researchers with insufficient funds are not disadvantaged.

4. In addition to the above, other elements supporting the journal’s stated ‘Global Biogeography Initiative’ should be enacted: 

  • free language support for non-English-as-a-first-language author teams during editorial and peer review
  • the Judith Masters Memorial Fund, while appreciated, is insufficient to cover all costs of attendance at an international meeting. The fund should be increased so that it would cover all expenses of attendance at an international conference/lab, for multiple eligible researchers.

5. Revise the ScholarOne interface and transfer scheme to facilitate JBI’s editorial policy on decisions, including transfers, encouraging sharing of decisions and reviews with any journal. 

6. Goals around growth must not come at the expense of the quality of the journal. The former should be driven by improvements in the latter. Therefore, goals to grow the journal must be accompanied with matching additional investment. At this point in time, the senior editorial team is against increasing the number of accepted papers. Rather, Wiley must invest in strategies that will increase the standing of JBI in comparison to other journals of comparable scope. 

7. Rewards for AEs must be reinstated to prior levels, i.e. at least one OA article per year in JBI (as first or senior author) or equivalent value (depending on the editors’ circumstances).

8. dEiC honoraria should be returned to pre-2019 levels. All honoraria should be automatically annually adjusted for Inflation. If more work is shifted to people receiving honoraria, the honoraria should increase accordingly; criteria for calculating honoraria should be transparent. 

9. More investment must be made in the scientific (Biogeography) community. We suggest levels akin to those returned to societies as a benchmark, as they are analogs for the biogeographic community that supports Wiley’s business model for JBI. Also see above re. APC waivers, Judith Masters Memorial Fund, honoraria, recompense for AEs.  In addition, this means increases in support for global colloquia. And it necessitates annual inflation-adjustment for all such investments; anything less is an effective disinvestment.

10. Non-Disclosure clauses must be removed from editor contracts.

11. Independence of the Editorial Board must be reified, and also clarified through contracts (e.g. exclusion of growth targets, transfer targets, NDAs, etc). 

12. Reinvestment in Production, revision of workflows, and returning oversight to the Editor-in-Chief. 

There are of course important points for discussion within many of these issues, for example:

  • What is the actual cost of publishing against which to benchmark APCs?
  • How to best determine the availability of funds to pay for APCs or to receive waivers/discounts?
  • What percentage of gross company profit should be re-invested in the community/journal?

The JBI editorial board is willing to begin these discussions immediately — we also recommend establishment of an Editorial Advisory Board for the Wiley Biogeography journals — which will be supported by Wiley staff, and provided with necessary information, independence, and standing to help Wiley make better informed decisions that support long term sustainability of the journals.

Furthermore, these revisions and commitments must be made publicly. It will be particularly important for Wiley to demonstrate its re-investment in the journal, in the biogeography community, and in the future. Wiley must similarly demonstrate it actually does respect editors, value the journal and the community it serves, and is committed to equitable access. Such measures will reassure the community that JBI (and Wiley in general) is a reliable partner for our work and service. 

Sincerely, and with best regards, 
The editors

Journal of Biogeography

Published by jbiogeography

Contributing to the growth and societal relevance of the discipline of biogeography through dissemination of biogeographical research.

3 thoughts on “#AssociateEditors #WorkStoppage @jbiogeography continues

  1. Full support for the editors of the Journal of Biogeography! From my own experience as a former associate editor and deputy editor-in-chief, I can fully support these points. Wiley has not the slightest interest in addressing the concerns of the scientific community and the editorial board. They put their profit and shareholder interests over editorial quality and freedom. This system is sick and needs to be changed urgently.

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