Barry Blackwell: Corporate Corruption in the Psychopharmaceutical Industry

Samuel Gershon’s comment


 The dramatic changes in the publishing industry produce huge cut backs in budgets for science journals. In our Bipolar Journal, we have had cessation of payment for the rent of our office, termination of salary for the editorial assistant and we will now be asked to terminate the salary of the managing editor. What has been put in place is secretarial staff without any background in medical or scientific writing. The entire phase of communication with authors and editors will be done by this staff with some input from editors.

            Reviewers are key to the entire review process and they contribute freely of their time or that has been the usual practice. As they provide two to four reviews per manuscript, a lot of work is involved even for one manuscript that may or may not be accepted for publication. The situation for reviewers in medical schools has changed drastically with the "tiger" (higher) level of commercialization in clinical operation.  A couple of the results of this has been that some reviewers no longer have time to do reviews and some of those who accept because of pressure of work produce minimal value documents.

            Another issue is that alternative publication options have appeared and will continue to change the pattern of publications available to authors. The procedures of some of these alternative publications are different. For example, we now have pay-to play, pay-to write and pay to review.

            One of the results of the changes is that the quality of the total pool of PUBLISHED data has been diluted. Our journal (Bipolar Disorders) ends up rejecting about 80 % of submissions and most, better journals do this or at a higher percentage. This has a dramatic effect on mixing data pools in meta-analysis methods to write a review on a specific topic. The amount of poor quality material has increased the pool of data and we have produced a "garbage in/garbage out" situation and a dilution of the quality of these data bases,

            This, is just one single example of the impact of the changes.


Samuel Gershon

March 9, 2017