Vol 72, No 2 (2022)
Letter to the Editor
Published online: 2022-01-24

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Does the culture of science publishing need to change from the status quo principle of “trust me”?

Jaime A. Teixeira da Silva1
Nowotwory. Journal of Oncology 2022;72(2):137-138.


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Letter to the Editor

NOWOTWORY Journal of Oncology

2022, volume 72, number 2, 137–138

DOI: 10.5603/NJO.a2022.0001

© Polskie Towarzystwo Onkologiczne

ISSN 0029–540X, e-ISSN: 2300-2115


Does the culture of science publishing need to change from the status quo principle of “trust me”?

Jaime A. Teixeira da Silva
Independent researcher, Kagawa-ken, Japan

How to cite:

Teixeira da Silva JA. Does the culture of science publishing need to change from the status quo principle of “trust me”? NOWOTWORY J Oncol 2022; 72: 137–138.

This article is available in open access under Creative Common Attribution-Non-Commercial-No Derivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) license, allowing to download articles and share them with others as long as they credit the authors and the publisher, but without permission to change them in any way or use them commercially.

Dear Nowotwory. Journal of Oncology Editor,

Two recent editorials by Komorowski [1] and Ożegalska-Trybalska [2] leave readers with much to reflect on regarding the state of academic and science publishing, as well as the dynamics of the peer review process. This is because science publishing, including cancer research, is in a highly transformative if not revolutionary period. For authors and journals whose papers have been retracted, it is a painful period that may ultimately destroy their careers, reputations, and legends [3]. Some of that change is fueled by a desire from a segment of academia to replace the current publishing status quo, or the publishing oligopoly [4]. These are journals that have come to dominate fields of research, bolstered by indexing on powerful, prestigious and highly visible platforms (such as PubMed, Scopus, or Web of Science), and which have been assigned pseudo-quality metrics (the Clarivate impact factor or the Scopus CiteScore).

Collectively, these journals have operated in a vanity-based publishing culture where peer perception of academics is judged more by where they publish rather than what they publish. That status quo mentality, which remains the dominant “force” in academic publishing today, relies on the principle of “trust me”, i.e., publishers blindly trust editors, editors blindly trust peer reviewers and authors, and authors blindly trust editors, peer reviewers, and publishers. This triangle of metrics-indexing-“trust me” subsequently breeds unhealthy competition, where academics are then “taught” to aspire to these pseudo-academic parameters, rather than focusing on core scientific values and principles. Such an unhealthy and unscholarly environment can breed a “publish or perish” culture and encourage exploitative and predatory practices, in which unscholarly forces including predatory publishers then try to attract intellect and money (article processing fees in the case of open access) away from status quo journals [5]. Ironically, actual or perceived “predatory” journals and publishers, despite being vilified, have managed to successfully capture a sector of the academic publishing market, using sometimes unscrupulous and untrustworthy means to attract work from academics that are blindly ingrained in the “trust me” culture. This includes peer reviewers and editors who are used as free labor [6], pulled between requests to serve the status quo and also potentially predatory publishers. This ultimately leads to the over-exploitation of peers and editors, who then become overburdened, exhausted, uninspired, strapped for time, and ultimately burnt out. As a result, attention to detail, ethics, and a whole host of basic scholarly principles are being ignored, neglected, or undetected in status quo journals during the peer review and editorial quality control. This may explain the “reviewers just don’t care anymore” sentiment that Komorowski referred to [1].

A new status quo is trying to replace the current oligopolistic status quo, sometimes forcefully, especially through post-publication critique. For simplicity sake, let us refer to that new status quo as members of the “open science” and “replication” movements. In these movements, there is broad recognition that the current status quo has failed academia at various levels culturally, structurally, morally, ethically and scientifically leading to a state of “crisis”, as is being evidenced in psychology [7], cancer research [8, 9], and public health and medicine [10]. A blanketed generalization cannot be made about all status quo journals and publishers, and many hopefully still pursue honest scientific value as their bulwark modus operandi. Part of post-publication peer review involves revealing errors, fraud, and lack of reproducibility, thereby revealing fraudulent paper mill-derived research, fake authors [11], and other scientific diseases that Ożegalska-Trybalska has alluded to [2].

To some extent, the tools (plagiarism detection software, Publons, etc.) and organizations (e.g., COPE, ICMJE, etc.) that were put in place to offer protection have failed the academic community [12] because they were serving the vanity-based status quo scientific publishing paradigm, without appreciating that the flaw actually lies with the “trust me” culture. The lack of criminalization of extreme fraud in academic publishing [13] is leading to the existence of an ethical and legal void, as Ożegalska-Trybalska [2] alludes to, while referring to paper mills: “it is more difficult to find formal grounds to question the legality of entities” (p. 315). The fact that error and retractions are part of a trend or culture of stigmatization [14] is also not helpful to reform the culture of science publishing from one of “trust me” to one of “don’t trust anyone or anything; instead, build trust”.

Conflict of interest: none declared

Jaime A. Teixeira da Silva

Ikenobe 3011-2
Kagawa-ken 761-0799, Japan
e-mail: jaimetex@yahoo.com

Received: 16 Oct 2021
Accepted: 6 Nov 2021


  1. Komorowski A. Reviewers just don’t care anymore. Nowotwory J Oncol. 2021; 71(5): 312–313, doi: 10.5603/njo.2021.0057.
  2. Ożegalska-Trybalska J. Prostate cancer in women – a rare medical event or a new disease of peer-reviewed science publications? Nowotwory J Oncol. 2021; 71(5): 314–315, doi: 10.5603/njo.2021.0058.
  3. Teixeira da Silva JA, Dobránszki J, Al-Khatib A. Legends in science: from boom to bust. Publ Res Quart. 2016; 32(4): 313–318, doi: 10.1007/s12109-016-9476-1.
  4. Larivière V, Haustein S, Mongeon P. The oligopoly of academic publishers in the digital era. PLoS One. 2015; 10(6): e0127502, doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0127502, indexed in Pubmed: 26061978.
  5. Teixeira da Silva JA, Dobránszki J, Tsigaris P, et al. Predatory and exploitative behaviour in academic publishing: An assessment. J Acad Libr. 2019; 45(6): 102071, doi: 10.1016/j.acalib.2019.102071.
  6. Teixeira da Silva JA, Katavić V. Free editors and peers: squeezing the lemon dry. Ethics & Bioethics. 2016; 6(3-4): 203–209, doi: 10.1515/ebce-2016-0011.
  7. Gehlbach H, Robinson C. From old school to open science: The implications of new research norms for educational psychology and beyond. Educ Psychologist. 2021; 56(2): 79–89, doi: 10.1080/00461520.2021.1898961.
  8. Errington TM, Mathur M, Soderberg CK, et al. Investigating the replicability of preclinical cancer biology. eLife. 2021; 10, doi: 10.7554/eLife.71601, indexed in Pubmed: 34874005.
  9. Teixeira da Silva JA. Issues and challenges to reproducibility of cancer research: a commentary. Future Oncol. 2022 [Epub ahead of print], doi: 10.2217/fon-2021-1378, indexed in Pubmed: 35068184.
  10. Hicks DJ. Open science, the replication crisis, and environmental public health. Account Res. 2021 [Epub ahead of print]: 1–29, doi: 10.1080/08989621.2021.1962713, indexed in Pubmed: 34330172.
  11. Rivera H, Teixeira da Silva JA. Retractions, fake peer review, and paper mills. J Korean Med Sci. 2021; 36(24): e165, doi: 10.3346/jkms.2021.36.e165, indexed in Pubmed: 34155837.
  12. Teixeira da Silva JA. A reality check on publishing integrity tools in biomedical science. Clin Rheumatol. 2021; 40(5): 2113–2114, doi: 10.1007/s10067-021-05668-w, indexed in Pubmed: 33763798.
  13. Teixeira da Silva JA. A dangerous triangularization of conflicting values in academic publishing: ORCID, fake authors, and risks with the lack of criminalization of the creators of fake elements. Epistēmēs Metron Logos. 2021(7): 1, doi: 10.12681/eml.27238.
  14. Teixeira da Silva JA, Al-Khatib A. Ending the retraction stigma: Encouraging the reporting of errors in the biomedical record. Res Ethics. 2019; 17(2): 251–259, doi: 10.1177/1747016118802970.

Nowotwory. Journal of Oncology