imageA reader from Santa Barbara writes:

Has anyone on your blog or in the wider media noticed that Professor Alberto Carpinteri [pictured], the corresponding author of the paper published in Meccanica is also the Editor-in-Chief of that very same journal. In fact, the same email address is listed in both capacities making one wonder if he corresponds with himself. Another of the paper’s authors is also on the editorial board of the journal. It makes one wonder about how objective this journal is and how well the paper was peer reviewed.

A similar concern arose back in January of 2011 when Professor A. J. Timothy Jull co-authored a paper in Radiocarbon about the dating of the shroud while serving as editor of the journal. At the time, Paolo Di Lazzaro offered this perspective:

It isn’t the first time that an Editor is co-author of a paper submitted to its own journal. And usually the (formal) problem is easily solved by a blind review procedure.

As an example, I faced a similar spot when I submitted two papers for publication in the Proceeding volume of IWSAI (International Workshop on the Scientific approach to the Acheiropoietos images). I was co-author of two papers and at the same time editor of the Proceedings and responsible for the choice of the Referees.

I solved this problem asking to a colleague to manage the review procedure: select the Referees, receive from each Referee the anonymous review, and send me the same reviews. She received my reply and the corrected paper and she sent it to the Referees for the final response.

In summary, there are simple rules to avoid a conflict of interest. It is likely Jull followed the same method.

I am learning that it is quite common for scientists to publish in journals they edit. I do think, however, that full disclosure is needed. We shouldn’t be left to discover this by turning to “About Us” sections of a journal’s website.