[OSGeo-Discuss] [Geo4All] Draft of Open Letter on the importance to protecting independent peer review frameworks for Scholarly publications of Scientific Associations

Suchith Anand Suchith.Anand at nottingham.ac.uk
Wed Jul 25 04:18:36 PDT 2018

Hi Christian,

I will also connect you  to Prof. Michael P. Peterson  (University of Nebraska at Omaha, USA) so you can get more inputs and ideas . Michael is a distinguished academic . He is currently Chief Editor of one of the  GIS journals  . He also served as chair of the ICA’s publications committee from 2011-2015 and he helped start many of the journals of ICA.

Michael  emailed me few weeks back alerting me to lot of low quality and dubious submissions that his journal (it is not an ICA journal)  is receiving . They all were coming from  a particular country and asked for my advice . Though he did not provide me details, I trust his experience and wisdom .  I respect his conscience and courage to look into the problem (rather than ignoring it like many) . I think this is a problem that many Chief editors of journals today are facing.

Even if the Chief Editors can’t share individual paper details , my suggestion is that they all need to share summary data and statistics to help us understand the scale of the problem. Only Chief Editors of journals can do this as only they will have full picture. Individual reviewers may be aware of the problem but they  do not have full picture. We also need all the Scientific Associations to take strong stand on this and put in a unified action plan.

In my humble opinion, Scientific Associations/Organisations are the guardians of Science. Hence my plea to all of them to please ensure they all take steps to protect the integrity of Science.  They can only do this if they themselves put in strong structures for openness and transparency in decision making at all levels.

I am hoping all Scientific Associations will  join forces to find solution to this as it is global problem.  As I clearly told this is not an ICA problem or any vendor problem or one organisation problem. It is a global problem and everyone (Scientific organisations, academics, vendors, publishers, governments) need to join forces to help find solution . I am hoping  all Scientific Organisations will work on an action plan to help on this.

Best wishes,


From: Discuss <discuss-bounces at lists.osgeo.org> on behalf of Suchith Anand <Suchith.Anand at nottingham.ac.uk>
Sent: 25 July 2018 10:34
To: Christian Willmes; geoforall at lists.osgeo.org; OSGeo Discussions
Subject: Re: [OSGeo-Discuss] [Geo4All] Draft of Open Letter on the importance to protecting independent peer review frameworks for Scholarly publications of Scientific Associations

Thank you Christian for your inputs and offer of help in  articulate this issue. Greatly appreciated.

I think it is an unintentional mistake and I am very grateful that ICA colleagues have listened to my concerns. Though I don’t know any details, I understand from Anthony’s mail last week that ICA is not proceeding with  vendor GIS press for this publication. I hope ICA will have open and transparent discussions based on clear policy frameworks  in selecting whichever new book publisher and have clear guidelines in the future.

It is the duty of the Scientific Organisations to have clear policies and guidelines on selecting publishers , have open and transparent  decision making , ensure  free and open discussions with the community etc. If so, this clear conflict of interest issue would not have happened in the first place. My concern is  with the lack of openness in decision making process of selecting publishers for book projects etc.  I have waited over an year to get even any small  information on this .

I think it is important to give more time to get more ideas/inputs from the community on how we can rectify this problem for the future. I have put three suggestions . There may be more ideas.  So you and other colleagues are welcome to bring more ideas/inputs.

Feel free to create a shared document with your text/inputs . We can aim to give three months (Oct 2018) to help refine ideas , get inputs from all on what are the best practices for all Scientific associations to help us draft the Open Letter. We need to learn from this and not keep repeating these mistakes in the future. Hence these open discussions are aimed at learning and sharing ideas for good practices for all Scientific associations /Organisations in the future.

Best wishes,


From: Christian Willmes <c.willmes at uni-koeln.de>
Sent: 25 July 2018 07:31
To: Suchith Anand; geoforall at lists.osgeo.org; OSGeo Discussions
Subject: Re: [Geo4All] Draft of Open Letter on the importance to protecting independent peer review frameworks for Scholarly publications of Scientific Associations

Dear Suchith,

I agree with you on the matter, that publishing a book in context of United Nations initiative by esri is bad. I would also support to offiicialy articulate this somehow.
But the case you address was solved. As I understand, esri is no longer considered as the publisher for the book?
I also think, that there might be a big conflict of interest, if esri publishes a UN SDG book. But intil that is proven by some wrong doing from esri during the editing and publication process, we are talking not about facts. And as far as I know they didn't published an UN related book yet? Maybe ICA and Prof. Kraak understood this problem, after you raised your concerns about this issue last year. So, thank you very much for your caring about this issue a year ago, and as it seems you already won the battle!

What I see now, is at most a policy issue within ICA, that they may need to open up the process for deciding for a publisher of a book project, but I am not even sure about that, because they seem to have already a policy for that case in place?

Best regards,

Am 24.07.2018 um 22:51 schrieb Suchith Anand:

Dear Christian,

Thank you for you mail and inputs. This letter is draft and I welcome inputs from you and everyone to refine it.  I fully agree with you that we just need more transparency in science and also in the whole process of editing/reviewing and publishing a book.

I am happy to make the edits/changes needed that you suggested and I will request your help on this. I have provided all information that I have on this book project that I am aware of. I just do not know the details (what was the process of selecting the publisher, criteria etc).  If you are able to get details on this and share with the community, it will be very helpful. I did my best to get more information on the publisher decision process etc . For  some strange  reason, there was no openness in the whole process which is the main concern. So if there is no openness and transparency even in this then how do you think we can expect transparency in editing/reviewing process. I respectfully disagree with you that any GIS vendor if they are also running their  publication press, then they have no conflict of interest.

 It is the duty of scientific association to ensure there is transparency in science. Even ICA’s publication policy for conference proceedings  does not mention any GIS vendor press . Why?  Please see


All scholarly publications (edited books, journals, conference proceedings) should follow similar guidelines.  So I am very confused why and how a GIS vendor press was planned for this community book project.

I highlighted the global problem of increase in low quality submissions  and it is not an ICA problem or any Vendor problem or any single organisation problem.    Hence it is important that we are all very vigilant and take steps to protect the integrity of independent peer review frameworks  for Scholarly publications of Scientific Associations. If any  Scientific Associations themselves are not open and transparent in their decision making, then how can they  ensure independent peer review frameworks  for Scholarly publications!

I want to make it clear that I am not an author or coauthor on any articles submitted to this book project. So I do not have any personal conflict of interest in this. GeoForAll colleagues contributed for this book project in good faith. I did work to get GeoForAll colleagues to support and contribute for this book project. So I have a moral responsibility to make sure they are provided as much information and updates on this.  I have no issue if the GIS vendor publication press for this community book was selected by an open, transparent process.

I want us to look at the future not focus on mistakes made in past . Some mistakes have been made and I understand that this is corrected. We are all human , so we all make mistakes  So let us not focus on past mistakes but look at ideas on how we can strengthen the independent peer review frameworks  for Scholarly publications of Scientific Associations in the future.

I have worked with many properitary  GIS vendors and I have great respect for all of them and always welcomed them.  I have raised my concern with some  open source vendors also if I find any thing that undermines openness.  I am the view that both open and properitary systems have an important place and need to work together  . We are all part of a big ecosystem all working for Geo.   I  believe in  open discussions to help find better understanding.  For me,  Openness means being open to different perspectives ,ideas, viewpoints, cultures  and learning and improving to be a better human every day...

Best wishes,


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