Dear Elsevier Editors,
This is to inform you of a very disturbing situation that was brought to my attention recently and that involves your Publishing House.
The issue no 22/2015 of Procedia Economics and Finance published the proceedings of the international conference entitled ‘Economic Scientific Research – Theoretical, Empirical and Practical Approaches’, ESPERA 2014, 13-14 November 2014, Bucharest, Romania. But, unfortunately, some of the papers published in this issue do not seem to meet the minimum requirements of a decent research paper.
On your website you do announce that “selection and/or peer-review are under responsibility of the Scientific Committee of ESPERA 2014”, but you also argue that “Procedia is an online collection of high quality conference proceedings”, and this is why I do consider that you do have a responsibility as far as the quality of the research papers published in your journals is concerned.
I give you one example: a three and a half pages long article entitled „Sustainability of social enterprises: A discourse analysis” (.pdf) and signed by Adriana Neguţ.
The author argues that
the paper aims at analysing the discourses of professionals from the social economy field on the sustainability of social enterprises and of the entire sector, as well as its potential to contribute to improving the quality of life and to local development”.
To reach its aim, the paper presumably uses
secondary analysis of data obtained through semi-structured interviews and focus groups of professionals with diverse experiences in the field of social economy in 2013, as part of the Inclusive – Active – Efficient project. The respondents come from the NGO sector, as well as the academic sector, and are experienced in education, social economy, and social inclusion, from the development regions Bucharest – Ilfov, North-East, South and West. During the interviews and focus groups, sustainability was inevitably brought up by the respondents, whereas the topics which generated most discussion on sustainability were the impact on projects cofunded by the European Social Fund on social economy and the future of social economy entities after the funding ended.”
This is not my field of expertise, but I do dare to observe that the author does not tell us how she selected her interviewees and the respective NGOs, what “diverse experiences” mean, what type of experience is relevant and why, what “experienced in education” means, how many interviewees were involved in the project, where is the archive with the respective interviews in case someone wants to verify the conclusion of the researcher etc. The author does not seem to use previous literature and all interviews were conducted in 2013, but she concludes nevertheless that “discourses on the sustainability of social enterprises are recent”.
Given these suspicions, could you please appoint some independent scholars to review the article in question (as well as other articles in this issue of the Procedia Economics and Finance) to see if it contravenes the Elsevier publishing policy somehow and if it needs to be retracted/ withdrawn.
Moreover, the research that is at the basis of this article was financed with EU money – a POSDRU research grant run by one of the institutes of the Romanian Academy, and this involves another question that you might want to answer: How much public (POSDRU) money did Elsevier receive from the conference organizers to publish their proceedings?
UPDATE: 7 July 2015
In less than 24 hours, I received a first response from Elsevier, India (why India?):
Dear Dr. Dragomir,
Many thanks for flagging the below concern to us. I would like to keep you informed that I am currently investigating on the below problem and I have contacted the Editors of this issue for further discussions. I will check on the reviewer reports received for this issue and will get back to you once I hear from the Editors/organizer of the issue.
Thank you for your kind patience.
Publishing Support Manager
Publishing Development & International Markets | STM Journals | Elsevier
Elsevier India, International Tech Park | Crest – 5th Floor | Taramani Road | Taramani | Chennai 600 113 | India
UPDATE, 29 December 2015: Finally, the article has been retracted!