Publishing ethics and integrity with Dr. Sabina Alam

Video and transcript

The common denominator for all parts of the Taylor & Francis Group is the delivery of high-quality, trusted content.

In the fifth episode of our new video series, learn about the work Dr. Sabina Alam does on publishing ethics and integrity. You'll also find out what "paper mills" are, and how Taylor & Francis is tackling them.

Transcript and audio description

Sabina Alam: I love playing the guitar and the very first song I learned to play was "Smelly Cat" from "Friends." I'm Sabina Alam. I'm the Director of Publishing Ethics and Integrity at Taylor & Francis Group Journals.

Shots of a hand turning pages in a book, a group of people working in an office, and a person editing a manuscript during Sabina's introduction. Moving images of a journal being printed, a person using a pencil to underline in a book, followed by a woman taking a library book down from a shelf. 

Sabina: My role as Director of Publishing Ethics and Integrity is to ensure that all of our editorial processes and policies at Taylor & Francis are designed to ensure the integrity of what we publish, and where there are issues that we are well placed to address those issues quickly and comprehensively as well.

Shots of a large group of people walking through a city, and people scrolling on their phones.  

Sabina: One of the challenges that we see within the integrity of the content that we publish is to do with paper mills.

Audio is complemented by a person highlighting content on an iPad, a close-up of a man with glasses on his laptop, the back of a man's head who is reading a large monitor, and a person scrolling on their phone with a close-up of a hand. 

Sabina: Paper mills are usually third-party agencies that will actually put fraudulent manuscripts together, submit to the journals, and actually sell authorship to those articles as well.

Shown while Alam is talking about paper mills are shots of a hand scrolling on a phone, a close-up of an eye, a man on his iPad, and a large crowd of people walking on a city sidewalk. 

Sabina: Paper mills are highly adaptive. They tend to learn based on the kind of queries that we make, so we need to stay ahead of that. What we're working on are what are the preventative measures that we need, what kind of training is needed for editors, but also colleagues. The other things are auditing journals that are at risk so we can get ahead of it and stopping these articles getting published in the first place.

While Sabina is talking about preventative measures we see shots of a handwriting in a notebook, a group of people working together on an office project, a close-up of a computer keyboard, and a blurry close-up of text in a book. 

Sabina: Really, the only way to tackle this at scale is via technology. So much of what we have to keep on top of are the trends and to track those trends and to report those trends as well back across other stakeholders.

Audio is complemented by two people sharing spreadsheets of data on the laptops.  

Sabina: We're working with organizations as well as other publishers so we can collectively formulate the guidance and tools that are needed to tackle paper mills. A very good collaboration that has come out has been through the STM organization.

Audio is complemented by two women speaking to each other in an office, and a group of people collaborating on a project on a large conference room table using spreadsheets and data. 

Sabina: They launched the Research Integrity Hub, and what that is doing is gathering information, gathering stakeholders together, so that we can share the knowledge together, and also that helps them to develop the tools that need to be created now for us to tackle paper mills.

Shots of a city street with a vintage street clock, large groups of people moving through an underground subway, and people working at their desks in an office. 

Sabina: Paper mills is an example of deliberate misconduct but actually a large part of the ethics issues that we tackle with our misconduct that happens due to either miseducation or lack of awareness about publishing ethics standards.

Audio is complemented by an ominous-looking person, bathed in blue light typing on a keyboard, and a close-up of a concerned-looking man in glasses.  

Sabina: We see real global variations in terms of where plagiarism is misunderstood. Plagiarism is still a problem, rights, and responsibilities of authors. People aren't always fully aware of it. The kind of misconduct that can occur simply because there are differing standards or there's a lack of awareness is also quite high up there.

Shots of city streets, people typing on laptops, a person on his phone. Then we see film of a Taylor & Francis office, with the front desk and "Taylor & Francis" logo on the wall, images of people in an online meeting, and more scenes of people walking, shaking hands, and interacting in an office. 

Sabina: At Taylor & Francis we make a lot of efforts to do outreach activities with authors and institutions to raise the awareness about publishing ethics standards. What I'm most passionate about actually is improving the standards of publishing ethics to really keep in touch with how research is changing and how the needs of researchers are changing. Really keeping pace, really enhancing how research is disseminated, how it's reported is super important and that's the part that I am the most passionate about and I think it's where the value of publishers is as well.

Audio is completed by shots of a person at his desk in an office, a person scanning information in a book, and a person flipping through a book. 

Sabina: Scholarly research, scientific research is so important to human progress, and so protecting the integrity of that is something I feel very, very passionately about.

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