A previous blog post highlighted concerns regarding the recent sale of the journal Tobacco Regulatory Science and questioned whether the journal was likely now a predatory journal. Time would certainly tell. Now the wait is over and in my view, the answer is a resounding “Hell, yeah!” This week we saw the table of contents for the first issue solely published by the new “owners”.
A whopping 24 papers were published in that one issue, half of which appear to have no relationship to tobacco whatsoever, and of those 12 that did, it appears there is little relevance to Tobacco Regulatory Science. Consider paper titles such as “Countermeasures for tobacco Industrial Cluster Development,” “Construction of Essential Care Service Package for People Living with Dementia in smoke-free Environment under Disease Pandemic in China,” and “Study On the Ideological and Political Construction of College Courses from the Content of tobacco Control Education.” (note: typos not mine, but the journal’s). All of the “tobacco” focused papers were about China – and it appears all of the papers are from China, for reasons which are unclear, as the journal previously published work on tobacco regulatory science predominately from the US in the context of FDA authority over tobacco products (Note that this observation is not intended to minimize the many rigorous, outstanding scientific contributions from China and Chinese researchers published in many reputable journals, but to observe that this journal no longer appears to reflect either its title focus or mission). My original blog also highlighted doubling of manuscript fees and extremely high submission volume for the journal. The 24 published papers match that narrative – especially when one considers that from January to May 2021 the journal only published a total of 19 papers across three issues.
I’m also sorry to tell many of my colleagues that your names are still linked to this dumpster fire. Indeed, while I was happy to see my name finally removed from the website, over one hundred tobacco control scholars continue to be listed as editors or reviewers. I don’t have any secret sauce for getting your names removed, but perhaps hundreds of angry emails to the “Principal Contact” (firstname.lastname@example.org) or “Support Contact” (email@example.com) might result in the website (which does not seem to be secure) shutting down. It may be that some of the legal scholars whose names are included should weigh in. Last but not least, please do share the news of the journal’s untimely demise with your mentees so they will not be lured to publish their work in a journal that appears to all intents and purposes to have imploded.
Cristine Delnevo is Director of the Rutgers Center for Tobacco Studies and Professor of Health Behaviour, Society & Policy, at the Rutgers School of Public Health.