A call to action to institute guidelines governing ethical publishing of science and medicine free of divisive political opinion. Change the corporate behavior of Elsevier!
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Science and medicine should be a cohesive force for uniting the worlds citizens.
We are greatly concerned that the current corporate policy of Reed Elsevier has enabled one of its major publications, The Lancet, to publish one sided, unbalanced, egregious anti-Israel invective, content that has no place in a general medical journal (An open letter for the people in Gaza Volume 384, Issue 9941, Pages 397 - 398, 2 August 2014).
Moreover, the authors of “The open letter to Gaza” failed to disclose, as required, their relevant personal and professional relationships, a direct violation of Elsevier conflict of interest guidelines.
Elsevier has neglected to exercise appropriate oversight in putting in place clear guidelines that dictate the limits of political opinion appropriate for publication in medical and scientific journals. Elsevier does not appear to adhere to guidelines that dictate how major conflict of interest violations are to be remedied, for example, by retraction of disputed articles.
Although we have collectively engaged Elsevier in an active dialogue surrounding this issue since the beginning of August, Elsevier has declined to accept responsibility or take remedial action, for publishing an inappropriate polemical letter written by a group of authors with a long history of anti-Israeli bias. Several authors of the Open Letter to Gaza have, in some instances, openly justified the 9/11 terrorist attacks, and, in other cases, circulated videos promoting the views of the Ku Klux Klan.
In publishing “An Open Letter for the people of Gaza”, The Lancet and Elsevier have supported and indirectly promoted accusations that Israel has willfully perpetrated a massacre in Gaza, while completely ignoring the more complex reality of a Hamas-initiated missile attack, from sites adjacent to or within hospitals, mosques, and UN facilities. These Hamas attacks were directed at Israeli civilian population centers, including schools, houses, and an international airport, and when Israel attempted to defend its citizens, The Lancet published content suggesting Israel was guilty of war crimes.
We believe that as the publisher, and owner of its journals and as the employer of its editorial staff, Reed Elsevier is directly responsible for ensuring that the editorial mandate of its publications is unambiguously defined, and that the content of its journals is accurate, free of bias, and falls within publicly stated editorial objectives that reflect the scientific scope defined for each specific publication.
Our view is that Elsevier must retract “An open letter for the people of Gaza”. This letter contains hateful falsehoods, malevolent political opinion, and inaccuracies that have no place in a general medical journal. Furthermore, to prevent future occurrences of this nature, we encourage Elsevier to put in place a rigorous and transparent code of conduct for its editorial staff that outlines that submissions containing hateful political opinion and unsubstantiated assertions have no place in its journals. Elsevier must make it very clear to its employees and customers where it stands on the politicization of its business units and publications. Finally, Elsevier must establish procedures and remedies for dealing with published content that has violated the Elsevier code of conduct.
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