Update: see the comments section. The editors of the journal are calling this “a highly unusual and unfortunate error” and are taking steps to correct it.
Now, this is a situation that I haven’t seen mentioned before. A reader (from one division of a large pharma company that I won’t name) had prepared a manuscript along with several academic co-authors – it’s not directed toward any proprietary drug, nor indeed to any clinical trial the company was conducting. Rather, it’s a look at the cell biology of a range of reported compounds for their target of interest, a perfectly reasonable topic.
This was submitted to Leukemia, a SpringerNature journal, which from what I can see is an appropriate venue. After two weeks, the team got a rejection, but not quite the one that they expected. According to my correspondent, this was the complete text of the response:
Thank you for your email. I sincerely apologise for the delay replying. After confirming with the editorial team, the journal discourages submissions from industry and we are sorry not to be able to assist further.
Well now. If you look at the Leukemia site itself, specifically the “Guide to Authors” page, you will find no mention of any such policy. At least, I couldn’t find one. The “Aims and Scope” of the journal read as follows:
Leukemia covers all aspects of the research and treatment of leukemia and allied diseases. Studies of normal hemopoiesis are covered because of their comparative relevance. Topics of interest include oncogenes, growth factors, stem cells, leukemia genomics, cell cycle, signal transduction, molecular targets for therapy and more.
No mention of telling industrial researchers to buzz off. Perhaps they should update things so as not to waste the time of anyone who might actually be developing therapies to treat leukemia? If my correspondent has characterized things accurately – and I have no reason to believe that he hasn’t – even having academic collaborators will not be enough to remove the stain. Publish with Purity or Perish, folks.
Any comment from the other side of this issue? Editorial staff at Leukemia? Home office at Nature? I’ll gladly add to this post with whatever you might have to say – but let’s hear it.