|Figure 1: Publications identified from Web of Science**|
|Figure 2: Matson citations from Web of Science**|
|Figure 3: Comparison of self-citation rate for autism/ID researchers***|
**Search terms were AUTHOR: (matson j*) AND TOPIC: (autism OR intellectual)
Update 5th February 2015
In the past few days there have been some new developments.
On 2nd Feb, Alicia Wise (@wisealic) of Elsevier responded to a concerned tweet from @DavidPriceUCL to say
Hi, David - colleagues have been speaking to community about new Editors-in-Chief; appointments will be announced shortly.
You have to download the pdfs to see the information. The Feb issue list Matson as editor and gives the full editorial board. The March issue deletes the editorial board but retains Matson as editor. We might, from Alicia Wise's tweet, have expected the opposite.
I have, of course, no idea if these changes relate to anything in this blogpost.
Update 7th February 2015
Michelle Dawson pointed out on Twitter that back in June 2013 she suggested that someone should look at how far the impact factor of RASD and RIDD is affected by Matson's self-citations. I doubt there'd be much effect on RIDD, where Matson's papers constitute only around 1% of articles, but I did the sums for RASD. Readers who have access to Web of Science can see the historical impact factor data here. I simply recomputed the data after searching for papers in a 2-year period with the search term NOT Matson J* as author. I had to read the N citation data from the bar plot you get from citation reports in Web of Science, so precision not guaranteed, but here's what it looks like:
P.S. I am hearing on the grapevine that people have had papers accepted in RASD and RIDD without reviewing, but nobody seems willing to say that publicly. If there are any brave souls out there who are prepared to speak out, please can you do so via Comments. Thanks.
Update 14th February 2015
In the comments below, Michael Osuch, Publishing Director for Neuroscience & Psychology journals at Elsevier, has added some notes of clarification. He states: "Under Dr Matson’s editorship of both RIDD and RASD all accepted papers were reviewed, and papers on which Dr Matson was an author were handled by one of the former Associate Editors. Dr Matson and his team of Associate Editors stepped down at the end of 2014."
The issue of Matson's papers being handled by an Associate Editor is key. When discussing this point, some people have argued that editors should never publish in their own journal. I disagree, and think it is reasonable provided (a) it is a relatively rare occurrence and (b) the paper is handled by an Associate Editor (AE) who ensures that the paper is subjected to a rigorous review. In such cases it is crucial that the AE is someone who will not be unduly influenced by their relationship with the editor.
Update 15th February 2015
An email from a colleague reads as follows re another Associate Editor at RASD, Jeff Sigafoos:
"I have heard of several colleagues having papers accepted extremely quickly at Developmental Neurorehabilitation. The editor at that time was Jeff Sigafoos, but I think he has since stepped down from that position.
Anyway, I looked up Jeff Sigafoos website...look at his publication list: http://www.victoria.ac.nz/education/about/staff/publications-jeff-sigafoos
...an amazing number of papers in RIDD and RASD. "
I should add that Developmental Neurorehabilitation is not an Elsevier journal: it is published by Informa Healthcare.
Finally, you might ask whether anyone is hurt by this. I think the answer is that it is damaging to other people who published in any of these journals in good faith, and who now will have the validity of their work questioned because of inadequate peer review.