If you are in academia, you might have noticed that your contact information is being sold, sometimes you collaborate with a person with a very specific research line and background and get an invitation to review, submit to this journal you never heard of despite not working on these topics - I got one on veterans medicine - luckily they responded to my requests to not receive reviewer invitations anymore after a couple of times. But more disturbingly, when you submit to some journal, you are bombarded with "submit to us" emails citing the title of your work around the EXACT time of a revision or refusal. So this is clearly organized by an insider to the journal, and can be quite taxing and borderline manipulative, different to than say, when a predatory journal finds your arXiv preprint and starts randomly bombarding you.

Can I make a complaint about this to the publishers? I don't think this is ethical, and it is outright manipulative to get those aggressive emails just around the time of reviews and decisions.

  • Are these requests coming from a single organization that publishes a lot of journals? Maybe they are shared internally rather than sold. – Buffy Aug 4 '20 at 13:00
  • No, their publishers are different. – dusa Aug 4 '20 at 13:02
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    The messages I get are obtained by scraping journal articles. I can tell because the journal article has a unique email address, not the one I gave to the editor. I have never gotten a spam email relating to a paper that was not published. – Anonymous Physicist Aug 4 '20 at 13:42
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    This question is essentially "How do I stop Spam emails?" to which the answer is still "you can't completely." – Anonymous Physicist Aug 4 '20 at 13:43
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    Probably not selling your info if it can be obtained by scraping. So, a complaint would be ineffective. – Buffy Aug 4 '20 at 13:54

If you are in Europe there may be a breach of GDPR, but

  1. proving it would be next to impossible.
  2. You likely signed a waiver buried in the small print of something that you ticked when you submitted.

How do you know editors are selling your contact information? It's much more likely your contact information is being harvested. For example, if you've ever published a paper, your contact information might be available on that paper's front page. Or if you have a website.

For example suppose I want to contact Edward Witten, one of the world's most well-known physicists right now. It's not hard at all: a simple search using Bing lands on this webpage with an email. Or I could search for some papers written by him, and odds are there'll be a published journal article that gives it in the contact information (example).

Once your contact information is publicly available you can hardly expect to complain about others for allegedly selling it. You write that "when you submit to some journal, you are bombarded with "submit to us" emails citing the title of your work around the EXACT time of a revision or refusal" - but this is not proof either unless they are literally the only people who know about the existence of your paper. Did you make your work available on a preprint server? Or even if you didn't publish the preprint and didn't talk to your colleagues/supervisors/department: how do you know which of the many people who looked at your paper during review did it? You accuse the editors, it could also be the publisher or reviewers.

tl; dr: it's not going to work.

  • Even the reviewers do not know the exact time the reviews are sent out to authors, there is a meta-review process. In my case, these reviews do not follow the standard timeline of the journal either, I had months of delay yet the emails followed the exact time I received reviews. Like I said, they have the title and abstract, and and they sent to a different email address (the one I use to submit) than on my papers, but in my last submission there were no emails on the paper. If it were arxiv selling this info, and I doubt it, I wouldn't receive these around reviews/decisions. – dusa Aug 5 '20 at 11:20
  • Could it be the person in charge of sending out emails? Yes, but still links to the editor's desk – dusa Aug 5 '20 at 11:33
  • @dusa how do you rule out it being a coincidence? If you want to believe they're selling your information, sure, but I'd say your evidence is extremely weak. – Allure Aug 5 '20 at 11:33
  • Multiple occurrences and I won't be redundant here for the reasons, refer to the OP and comments. – dusa Aug 5 '20 at 11:34

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