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It seems to be a not too uncommon practice that researchers publish (frequently) in the same journal on which they are on the editorial board.

On the one hand, there are good reasons why that would situation would arise:

  • Researchers in field X publish in journals in field X
  • You don't want to cut out yourself from a journal while doing service to the community
  • If it is a good journal, you still want to publish in it

On the other hand, that leaves a bad taste. When you are on the editorial board, you'll more political leverage and thus more possibility of pushing your own articles past peer review. Essentially, once you have climbed the ladder that high, you can game the system.

How is that handled in practice?

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The obvious solution in this and all other similar situations is to remove the person from decision making on their own papers. This is a matter of both institutional and individual ethics.

But, I think you have the wrong idea about publishing. The purpose of academic publishing isn't "political" or personal aggrandizement, but the advance of scholarship. This is especially important in some fields where the research has real human effects.

You probably want active researchers making decisions about the validity and academic/scientific value of recent research. They should be the best people to weed out the chaff. And you especially want them setting the direction of the journal. Who better to recognize when something earth-shattering comes along?

If a person were to live "up" to your fears, I think that their reputation would suffer greatly. Their peers would quickly recognize this and would complain, quite loudly, I'd guess. The reputation of the journal would also suffer if it publishes dreck produced by so-called self-important superstars.

Yes, abuse is possible, but don't assume that people are inherently only self interested.

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It is not unexpected that editors and EB members also contribute with articles to the journals they serve, and journals in some cases also offer incentives to editors such as discounts in the APC, however, this is also considered endogenous publishing and often is encouraged to be kept at a minimum; e.g. the DOAJ guidelines allow up to 25% of articles in a given journal issue to be coauthored by members of the EB. In some journals, when a coauthor is part of the EB sometimes it is mentioned in the conflict of interest statement.

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