More than 1,100 academics boycott journals censoring Chinese content

Hong Kong (dpa) – Over 1,100 academics from around the world have pledged to boycott peer review, a crucial step before publication, for academic journals that censor scholarship in China, the organizer of a petition on said Thursday.

The petition, which began six months ago, states that academics will not peer review articles for journals known to change content to meet the demands of the Chinese government, according to Charlene Makley, professor of anthropology at Reed College in Portland, Oregon.

“I felt this peer review boycott was an important way in which scholars, who provide the free peer review that upholds the merit-based system on which rests the reputations of these publishers, could have serious leverage: [there will be] no peer review service unless journals and publishers confirm that they are upholding the social contract,” Makley told dpa.

Makley started the petition following the revelation in August that Cambridge University Press had blocked access to over 1,000 articles in China with controversial content, including the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre, at the request of the government.

The prestigious publisher later reversed the decision after an international outcry, but Makley said the issue extends beyond one publishing house.

“There have been many of my colleagues whose works have been censored over the past 20 years or so," she said.

"This has included visa blocking, unauthorized translations or pressure to self-censor in order to publish for Chinese audiences,” she added.

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