OUP standards slated

News

Oxford University Press has been accused of failing “to meet minimal scholarly standards”.

Frances Moore Lappé, a prominent activist, author of the three-million copy Diet for a Small Planet, and co-director of the Small Planet Institute, is one of seven originators who have claimed that several works published by OUP lack key citations, or are not accurately described. They also claim that an OUP book fails to disclose a “conflict of interest”.

The organisation is now gathering a petition on the matter.

The campaign began after the organisers were concerned at the standards of the book published in 2010 entitled ‘Food Politics: What Everyone Needs to Know’.

Lappé said: “To find OUP was publishing not just one, but several books without citations was deeply worrying. From our petition, we see many people feel the same way. It is about trust…you expect the academic community to uphold the line.

“OUP would not even speak to us. We were told that no discussion was necessary, and the book passed the standard. We sent them an analysis of how it does not meet standards.

“If it meets their standards, they are saying citations are optional, they only need to disclose conflicts of interest that involve financial ties, that it is acceptable to promote a book as a ‘map’ of ‘conflicting claims and accusations from advocates on all sides’ when it is instead narrowly partisan.

“I really hope that Oxford students will see this as very important to them and the delegates will listen to you. You have more power than we have.”

Niko Pfund, President of OUP USA, said they had “reviewed [their] vetting” of the manuscript and rejected “any suggestion that the scholarship of his book is skewed or flawed”.

Lappé and Dr Michael Pimbert, Principal Researcher and Team Leader for Agroecology and Food Sovereignty at the International Institute for Environment and Development, also an originator of the campaign, will present a petition to OUP this upcoming Wednesday.