Best practice - delete user but keep name in place?

We are using OJS but I assume this concerns all OJS instances.

There are some circumstances where we want to delete a user account and not just unassign them from the journal. This is also what GDPR requires on request of a user. However, if this user has been a reviewer before, we would lose this information in the submissions they have worked on. I think it would be GDPR compliant to keep the name (without contact data) in place because of “the public interest in the availability of the data,” which is of particular importance when maintaining the public record of scholarly publishing and also in case any problems (i.e. misconduct) arise with a published article later on.

So far, we merged the user account into a dummy account to remove it and then the name on the submission would switch to the dummy account name. We would very much like to keep the reviewer’s name in place although there might be no longer an account linked to it. I am currently not aware of any way to do this. Ideal would be a ‘delete account’ functionality with the option to keep the names in place but discontinue the account.

I don’t know if its the same for author accounts if they are merged into a dummy account. I suppose so? We certainly need to keep an authors name as well.

Is this an issue for any one else?

Hy Heike

just stepped on your post from a while back. We (technically all Europeans) will have this problem. To my understanding you can only leave the user as it is, or merge it into a dummy user. In the second case everything is lost.

Question: Have you found a solution in the mean time? :slight_smile:

For those who step on this thread …

Thus, I tried to understand our GDPR rules in more detail and to my understanding (due to scholarly publishing) we have the right to keep the records as we need them to be able to reconstruct what has been going on an for transparency – not only for published articles but for the entire review process.

We now state that users who have been actively involved the editorial process (as author, reviewer, or editor) will not be able to get his/her user account deleted. We simply deactivate it and tell the user that they can change/delete their personal information. I am quite sure this holds given the rules.

Autors: they (authors information for published articles) is completely disconnected from the users database table. They are stored as ‘meta information alongside with the published article’. Even if you delete the user (who submitted) this information will still be there. Again, scholarly publishing: no need to delete anything.

I am currently trying to find out how to inform and delete inactive users (not logged in since 24 months) which were never involved in the editorial process but just wanted to have announcement information (>100.000 in our case) :).

Not sure if my comment helps, but maybe.

All best,

Hi all,

does anyone develop an elegant way to deal with inactive user accounts in the meantime? I am still thinking about the issue described above: What to do with inactive authors, readers and reviewers?
I want to clean up the user list, because i.e. reviewer accounts, whose email address does no longer exist, clutter our reviewer database and mislead editors to assign them as reviewers. In theory, I could leave the accounts, that have been involved as author or reviewer, intact and just remove them from the journal. However, I would create a big pool of accounts without knowing from which journal of our multi-installation they came from.

Related to this: what happens to author and reviewer names when a submission is exported from a journal in native xml and then imported to another journal? I haven’t seen any ‘reviewer’-related detail in the xml file. So the xml import/export is only meant for transferring published content with the basic publishing metadata but not to keep any review history?

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