In his open letter, Zahediasl cites the American Journal of Cardiology as rejecting a submission from one of his colleagues because he was employed the Iranian government. New sanctions against Iran, passed by the US Congress in December, mean employees of US journals can’t “handle” manuscripts produced by scientists employed by the Iranian government.
The work in question focused on non-preventable diseases and, according to Zahediasl, “could have contributed potentially to improving human health.” But it had to be rejected once received by the journal.
Some might argue that this isn’t a loss to academia. These researchers can still publish in Iran, and their work can be picked by international medical databases. Yet a 2012 paper by Farzaneh Aminpour suggests that isn’t so easy. She claims that of 156 Iranian journals, only 6 were included in Medline, a medical information database. Only 22% of Iranian journals were included in the Web of Science.