We are not anti-access; we are anti-junk

Academics observe, with a lot of concern, the rapidly growing number of publishers who operate a sub-category of open access journals known as pseudo-journals (McGlynn, 2013) or predatory publishers (Beall, 2012). These publishers and journals constitute the pillars of a corrupt sector of scholarly publication. 

Predatory publishers and pseudo-journals threaten the credibility of science and pollute the scholarly record with junk research (Beall, 2016).

Jeff Beall has defined a list of criteria for identifying predatory publishers and journals. He continuously updates an index of publishers and journals that meet these criteria (scholarlyoa.com). 

Predatory publishers collect publication fees (i.e., APCs) in exchange for rapid publication without a transparent rigor process including a credible peer-review. The editorial and peer-review aspects of pseudo-journals are either non-existent or suspect. Editors from pseudo-journals solicit articles that have no relation to the topic of their journal and do not send the documents out for rigorous peer-review (Bowman, 2014).

Pseudo-journals also falsely claim to have ratings such as a Journal Impact Factor and to be indexed in major databases such as Scopus (Djuric, 2015).  

Put together, predatory publishers, pseudo-journals, contrived metrics companies, non-existent or suspect peer review, and companies supplying non-standard identifiers form the ingredients of the junk recipe.

The problem of pseudo-journals or predatory publishers seems to highly affect LMIC (Clark & Smith, 2015) especially in countries where the academic evaluation strongly favors international publication without  a rigorous quality check (Shen & Björk, 2015).

The characteristics of authors who publish in pseudo-journals include: inexperienced early-career researchers, authors from LMICs, and authors who seek publication in any journal tagged “international” to get promoted.

We agree with Jacklyn and Richard that we need to take firm actions on pseudo-journals and predatory publishers (Clark & Smith, 2015). Therefore, we endorse a bundle of measures that Beall recently suggested to protect the scientific community from the junk science:

  1. Universities and colleges should stop using the quantity of published articles as a measure of academic performance.
  2. Researchers and respectable journals should not cite articles from predatory journals, and academic library databases should exclude metadata for such publications.
  3. Companies that supply services to publishers, including those that license journal-management software or provide standard identifiers, should decline to work with predatory publishers.
  4. Scholarly databases such as Scopus and Thomson Reuters Web of Science need to raise the bar for acceptance, eliminating journals and publishers that use flawed peer-review practices. The US National Center for Biotechnology Information should do the same for PubMed and PubMed Central (Beall, 2016).

At the end, let us make it crystal clear. We are not anti-open access.

On the contrary, we support disseminating and promoting access to findings of good research. We are not anti-open access, we are anti junk research.

References

  1. Beall, J. (2012). Predatory publishers are corrupting open access. Nature, 489(7415), 179. doi:10.1038/489179a
  2. Beall, J. (2016). Predatory journals: Ban predators from the scientific record. Nature, 534(7607), 326-326. doi:10.1038/534326a
  3. Bowman, J. D. (2014). Predatory publishing, questionable peer review, and fraudulent conferences. Am J Pharm Educ, 78(10), 176. doi:10.5688/ajpe7810176
  4. Clark, J., & Smith, R. (2015). Firm action needed on predatory journals. BMJ, 350. doi:10.1136/bmj.h210
  5. Djuric, D. (2015). Penetrating the omerta of predatory publishing: the romanian connection. Sci Eng Ethics, 21(1), 183-202. doi:10.1007/s11948-014-9521-4
  6. McGlynn, T. (2013). The evolution of pseudojournals.  Retrieved from http://smallpondscience.com/2013/02/14/the-evolution-of-pseudojournals
  7. Shen, C., & Bjork, B. C. (2015). ‘Predatory’ open access: a longitudinal study of article volumes and market characteristics. BMC Med, 13, 230. doi:10.1186/s12916-015-0469-2
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