Christopher X J. Jensen
Associate Professor, Pratt Institute

Open Access publishing and “peer review” fail the test of a well-designed hoax

Posted 07 Oct 2013 / 0

The EconomistScience’s Sokal Moment

ScienceWho’s Afraid of Peer Review?

The correct term for the kinds of journals that publish open-access work that is poorly reviewed is “predatory”. Like unaccredited “universities”, they prey on scientists whose work is not high enough in quality or significance to publish in the larger, mainstream journals by offering a pay-to-play way of publishing. But this problem is inherent in all publisher-pay scenarios, and certainly shines light on the downside of this model: however exploitative they may be, at least the subscriber-pays journals have a product whose quality they need to maintain.

This kind of investigative journalism is necessary, and any reviewer, editor, or publisher who complains about the deception that went on here is ignorant of the really profound importance of subterfuge in investigative journalism. To catch corruption and dysfunction, sometimes the journalist must mirror that corruption and dysfunction. But there is a sad side to all this, and that has to do with scientific labor: in the current system we have, one that provides good support to only a minority of scientists and leaves the rest to overwork in under-resourced situations, we cannot expect quality peer review. There are just not enough scientists with the time to do a good job as editors and reviewers. That scarcity can create two outcomes: a lack of opportunity for emerging scientists, or an opportunity for the scam artists who run low-standard open-access publishing operations.

A Minor Post, Articles, Economics, Ethics, Periodicals, Publication, Scientific Fraud, Web

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