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Bad Science Journals

A peer reviewer

It’s an excellent business model. The only real infrastructure you need is a website, and you can have a custom site made for $5-10 thousand. Then you just have the monthly bandwidth charges. The rest is just e-marketing, which can be done for free, or the cost of some e-mails lists. After that, the money just comes rolling in.

The best part is that other people do all the actual work. All you have to do is charge them for publishing on your open-access online journal.

What you are selling is essentially scientific/academic fraud.

Unfortunately, this is a good business model, even though it is a terrible scientific model, and so it has proliferated. We may be living in the heyday of dubious open-access scientific journals.

The open-access format itself is not a bad one, and there are some very successful and respected open-access journals, such as the PLOS journals. The idea is that, instead of charging a subscription in order to gain access to published articles (in print or online), the articles are open-access, but authors pay a fee to have their work published.

This model works well when everyone agrees to be honest. However, it quickly became clear that dubious journals could charge authors to publish a high volume of low quality papers they could not get published in real journals, and this would provide a healthy revenue stream with little overhead.

The key is (and this is where the fraud comes in) the journals are presenting themselves as if they are peer-reviewed. The peer-review process is not perfect and is no guarantee of quality science, but it is a necessary low-pass bar. Peer review provides some limit on the volume of poor quality research flooding the published literature. Without it the floodgates open, and then worthwhile research is drowning in a sea of crap.

Jeffrey Beall has created a list of dubious (also called predatory) open-access journals as a warning to would-be authors. His criteria for inclusion in the list are all reasonable red flags. They contain items such as – not identifying an editor, having the same editorial board as other journals, and listing editors that have no idea they are being listed.

The point of these practices it to create the false impression that a journal is legitimate, while not bothering to invest in actually editing submissions or having them peer-reviewed.

Recently a new wrinkle has been added to the phenomenon of predatory journals. The Canadian journal, Experimental and Clinical Cardiology, was a respected journal for 17 years that played by the rules. Its publisher was losing money, however, so a year ago he sold it to a foreign publisher.

The new publisher has apparently turned the journal into a predatory scam, but is enjoying the reputation previously earned by the legitimate journal. Therefore, rather than having to market the dubious journal and build a reputation, you can just buy an existing reputation and convert it into a predatory journal.

The Ottawa Citizen reports that they performed a little sting operation on the new journal, sending it a blatantly terrible article. As they explain, they took an HIV paper and simply did a copy-replace of the word “HIV” with the word “cardiac.” The title of the paper, “VEGF proliferation in cardiac cells contributes to vascular declension,” is meaningless jargon that any reviewer should have seen through instantly. There were other outrageous errors in the paper, but none of that kept the paper from being accepted and published.

The Citizen reports that they submitted similar nonsense to 18 other dubious journals, half of which accepted the submissions.

This sting is a mini-version of the operation published a year ago by John Bohannon in Science. He submitted 304 bogus articles to open-access journals with similar results – over half accepted the clear trash for publication.

All of this creates more work for scientists and academics who have better things to do. Scientists have to spend time vetting journals before submitting their work. Of course, everyone would like to publish in Science or Nature, but most papers are published in second- or third-tier journals which are legitimate but maybe not as well known. The predatory journals are hiding among the herd of such legitimate but more obscure journals.

Further, younger and perhaps less experienced academics are approached to be on editorial boards of new open-access journals, or are encouraged to submit their work there. Meanwhile more experienced academics with name recognition might have their name simply added to an editorial board without their consent. Promotional committees also have to spend additional time vetting every publication in a journal they don’t immediately recognize.

As dubious open-access journals proliferate, it becomes more difficult to keep track, and the published literature itself becomes overwhelmed with poor-quality papers. This generates further confusion for the media, who have a tough enough time reporting science news. Essentially this phenomenon is ramping up the noise and drowning out the signal of quality scientific research.

There are, of course, solutions. Beall’s list of predatory journals is a good start. In addition to this “black list,” a thorough and rigorous “white list,” or seal of approval would also be very helpful. This is supposed to exist, but clearly too many dubious journals are slipping through. In light of the Experimental and Clinical Cardiology episode, whenever a journal changes publishers, it needs to be removed from the white list until it is reevaluated under the new publishers.

I think open-access is a viable model for scientific journals, but this model has exposed a vulnerability that needs to be plugged.

In general, more attention needs to be paid to the editorial and peer-review quality of scientific journals. The noise to signal ratio is too high, and the internet allows easy access to all of it. In general the internet had led to more access and reduced filters, which is both a strength and a weakness. Quality control suffers, and so new mechanisms must be explored to achieve a high level of quality control. The published literature needs to be looked at as a vital resource and protected from exploitation.

Posted in: Science and Medicine

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55 thoughts on “Bad Science Journals

  1. mkandefer says:

    That list is depressingly long.

    1. EBMOD says:

      That was my first thought. I was thinking there would be 2 dozen or so. Apparently a couple hundred is more realistic.

      It would be great if there was a system to show the heirarchy of journal quality to laymen, essentially breaking it up into tiers.

  2. Cervantes says:

    We need to do a controlled experiment, however. Plenty of lousy papers end up getting published in subscription-model journals. The correct experiment is to send papers to journals in both categories and see how the acceptance rate differs. Note that half of the open-access journals did reject the paper. I wouldn’t try that with absolutely ridiculous papers but I would try it with papers that had errors of inference, poorly described methods, that sort of thing.

    Many open access journals, as you say, are entirely legitimate. And I have found that when I publish open-access, my papers get read by more people. I often get e-mail from practicing clinicians or lay advocates who don’t have an academic library account and can’t read subscription-only journals, which is very gratifying. I’m all for open access. There ought to be simple ways of effectively policing it.

  3. mythsploder says:

    This journal needs to go on the black list, post haste.
    The Journal of Independent Medical Research
    http://www.joimr.org/
    Founder: Trevor Marshall

    This guy should be infamous, but I think not enough is written about him on the internet these days. Fortunately his Wikipedia page was taken down a year or so ago. Mark Crislip did a post on him a really long time ago, like 2009. I’ve had personal interactions with him and his bogus treatment. He created JOIMR to legitimize his own work and the work of people he likes. It’s bad news.

    1. Bob J says:

      It looks like they have published anything since 2009.

      1. Bob J says:

        oops – “not published anything”

  4. daedalus2u says:

    The problem is that each journal and each submission is an anecdote.

    There are bad papers in every journal, even Science and Nature.

    The problem is the gatekeepers (the journal editors and peer reviewers) do not have expertise at the cutting edge. Yes, they can filter out papers that are nonsense, but they also “filter out” papers that they don’t understand.

    This was the problem that Barbara McClintock had. No one appreciated her work except her.

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3528499/

    What would the editors of Nature and Science say to something that is 25 years ahead of its time? What do funding agencies say to ideas that are 25 years ahead of their time?

    1. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

      What would the editors of Nature and Science say to something that is 25 years ahead of its time? What do funding agencies say to ideas that are 25 years ahead of their time?

      “Your proposal requires more preliminary data” would be my guess. Anything that is truly 25 years ahead of their time would probably be indistinguishable from pseudoscience and wild hypotheses, the kind that are routinely met with objections of “there are too many ideas to fund research on all of them, hence the imperfect use of peer review committees”.

    2. Angora Rabbit says:

      “What would the editors of Nature and Science say to something that is 25 years ahead of its time? What do funding agencies say to ideas that are 25 years ahead of their time?”

      That’s an easy one. Show Me the Data.

      How could something possibly be 25yrs ahead of its time? Either it’s time is now, because there are good data in support, or there aren’t data in support, in which case, it’s not publishable and, these days, unlikely to be funded given the fierce competition. This smells like the cliche trotted out whenever the data don’t actually support a hypothesis the author is wedded to. As William said, paraphrasing Arthur C. Clarke, if it’s really 25yrs in the future, then its indistinguishable from magic and is science fiction, not science fact.

      Remember, if it really is a cool idea, then we will all pile on and reproduce it. In science, imitation* is truly the sincerest form of flattery. *That is, going for reproducibility.

    3. “problem is the gatekeepers (the journal editors and peer reviewers) do not have expertise at the cutting edge”

      You nailed it exactly. The problem is that truly knowledgeable scientists aren’t interested in being journal editors.

  5. Homo_defessus says:

    This article feels a little behind the times to me. These issues are not about open access. Open access is the only valid model for scientific publishing in the modern world. The problem here is junk journals that are not very hard to identify. The “study” by John Bohannon was not exactly a model of science-based inquiry; further, Jeffrey Beall works from some rather bizarre viewpoints: http://www.michaeleisen.org/blog/?p=1500

    I think the article makes a big mistake by placing these issues in a open- vs. closed-access context.

    1. Jopari says:

      I don’t think he compared it to closed-access. In fact, he called it a viable method. It isn’t behind the times to say that there is a problem.

      One of the major problems I suppose would likely be that more is coming in than they can blacklist, not that they can’t identify blacklist material, so whitelisting something becomes rather hard. Besides, some things are rather hard to find even if you’re looking for them.

    2. Nick J says:

      I don’t think he’s criticizing open access. he even says right up front

      “The open-access format itself is not a bad one, and there are some very successful and respected open-access journals, such as the PLOS journals. ”

      The problem is that the paperless, open-access format makes it far easier than we would wish for bogus journals to ‘pollute the waters’. It was mentioned when the open access issue was first debated that it completely changes the financial incentives and business case of publishing. Here, we are seeing how the model by itself does nothing to weed out problem journals.

    3. Vasileios Anagnostopoulos says:

      In the electrical engineering world we have exactly the same problem. The whole paper must be modularized as a chain of trust and apply verification rules in every link. There are proof (mathematical proof ) checkers for the mathematics or protocols but how about the data?

      In some cases the data are synthetic and so can be reproduced. There is a trend to provide an (open source) implementation along with the paper. The problem of peer reviewing for the source code still remains. Github or Bitbucket which provide open access to source code is a possible solution but who can expect a reviewer to know the programming language used (in some cases the reviewer does not have access to the platform, personally I do not have the money to buy a matlab licence)
      One solution in this case is to accept only something that is open source and executed with open source tools. Good luck!

      And then the other problem remains. For real data one has to TRUST the data. The trust increases if they are open access public data from a respected registry (like PETS sequence for computer vision). There, model checkers or automated proof or Github cannot help you. You have to accept or infer from the paper how these data were captured. This is bad. Peer reviewing cannot help there.

      Peer reviewing should be shorter and easier and if the papers are written in a specific way (persuade an oncologist to use Isabelle :-) ) the reviewer’s work becomes easier (the assumptions are explicit and one can use a proof checker if the conclusion is sane). But data are another story.

      Open access is a viable solution for cheaper access to information. It is a solution 25yrs ahead of its time because of lack of easy to use tools to improve the reliability and performance of peer reviewing.

      Very cheap in my village means questionable. But if you can verify the quality, then why not.

      1. Nick J says:

        as a fellow EE I can commiserate. Late, but I came back to peek at old replies, and thought I’d toss this out. no need to splurge for matlab. GNU Octave will handle 90% of your algorithm work (compatibility is a primary design feature). works well unless you have specific toolbox needs. And they’ve got a GUI now that should hit the main release when 4.0 comes out. (you can play with it in 3.8.2)

        https://www.gnu.org/software/octave/

  6. David Weinberg says:

    Hardly a week goes by that I don’t get at least a couple of email solicitations to submit manuscripts to some new online journal I’ve never heard of, or to serve on the editorial board of one of these. Hard to tell which ones are legitimate are predatory.

  7. Cristian says:

    Hey, there was a small scandal last year here, in Romania, about a “science” journal that accepted just about any paper, for the right (but ridiculously low, even for Romania) price. In Eastern Europe some people want to advance in their academic careers with any price – and as this means publishing some “research” from time to time, they search for any Journal that will publish their crap.
    A couple of Serb professors from a Computer Science University (together with a doctoral student) published a paper named “Evaluation of transformative hermeneutic heuristics for processing of random data”, citing a kids’ magazine and works done by Bernoulli and Laplace in 2012-2013. To top it all off, they used pictures of them with wigs and fake moustaches on the cover paper.

    There are all types of dubious journals out there in the world, just waiting for any crap to be thrown their way to be published. And lots of people willing to quote that crap as “science”.

  8. Jane Santos says:

    Being published in the peer-reviewed literature does NOT MEAN ANYTHING. LOTS and LOTS of JUNK is published every singe day. LOTS of junk that is wrong gets by referees. MANY shenanigans go on- gatekeeping and other such crap.

    Dr. Krauss notes this.

    What MATTERS is this: If your are published AND your idea is INTERESTING.. And others take it up…, And they perform experiments.. And it WORKS… And then it begins to get done more and more and more THEN it becomes part of the cannon of science..

    MOST scientific ideas are wrong. This is not taught often enough. Most experiments are wrong, too, the first time they are done.

    People wearing white coats , having labs with cages of rats, and having professional journals which reject material which does not meet its standards is a SILLY DEFENSE of what constitutes science……………..

    FURTHER, there is NO SUCH THING as a “scientific law” Scientific principle is much more accurate. The “laws” of physics ALWAYS REMAIN PROVISIONAL AND ALWAYS REMAIN PERFECTIBLE

    Novella and Harriet do NOT UNDERSTAND science just like MOST medical doctors……..

    1. Harriet Hall says:

      We pretty much agree with most of what you say. I think you may have misunderstood us.

    2. Frederick says:

      Some of your statements are not bad, and most will agree. But the conclusion of your comment is kind of ridiculous, you framed your assertions in legitimacy, to then trow your fallacies. You seem to think that science should bent to your views, which is totally wrong.

      Is it just me our tthe numbers of caps used is proportional with the trollinest of the person commenting?

    3. R. Miller says:

      Okay.

    4. John Milligan says:

      “Laws” of physics are statements of observation. As such, they are always true. For example, the second law of thermodynamics is NEVER violated. The models (aka theories) used to explain those laws however are provisional and subject to modification.

      1. Jane Santos says:

        WRONG. You are foolish and misinformed.

        They are ALWAYS perfectible, ALWAYS PROVISIONAL. You do not understand science. This is BASIC. ……..

      2. Jane Santos says:

        WRONG ON ALL COUNTS. There is no hierarchy. There is NOTHING that makes a “law” above or more true than theory, you misinformed foolish person…..

        There is NO such thing as a “scientific law.”

        The “laws” of physics, while in accord with our observations which are tested by experiment, REMAIN ALLLLWAYS PROVISIONAL. ALWAYS PERFECTIBLE! / Learn it !!!!!

        Scientists EXPECT MODIFICATION in the future, you FOOL. You have a POOR understanding of science…

        Please STOP spreading that crap.

        1. Thor says:

          AND PERHAPS YOU SHOULD REFRAIN FROM USING AD HOMINEM IN SUCH KNEE-JERK FASHION. ALSO, SEE HOW ANNOYING GRATUITOUS USE OF CAPS IS? BOTH ARE UNPLEASANT AND UNCALLED FOR.

      3. Jane Santos says:

        You TRULY have no understanding of this issue. What we see is ONLY the shadow of underlying reality.

        Actual physicists are NOT saying what you are….

        The laws of physcis remain ALWAYS PERFECTIBLE, ALWAYS PROVISIONAL. ALWAYS PROVISIONAL AND MODIFIABLE. REMEMBER IT!

        SCIENTIST EXPECT MODIFICATION.

        1. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

          You DON’T need to KEEP using CAPITAL letters as it MAKES you look CRAZY.

          Laws are descriptive and subject to modification, but are generally extremely well-supported and hold true in most conditions. Yes, they can be refined, and are refined given sufficient evidence. But they only get to be laws by being repeatable and realiable for a huge number of people in a huge number of situations. The chances of a law being overturned these days is pretty remote, even as the chances of it being refined is pretty good. Theories are far more subject to revision as they attempt to explain the laws. You seem to be missing John’s point.

    5. Angora Rabbit says:

      I disagree with Jane (and is there a reason for all the caps?). Science is an exercise in approximation and we hope to approach an accurate description with successive iterations. “Wrong” is too strong a word, more accurate is we are partly right but are still incomplete in our descriptions.

      Regarding “rejecting material that does not meet the journal’s standards” (and Daedelus made a similar claim), I really disagree with this. It is not my experience. What is my experience over 70+ publications is that you have to make your case and make it strong. Suggest reviewers who “get” where you’re coming from, hypothesis-wise. Remember that editors are under pressure from the publisher (I believe wrongly) to reject papers in order to boost citation rankings. If you are rejected, and you truly believe it is inappropriate, fight back. I’ve done this several times and ended up with an acceptance. Reviewers are overworked too, and they are being asked by desperate editors to comment on papers outside their venue. There’s no conspiracy. And who cares as long as the paper is ultimately published? With PubMed, these days papers aren’t buried and, as Nancy correctly points out, if it’s good stuff they will find you and cite you.

      And I fail to grasp why you think Drs. Novella and Hall fail to understand science (I think you mean the scientific method?) – time and again they demonstrated understanding very well. News flash – science ain’t a democracy. It’s put up, or shut up. At day’s end, one must prove the hypothesis, or step out of the way and develop a better hypothesis. The coolest part of science is when you realize your hypothesis is wrong, because that’s when you’re about to learn something really cool.

      1. Windriven says:

        !.

        Best I can do for a ‘thumbs up.’ Where are the emoticon genies when I need them?

      2. Jane Santos says:

        The laws of physics are ALWAYS PROVISIONAL. Learn science properly.

        They are shadows of reality ONLY. They are only APPROXIMATIONS.

        Being published MEANS NOTHING

        1. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

          The laws of physics (i.e. the descriptions of reality we publish in textbooks) are subject to revision and refinement given sufficient proof, the underlying reality never changes of course. But changing the textbooks always depends on the adequacy and replicability of the evidence, which in turn depends on publication. Publication is a minimum standard.

          Nobody here is disagreeing with you, crazy person, but your absolutism is about as right and as wrong as the simplifications used.

      3. Jane Santos says:

        That is ALLLLLLLL POLITICS and it does NOT MEAN A DAMN THING, you foolsih person.

        Did it AGREE WITH NATURE/ Has it been replicated by many others using many different methods and techniques to test it. THAT IS ALL THAT COUNTS.

        Being published does not mean ANYTHING. MOST scientific ideas are WRONG.

      4. Jane Santos says:

        NO, science is NOT the search for truth………. That is not what it does.

        And simply being published does NOT MEAN A THING.

      5. Jane Santos says:

        Science never “proves ” anything , you FOOL. You did not learn it correctly.

        1. Windriven says:

          Jane, have a double shot of Scotch to settle your nerves, then have another go. I’m not sure that you and Dr. Rabbit are that far apart. Science, generally speaking, is provisional. We generally accept that c=300 * 10^6 m/s and is invariable. Maybe. Maybe not. Maybe in the moments after the Big Bang it had some other value. Perhaps it changes at a rate imperceptible over the time span that we’ve been measuring it. But for now the smart money’s sticking with 300,000,000 m/s.

          And Jane, if you do have another go, lose the CAPS. Makes you seem kinda nutty.

      6. Jane Santos says:

        SIMPLY “being published in the peer-review literature” doesn’t mean ANYTHING……… It is NOT an accomplishment and is NOT the arbiter of ANYTHING.

        Galileo

        Newton

        Darwin

        Einstein African island observations

        NATURE AGREES. That is ALLLLLLLLLLL that counts.

  9. Kevin Folta says:

    This is why we need to stop making the review process anonymous. Make it completely transparent who the reviewers are, where they work, what they do. I’ve never been asked to review for any of these journals and I get a request every other day from the broader scientific community.

    My point is that they must be seeking out soft review, if any review at all.

    We also need a ratings system for editorial boards. That could be most telling.

    1. Angora Rabbit says:

      Kevin, I tip my ears to you and agree wholly with your post. Current Biology is a journal where the reviewers are identified and one can follow the conversation between reviewer and author post-publication. It looks like Frontiers in… may be similar. I love that experience. Some journals publish the reviewer list at year’s end, but that is not the same thing. I suspect I would be honored if you reviewed one of my papers! There used to be a tradition that reviews were meant to make a paper better and to include a mentoring component especially for junior faculty. I don’t see that as much, but I do try to do this in my reviews.

      I don’t know how to make it easier to identify reviewers and to get reviewers to participate, because a publication is only as good as its reviews. The reality is that, as a PI, I am being asked to do more and more administration and especially compliance (you really want a rant???) and there is less time for science and mentoring. These days I am forced to refuse reviews unless it is directly relevant to my own research, and I suspect this is not a unique decision given the challenge of identifying reviewers when I wear my Editor hat.

      And now I have to go because, naturally, I have an overdue review to finish!

    2. Jane Santos says:

      Being published in the peer-reviewed literature MEANS NOTHING. MOST scientific ideas are WRONG.

      1. Windriven says:

        “MOST scientific ideas are WRONG.”

        On what basis do you make that claim? No more little epigrammatic riffs. On what grounds do you make that sweeping generalization?

      2. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

        Most scientific hypotheses are wrong, and we know this because testing and replication consistently fails to reject the null. Most scientific theories as actually accepted by the scientific community, are ever-refined accurate descriptions of empirical reality. And their articulation occurs in the peer reviewed literature.

        It’s the general public (primarily driven by scientifically-iliterate news agencies) that sees bench, dish and animal studies as revolutionary. The scientific community knows they are at best suggestive.

        Stop being hysterical please.

  10. Kevin Folta says:

    I forgot to mention, I sign my name on reviews. I’m glad to give the reviewers fair and critical guidance. The goal is to make good work fit the appropriate journals, and I’m happy to do that.

  11. Angora Rabbit says:

    I wear hats as editor, reviewer, and writer of papers and feel some qualification to comment. I tell people that, if you don’t like the process, then agree to review! As an editor, nothing is more frustrating than to have potential reviewers refuse an opportunity to review. Authors can suggest reviewers (and they should, in my opinion) and this is hugely helpful because the days of a polymath editor are long-gone. Even editors will have a somewhat narrow expertise and we appreciate an author’s insights on potential reviewers. Otherwise, if we out of our area, we have to rely on reference lists and highly imperfect expertise lists generated by the journal. We are all overworked, unquestionably, but if people don’t step up to review, then you have no cause to whinge when you don’t get the reviews that you deserve.

    On the topic of these predatory journals, they really are out of control and there is a big danger that they will become shills for nutters, akin to the vanity publication of so-called bigfoot DNA (which of course was anything but). On the other hand, I suppose these companies now have no excuse not to publish their pseudofindings in support of their pseudohypotheses. I find it interesting that we are not seeing that. Yet.

    1. Jane Santos says:

      Gatekeeping nonsense shenanigans go on even in JAMA. Most medical studies have a DISTORTING angle – MONEY , drug companies etc. – and produce little real science.

      Being published MEANS NOTHING.

      MOST scientific ideas are WRONG. MOST experiments are wrong, too, the first time they are done….

      Stubborn, dogmatic codgers who have saggy buttocks NOT letting new ideas with evidence through is NOT the arbiter of anything…. NATURE is.

      Nature agreed with Newton’s Principia – THAT IS ALLLLLLLL that matters. His general approximations that are useful today and during Moon missions.

      1. Sawyer says:

        I suppose Jane should get some points for originality here – her complaints are very different from the typical rants that occur in these comments.

        I don’t quite understand the insanely high bar you’ve set as what counts as science. While we certainly wouldn’t be anywhere without the likes of Newton and Einstein, their work does NOT represent the typical process of discovery. Just because revolutions are the most exciting aspect of discovery doesn’t make the 99.9% of other research useless. Most of the technological innovations we have today come from people doing rather mundane research that already fits into a fairly well-defined field. And over the last 150 years, pretty much everyone interested in contributing to the world of science has the sense to submit their work to journals. This isn’t the only way scientists communicate their ideas, but it is a pretty damn good one. The peer review process, messy and slow as it is, serves as a reasonable filter to keep out the nonsense. Scientists already struggle today to keep up with the hundreds of papers published every month in their field. How much more garbage do you think they’d have to sort through without some sort of review process?

        Please stop yelling at everyone here and just think your way through a world where scientists do not have an established process for publishing their work. Would this really help people with new ideas succeed? Would the number of crackpots and con artists masquerading as scientists go down or up? And does the answer to either of these questions negate Dr. Novella’s point that predatory journals are absolutely a bad thing?

        And please stop stating facts that everyone here already agrees with as if we don’t agree with them. This is blatantly dishonest, and just makes you look like a vindictive a-hole.

    2. Jane Santos says:

      “Peer-reviewed” papers are NOT what led to scientific progress. GOOD EXPLANATIONS ( hard to vary) were. THEY were the missing crucial ingredient as David Deutsch’s LECTURE VIDEO shows us.

      Yes, testability is necessary, but not sufficient by itself. GOOD EXPLANATIONS that agree with Nature/experiment. THAT is what counts. HARD TO VARY. Such as the AXIAL TILT Theory of Seasons. HARD TO VARY.

      1. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

        Jane, where are those “GOOD EXPLANATIONS” published that got them attention? And please restrict comments to explanations from the past 100 years?

        Testability is pretty sufficient, an unfalsifiable hypothesis is indistinguishable from religious faith. Merely because you can’t alter the tilt of the earth in a controlled fashion doesn’t mean you can’t test the idea; astronomy, evolution, paleontology, archeology, all of these disciplines can make predictions that can be tested with evidence, even if they can’t be systematically varied the way physics can be.

        Do I detect a whiff of climate change denialism by the wa?

      2. Chris says:

        Who is David Deutsch? Also, please strive for more coherence.

    3. Jane Santos says:

      LOTS and LOTS of crap is found in the published peer- reviewed literature. I hope you understand this.

      By itself, it means NOTHING.

      B-E-I-N-G- P-U-B-L-I-S-H-E-D D-O-E-S- N-’O-T- M- A-T-T-E R!

      1. Windriven says:

        You’re foaming at the mouth and I for one am rapidly losing patience.

        B-E-I-N-G P-U-B-L-I-S-H-E-D D-O-E-S M-A-T-T-E-R if you are doing important work. It is how you announce your results, how your peers can review it, dispute it, or support it.

        Of course being published does not equate with being correct. Lots of stuff that saw print was eventually proven wrong.

  12. Bob J says:

    These dubious journals need to find their way into the new SSBS/Qackwatch wiki

  13. Aaron says:

    The crux of the issue here is not open access vs. closed access. I can point to examples of closed-access journals that also have poor standards and regularly publish work of dubious merit, because they can make money doing so. But these newly proliferating predatory journals have jumped on the open access bandwagon in order to try to increase their appeal to authors, and also because university libraries will not subscribe to obviously bogus journals anyway so they wouldn’t be in a position to make money via subscriptions- instead they make all their money by charging authors.

    For those who have not considered the open access model before, I can strongly recommend a monograph titled “Open Access” by Peter Suber (MIT Press; the book itself is open access and can be downloaded for free as a pdf, but a paperback version is also available for purchase). I personally consider open access to be extremely important for the future of academic and scientific publishing, and it would be a shame if people viewed the concept of open access itself in a bad light just because there are some bad actors in this business. The most important thing is for authors and academics to be aware of this situation so they can avoid dealing with junk journals, regardless of whether they are open or closed access.

  14. Hanno says:

    What should be added here: Experiments with bogus papers being submitted have been done again and again and have been successful in many instances.

    Earlier this year the french researcher Cyril Labbé found dozends of computer-generated papers in publications by reputable publishers. And these were not open access journals, these were paywalled conference proceedings (that should’ve been peer reviewed, but obviously weren’t).

    I thnk this is an important point: This is not an open access problem. Bullshit publishing happens both in open access and closed publishing.

  15. JATdS says:

    Although the Beall list is widely lauded as being the current forefront of knowledge on dubious/predatory publishing, the fact that he does not quantify the predation makes his list of criteria dubious at best. For this reason, I devised the “Predatory Score” [1]. One should also be aware that there are serious flaws with the Beall blog and even with Beall’s bias and position [2]. Finally, I am of the opinion that Bohannon was as unethical as the journals he was trying to sting, for one simple reason: he submitted false papers using false names and false affiliations which, if were to be done by an honest scientist to a veritable academic journal, would likely be blacklisted for life. So, the powers that control publishing globally are working in very murky (opaque) waters.
    [1] http://www.globalsciencebooks.info/JournalsSup/images/2013/AAJPSB_7(SI1)/AAJPSB_7(SI1)21-34o.pdf
    [2] http://retractionwatch.com/2014/01/20/jeffrey-beall-scores-a-retraction/

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