Open-access scientific journals not so scientific

In the past the public was duped by advertisements showing actors in scientists’ and doctors’ lab coats. Today, the wool being pulled over our eyes comes in the form of unscrupulous scientific journals with no peer review. Our trust of publications by well-known journals is being abused, as well as leveraged against those submitting for underserved profit.

John Bohannon had a (purposefully) glaringly flawed paper accepted, indicating no peer review, to 157 of 255 open-access journals. Of those that did perform a review, for 16 of 36 whose reviews recognized the problems with the paper, the editors accepted them anyway. Failures include big names: Elsevier, Wolters Kluwer, Sage and Kobe University.

Open-access scientific publication journals are good for the scientific community and therefor society. “The question is how to achieve it. The most basic obligation of a scientific journal is to perform peer review, arXiv founder Ginsparg says.”

Skepticism is healthy. The next time you come across conclusions based on or from an online scientific journal, look a bit closer. What are their methods? Are the conclusions irrefutably supported by the observations? What is missing? What is being hidden? Nowadays we are all scientists with a trove of information and processing ability at our disposal. Let’s use it.

Who’s Afraid of Peer Review? by John Bohannon
http://www.sciencemag.org/content/342/6154/60.full

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