Saturday, November 25, 2017

Predatory Publishers Doing Well But Not Good, Reports Nature

Excerpts from a Comment in Nature (notes omitted) follow. The full comment is well worth reading.
... Frequent, aggressive solicitations from predatory publishers are generally considered merely a nuisance for scientists from rich countries, not a threat to scholarly integrity. [¶] Our evidence disputes this view. We spent 12 months rigorously characterizing nearly 2,000 biomedical articles from more than 200 journals thought likely to be predatory. More than half of the corresponding authors hailed from high- and upper-middle-income countries as defined by the World Bank


Of the 17% of sampled articles that reported a funding source, the most frequently named funder was the US National Institutes of Health (NIH). The United States produced more articles in our sample than all other countries save India. Harvard University (with 9 articles) in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and the University of Texas (with 11 articles across all campuses) were among the eight institutions with the most articles. ...

Articles in our sample consistently failed to report key information necessary for readers to assess, reproduce and build on the findings. ...

Just the subset of articles that we examined contained data from more than 2 million individuals and over 8,000 animals. By extrapolation, we estimate that at least 18,000 funded biomedical-research studies are tucked away in poorly indexed, scientifically questionable journals. Little of this work will advance science. It is too dodgily reported (and possibly badly conducted) and too hard to find.

In our view, publishing in predatory journals is unethical. Individuals who agree to be studied expect that their participation could benefit future patients. Use of animals in biomedical research is rationalized on the assumption that experiments will contribute valuable information. ...
The Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota (7 papers), sent a note to Nature that articles in predatory journals are not considered for academic advancement. D. Y. Patil University in India, which, with 20 papers, had the most in our sample, did not reply. Nor did the University of Tehran ...
Our experience with these journals is that they provide both poor vetting and poor access. Their websites and archiving systems are unstable. Although some articles appear in PubMed (often after a delay), the titles are not indexed by Medline and are difficult to find. ...

Even without Beall's list, savvy authors should know when to suspect that a journal is predatory. Our research group has identified 13 characteristics of predatory journals; these include low article-processing fees (less than US$150); spelling and grammar errors on the website; an overly broad scope; language that targets authors rather than readers; promises of rapid publication; and a lack of information about retraction policies, manuscript handling or digital preservation. Manuscript submissions by e-mail and the inclusion of distorted images are also common.
However, predatory journals are becoming increasingly adept at appearing legitimate, and little is being done to warn authors away from them. Just one of the ten most common funders reported in our study, the University Grants Commission, India, provides guidance about journal selection on its website. ...

Funders and research institutions should increase the funds that they make available towards open-access publication; prohibit the use of funds to support predatory journal publications; make sure that researchers are trained in how to select appropriate journals when submitting their work; and audit where grantees, faculty members and research staff publish. When seeking promotion or funding, researchers should include a declaration that their CV is free of predatory publications. Publication lists could be checked against lists such as the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) or the Journal Citation Reports. Developing automated tools to facilitate the proposed audits would also be valuable. ...

Substandard publications have permeated authentic electronic databases. A problem largely unknown a decade ago, there are now a roughly estimated 8,000 predatory titles that collectively 'publish' more than 400,000 items a year.
Source: David Moher, Larissa Shamseer, Kelly D. Cobey, Manoj M. Lalu, James Galipeau, Marc T. Avey, Nadera Ahmadzai, Mostafa Alabousi, Pauline Barbeau, Andrew Beck, Raymond Daniel, Robert Frank, Mona Ghannad, Candyce Hamel, Mona Hersi, Brian Hutton, Inga Isupov, Trevor A. McGrath, Matthew D. F. McInnes, Matthew J. Page, Misty Pratt, Kusala Pussegoda, Beverley Shea, Anubhav Srivastava, Adrienne Stevens, Kednapa Thavorn, Sasha van Katwyk, Roxanne Ward, Dianna Wolfe, Fatemeh Yazdi, Ashley M. Yu and Hedyeh Ziai, Stop This Waste of People, Animals and Money, 549 Nature 23 (2017), http://www.nature.com/news/stop-this-waste-of-people-animals-and-money-1.22554

1 comment:

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