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Pondering on whether to submit your research output to a journal?

 


The significance of how we talk and think about the pachyderm elephant mammoth in the room.

Dr Gary Allen
AHRECS Senior Consultant

The names we give things matter. The Bard may have been willing to allow a rose to stand in place for any noun, but he hadn’t encountered unscrupulous publishers.

Thanks to Beall’s List, over the last few years we may have been ready to declare that an unscrupulous journal was predatory. Prior to early 2017, many of us defaulted to Beall’s List to label a journal and its publisher as being naughty or nice.

In general, a predatory journal is one that claims an editorial board, impact factor and quality assurance process it doesn’t actually have and is far more focussed on fast profits than a meaningful contribution to scholarly wisdom. Often predatory journals come within suites belonging to a predatory publisher. Other dubious behaviours of these unscrupulous publishers include:

  1. Listing eminent/influential editors who don’t actually have any involvement or association with the publication (and refusing to remove names when challenged).
  2. Styling their website after a reputable publisher or using a very similar journal title in the hopes of tricking the unwary.
  3. Offering to add undeserving co-authors to a publication… for a price.

Chances are our professional development workshops during this time would have been loaded with tips on how to spot a predatory journal, to be suspicious of unsolicited emails from publishers, and to be aware publishing with a predatory publisher could be a costly mistake (Eve and Priego 2017).

But credible voices started to ask whether we should pay heed to blacklists (Neylo 2017) and that Beall’s List hadn’t been without its problems (Swauger 2017). The difficulty is that blacklists tend to be conservative and can privilege established ways of doing business. There are quality open access publishers using non-traditional editorial and author-pays models and ‘traditional’ publishers whose business practices may not be that friendly to good academic practice.

After Beall’s List disappeared, we were all given good reason to reflect upon where not to publish. I was co-author of an earlier post on this topic (Israel and Allen 2017).

Over the last few years, it has become clear the relationship between questionable publishers and researchers was more complex than a predator/prey dichotomy where hapless authors were being tricked by unscrupulous publishers (submitting a paper to them because they were fooled by the false claims of peer review/editorial processes).

In this context, we saw: commentary that pointed to researchers publishing with predatory publishers was not limited to the global South (Oransky 2017); educational materials produced by the Committee on Publication Ethics; peak funding bodies urging grant-recipients to stay away from illegitimate publishers (Lauer 2017); the growth of predatory conferences (Cress 2017), and institutions treating as fraud the use of such publications in applications (Campanile & Golding 2017). I wrote about this shift in an earlier post in the Research Ethics Monthly (Are we missing the true picture? Stop calling a moneybox a fishing hook).

Recently we have been noting how ‘junk science’ disseminated by questionable publishers is hurting research (Gillis 2019), is undermining public trust in research (Marcus 2019), is underpinning claims by climate change denialists and the anti-vaccine movement based on ‘alternative facts’, and is something selection committees should be aware of (Flaherty 2019). The toxic effects of dodgy publications have been described as citation pollution (Hinchliffe & Michael Clarke 2019, Beach 2019).

AHRECS recommends professional development efforts be updated again. The content discussed above should be retained but added to it should be a call for us all to safeguard the integrity and trustworthiness of science by creating an environment within which the incentive for our colleagues to use dodgy publication outlets is diminished.

In the subscribers’ areas you will find a short template ppt about this topic (which you can modify and use) and an AHRECS branded version with embedded audio by Professor Mark Israel. To access the subscribers’ area for institutions go to https://www.ahrecs.vip and for individuals go to https://www.patreon.com/ahrecs

References

Allen, G. (26 October 2018) Are we missing the true picture? Stop calling a moneybox a fishing hook. Research Ethics Monthly. Retrieved from: https://ahrecs.com/research-integrity/are-we-missing-the-true-picture-stop-calling-a-moneybox-a-fishing-hook

Beach, R. (2019  28 October) Citation Contamination: References to Predatory Journals in the Legitimate Scientific Literature. Scholarly Kitchen (Rick Anderson | October 2019). Retrieved from: https://scholarlykitchen.sspnet.org/2019/10/28/citation-contamination-references-to-predatory-journals-in-the-legitimate-scientific-literature

Eve, P. M. & Priego E. (2017) Who is Actually Harmed by Predatory Publishers? Journal for a Global Sustainable Information Society. 15(2)
Publisher (Open access): http://www.triple-c.at/index.php/tripleC/article/view/867/1042

Gillis, A. (2019 09 July) The Rise of Junk Science. The Walrus. Retrieved from: https://thewalrus.ca/the-rise-of-junk-science/

Hinchliffe, L. J. & Clarke, M. (2019 25 September) Fighting Citation Pollution — The Challenge of Detecting Fraudulent Journals in Works Cited. Scholarly Kitchen. Retrieved from: https://scholarlykitchen.sspnet.org/2019/09/25/fighting-citation-pollution/

Israel M. & Allen G. (2017 26 July) In a world of hijacked, clone and zombie publishing, where shouldn’t I publish? Research Ethics Monthly. Retrieved from: https://ahrecs.com/research-integrity/world-hijacked-clone-zombie-publishing-shouldnt-publish

Lauer, M. (2017) Continuing Steps to Ensuring Credibility of NIH Research: Selecting Journals with Credible Practices. Extramural Nexus. Retrieved from: https://nexus.od.nih.gov/all/2017/11/08/continuing-steps-to-ensuring-credibility-of-nih-research-selecting-journals-with-credible-practices/

Marcus, A (2019 09 January) Oft-quoted paper on spread of fake news turns out to be…fake news. Retraction Watch. Retrieved from: https://retractionwatch.com/2019/01/09/oft-quoted-paper-on-spread-of-fake-news-turns-out-to-befake-news/

Neylon, C. (2017 29 January) Blacklists are technically infeasible, practically unreliable and unethical. Period. LSE Impact Blog. Retrieved from: https://cameronneylon.net/blog/blacklists-are-technically-infeasible-practically-unreliable-and-unethical-period/

Oransky, I. (2017) Predatory journals: Not just a problem in developing world countries, says new Nature paper. Retraction Watch. Retrieved from: http://retractionwatch.com/2017/09/06/predatory-journals-not-just-developing-world-countries-says-new-nature-paper/

Swauger, S. (2017) Open access, power, and privilege. College & Research Libraries News. 78(11)
Publisher (Open Access): http://crln.acrl.org/index.php/crlnews/article/view/16837/18434

This post may be cited as:
Allen, G. (31 October 2019) Pondering on whether to submit your research output to a journal?. Research Ethics Monthly. Retrieved from: https://ahrecs.com/research-integrity/pondering-on-whether-to-submit-your-research-output-to-a-journal



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