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ResourcesResearch IntegrityBlacklists are technically infeasible, practically unreliable and unethical. Period. – LSE Blog (Cameron Neylon | January 2017)

Australasian Human Research Ethics Consultancy Services Pty Ltd (AHRECS)

Blacklists are technically infeasible, practically unreliable and unethical. Period. – LSE Blog (Cameron Neylon | January 2017)

Published/Released on January 29, 2017 | Posted by Admin on February 27, 2017 / , , , , , , , ,

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It’s been a big weekend for poorly designed blacklists. But prior to this another blacklist was also a significant discussion. Beall’s list of so-called “Predatory” journals and publishers vanished from the web around a week ago. There is still not explanation for why, but the most obvious candidate is that legal action, threatened or real, was the cause of it being removed. Since it disappeared many listservs and groups have been asking what should be done? My answer is pretty simple. Absolutely nothing.

A very timely and useful reflection for those of us mourning the passing of the Beall’s List written by the recipient of a ‘Blue Obelisk’ (see Cameron’s bio). Do we actually need a blacklist or is that approach fundamentally flawed?

It won’t surprise anyone that I’ve never been a supporter of the list. Early on I held the common view that Beall was providing a useful service, albeit one that over-stated the problem. But as things progressed my concerns grew. The criticisms have been rehearsed many times so I won’t delve into the detail. Suffice to say Beall has a strongly anti-OA stance, was clearly partisan on specific issues, and antagonistic – often without being constructively critical – to publishers experimenting with new models of review. But most importantly his work didn’t meet minimum scholarly standards of consistency and validation. Walt Crawford is the go-to source on this having done the painstaking work of actually documenting the state of many of the “publishers” on the list but it seems like only a small percentage of the blacklisted publishers were ever properly documented by Beall.
Does that mean that it’s a good thing the lists are gone? That really depends on your view of the scale of the problem. The usual test case of the limitations of free speech is whether it is ok to shout “FIRE” in a crowded theatre when there is none. Depending on your perspective you might feel that our particular theatre has anything from a candle onstage to a raging inferno under the stalls. From my perspective there is a serious problem, although the problem is not what most people worry about, and is certainly not limited to Open Access publishers. And the list didn’t help.

Read the rest of this discussion piece

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