A sting on bogus publishers! Watch out!


Do you get invitations to publish nearly every day? Are most of the places inappropriate and unheard of? How do you sort it out?

If you think this is not a big problem, just look at a news report on the latest study on a bogus paper sent to 304 journals. According to Kate Allen’s piece on John Bohannon‘s study the paper was accepted at 157 journals. It was sent back with reviewer’s comments by only 36. These comments pointed out the huge flaws in the paper, treating the topic of anti cancer drugs from lichens. Of those 16 accepted it anyway. PLoS ONE rejected it and was the only journal apparently to mention its ethical flaws. This is all from Kate’s piece since I couldn’t figure out how to get to the actual article, probably because it is still embargoed at Science.

So, what journals do you avoid? A safe rule is to avoid anything new. Hmm that sounds very broad. Look at the editorial board. Are there leaders in your field on it? Look at this list from Jeffrey Beall, librarian at University of Colorado, Denver. He also lists predatory publishers here. Jeffrey also mentions the upcoming Science sting.

I would not go so far as to say it is never a good idea to pay to publish since that is the open access model, but be very careful. You won’t do your reputation any good by publishing in bogus journals. You won’t advance knowledge either.

Of course if you follow the basic rules of research you can publish in real journals. When I met with my three new first year research undergrads yesterday we talked about a lot of aspects of research in my lab. The points I tried to show with every example are that science works with hypotheses. A hypothesis has to predict a directional response of one variable to another, and a reason for it. An experiment has to have replicates if it is to make any sense. One individual trial compared to another individual trial could vary for reasons other than the thought through one. We also talked about duplicates and replicates. In microbiology you can often do the identical experiment on the identical clone, and we’ve started calling that a duplicate to differentiate it from doing the identical experiment on a different clone. When we worked on wasps we could only do replicates, not duplicates.

Make your research science worthwhile and careful and publish it in journals that actually review and reject when there are problems. Have fun!

About Joan E. Strassmann

Evolutionary biologist, studies social behavior in insects & microbes, interested in education, travel, birds, tropics, nature, food; biology professor at Washington University in St. Louis
This entry was posted in Publishing your work, Refereeing and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to A sting on bogus publishers! Watch out!

  1. Ruth Lewis says:

    The article was live at 2 pm yesterday. It’s an entire special issue on Communication in
    Science: Pressures and Predators.- many interesting issues in addition to the problems with peer review article you mention. http://www.sciencemag.org/content/342/6154.toc#SpecialIssue

  2. Ruth Lewis says:

    I just heard that the Communication in Science part of the Oct 4 issue of Science Magazine is free to read for all: http://www.sciencemag.org/site/special/scicomm/index.xhtml

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