Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Don’t confound Open Access and peer review

Open Access journals provide online access to research articles without requiring payment or passwords.

Peer review is central to the current publishing model, established long before the Open Access movement.

Peer review is a mark of quality for both Open Access and subscription access journals.

A recent paper, published in Science (see reference at the end of this post), confounds the effects of Open Access and peer review.

This has led researchers to question whether they are doing the right thing by publishing in Open Access journals.

The opening sentence of the Science paper claims that there is “little or no scrutiny at many open-access journals.” By scrutiny, the author is referring to peer review. The author’s analysis is based on responses he received after submitting a “bogus” manuscript to 304 journals, with 157 accepting it for publication.

It is widely accepted that there are many unscrupulous Open Access publishers which claim to publish peer reviewed journals. Despite being a minority, they greatly bias the results of the study and give little recognition to ethical Open Access publishers.

A useful outcome of the study was the finding that “Beall is good at spotting publishers with poor quality control”. 82% of the journals that accepted the bogus paper are on Beall’s list of predatory Open Access. This supports the value of Beall’s list as a guide for selecting journals to publish in.

See the Understanding Publishers tab of the Publishing Academic Research LibGuide for a link to Beall’s list and more information about Open Access.

The message that authors should take away is that the combination of Open Access publishing in quality journals with a rigorous peer review process will provide the best opportunity for advancing their research career.

Reference to the Science paper:
Bohannon, J. (2013). Who’s afraid of peer review?. Science. 342(6154):60-65. doi: 10.1126/science.342.6154.60

Read more commentary at:
Callan, Paula (2013). Fake paper highlights predatory publishers. Retrieved from ABC Science: http://www.abc.net.au/science/articles/2013/10/04/3862443.htm

Eve, Martin (2013). Flawed sting operation singles out open access journals. The Conversation: https://theconversation.com/flawed-sting-operation-singles-out-open-access-journals-18846.

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