Not all science journals are equal

GallonDaily frequently provides information derived from articles published in scientific journals. Hence we have a concern about whether that information is derived from experiments and measurements that are conducted using appropriate science-based methods, whether it is properly peer-reviewed, and whether it is likely to be reproducible.

Such issues are also a concern for academic librarians. One, Jeffrey Beall, a librarian at the University of Colorado Denver, has gone so far as to publish a list of what he considers to be questionable publishers. There are currently 243 publishers on Beall’s list and many of them publish multiple journal titles. Beall also publishes a list of individual journals that do not publish under the platform of any publisher and that he considers questionable.

Much of Beall’s concern is directed toward open access journals. Open access means that the journal provides access to its content – articles and reports – on its web site at no charge to users. Rather than the traditional model of charging for a subscription for the journal and, sometimes, a fee for access to a single article, open access publishers generally charge authors a fee to insert the article in the journal. Beall claims that many of the new open access publishers “are corrupt and exist only to make money off the author processing charges that are billed to authors upon acceptance of their scientific manuscripts.” He recommends “that researchers, scientists, and academics avoid doing business with these publishers and journals”.

Even reputable journal publishers can run into difficulties. In 2013 Copernicus Publications started the journal Pattern Recognition in Physics (PRP). By the end of the year, Copernicus found that the editors were using the journal to promulgate climate change denial, contrary to their agreement with Copernicus, and that “the editors selected the referees on a nepotistic basis”. The journal has now been terminated.

Copernicus Publications’ position on the journal Pattern Recognition in Physics can be found at http://www.pattern-recognition-in-physics.net/

Jeffrey Beall’s list is at http://scholarlyoa.com/publishers/

GallonDaily’s position is that poorly-researched articles can be found in excellent journals and that well-researched articles can be found in weaker journals. Many researchers work extensively in a narrow area of research and therefore develop opinions that may or may not influence their research, positively or negatively. This is human nature. In an ideal world all research results would be replicated by a different researcher before being published but this is clearly not at all practical. GallonDaily and its sister publication Gallon Environment Letter seek to analyse the content of the research reports and the reputation of the researcher before publishing an article based on a research paper but it is frequently difficult within our short article format to provide the results of those analyses. We take every measure which we think is reasonable to ensure that our reports are accurate and based on quality research but there are substantial limits to reasonableness given our objective of getting useful information to our readers as promptly as possible. We invite readers to provide science-based comments should they have concerns about the scientific integrity of any of our articles.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s