New York Times, the official mouthpiece of establishment, does not like open access publication in science. That is the feeling you will have after reading the ‘sensational story’ bashing open-access in their health section -
It starts with narrating a conference scam. A group of scientists got duped by registering in ‘Entomology-2013’, a fake conference that borrowed the name of ‘Entomology 2013’ and added a hyphen. The narration ended with a quote from Steven Goodman -
Steven Goodman, a dean and professor of medicine at Stanford and the editor of the journal Clinical Trials, which has its own imitators, called this phenomenon the dark side of open access, the movement to make scholarly publications freely available.
Unfortunately, we are not as bright as Dr. Goodman to make that connection. Everyday we receive emails from con-artists asking us to log into our Bank of America account. The domain name of those links are slightly modified from “bankofamerica.com”, and many unsuspecting users end up revealing their username/password by not noticing the extra 7 or extra hyphen in the link. Those frauds are common, but our Bank of America account is not open access.
The second part of the NY Times story has another dubious anecdote having nothing to do with open-access and another meaningless quote from Dr. Goodman.
But some researchers are now raising the alarm about what they see as the proliferation of online journals that will print seemingly anything for a fee. They warn that nonexperts doing online research will have trouble distinguishing credible research from junk. Most people dont know the journal universe, Dr. Goodman said. They will not know from a journals title if it is for real or not.
Researchers also say that universities are facing new challenges in assessing the rsums of academics. Are the publications they list in highly competitive journals or ones masquerading as such?
Why not go check the links? The articles are open-access, and they should be able to verify, whether the published paper was good or not.
Finally, the article reveals the real purpose of the ‘sensational story’ (emphasis ours).
The phenomenon has caught the attention of Nature, one of the most competitive and well-regarded scientific journals. In a news report published recently, the journal noted the rise of questionable operators and explored whether it was better to blacklist them or to create a white list of those open-access journals that meet certain standards.
Nature wants to create a club for ‘recognized’ open-access journals. We can anticipate the next step, where they will allow citations only from those ‘recognized’ open-access journals. There goes Titus Brown’s hope of his blog- posts getting cited.
We have an easier solution. Maybe it is time for universities to change their hiring rules. Why not hire scientists, who did high-quality scientific research instead of hiring scientists, who ‘published in Science and Nature’? Aren’t their review committees competent enough to read and understand papers?
Marc Robinson-Rechavi forwarded us a thoughtful blog commentary on similar topic.
We encourage readers to read his entire commentary, because he clearly sees through the bushes and identifies the forest. Here are his concluding remarks -
At worst, predatory open access does not seem worse than the status quo.
So can we stop discussing what seems to be mostly a non issue, and concentrate on the reality of high quality publicly funded science locked up by commercial publishers and unavailable?
Mike Eisen commented on the same NY Times article with an witty and appropriate title -
But if Gina Kolata and the NYT are really concerned about scams in science publishing, they should look into the $10 BILLION DOLLARS of largely public money that subscription publishers take in every year in return for giving the scientific community access to the 90% of papers that are not published in open access journals papers that scientists gave to the journals for free! This ongoing insanity not only fleeces huge piles of cash from government and university coffers, it denies the vast majority of the planets population access to the latest discoveries of our scientists. And if the price we pay for ending this insanity is a few gullible scientists falling for open access spam, its worth it a million times over.