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December 27, 2012

The new Vanity Publishing

The scientific literature has long been burdened with papers which advance the author’s career more than they advance science. I’ve long believed (click here) that Open Access, in which the author pays to get published – they used to call it Vanity Publishing – aggravates the problem. It provides a golden opportunity for scammers to set up fake journals, with ghost editors, and little or no peer review, and claim that living off author fees is somehow virtuous.

A fellow called Jeffrey Beale (click here), has been keeping tabs on these Predatory Publishers (click here).  He’s found 243, many with a hundred or more titles on their lists, as well as another 126 individual journals. All are Open Access, and most are pretty obvious villains.

But a brief scroll through the articles in them, reveals much genuine stuff. It appears that real researchers, of modest talent, grind out overlong, cliché-ridden, more or less scientific papers, and when they’ve been rejected by a few reputable journals, cut their losses, pay a fee to get published, and move on. Presumably for many young doctors, a thousand pounds or so, to help get a well paid consultant job is money well spent.

How long before Readers Pay returns to being the prestigious publishing model?

Jim Thornton

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