[open-science] Fake Cancer study published in 157 Open Access Journals

Graham Triggs grahamtriggs at gmail.com
Tue Oct 8 14:12:23 UTC 2013

On 7 October 2013 19:33, Klaus Graf <klausgraf at googlemail.com> wrote:

> See also
> http://archivalia.tumblr.com/tagged/openaccess
> I still cannot see serious flaws

I'm not going to claim serious flaws in the methodology, or even in what
the article itself states. However, to accept it as an expose of OA alone
is a serious flaw.

a) There is no comparative data for submissions to closed access journals
b) No attempt was made (or at least documented to have been made) to obtain
waivers for the APCs

On that second point, the article was submitted with African affiliations,
which would have been cause to grant a waiver for any of the OA publishers
that operate such policies for lower income countries.

Either, and preferably both, of these would have given indication as to
whether the acceptances were driven by predatory desires to reap the APCs.
As it is, the Bohannon article is missing (at least) two critical pieces of
evidence, which means it is only telling half a story, at best.

Besides, this is ultimately a largely self-correcting problem. Open science
can be discredited, journals will get reputations for being routinely
discredited (Negative Impact Factors, if you will) and no serious author
with real results is going to want to publish in journals with a bad
reputation. (And for any new authors that are not so well informed, there
should be appropriate support structures from their funders, colleagues and
institutions to avoid the problems).

If predatory publishers remain, and a small number of authors can afford to
pay them to publish what they know to be crap, so be it. The only danger of
that is bogus studies being published in order to sell useless products as
being scientifically proven - but that's a consumer issue, not a
research/science one.

This would be a much more serious issue if credible journals that command a
good reputation were accepting nonsense to harvest APCs. But this study
actually showed that they did not. And whilst anyone could make a mistake,
the respected journals aren't going to wave through poor articles - because
they would very quickly lose their reputation (and hence value, and

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