On the Science journal sting operation

The journal Science recently published the results of a "sting operation" that involved sending poor quality research to several Open Access journals. The article, "Who's Afraid of Peer Review," begins with the tantalizing story:

"On 4 July, good news arrived in the inbox of Ocorrafoo Cobange, a biologist at the Wassee Institute of Medicine in Asmara. It as the official letter of acceptance for a paper he had submitted 2 months earlier to the Journal of Natural Pharmaceuticals, describing the anticancer properties of a chemical that Cobange had extracted from a lichen.

In fact, it should have been promptly rejected. Any reviewer with more than a high-school knowledge of chemistry and the ability to understand a basic data plot should have spotted the paper’s short-comings immediately. Its experiments are so hopelessly flawed that the results are meaningless."

It's a fascinating read and its details on these illegitimate journals are eye-opening. As a proponent of Open Access, though, I worry that it may inspire fear of publishing in Open Access journals. Legitimate Open Access journals seek to share information with everyone - not just those who can afford to buy the journals. Around the world and down the street, researchers, clinicians, and patients benefit from the free dissemination of research results.

So what is a potential author to do? First, always feel free to contact the Library. We are happy to consult with you on the legitimacy and editorial practices of any journal. Second, look at Beall's List of Predatory Open Access Journals. Assembled by Jeffrey Beall, a librarian at the University of Colorado Denver, the site uses explicit criteria to assess the potential dubious nature of publishers.

Open Access week is around the corner. This is an excellent time to learn more about open access publishing. We encourage you to explore Open Access at Duke and attend a panel discussion on open access Friday 10/18 3:30-5:00.