Sun. Mar 24th, 2019

Journals: The 'fake news' of science | Society

Journals: The 'fake news' of science | Society

"Publish or perish", says the ironic slogan of the scientists, publishes or perishes, from getting a doctorate scholarship to a fixed position of researcher, everything in the scientific career goes through the accumulation of publications" peer-reviewed. "This means that the draft The article must pass an evaluation by experts in the same area, usually anonymous, who can demand additional experiments from the authors, or consider alternative theories, or simply reject the work. The pressure to publish, together with the free culture that prevails on the Internet, have generated a monster in recent years: predatory magazines, which in 2018 already reached 8,700 headers and 400,000 articles per year, according to data from Cabell's, an analytical firm in Texas.

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The phenomenon is an unexpected by-product of the vigorous movement of free access (open access) in the academic publication. Scientific journals have traditionally been funded by charging subscriptions to the libraries of university departments and large laboratories. The free access movement has led to the foundation of free quality magazines, such as those of the Public Library of Science (PLoS) or eLife. By definition, the works published there are freely accessible on the Internet for anyone. And the current is so strong that the giants of the conventional publication, like Nature Y Science, have opened their own free access titles.

This means that the funding source of conventional journals depends less and less to charge for subscriptions and increasingly to charge the authors of the article themselves. Pay or perish, pay or perish. All scientists are already accustomed to paying those fees, which can range from a few hundred to several thousand euros, according to the magazine. Scientists, of course, charge those costs to their research projects, financed in whole or in part by taxes. University libraries were also financed with public money. The difference is that the model of open access allows the public that has paid for the investigations to access their conclusions for free. All the scientists consulted by this newspaper consider that aspect just.

But a system in which magazines do not charge for their subscriptions - that is, do not charge readers, but rather authors - carries a stick between the wheels: the magazine no longer has any incentive for anyone to read it, and therefore to keep a quality standard. You can publish any rehash poorly supported in the evidence, provided that the authors of the mess, or who finance them, are willing to pay for it. These are the predatory journals, which not only publish anything, but 'they live'About it. The idea is that the curriculums are inflated and the promotions are achieved.

It is assumed that a peer review would detect the poor quality of work, and this is usually the case with legitimate magazines. But peer review, which is presumed by predatory journals, is usually little more than a facade.

A 2013 trap-article remains the epitome of gender. A journalist with a background in molecular biology, John Bohannon, wrote a draft where it was concluded, falsely, that a component of lichens inhibited tumors. According to Bohannon, The Economist, the article suffered from an "irrationally bad" methodology, and sold the lichen component as "a promising new cancer drug" without the slightest mention of a clinical trial. It was invented to each and every one of the authors of the work, as well as their research centers in Africa, and sent the manuscript to 121 suspicious journals of predation. 69% of them agreed to publish the article in exchange for a fee. Are the fake news of the science.


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