Most controversially, we omitted quality of peer review, even though negligent peer review is often a prominent feature of predatory journals. We are not saying that peer review is unimportant, only that it is currently impossible to assess.
In our response, we argue that there is no point in any definition of predatory journals that leaves peer review quality out:
If misuse of the peer-review label is not included in the definition of predatory journals, it could strengthen rather than weaken them. Formal listings of those journals might shrink under such a definition: many journals would be removed because their questionable peer-review procedures have escaped scrutiny and they seem otherwise respectable. They could then become attractive outlets to potential authors.
Inspired by a blog post about the dangers of predatory publishing and open peer review as a potential response, Maximilian Heimstädt and I decided to dig deeper into the issue. Specifically, we were able to get access to some data on (potentially) predatory journals in organization and management studies. Based upon the analysis of this data we developed some initial ideas – provocations for debate – regarding the potentials of open peer review for our own discipline. The article has now been published in the journal Management Learning:
Predatory journals have emerged as an unintended consequence of the Open Access paradigm. Predatory journals only supposedly or very superficially conduct peer review and accept manuscripts within days to skim off publication fees. In this provocation piece, we first explain how predatory journals exploit deficiencies of the traditional peer review process in times of Open Access publishing. We then explain two ways in which predatory journals may harm the management discipline: as an infrastructure for the dissemination of pseudo-science and as a vehicle to portray management research as pseudo-scientific. Analyzing data from a journal blacklist, we show that without the ability to validate their claims to conduct peer review, most of the 639 predatory management journals are quite difficult to demarcate from serious journals. To address this problem, we propose open peer review as a new governance mechanism for management journals. By making parts of their peer review process more transparent and inclusive, reputable journals can differentiate themselves from predatory journals and additionally contribute to a more developmental reviewing culture. Eventually, we discuss ways in which editors, reviewers, and authors can advocate reform of peer review.
Digitalization reduces technological and financial barriers to scientific publishing. Science can thus become faster, more inclusive and more plural. At the same time, the growing acceptance of specific forms of Open Access has also led to the rise of author-pays business models based on Article Processing Charges (APCs). The increasing publication pressure in the scientific system in combination with APCs provides incentives for creating “predatory” journals that only supposedly or very superficially conduct peer review in order to maximize their profits from such APCs. These manuscripts are at best inadequate and at worst deliberately tendentious and misleading.
Recently, an investigative report by the German newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung and public broadcasters WDR and NDR has revealed that even researchers from reputable academic institutions publish in or represent publishers of dubious quality. In their attempt to reveal “Fake Science” (using the English term in their German reportings), journalists easily accomplished the publication of a non-sensical article in an allegedly peer reviewed journal charging APCs. What they also show is how these unscientific practices not just harm the reputation of legitimate open access journals but are also a potential source – and allegedly scientific proof – for fake news more generally.
This blogpost discusses how reputable (Open Access) journals can defend their credibility against somewhat or even completely dubious Open Access journals. In our opinion, the most sustainable response, which however would only be possible in the mid to long-term, would be to abandon author-pays business models altogether and switch to publication infrastructures financed by universities and institutions (for an example of such an approach, check out the Open Library of Humanities). In the short-term, however, certain open-peer review practices might also be helpful to address the problem of predatory open access journals.
Die wachsende Akzeptanz spezifischer Formen von Open Access hat zum Aufstieg von Author-Pays-Geschäftsmodellen geführt, die auf „Article Processing Charges“ (APC) beruhen. Der steigende Publikationsdruck im Wissenschaftssystem in Kombination mit APC setzt Anreize für die Gründung von Zeitschriften, die nur vermeintlich oder sehr oberflächlich ein Begutachtungsverfahren (Peer Review) durchführen, um gebührenpflichtig und möglichst profitmaximierend Manuskripte zu veröffentlichen. Diese Manuskripte sind im besten Fall mangelhaft und im schlechtesten Fall absichtlich tendenziös und irreführend.
Die gesamte Ausgabe von Synergie ist open access als PDF oder ePub verfügbar.