Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Just Because It Says "Peer Reviewed" Doesn't Make It So.

It used to be that research that had been peer reviewed represented the gold standard in credibility.  Prestigious journals would accept papers, subject them to rigorous peer review, and then, if they were upheld, publish them.

Now, however, there's a new breed of journal where bogus research claiming to be peer reviewed can be published - for a fee.  They're called "predatory journals" and they'll publish, as peer reviewed, just about anything if the price is right.

Anything?  Wait for it.

Consider the International Journal of Advanced Computer Technology.  Sounds stuffy enough to be legit, eh?  Apparently - at least until David Mazieres of NYU in collaboration with UCLA's Eddie Kohler submitted a paper entitled "Get Me Off Your Fucking Mailing List" that consisted of ten pages repeating the phrase, again and again and again.  The GMOYFML mantra was supported by diagrams such as this:

So, what happened when Mazieres and Kohler submitted their paper to the IJACT?  The journal contacted the authors, informed them their paper had passed peer review and was ready for publication and then asked them to forward $150. Dave and Eddie decided to give that one a pass and so you'll never find their wonderfully researched paper in the IJACT.

1 comment:

Kirby Evans said...

As a refugee from academia (and someone who wears that red badge with honour) I have long had doubts about the entire notion of peer review. What sounds like it should be an effective method of determining the quality of work, can quickly become a system that protects mediocrity and insulates a discipline from new and original ideas. Your amusing anecdote further muddies the academic waters and make me wonder whether, within systems of power there is any effective way of ensure that new, original, and interesting ideas can get the proper attention they deserve.