By Dr. Mercola
The Internet has benefited you with vast access to information that was formerly difficult to come by. However, open access has also generated reduced quality control, sometimes turning the Information Age into the “Age of Misinformation”—especially when it comes to scientific research.
Fraud, propaganda, and misrepresentations are now commonplace, especially online, and some myths are repeated so often they eventually become accepted as fact.
Although the featured study and subsequent exposé seeks to discredit open access journals, it too has some very serious conflicting interests. Remember, traditional journals like Science are not immune to publishing flawed studies, and Open Access journals are a direct competition for them, which makes me question the motives of this Science “exposé.”
The featured “sting operation” was concocted by a Science editor who wanted to test how likely it would be for bad research to be published. But before we dig in, it is important to understand what is meant by the term “open access.”
21st Century Gives Birth to ‘Open Access Journals’
As the cost of accessing academic journal articles increases, a growing number of academic institutions are building publicly accessible databases of scholarly work. According to the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ), Open Access (OA) journals are defined as journals that use a funding model that does not charge readers or their institutions for access.
There are no subscription fees to the readers. There are now some 8,250 open access scientific journals in operation worldwide.3 This is a phenomenally positive movement.
One of the major challenges with traditional journals is that they get all their content for free, most of their peer review editors are not paid as it is an honor to have that role. They typically charge hundreds of dollars a year for a subscription to 12 or fewer issues of their journal, and to top it all off, they charge you $20-$50 or more for just ONE full article.
This has always seemed to be extraordinarily unfair and like a racket. So just how do these new open access journals cover their expenses? After all, they are not a charitable organization and don’t take donations so they have to collect their fees from somewhere.
Approximately one-third of these journals charge the author a publication fee. But many times, private authors cannot afford these fees, so they are paid by grant money or other funding sources. Ideally, new papers undergo rigorous peer review before they are published, as described in an article by The Guardian:
“A national government or a research council gives funds to a university that ultimately passes these monies along to a researcher. The researcher makes a discovery and writes an article about it. The article is then submitted to a journal.
The journal is responsible for rigorously studying the reported work to make sure it is reliable. This is the heart of quality control: peers – experts working in the same field – anonymously review the work; they challenge it, critique it, ask for new perspectives to be considered, and may even suggest changes in the analysis and presentation.”
If Open Access journals are being paid on a “per paper” basis, it is easy to see how the more articles an Open Access journal can publish, the greater their cash flow. To be clear, peer review problems are not limited to Open Access journals—there is failure with traditional journals as well. So the motivation is a bit precarious, but this does not mean it isn’t a better model that serves you and the community better. Some tweaks may need to be added to protect against these risks.
Human memory is not as good as people like to think. There are times when you are 100% confident in your memory of something and the reality is, your memory is wrong. This is often seen in eye witness testimony situations. How is it that 10 people witness a crime and when asked, there are 10 different versions of the crime? According to the misinformation effect, when we witness an event and then get some incorrect information about that event, we incorporate that incorrect information (misinformation) into our memory of the event. The result in an altered memory of the event. You may not want to believe this one, but it's true and we are all susceptible to it.
Make sure to read the rest of the article at Article.mercola.