In June I wrote a post for this blog titled Can this be real? about altered images, or misrepresenting images. Today in my ECIS Library Forum discussion thread, a colleague in Switzerland posted about the explosion of fake academic journals.
In the IB world, we are all involved in promoting digital citizenship, responsibility, honesty and integrity: We often use unusual but authentic, hoax, or “joke” websites like the following to teach or learn about “reliability” on the internet:
- Improbable Research: Feline Reactions to Bearded Men
- Tree Octopus
- Dihydrogen Monoxide
- RYT Hospital
- The Wild Haggis
- Archaeology.org – Zombie Attack at Hierakonpolis
Reading about the fake academic journals make me think that perhaps my scope of samples has been too narrow. This is the article from the Ottawa Citizen posted by my colleague: “The editor is deceased: Fake science journals hit new low Academic fraud has reached a new level of deceit as a “predatory” journal that prints low-quality research for cash has stolen the identities of a dead doctor and the head of a Canadian science funding agency.”
My colleague investigated further, and found a web site monitoring this problem, http://scholarlyoa.com/ It includes a blog, a long list of questionable, scholarly open-access publishers, and a list of questionable standalone journals. The site author, Jeffery Beall, is the Scholarly Communications Librarian at the University of Colorado Denver. You can subscribe to his blog, and follow him on Twitter.
If you google [monitor fake academic journals] you will find many interesting posts about fake peer review, fake journals, retractions, etc. NPR (National Public Radio) posted Some Online Journals Will Publish Fake Science, For A Fee. Referring to fake journals, the author, Richard Knox, writes “…These sleazy journals often look legitimate. They bear titles like the American Journal of Polymer Science that closely resemble titles of respected journals. Their mastheads often contain the names of respectable-looking experts. But often it’s all but impossible to tell who’s really behind them or even where in the world they’re located…”
So how are we to sort the wheat from the chaff when “researching” on the web? When you (be you teacher or student) find an interesting, perhaps useful article on the internet, consult this list of questionable publishers and of questionable journals and see if it’s included in the lists. You might also google the name of of a few of the peer reviewers, to see if they are alive, and work in that field. You might investigate the editor of the journal, with the same questions. Check with your school librarian about a “White List” of dependable sources (remembering that a pay wall does not guarantee anything!)
None of these steps are guaranteed to save you from using questionable resources, but they will always lead you back to consideration of how we acquire knowledge about the world around us, and figure out our relationship with it.