Open Access Week: The Science Sting & Response

In celebration of Open Access week, it is probably instructive to re-visit the recent sting of Open Access journals reported in Science earlier this month. The purpose of the sting was to expose shoddy peer review in open access journals. This sting is criticized on many points mostly by open access advocates: (a) this was not a fair experiment, e.g., the sample was predominantly comprised of predatory open access journals; (b) open access ≠ no peer review; (c) did this sting have IRB approval?; and (d) Science has a pretty poor record of publishing flawed papers and has a higher than average retraction rate.

Who’s Afraid of Peer Review?
John Bohannon | Science
October 4, 2013
A spoof paper concocted by Science reveals little or no scrutiny at many open-access journals.

Some Online Journals Will Publish Fake Science, For a Fee
Richard Knox | NPR
October 3, 2013
NPR was not critical of the study. It did interview Jeffrey Beall, an open access watchdog who maintains a list of predatory publishers and predatory journals:

Predatory Publishers | Predatory Journals

I confess, I wrote the Arsenic DNA paper to expose flaws in peer-review in subscription based journals
Michael Eisen | it is NOT junk blog
October 3, 2013
This starts out as a sarcastic post about a recent episode in Science’s history where it published an extraordinary paper about a species that uses arsenic in its DNA instead of phosphorus. He then criticizes the author for not including controls in the experiment like subscription-based publishers. Eisen agrees that the peer review process is broken, but says the problem is not open access journals.

Who’s Afraid of Open Access?
Ernesto Priego | The Comics Grid Blog
October 4, 2013
This article reiterates the unscientific nature of the Science sting and then discusses open access journals in more detail

Science Magazine Rejects Data, Publishes Anecdote
Bjorn Brembs |
October 4, 2013
Bremb’s claim is that Science published a news story, not a peer-reviewed paper. He provides evidence that Science has one of the highest retraction rates in the entire industry (read for link) and does not want to publish scientific evidence of this. He also paints Nature with the same brush in a separate post.

The Troubled . . . & . . . . & the Blurry Line Between Human Subjects Research & Investigative Journalism
The Faculty Lounge
October 4, 2013
The title of this blog entry is way too long, but it has an IRB angle. The author suspects that Science regards this sting as investigative journalism rather than human subjects research.

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