Many Information Professionals are probably very well aware of this issue. However it is so important that I feel compelled to share this New York Times article (above) despite the fact I may only be repeating some well known facts.
In a nutshell, these ‘publishers’ exploit the fact that academics rely on publishing their work to further their careers (known as the “publish or perish” system of professional advancement). While the conferences and journals may appear respectable, in the end they are fraudulent, usually scam money out of unsuspecting academics and pump out worthless articles.
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A little while ago I attended a very interesting seminar on balancing teaching and learning in the library field with the conducting and publishing of research.
It was a topic that I, as a relatively new librarian, had not thought much about. I’m glad that I now have this concept at the back of my mind while doing my everyday work.
The basic premise of the seminar was that we rely a lot on anecdotal evidence and many times fail to communicate our worth to those who fund us or decide our futures. By utilising an Evidence Based Practice model, we can innovate and build new capabilities. By sharing knowledge across libraries, we can grow our evidence base – improving our knowledge of where we are providing value, and what we contribute. Many librarians contribute a vast amount to the field and develop fantastic projects, but the next step is writing this up, publishing and sharing this knowledge.
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I am so excited by the open access movement and all the traction it is getting. The benefits of sharing research, and data, are immense. National Public Radio (NPR) in the US have recently had a segment (listen here), and written an article, about the proposal by leading medical journals to require researchers to publicly share their data.
The concept is relatively simple. If you want to be published, you must share the data collected in your clinical studies, which until now has been rarely done.
The article discusses the reasons researchers may not want to share, an interesting discussion detailing issues that I had not been aware of. However, from my reading, it seems these issues for the individual researcher are far outweighed by the benefits to the greater population.
For example, some “researchers have felt that they deserved the right to future papers for all their hard work gathering the original data. And maybe they didn’t want others examining their work.” Fair enough I suppose. But then, this “neglects the key role that independent scientists can play in bringing new insights and also in validating the quality of the data that were collected. Access is also central to the scientific method and the idea of replication to establish the truth.”
By not sharing, and protecting one’s own interests, scientific progress is impeded. Not only does sharing allow for greater possibilities of additional knowledge being gained, it also ensures an extra check and balance on those who may try to draw dubious conclusions.
I believe this incentive to share, provided by the medical journals, is an important move. I hope it is adopted by the medical community and extends to many other research fields. If you’d like to comment on this proposal, you can submit your feedback on the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors website.
This article from the University of California entitled ‘A social networking site is not an open access repository‘ explains very clearly the difference between using an institutional open access research repository, and using an online platform such as ResearchGate or Academia.edu
As a Librarian I understand the importance of open access repositories for enabling the reuse and preservation of research data. However, I am sure for many academics and researchers this distinction may not be so clear – especially since a lot of it is in the platform’s fine print!
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