Peer review is something I’ve been thinking a lot about lately. In another class I’m in right now, Foundations in LIS with Nadia Caidi, we all had to do a project on a current issue in Library and Information Science and present to the class. My group presented on Open Access publishing.
If you don’t aware, Open Access is a movement with it’s foundations in the idea that the world is a better place when current research is available to the public freely (without a monetary barrier, also known as toll access). Most Open Access resources are available one of two ways: either through institutional/subject based repositories or through Open Access journals.
Open Access journals face barriers to becoming recognized as legitimate. One of the primary reasons for this barrier is because they are perceived as having a lax peer review process and consequently the perception is that they easier to publish in. This stereotype is not totally without a basis in reality.
Much like the Sokal case, there was a recent case where a biologist named John Bohannon submitted a fake science paper to several Open Access journals. His experiment was flawed, most of all because he did not submit to any toll access journals. However, the fact remains that his paper was accepted at 70% of the journals that supposedly put it through the peer review process (about 40% of the journals overall). This is unacceptable. However, as Camille pointed out in her blog post with regard to the Sokal affair, I don’t think it is useful to go about embarrassing/shaming people… those involved in the peer review process had no reason to believe that they were being tricked. As well, Bohannon is well regarded in his field, and depending on whether or not the journal in question was using the double blind method this likely had an additional impact. However, unfortunately, I am sure that in some of these cases the article was accepted due to negligence, or a case of predatory open access journals– but that is another issue entirely.