Category: Scientific publishing

Hundreds of gibberish papers still lurk in the scientific literature

Read the full story in Nature.

The nonsensical computer-generated articles, spotted years after the problem was first seen, could lead to a wave of retractions.

Publishers grapple with an invisible foe as huge organised fraud hits scientific journals

Read the full story in Chemistry World.

‘As with many hidden criminal syndicates, you don’t always know what’s happening,’ says Retraction Watch’s Ivan Oransky about paper mills. They are the biggest organised fraud perpetrated on scientific journals ever, eroding scientists’ trust in the publishing system – and in each other.

While plagiarism and fraud isn’t new – individual researchers have been caught photoshopping electron microscopy images or inventing elemental analysis data – paper mills serve up professional fakery for their customers on an industrial scale. Buyers can apparently purchase a paper, or authorship of one, on any topic based on phony results to submit to a journal. This makes them not only harder to detect and crack down on, but also exponentially increases the damage they could do.

What’s peer review? 5 things you should know before covering research

Read the full story at The Journalist’s Resource.

Is peer-reviewed research really superior? Why should journalists note in their stories whether studies have been peer reviewed? We explain.

Reptile traffickers trawl scientific literature, target newly described species

Read the full story at Mongabay.

The descriptions and locations of new reptile species featured in scientific literature are frequently being used by traders to quickly hunt down, capture and sell these animals, allowing them to be monetized for handsome profits and threatening biodiversity.

New reptile species are highly valued by collectors due to their novelty, and often appear on trade websites and at trade fairs within months after their first description in scientific journals.

In the past 20 years, the Internet, combined with the ease and affordability of global travel, have made the problem of reptile trafficking rampant. Some taxonomists now call for restricted access to location information for the most in demand taxa such as geckos, turtles and pythons.

Once a new species has been given CITES protection (typically a lengthy process), traders often keep the reptiles in “legal” commercial circulation by making false claims of “captive breeding” in order to launder wild-caught animals.

The 60-year-old scientific screwup that helped Covid kill

Read the full story in Wired.

All pandemic long, scientists brawled over how the virus spreads. Droplets! No, aerosols! At the heart of the fight was a teensy error with huge consequences.

Want other scientists to cite you? Drop the jargon

Read the full story in Science.

If you want your work to be highly cited, here’s one simple tip that might help: Steer clear of discipline-specific jargon in the title and abstract. That’s the conclusion of a new study of roughly 20,000 published papers about cave science, a multidisciplinary field that includes researchers who study the biology, geology, paleontology, and anthropology of caves. The most highly cited papers didn’t use any terms specific to cave science in the title and kept jargon to less than 2% of the text in the abstract; jargon-heavy papers were cited far less often.

A guide to Plan S: the open-access initiative shaking up science publishing

Read the full story in Nature.

In 2018, an influential group of research funders announced a bold pledge: the scientists they fund should publish their peer-reviewed papers outside journal paywalls. The initiative, called Plan S, caused an instant uproar over its aim of ending journal subscription models — the means by which many scholarly publications have financed their existence. Its intended start date in 2020 was delayed, and its details were tweaked. But after much sparring over policy, the project formally began in 2021, with 25 funding agencies rolling out similar open-access (OA) mandates.

As the first papers under these mandates are published, Plan S supporters say it’s the start of a journey towards open science. But most research funders haven’t signed up yet, and negotiations over the plan have produced a complex landscape of options to avoid paywalls. Here’s what the initiative means for scientists and journals — and some of the controversies that will play out in 2021 and beyond.

How pandemic-driven preprints are driving open scrutiny of research

Read the full story in Horizon.

Covid-19 has changed the way many people live and work. It has also had an impact on the ways many scientists collaborate and carry out their research – and how they release their findings.

Prey tell, what makes a publisher predatory?

Read the full story at Science.

Thanks to a childhood of but-wait-there’s-more, I had become aware that everyone, everywhere wanted to sell me something, and resisting their efforts would be an uphill but necessary battle. The poetry anthology, though, was new. It couldn’t rotisserie a chicken or cut hair with a vacuum. It was my own work sold back to me, along with the flattery that I had, via creative genius, qualified for the enviable opportunity to be their customer. I warily added the occurrence to my growing list of potential swindles—worse than the Home Shopping Network, which at least offered actual products, but a notch better than Columbia House’s eight CDs for a penny introductory offer that disguised its subscription trap.

This is why, when I started to encounter predatory publishers as a scientist—you know, the emails that greet you with much warmth and little grammar, inviting you to submit your work to their esteemed family of publications—I smelled the scam a mile away. Really, you consider me “a leader in my field”? And the publication of my research is “a matter of some urgency”? Clearly you don’t know me or my research.

Do you obey public-access mandates? Google Scholar is watching

Read the full story in Nature.

Search-engine co-founder Anurag Acharya explains why it now tells authors when their papers should be made free to read.

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