Tuesday, May 6, 2014

What you need to know about some open access journals

The other day I received this email.

Invitation to Review Manuscript: HJEHS-14-013

Dear Colleague,

We received a manuscript titled:


We will be most grateful if you could find time to review the manuscript. Please find the Abstract below: 

This investigation was carried out to determine the armspan to lower limb length ratio amongst adult males in Rivers and Bayelsa States of Nigeria. A total of 500 apparently healthy males were used which cut across several age groups ranging from 20 to 60 years. Data were collected through one on one interview after which the individuals arm span and lower limb length were taken using a flexible metre tape. Results showed that arm span correlated well with the lower limb length and significant difference exist between the arm span and lower limb length ratio of adult males in Rivers state (2.06) and Bayelsa State (2.04) with p > 0.05 [sic]. The result also showed that a significant difference exist between arm span to lower limb length in all the age groups p > 0.05 [sic]. From the results we concluded that the arm span to thigh-foot heigth [sic] ratio of adult males in Rivers and Bayelsa States varies, with that of adult males in Bayelsa state closer to the estimated normal value of 2.
Key words: Arm-span, Thigh-foot, South-south, Nigeria

Kindly send us send a mail indicating your acceptance to review this manuscript to enable us forward to you the full manuscript.

Thank you.

Faith Lily
Editorial Assistant,
Herald Journal of Environmental and Health Science

Those are some really important findings. They suggest that either the authors or the journal's editors (or both) don't know what a significant p value is. (For you non-statisticians, a significant p value should be < 0.05, not > 0.05.) At the very least, the number of typos suggests they aren't very careful.

Why send this to me? I've never dealt with this journal before, and I have no interest or expertise in "the armspan to lower limb length ratio amongst adult males in Rivers and Bayelsa States of Nigeria" or anywhere else.

From the journal's home page: "Why Publish with HJEHS - Quality Peer Review."

Some quality. Reviewers like me are apparently selected at random.

Note also that the journal's "Archive" is empty and dated 2012.

Much as I would love to see the full manuscript, I'm going to pass on the opportunity.

"Herald Journal of Environmental and Health Science" appears on Beall's List, a compilation of suspected "predatory" journals. The criteria for identifying a predatory journal are found here.

The good news is that at least it's cheap, with a stated "processing fee" of only $400. In a previous post about open access journals, I noted fees as high as $5000.

Faculty, residents, and students should be aware that any journal that promises open access and charges a fee for publishing a paper should be thoroughly vetted before submitting any work or especially any money.


Anonymous said...

I wonder whether the high prevalence of these sort of journals has anything to do with the increasing pressure to have as many publications as you can on your cv, even during medical school. It seems to me that as long as there is a high supply of articles to be published these journals are going to keep popping up for obvious reasons.

We are bombarded by so many new articles every day that makes it time consuming to find the potentially useful ones and benefit from the knowledge.
I think that this desire to publish even the most trivial of topics does more harm than good.

Dr Skeptic said...

Thanks. This is right up my alley: quality of research. I think that the IDEA of open-access publishing is a good one (anyone can see it for free, no physical space limitations) but only when publication is based on scientific merit (like PLoS). When publication is based on ability to pay, this is what we get.
I tell my students that it is now possible to get anything published, mainly because of the increase in the number of journals, many of them "predatory". What this means is that we need to look more carefully at people's publications, and not just count the total number of articles like we used to.
Also, I was not aware of Beall's List, or of how long it was!

Skeptical Scalpel said...

Anon, I agree. The link above to my previous post discusses the issues you mentioned.

Dr. Skeptic, you are correct. Don't just count the publications in a CV. Look at where things were published. I equate many of these journals with vanity publishing. Give me some money and I'll publish your novel. Beall's List is fascinating, isn't it? Someone is making a lot of money.

Anonymous said...

The ones I'm tired of seeing are the constant round of meta analyses. Produce something new, and stop rereading and stating everything again.

hope said...

Agree with this discussion. The post is funny and both scary. Personally I feel that all scientific and medical fields are suffering from over-publication. There are too many journals, too many articles, too many studies - all of lower quality. It's impossible to stay up-to-date in your field without investing a large amount of time in reading, scanning and sifting and, even then, what percentage of publications lead to a change in practice patterns or new treatment paradigm? There are of course a few gems out there, but I wish the emphasis on "numbers of publications" would go away.

RuggerMD said...

This seems more like a 419 Scam...you know the kind that will try to get you to send them money.

Skeptical Scalpel said...

Hope, thanks for the input. I try to be informative and funny. Sometimes it works. I agree there are way too many journals.

Rugger, this is a little different. They aren't just taking the money. The papers do get published. The question is "Since they accept nearly everything that is submitted, what is the value of a paper published in one of these predatory journals?"

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