More Open Access Journal Shaming

There seems to be a never-ending shaming parade of “peer reviewed” open access journals that exist to extract one-time lump sum payments from desperate authors in exchange for a publishing credit and poorly formatted PDF.

“The conceptual penis as a social construct” in Skeptic Magazine takes it the next level, by also lampooning an entire discipline of academic thought. The article’s approach, summarized by the authors:

We didn’t try to make the paper coherent; instead, we stuffed it full of jargon (like “discursive” and “isomorphism”), nonsense (like arguing that hypermasculine men are both inside and outside of certain discourses at the same time), red-flag phrases (like “pre-post-patriarchal society”), lewd references to slang terms for the penis, insulting phrasing regarding men (including referring to some men who choose not to have children as being “unable to coerce a mate”), and allusions to rape (we stated that “manspreading,” a complaint levied against men for sitting with their legs spread wide, is “akin to raping the empty space around him”). After completing the paper, we read it carefully to ensure it didn’t say anything meaningful, and as neither one of us could determine what it is actually about, we deemed it a success.

This one is a fun ride.

I actually have a case report in an Open Access journal back from my I’m-going-to-be-an-interventional-radiolgoist days (it wasn’t all that good, and my colleague did most of the work, bless him). We submitted but didn’t pay—I think they may have been desperate for articles to publish and just put it up. Case Reports are almost unpublishable now outside of these types of pay-to-publish journals, which creates a bizarre counter-incentive to trying to share interesting one-offs with other physicians and scientists.

I wish—in addition to a robust mechanism for consistently sharing negative results—that there was a better mechanism for sharing research outside of peer review, which is expensive, inefficient, and, in many cases, broken.

Academic publishing is stuck in the pre-digital era. All we’ve done is move physically printed journals online behind paywalls. Comments, updates, additions? Sorry, no. Journals are static, even though science is not. It’s ripe for a big investment by a billionaire to change the status quo. Gates, Zuckerberg—you guys listening?

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