Open Access or Closed Minded

There are editors (the initial and final gatekeepers) who are not catching (or do not care about) these blatant displays of academic dishonesty.

The open access movement has come to academic journals in full force. The debate has recently been invigorate by governments moving to requiring publicly funded research to be published in open access journals. This concept has been going around the US legal circles for years too. 


The point of these movements is to allow more research to get into the hands of those who can benefit. With regards to journals, open access allows for anyone, anywhere to access articles so that the knowledge is not locked in the halls of ivy but free to the world. This sounds great, I agree. But is there a cost? If so, how can we mitigate those costs? 

Here is why I ask. Last week I received a request to review for a new open access journal. I agreed and in 2 days time I received the article and began reading. 

The abstract was horrid. Not only was it written in broken English, but the content simply was not there. I trudged on. From the first sentence I smelled a rat. The English got much better yet the ideas seemed somewhat disconnected. I then Googled "plagiarism checker" and found this one. The result? Hit after hit of directly lifted phrases from published work and Internet sources. I was livid. For better or worse, I shared those thoughts with the editor. :)

In theory, an article housed in an open access journal should have gone through the same double-blind peer-reviewed process. Yet there are editors (the initial and final gatekeepers) who are not catching (or do not care about) these blatant displays of academic dishonesty. I wish this were the first bad experience I had around open access journals. Last year I reviewed an article, giving copious amounts of feedback, only to find the article published as is without any of my comments (even mundane ones focused on grammar and formatting). 

So, I ask....how can we better gauge the quality of these journals? Will there be (or is there) a quality ranking? An integrity ranking? I know the 'system' is supposed to weed out the bad journals but I doubt this will happen. Authors around the world need to publish to keep their jobs so bad open access journals will always exist as a last ditch effort.

We are at a cross roads and we need to sort this out. Academic writers are all part of the solution (and part of the problem).

Photo credit (CC) Flicker user electriclibrarian

Big Think Edge
  • The meaning of the word 'confidence' seems obvious. But it's not the same as self-esteem.
  • Confidence isn't just a feeling on your inside. It comes from taking action in the world.
  • Join Big Think Edge today and learn how to achieve more confidence when and where it really matters.
Big Think Edge
  • Economist Sylvia Ann Hewlett breaks down what qualities will inspire others to believe in you.
  • Here's how 300 leaders and 4,000 mid-level managers described someone with executive presence.
  • Get more deep insights like these to power your career forward. Join Big Think Edge.

'Upstreamism': Your zip code affects your health as much as genetics

Upstreamism advocate Rishi Manchanda calls us to understand health not as a "personal responsibility" but a "common good."

Sponsored by Northwell Health
  • Upstreamism tasks health care professionals to combat unhealthy social and cultural influences that exist outside — or upstream — of medical facilities.
  • Patients from low-income neighborhoods are most at risk of negative health impacts.
  • Thankfully, health care professionals are not alone. Upstreamism is increasingly part of our cultural consciousness.
Keep reading Show less

In U.S. first, drug company faces criminal charges for distributing opioids

It marks a major shift in the government's battle against the opioid crisis.

George Frey/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Politics & Current Affairs
  • The nation's sixth-largest drug distributor is facing criminal charges related to failing to report suspicious drug orders, among other things.
  • It marks the first time a drug company has faced criminal charges for distributing opioids.
  • Since 1997, nearly 222,000 Americans have died from prescription opioids, partly thanks to unethical doctors who abuse the system.
Keep reading Show less